GBlist: toilets

Ron Sutcliffe (
Tue, 11 Feb 1997 22:22:31 -0700

Norbert Senf writes;

> Gee, we built a Clivus Minimus, developed at Brace Research Institute
> (McGill University), about 15 years ago, using concrete blocks. It is
> dead simple, and has worked great - about all you need to learn to
> operate it is to add woodshavings to balance the nitrogen.....

> Did I miss something? Needless to say, we had no building codes to
> contend with, and we built some others that weren't successful (kids
> leaving the seat up, throwing blankets down them, white porcelain bowl
> envy, etc.). Often the problem with inherently simple things like this
> appears to revolve around having to foolproof them, and not with any
> innate difficulty in the biological processes.
> Best......Norbert Senf

Well we maintain that something was missing.
There are two functions of composting toilets; one is to create a humus
quality soil amendment (compost fertilizer) and the other is to destroy
the disease causing organisms inherent in our byproducts.

When you say that your Clivus works, I do not dispute that it probably
makes a fine rich odor free compost. I am questioning that the end
product is safely pathogen free. On the other hand, if there were no
pathogens in the toilet to start, then there will not be any at the end

Our public health doctor, a retired professor and former head of the
public health department at his university is adament that the tests
done on package composting toilets in the 70s and 80s were based on bad
scientific methods. And his experience and tests show a reason for

outside of this I will admit that the same ol same ol composting toilets
built around the US in the 70s and 80s can do a fine job at composting
depending on the oporator's knowledge. And in most cases, these toilets
present no great public health risk. This is due mostly to the
- most composting toilets are privately used, most family members are in
biological communication anyway.
- Americans have relatively low rates of enteric pathogens, about %8 of
the population, giardia being the most common. (the affluence of the
- Major public health risks generally invlolve concentrated populations
and most US composting toilets are located in rural areas.
- maybe others.....

Let me make it clear that we are developing composting toilets that can
be used in areas of the world where the quality of life is restricted by
the endemic nature of enteric diseases directly traceable to excreta
disposable practices.

more later

Ron Sutcliffe

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