How To Make An Off Grid Septic System?

  • A septic tank is an underground, water-tight container made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene that separates solids and floatable materials (grease, oil) and digests organic matter. After that, the effluent is dumped onto the field. The effluent is subsequently moved through sand, built wetlands, soil, or another medium to remove pathogens, nitrogen, and other impurities using pumps or gravity. If it’s a soil-based waste, it goes into perforated pipes that slowly release it into the earth.
  • A drainfield is a shallow trench in unsaturated soil that is covered. The wastewater is soaked, treated, and then dispersed onto the soil, where it is further filtered for dangerous coliform bacteria (an sign of human feces pollution), nutrients, and viruses. It then turns into groundwater.

These are the steps of installing a septic system:

  • A site study and soil test can help you plan and construct your system.
  • Send your application in and wait for it to be approved.
  • Dig a hole for the tank and connect the tank to the house using a pipe.
  • Make an excavation in the leach field.
  • To retain the pipe in place, route it to the leach field and surround it with gravel.
  • Cover the tank and pipe after the examination.

A reed bed, which is a manmade pond of reeds that interacts with natural ecological processes to break down wastewater organic matter, can be used as a leach field. Gravel and sand are also found in the pond.

What is the operation of an off-grid septic system?

Septic systems, as previously mentioned, are expensive and require constant pumping from third parties, so they aren’t truly an off-grid answer in my opinion.

A septic system manages two types of waste water in off-grid systems: lightly contaminated water from sinks or showers, known as “grey water,” and significantly dirty water from toilets, known as “black water.” While many home plumbing systems don’t distinguish between the two, managing them individually in an off-grid water system is usually the best option because it saves money.

How can you get rid of human waste while you’re not connected to the internet?

Digging a pit latrine or “outhouse” is the simplest way to deal with sewage. You dig a deep pit and cover it with a slab of concrete that includes a hole for a squat or seat toilet. You’re good to go if you build a shelter around your latrine.

Of course, certain additional considerations must be made in order to dig a latrine safely.

First and foremost, you must choose a location for your latrine.

It should never be erected uphill of a well (including your neighbors’ wells) and should always be downhill of your water source.

This is especially critical in locations with fissured rocks (think limestone), as sewage can easily be transferred into the water source through crevices in the rock.

While this is the most convenient form of sewage disposal, not everyone like the thought of going outdoors to use the restroom.

It’s fine for a few days of camping, but going to the bathroom on a chilly winter night isn’t much fun!

Flies can be a problem with latrines, and your property may be too small to properly dig a latrine.

Latrine Guidelines:

  • Building latrines upstream from a water source is never a good idea.
  • The water table should be at least 2 yards above the latrine pits.
  • The latrine hole should be high enough to avoid flooding.
  • A safe distance from water sources is required for the latrine (about 30 yards but varies depending on the type of ground)
  • When not in use, the latrine should be closed to keep flies away (listen to your wife when she instructs you to put the toilet seat down!)
  • At least 5 feet deep and 4 feet broad is required for the pit.
  • The latrine pit should be covered with earth once it has been filled to the top 1/2 meter.

Methane gas can build up as human waste decomposes. Never light a cigarette in a latrine or throw matches down the toilet. It has the potential to trigger an explosion!

You should also avoid pouring bleach or other household chemicals into the latrine since the chemicals may react with the feces.

To keep odors and insects at bay, fill the latrine with lime, peat moss, or hay.

Without a septic tank, how can I live off the grid?

Consider a composting toilet if you have an off-grid power system but don’t want to deal with a septic system. They use no water to turn garbage into nutrient-dense compost. In a compact, self-contained chamber beneath the toilet bowl, composting toilets turn waste to compost.

What is the tiniest septic tank available?

If you want to establish a septic system, the smallest tank size you’ll probably find is 750 gallons, which will fit one to two bedrooms.

A 1,000-gallon system, which can service two to four bedrooms, is also available. Keep in mind that certain localities need a minimum tank capacity of 1,000 gallons, so check your local regulations.

Here are some typical septic system prices, broken down by tank size:

Composting Toilets

Composting toilets are one of the most prevalent techniques to deal with blackwater. These can range from a simple pail filled with sawdust to a lavishly built toilet costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Composting toilets take some getting used to, but they’re worth it when you consider how much water you’re saving by not flushing it. You’ll still need a way to deal with water from showers and sinks, which brings us to the next alternative.

This approach CAN be used with a septic system. As a result, waste is diverted from the tank, increasing the system’s life and reducing water consumption.

Greywater Systems

Greywater reuse, when done correctly, is a terrific method to save money and resources. You can construct your own greywater system in a number of ways, including:

  • purchase a greywater tank and system that has been developed for business use
  • Make your own complete home system out of your own components.
  • Set up certain appliances (such your washer) to send greywater to alternative areas, such as toilets or a garden tank.


Lagoons, like septic tanks, are widely employed in places where the earth is inadequate as a filter. The wastewater is discharged into an earthen basin, which collects and treats the waste via microbial activity.

Lagoons are usually less expensive than full septic systems, but they come with their own set of problems (such as having an open pit of sewage) and may not be permitted in your location. More information is available here.

Septic Systems

This is perhaps the most frequent and widely accepted wastewater disposal method. Water from the house drains into a septic tank, where solids settle to the bottom and are broken down, and water percolates out through perforated pipes into a yard leach field.

In our location, this is one of the most frequent methods of wastewater treatment. In reality, we both grew up in houses with septic tanks.

In a composting toilet, where does urine go?

If you’ve recently acquired or are considering purchasing a composting toilet, you probably have a lot of concerns about waste management, how to handle it, and what you can use it on and for. How to dispose of or use urine from a composting toilet is a frequently requested subject.

Before we go into the many types of composting toilets and how they handle pee, it’s crucial to realize that they all handle urine differently.

The urine (together with moisture from solid waste) will be evaporated by an exhaust fan system in most composting toilets, which will assist to minimize the overall quantity of moisture in your composting toilet.

You won’t need to dispose of pee if you have a toilet with an exhaust fan installed because the moisture will evaporate and return to the atmosphere. If you have a composting toilet with a urine diverter, you’ll need to dispose of pee collected in a separate container.

So, what’s actually in urine?

We’ve lost contact with things that used to be recycled and used to benefit not only ourselves but the environment around us, as we have with so many other things in our contemporary western, material world. Urine is one of the best examples of this.

Urine has been used for a number of purposes for millennia, from producing gunpowder and tanning animal hides to making soap and whitening teeth (Ewww).

While urine is primarily water, it does include some intriguing components that can be used. Most of the time, the following is what makes up urine:-

Proteins, hormones, and metabolites are examples of other substances.

Ways to dispose of urine from your composting toilet

We’re all guilty of it. We all need to go to the bathroom, regardless of who we are, where we come from, or how big our bladders are.

The vast majority of people will urinate in a flush toilet, which utilizes perfectly good drinking water to flush urine down drains and pipes to a processing factory. Many people are unaware that urine is a fascinating chemical concoction that can be used in a variety of ways.

#1 Just get rid of it

If you’re traveling with a composting toilet in your caravan, RV, or other vehicle, you’ll undoubtedly want to dispose of any extra urine collected in the composting toilet. Urine can be disposed of in a public toilet or into a drain or sewer if you’re on the road.

#2 Make a plant feed solution

Many of the chemicals and components in produced fertilisers are comparable to those in urine, if you look at the chemical makeup of fertilisers. Fertilizer is generally made up of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with a variety of other chemicals and modifications depending on the producer and the application).

Because pee is chemically similar to fertilizer, it can be used to generate a plant feed solution, which is especially beneficial during the growth stage. For plants in the ground, dilute one part urine to 10-15 parts water; for pot plants, dilute one part urine to 30-50 parts water because they’re usually more sensitive.

#3 Assist plants in their fruit-bearing stage

Plants that require a lot of nitrogen, such as corn, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum, and beans, can benefit from a dose of nitrogen from the above plant feed solution during their fruit-bearing stage. It’s important to remember that too much nitrogen can be harmful, so use the solution just as needed and keep an eye out for indicators of excess nitrogen, such as curled leaves.

#4 Remedy nitrogen deficiencies in plants

This can be a sign of nitrogen deficit if your plants’ leaves are pale yellow or pale green (when they should be vibrant and healthy). This problem can be solved by using the above-mentioned plant feed approach.

#5 Use it as a compost additive

Urine is an excellent addition to your plant compost pile because of its high nitrogen content. If you’re going to compost it, you’ll need to include carbon-rich materials like dried leaves, sawdust, straw, and so on. Organic material that is green and moist is high in nitrogen, while brown and dry organic material is high in carbon. If you’re going to add lawn clippings to your compost pile, spread them out first and let them dry before adding them along with urine.

You can use, reuse, or dispose of urine from your composting toilet in five different ways, as shown above. The more we educate ourselves about methods to help our environment and recycle the items around us (even our own trash), the better!

What is the process of using a composting toilet?

When flushing toilets, over 27% of the average American’s household water usage is used. Despite a statutory requirement that toilets utilize only 1.6 gallons of water per flush (GPF), toilets manufactured prior to 1992 may use up to 7 gallons every flush. Even with the lower GPF, flushing a single toilet five times a day uses 2,336 gallons of water each year.

Composting toilets are an alternative to flush toilets since they dispose of human waste while using less water. An anaerobic processing system reduces odor by mixing garbage with sawdust, peat moss, or coconut coir and venting the flow of air outward.

  • Systems that are self-contained. The entire system is linked and functions as a single entity for all intents and purposes. These systems may be the greatest option if you have limited space or live in a multi-story home.
  • Systems that are centralized. All waste is flushed to a big, centralized tank that is put either under your home or outdoors. There are several different types of centralized systems, each with its own technique of flushing waste and number of storage chambers. A centralized system, which is more analogous to a regular toilet, may provide a better experience depending on your situation.
  • You want to cut down on your water usage.
  • You want to spend less money.
  • You’re looking for strategies to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • You’re building in a location where a septic system isn’t available.
  • There is no pre-existing septic system on your property.
  • You want to reduce the strain on your current plumbing system.

When a home already has plumbing, it may be more cost-effective to preserve the infrastructure and merely upgrade the toilets to be more energy-efficient. Adding a compost toilet, on the other hand, can relieve pressure on the system while also cutting expenditures. Though it costs more up front than a regular toilet, the long-term benefits vastly justify the initial cost. A composting toilet can help you save money while also reducing your environmental effect over time.

  • Water usage in a family can be reduced by up to 60%.
  • Water costs are reduced.
  • More than 6,600 gallons of water could be saved per person per year.
  • Composting is encouraged, resulting in a more productive soil.

Composting toilets utilize little to no water and allow excrement to be recycled as fertilizer in the environment. Furthermore, composting your household trash promotes more fertile soil and gives you the possibility to grow more food on your own.

Composting improves soil quality by enhancing microorganism production, assisting in moisture retention, minimizing pests and plant diseases, increasing agricultural productivity, and obviating the need for artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Composting prevents contaminants from being absorbed by plants or water sources by binding heavy metals, removing wood preservatives, insecticides, and hydrocarbons in polluted soils. You may assist reduce the creation of methane and leachate formulation by minimizing the amount of organic waste in landfills. You’ll also save money because you won’t need as much water, fertilizer, or pesticides.

  • Compost toilets that are self-contained start at $1,400.
  • For $50, you can make it yourself.
  • Installing a septic system is 75% more expensive than installing a compost toilet.

A self-contained composting toilet costs over $1,400, but you can make your own for around $50 if you’re handy and adventurous. Before you install a composting toilet, keep in mind that you’ll need your own outdoor composting bin system. Many websites offer instructions for building your own toilet, but most require the same basic materials: cover material (something to cover and absorb waste), bucket, plywood, particleboard, medical grade toilet seat, and other fasteners.

Furthermore, if $1,400 seems excessive, keep in mind that establishing a septic system on your land will cost you up to 75% more than a compost toilet, so keep that in mind.

  • Waste removal is done by hand.
  • Not necessarily appealing to the eye
  • Frequently, they must be utilized in tandem with a greywater system.
  • The capacity of smaller units to accept higher amounts of garbage may be constrained.
  • A power source is required by most systems.
  • Odors and unprocessed material can be produced by improperly installed systems.

The greater level of maintenance and human upkeep required by composting toilets is perhaps the largest negative. Slacking on your upkeep can result in not only foul odors, but also dreadful messes and health risks. You’ll have to manually remove the end result if you’re using a self-contained compost toilet that isn’t connected to a system (which could prove to be an unsavory task, to say the least). Most systems necessitate the use of a power source as well as a greywater system. Incorrectly installed systems might cause odor problems. You’ll also need to keep an eye on the temperature, moisture, pH levels, air circulation, and biological organism count in your compost bin. All of these factors play a role in determining how effectively and efficiently your system breaks down your household trash.

  • Encourages the composting of both kitchen and bathroom waste.
  • Reduces reliance on traditional sewage and plumbing systems
  • Reduces overall water consumption
  • Reduces the cost of household maintenance
  • Reduces pollutants in the ocean
  • Water contamination is easily detected.
  • Property planning is simple.
  • Land development flexibility
  • Gray-water loading is reduced.
  • Less of a detrimental impact on the environment

Despite the numerous aspects to consider and manage, using a composting toilet does not necessitate any specific training. In fact, the benefits of a composting toilet system much exceed the inconvenience for most people. The system allows you to recycle and compost everything you would normally put in your kitchen sink disposal (food scraps, etc.) in addition to composting human waste in your home, reducing overall household waste. Composting systems on-site are significantly easier to maintain than traditional plumbing systems, and they eliminate the problems that most water-based systems generate. Unlike traditional sewage systems, which must be planned ahead of time during the construction of a building, composting toilet systems can be installed whenever they are needed. On-site composting and greywater treatment solutions reduce your overall environmental effect.

Composting toilets may be a win-win situation. Consider adding a compost toilet to your existing system or employing compost toilets in your future construction if you want to save money on water and power, reduce your environmental imprint, and help conserve our water supply.

What are the advantages of using an off-grid toilet?

Everything goes into a composter right beneath the toilet seat in self-contained composting toilets: urine, excrement, toilet paper, and cover material. The tank is removed and emptied into a secondary composting container when it fills up.

The humanure system, according to many off-gridders, is the only way to go.

It receives top scores for ease of use and efficacy!

The humanure system is an environmentally friendly toilet that does not require the use of water, plumbing, pipes, vents, drains, power, or urine separation.

The humanure self-contained composting toilet system, designed by Joseph Jenkins, is something even the most inexperienced DIYer should be able to put together, and he’s even produced a simple guide to the entire process!

# 3Centralized Off Grid Composting Toilets

The top-of-the-line option is centralized off-grid composting toilets, which are ideal for families who live off-grid full-time.

A centralized composting system resembles a typical toilet in any bathroom, but it has a massive storage tank beneath it.

Using a sophisticated mechanism, this dry toilet system composts the waste within the tank. Using a fan and ventilation system, the contents are continuously dried out, creating ideal conditions for microorganisms to work their magic.

Because centralized composting toilets have larger tanks, they are emptied less frequently.

When you empty the tank, the waste will begin to resemble compost and will need to be finished in a secondary composting container before being used.

If you’re looking for a centralized composting toilet, the Sun-Mar Centrex 3000 Air-flow Composting Toilet System is the best option.

This centralized composting toilet, which can handle the waste of up to 7 persons, is the pinnacle of low-maintenance off-grid toilet systems.

How does plumbing operate when you’re not connected to the power grid?

If you go off the grid, you’ll almost certainly need a few extra items to keep warm, cool, and have plenty of water. Many people rely on propane as a fuel source. You can go all electric with your water heater and range, but this will consume a lot of your produced energy. Whole-house propane tanks are essentially larger versions of the gas grill propane tanks. The propane is delivered to your home via pipes, much like natural gas, and the tank is refilled as needed by a propane delivery service.

A tankless water heater is another alternative for heating your water. You’ll need a propane or electric tankless device to achieve your off-grid goal. Natural gas versions are also available, but you’ll be on the grid. Tankless heaters do not store and heat water; instead, they heat it as needed. More information on tankless water heaters can be found in How Tankless Water Heaters Work. If you truly want to be green, a solar water heater should be considered. The sun’s heat is captured and used to warm your water in this technique. In the article How to Choose a New Water Heater, you can learn more about solar heaters.