human waste?

brdldystlu(5b Mo)May 10, 2009

Hello. I have done regular composting for ever but have the chance to get into doing vermicomposting. I have a bin that is doing well(old bath tub, baby blue in color with planks on the top as a lid). Now this is at our weekend/vacation home. We are in the process of re-habbing this house and right now have the bathroom almost done. However we are using a bedside comode as the toilet is right now not hooked up. We are putting lots of shredded paper in the bucket and it is mostly urine, which I know is ok for the compost/garden. However what will the worms do with this? Would they like it or not? This weekend's collection is just from me and I am healthy and not on any meds. We also have a compost bin of sorts but I was thinking could I add it to the worm bin. I hope I hear back from someone soon as I will need to dump it soon.

Thank you.


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folly_grows(10 SF by the Bay)

If you are planning on using the worm compost on edibles, no. Same with cat or dog feces. Better to dig a hole a for disposal.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 10:30AM
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Not sure I understand the reasoning behind why it is bad to use human or other meat eater feces to produce compost. You just need to do it right. There are lots of studies on humanure for food production as an answer to the human waste management problem. So far, I don't know of any real studies that prove that composted human waste is more harmful than any other manure. Most (actually all that comes to mind) info I have found on the negatives of the human waste issue is anecdotal and lacks substantiation and is driven by fear of what MIGHT happen rather than the realities of what DOES happen. Studies done on the side effects of sewer sludge use always seem to find that the toxins are not of human origin, but of industrial runoff. It is highly important to recognize the dangers of microbes. But, it is equally important to recognize that proper management is the key to avoiding those dangers. Burying in a hole without composting risks water contamination. So the advice of burying it in a hole is not the safer route. Good composting is much safer and the finished product from well managed compost is good for edibles. The World Health Organization has been trying to implement (and has implemented in some countries) procedures for using human waste for this purpose for years as fear and taboo have undermined science and cause worse damage to the environment in regard to human health than proper composting and productive use of the waste would have.

Personally, I would compost the waste separately allowing it to go through a hot compost phase. Not only will this help in killing pathogens that could be present, but it is better for worms to eat material that has already passed that phase. Ever noticed the population increase of worms in a compost heap that has gone from thermo to meso? If you use the meso phase to "cure" the compost, you will notice it really attracts the worms.

Anytime you use this stuff, be sure you wear gloves and keep any cuts completely protected. I nearly always recommend against using human or carnivore feces just like folly_grows does here. But I do so based on the fact that I don't trust that most people will use sensible management, not based on whether it can be done or not. Common sense isn't common enough for me to feel recommending it in a compost class is a good idea.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 3:47PM
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What's meso? What's thermo?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 6:46PM
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folly_grows(10 SF by the Bay)

Joejr317 makes some very good points. I based my comment on the wormer's bible, Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof (p. 67-68). She's very secific about not using cat or dog feces. I extrapolated from there.

And wouldn't the volume of human waste each weekend be an issue? And do you really want to dig through a pile that contains human waste?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 10:30AM
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folly_grows(10 SF by the Bay)

Since fresh horse manure has to be precomposted before being added to a worm bin, shouldn't human manure? And if so, why go the extra step by transferring it to the worm bin? And do you really want to dig through a pile that contains human waste?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 11:32AM
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Thermo is in reference to the thermophilic stage of hot composting. Meso is in reference to the mesophilic stage. Thermo is more about bacteria and is the stage which can reach temps beyond 150F. Meso is the "curing" stage after the thermo or you can make use of mesophilic microbes all the time in cool compost piles. Thermo to meso generally means the hot loving bacteria are making room for the cool loving fungi and bacteria. That's when you get the actinomycetes that give you that "earthy" smell.

Folly, you're definitely right that it would be a lot to handle. But, if it is precomposted in the bucket like in a composting toilet it shouldn't be a major problem. There are a few reasons to give it to the worms. One is that worms would greatly reduce the amount just lying around in a compost system. In fact, that is the primary reason I would think using worms would be a good idea. They would save a ton of space rather than having to start another bin. Three, they supposedly further process any pathogens out and make the nutrients water soluble. Four, I imagine it would make great worm feed. Oh, and you don't have to transfer to the worm bin. Transfer the worms.

You have to compost horse manure to use it. It's recommended, but not necessary. I don't always do so. I just let it sit in a new bin for a week so it gets past heating up and then add worms. You don't have to let it "cure" before using it in a worm bin or pit. Nobody relishes the idea of "digging through a pile of human waste". Okay, there might be a few out there, but most don't. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.

Appelhof's advice is nonsense on pet feces. For example, if you have a cat, you have to clean the litter box. You are handling the feces anyway and you're actually doing so more dangerously because the feces is so dry from the absorption by cat litter that you are at more risk for inhaling the dust, which is where the danger lies. Any woman that has been pregnant has probably gotten that warning from their doctor. And many of us men cleaned the litter box for 9 months even though we might not like the cat. Worm bins are not dusty. If you dedicate a bin to feces, just take the proper precautions. Keep it wet. Wear gloves. Don't dig in unprocessed food material (for your and the worms safety). Basic precautions that you really should take with any worm bin. Again, I still recommend against it because I don't trust everyone to take sensible precautions. I think that is why Applehof said that, too. We'll never know now.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 2:12PM
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folly_grows(10 SF by the Bay)

There is a member named Arkiegold who is spearheading a vermiculture project at a waste water facility in Arkansas. His journal entries are right on topic.

Arkie also mentions that Black Soldier Flies are good processors of fresh human waste. That might be a solution for brdldystlu.

Here is a link that might be useful: Arkiegold Waste Water Project

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Here's a little something that may make interesting (related) reading.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 8:27AM
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Hi All; My 2 cents worth. Worms do not do well in waste sludge from flesh consuming animals. Be it cured( Heat Composted) or not. They react by reduced breeding and slowly dying. You must feed some sulpementary food. On the other hand animals that eat vegetation leave enough food value in their waste for the worms to get both microbes (which sludge lacks) and trace elements (sludge has lots of)from decaying matter. Earthworms need lots of microbes to derive their neutrition from other wise they breed less and shrink in size. This is from C Morgans books and he has been proven to be correct from hunderds of trials with the same results.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 9:01AM
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Charlie Morgan also contradicts himself from one book to another at times and admits it in one book stating something along the lines that as he learns new info his own info will change. I don't recall what lkittle is talking about, and I have read most of Morgan's stuff, but I do recall the section in "Profitable Earthworm Farming" where Charlie Morgan talks about the values of using sewer sludge and emphasizes many times it's safety. He even states that it is much safer than horse manure. Page 47. On 48 he refers to it as the primary portion of what he refers to as an "excellent feed". Also Charlie Morgan's goal was to raise worms. Not to compost waste. Two entirely different goals with entirely different methods. As far as composting worms reacting so poorly to flesh eating animal manure after composting, I'd like to see that information. Nightcrawlers won't eat sludge, but I guess I assumed we're talking about composting worms.

Folly made a great point. I've also read a bit about BSF being really good for taking care of waste.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 7:53AM
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Ok, i should chime in on this one. I used a port-a-potty for almost two years while collecting money to put in a septic system.

Human waste is around 90% liquid. The actual volume of solids is surprisingly small. Around a quart of solids a week including paper.

I have just added a composting toilet, it has a built in drain for liquids.

There was about 80 pounds of rough bark about what would be called medium grade when buying bags. In the kit there was also a bag of starter mix. It contained a mixture of very fine bark like it had been pounded in a hammer mill and peat moss. With a lot of worm eggs mixed in.

There was a third bag of this fine bark and peat mix, no eggs, with thin wood chips the same as you get when buying small critter bedding. You add a half cup of this per person each day to the pot.

And a small container that looks like Ridex . A tablespoon full every other week.

I was slow installing the setup and the eggs hatched then froze. So i went out and bought worms. I could have used some from my bin but well I'm attached to those.

The system hasn't been up and running long enough to tell if the worms are going to handle it or not.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 9:03AM
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If the worms turn human manure into worm manure, is that perfectly safe? technically it would be only worm castings.
I was thinking of using a compost tumbler that would heat up to 140 degrees if aerated enough with carbon and nitrogen. But I don't know that I could get it hot enough in the winter.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 3:43PM
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" I could have used some from my bin but well I'm attached to those." Ha,ha ha. I can relate to that.

Back to this topic again. Comments: If possible, do not mix liquid with solid. The amount of portable water America uses to flush a bit o p is unconscionable. I remember having a teacher a billion years ago tell class that dried sewer waste was fine in a garden. He was not thinking of the heavy metals. I would keep liquid and solid seperate from the source. I would add charcoal to the liquid. I would add no water. I would cover after each solid deposit with dry material. Maybe investigate bokashi, yes for this too. The 5 gallon buckets can be stored until spring and then put on a large already going compost heap and cover with more compost. There is a youtube about this. I would not use dryied city sewerage due to heavy metals. Maybe in many countries we have enough land to use the results to fertilize non edibles. Maybe in some countries they do not. And they need the fertilizer to grow food.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 7:44PM
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ÃÂ ÃÂ I compost in the following way: I use 5 gallon black buckets. My first bucket starts with several inches of chlorine free water and 1 teaspoon of rid-x. Dog feces are collected on a regular basis and water is added to cover if necessary. When the bucket is full, it is stirred, the lid is put on tight and placed in a sunny location.

The next bucket is started with liquid from the previous bucket. Lids are kept over the buckets at all times.The sealed bucket is aged for at least 2 weeks, preferably one month or more.

The resulting mush is poured in the flower beds in the spring or fall and tilled in or covered up. Flowers look great! It is also poured into low spots in the grass and washed in. I use fresh urine mixed 10:1 to fertilize my yard and garden; they are healthy and very green, some say the best in the neighborhood.

Rid-x uses anaerobic bacteria to break down the waste; once the first teaspoon is added, the bacteria multiply on their own, just like bokashi or sourdough. The resulting mush IS NOT PATHOGEN FREE!

The same process can be used to vermicompost feces, human and dog, either dry, placed in a black bucket or pile in a sunny location, with 1/3 carbon source (ie: newspaper shreddings, straw or sawdust), and with ventilation holes in the lid, adding the worms after the temperature no longer elevates after shaking or stirring the contents.

Or, wet by adding the month old drained slurry a little at a time to a white vermicomposting bucket or pile kept in the shade with worms as they digest it. The resulting finished vermicompost exceeds government standards as certified pathogen free compost if it has been processed adequately.

Some municipal waste treatment plants in the US use vermiculture to process human waste sludge which is certified and sold to sod farms and ornamental nurseries. It is pathogen free after the worms finish digesting it. Certification requires regular testing.

This post was edited by Stormygale on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 15:02

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 3:03AM
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priswell(9 CA)

Can't beat the advice in the Humanure handbook on this subject.

Here is a link that might be useful: Humanure Handbook

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 9:25AM
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