The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Moldering privy

Moldering privyDuring their jaunt on the Appalachian Trail, Shannon and Dawn ran across a composting toilet, so (of course) they took photos to share with me.  Here's the explanation from the sign:

Welcome to a Moldering Privy

This composting system is maintained by the Nantahala Hiking club of Franklin, NC.  Proper disposal of human waste is one of our primary concerns in the backountry.  Pleaase help us run this system effectively:

  • Pee in the woods.  This will help keep odors in the outhouse down and provide the proper moisture balance for full decomposition.
  • Pack out your trash.  Including tampon applicators, maxi pads, food waste, paper, etc.
  • Throw in a cup of dry duff or leaves.  This also keeps odors down and assists in the decay of the waste.

Inside composting toiletIn this privy, redworms and other common soil microorganisms decompose the waste mass of mixed leaves and human manure in aerobic conditions (using oxygen) above the ground level.  This is why the outhouse is elevated.  Pathogens are destroyed by bacterial and invertebrate competition.

Shannon added in:

Hiking the AT"There's an interesting story about the privies in the trail.  There was a handicapped man who hiked part of the AT.  He was wealthy and his only complaint was that the privies were not ADA compliant.  So, on the AT through NC, he funded helicopter drops of the supplies to build ADA compliant privies.  At least this is what we were told by the folks that run the inn that did our shuttle.  So, there are hand rails and wheelchair accessible privies on the AT now."

I find the similarities between their privy and our composting toilet intriguing.  Speaking of which, the latter has been waiting in a nearly completed fashion for weeks since Bradley's trailer broke down and we didn't have another way of getting roofing tin from the store to our farm.  With Everett's help, the tin is ready to install, so we'll be posting more about our own composting toilet system soon!

Our chicken waterer makes it easy to leave town for the weekend without worrying about your flock.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

Very neat post about those houthouses, and improvements! This reminded me of actual white mold I remember in some outhouses...which I am not sure why. Maybe, you, too, Anna, remember this? It indicated that the wood was rotting too fast.--mom
Comment by adrianne Sat Nov 17 08:45:39 2012

I spent a few minutes googling around for verification of the story on these privies. I found this, which might have a lead I'll have to follow up on later when I have some time.

Comment by Shannon Sat Nov 17 10:16:53 2012

Mom --- I don't remember the mold, but I do see lots of white mycelium in our wood chips as they rot happily.

I think in this case, the "moldering" term was used to distinguish it from fast, hot composting.

Shannon --- Thanks for the extra information (and the original photos!)

Comment by anna Sat Nov 17 11:37:56 2012
I've heard about people using 55 gallon barrels with this type of system- when it fills up they add the worms and close it up with some holes to let air escape, toss in a new barrel and then age the old one for a year. Seemed like a good system to me, though I'm sure the barrels would be super heavy when full.
Comment by Mike Sat Nov 17 13:14:27 2012
Anna: Actually, Dawn took the photos of the privy. ;-)
Comment by Shannon Sat Nov 17 19:16:07 2012
Shannon --- Even more reasons why she's a keeper!
Comment by anna Sat Nov 17 20:32:35 2012

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.