How to Make Your Own Composting Toilet


A composting toilet turns human waste into a rich soil amendment suitable for use on flower beds and around landscape plants. These toilets offer an inexpensive option in locations with no sewer hookup, such as when camping or living on undeveloped land. They also work well as an emergency waste solution after a natural disaster or if you prefer an environmentally friendly option to the standard wastewater toilet. Commercial versions are available, but you can make one yourself from readily available components.

Step 1

Cut two pieces of ½-inch thick plywood to a measurement of 15-by-18 inches with a circular saw or a jigsaw. Cut two 15-by-21 pieces from the plywood. You'll have a total of four boards.

Step 2

Set the end of one 21-inch board against the end of one 18-inch board. Attach them together at a right angle with three evenly spaced screws. Attach the second 21-inch board to the other end of the 18-inch board in the same manner. Screw the second 18-inch board to the other ends of the 21-inch boards, forming a box.

Step 3

Cut out one 18-by-18 inch piece from the plywood and one 18-by-3 inch piece. Set the long edges of the two pieces of plywood together and attach them to one another with two hinges, making the lid of the toilet.

Step 4

Measure and mark 1.5 inches in from the front center of the lid. Draw a 12-inch diameter circle with one edge of the circle touching the 1.5 inch mark. Cut out the circle with a jigsaw.

Step 5

Turn the plastic bumpers on the underside of the toilet seat cover so they are parallel to the sides of the cover. Lever them with a screwdriver so they move to this configuration.

Step 6

Set the toilet seat cover on top the lid, lining up the hole in the cover with the hole in the plywood lid. Screw the cover to the lid with the hardware included with the cover.

Step 7

Set the lid on top the box. Screw the back edge of the 18-by-3 lid section to the back edge of the box.

Step 8

Lift the lid, allowing it to bend open at the hinges. Set the 5-gallon bucket inside the box and line up the bucket opening under the lid opening. Close the lid.

Step 9

Place a 2-inch layer of peat moss, sawdust or newspaper strips in the bottom of the bucket. These filler materials cover the waste and help prevent bad odors. Cover the waste after each use with another layer of filler material.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep the outdoor compost pile covered at all times, otherwise rainwater may leach the waste into the groundwater supply.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/2 inch plywood
  • Measuring tape
  • 16 inch tall, 5-gallon bucket
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Hinges
  • Toilet seat cover


  • "The Humanure Handbook"; Joseph Jenkins; 2006
  • University of South Florida: Composting Toilet Construction Manual
Keywords: homemade composting toilet, sawdust toilet, emergency camping toilet

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.