Toilet, grey water: updates and overhauls

It’s been a busy start to the year catching up with friends- old and new- and getting back into the swing of work. I’d originally planned a post on what we have learnt in the past year but with a month already gone since our first Tassie anniversary it seems to late for that. Instead I’ve chosen to write about some of the system alterations and improvements we have been busy with (aside from finishing off the studio.) So here goes; first

The toilet

Out of all the systems (and structures) on the block the one that has given us the most problem is the toilet. From the simple fact that we had to empty out the shit everything 3 weeks to the old tree solar system that we didn’t quite understand how it works there’s been constant problems with this system. In December when the toilet again overflowed spilling sludgy liquid on the floor- for the 3rd time in a week- we said enough was enough and set about redesigning this system.

The first point of call was to do some research. As followers of milkwoods blog we remembered their post on their composting toilet and used that as the basis for our new design. In essence this meant creating a wheelie bin toilet. To do this we needed to create two things: the bin and the toilet chamber.

  1. The bin


We stuck pretty much to the composting toilet from Milkwood for this so i’ll be short on the detail as it’s been covered there and you should look at the link closely if you are going to do it yourself.

For our version of it we drilled a small hole in the bottom corner to put the overflow piece in. We then cut an old bread crate down to size which was placed on the bottom of the bin to allow the liquid to drain through. Added to this was a piece of ag pipe to help aerate the humanure as it’s sits in the bin. We then cut a hole in the lid upon which we attached a chimney flue to. The bin was then wheeled into place under the floor ready for the chamber to be connected to it.

2. The chamber


Whilst Deirdre worked on the bin. I got to work on the seat. We were fortunate to have some old bits of wood left in the carport by the previous owners. Wanting to get them out of the way these were cut down to size. This panels were then cut down to 600mm lengths. These were bolted to four posts to create a box that was 600 by 600 at a height of 450. The box was then painted and moved into the spot.

After drilling from below to find the correct spot we drilled a hole in the floor and cut the circle out ready for the flue to be inserted into the bin. Once we had got the flue and bin in place we then boarded up the top of the chamber and then cut out a hole in that in order for the seat to be attached. We then tested the ability to pull out the flue and once happy with that we attached the toilet seat to the chamber and now had a new toilet. One which we no longer needed to empty every 2-3 weeks.



Grey water take 2


This has been a long time in the making. As a previous post set out we had a rudimentary grease trap that the water then run through a pipe into the ground. In October when Deirdre’s parents were here her and her Mum, Mary, set about improving this. Before Deirdre’s Mum had arrived she had done some research online and found this American video on a bathtub grey water system. This became the model for our addition to our grey water system.

  1. Baffles in the bath

The first point was to add some baffles to the grey water. This was made from pond liner attached to the bath tub by water proof tape. The purpose of these baffles is to allow the water to slow as it travels through (see photos below).

  2.  Scoria added

We added scoria as the growing medium as it would hold any excess grease from the grease trap and also provide a good medium for the plants to grow in as the rocks are bigger than the 7mm gravel we had on site.

3. In flow and Overflow pipe.

Before topping up the bathtubs an inlet and outlet (overflow) pipe were attached to the bath. These were tank outlet valves that had been drilled into the fibre glass tub with a hole saw and siliconed to stop the water flowing back out of them. The outlet pipe was cut at a higher height to the inlet pipe meaning that the water could pool a little before flowing out.

  4.  Planting out

Using a combination of bull rushes and sedges (some bought, others relocated from our place) we planted out the bed with around a dozen plants.

  5. Second bed 

Originally we had been catching the excess water in a watering can and using this on the grass seeds out the front. As the water pooled we noticed a smell and realised that the water was still quite grey so we decided to add a second bed. (Online research spoke of this but we had originally though better.) At first this was created as a pond and we purchased aerators and pond plants for it. This last less than a fortnight before we realised we had a blackwater pond and that we would be better off creating a second bed. So we did (minus the baffles) and we now have an operational two bed grey water system.

Next time: Studio 5: Cladding. (The Yoga has been dropped from the title.)


5 thoughts on “Toilet, grey water: updates and overhauls

  1. Excellent post and links. We have been toying with making one of Milkwood’s composting loo’s for a while now. You just moved us a step closer. I will check out the grey water solution as well as ours just empties into the septic at the moment. We don’t generate a lot of sink water as we use it in the garden but the rest of is is too valuable to waste. Cheers for the update and kudos on all of your hard work.


    • Thanks. We have found so far that the composting toilet (wheelie bin version) is easier to use and so far seems less smelly. Our garden sits above the bus so we can’t run the water too it so the grey water has been a good alternative. Adds a little asethetically too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting to read how you remodeled your toilet . This toilet looks easier to navigate your way on & off. We are looking forward to seeing all the advancements at our next visit, at least I wont be worried will I fall into this toilet!, The grey water system looks great very different from when I left. Mary & hugh


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