A questions ?


None of us at campus knew how does dry toilet works. It began with a question led toOur firstUDDtoilet sponsored tree. This is how we many time learn and this is how we direct our own learning – researching, learning from people, asking question and TRYING.

One questions – so we are collecting the fecal matter in drums (with saw dust) and once the drum is full (one is full 🙂 we have covered it further with dry leaves and tied a nursery net on top. The ‘full’ drum is now resting below the dry toilet in the drum chamber only (to one side) – so it is safe from rain water and is warm.My question is – in how much time will the fecal matter get decomposed as in when we should open the net and check the drum.And also how it would look after de-composition – will this be similar to how food waste manure looks (black powder?)

1. The Drum and the dug up tree-pit


2. The empty drum – pretty clean, eh? and mind you almost negligible smell, yay!


3. The proud Guava sapling waiting for some mulch


It was not easy, we had to ask manyquestions, collect information and process ourunderstanding.

How did you start the drum, I mean what did you put in it before starting use?

​we lined the drum’s bottom with some dry leaves

Is it sawDUST or woodCHIPS that you have used after each use?

​​saw dust only – should we use wood chips – is that better than saw dust or a mix?

How long did it take to fill?

​One month – many kids are using it and the drum is not very big – about 60 liters

With buckets and woodchips I keep my full buckets for a year before digging pits near trees, bananas etc and then burying the material and covering. After a year in the bucket the volume has reduced considerably and nothing noxious about it.

​one year is a long period – i would need 12 drums before my Drum No 1 would get emptied out for re-sue – thats a lot of drum, what else is an option?​

But could get better composting if mixed with some soil and cowdung and leaves and aerated.The drum or bucket doesnt let air get to everywhere so composting in the drum is retarded, slower. Rolling the drum periodically helps.

​Would it help to make holes in the drum sides and ​ ​then cover the holes with some mesh (so that stuff does not come out)​ I do not space to periodically roll the drum – something for me to think about for future

I did top the drum with leaves, some soil and covered the top of drum with green nursery mesh

I guess I need more ideas!

Do you have space to plant trees? Dig a pit, deep enough to empty drum into AND to put at least 30 cm soil on top to reach level ground. Plant a small sapling in the topping soil. 12 new trees a year. Woodchips ie rough granular stuff is better than fine sawdust which rather excludes air

  • Yes we have space to plant trees (lot of space and lot of trees to be planted)

  • but won’t contamination be an issue if we put the uncomposed drum-full into soil – else i love the idea of growing the tree – its simple – infact we have done it earlier when we had a mobile toilet – dig a pit – poop into it – when it gets filled – leave it for 3 months and then plant sapling of a tree and meanwhile move the toilet to new tree location 🙂 – ut not all were comfortable with our mobile toilet.

  • will switch to wood chips in the next trip to saw mill!

No prob unless you have a danger of contaminating shallow aquifer.

If you prefer have a protected shaded composting shed and mix with lots more leaves, straw, etc and some soil, dung etc but not food waste and compost there, turning occasionally – see standard garden composting techniques. Need to keep animals out and rats, so a concrete floor is needed really. That way need fewer drums.Otherwise, lots of drums! Sponsor a Drum campaign?!?!? If you get round to emptying one see if it is wet and soggy at the bottom. Ifso not enough woodchips were places in the bottom first. It is false economy to be greedy for poop volume and skimp on a good deep layer of woodchips at the bottom!! Rolling helps aeration and mixing. Let me know developments! Your place and activities sounds great!!

No shallow aquifer, so i realise no major concerns of contamination. Also our borewell is more than 100m from where we would be planting trees. So i will go ahead with the simple “mantra” you gave:

when the drum gets filled up – its time to plant a tree

Will follow the directive: tree sapling goes into 30cm of soil above the poop/sawdust mix

( I am assuming as soon as the drum gets filled up we can dig a hole and empty the drum and plant the tree – or do we need to wait before planting the tree? Will also be generous in layering the bottom of the drum with woodchips and dry leaves Will also be prompt is sending you some pics and videos.

Thank you Paul for all the guidance.