Survival Composting: Can Human Excrement Be Used as Compost?

If Society Falls, How Will You Feed Your Family? Here’s One Way …

After the movie, The Martian, a lot of people wonder — can human excrement really be used as compost?

Wow — ready for the answer?


Imagine what the world would look like after a devastating event on an apocalypse level.

The World After an Apocalypse — Can You Survive?

The apocalypse could be something like a major power grid failure, major war or some natural disaster that completely destroys the world as we know it. What some proclaim as “judgment day” coming from the hand of God and others consider just a probable event when unruly nations like North Korea are allowed to develop several nuclear weapons, an EMP caused by a nuclear explosion, a solar flare or some man made device is a very real possibility.

It is something the governments are preparing to deal with because there is such a high probability it will happen. There is no doubt that our power grid is in danger and that terrorists are dreaming up ways to try to take it down.

If an EMP takes place…

If a massive EMP happens, the world as we know it will crumble. It will take out the power grid, which will create a domino effect. Everything will fall apart. Businesses will collapse. The banking systems will be non-existent and the food supply chain will cease. Life is going to be much harder and you will be completely dependent on yourself.

Growing your own food will be a necessity. You won’t have the luxury of running to a grocery store when you need to put food on the table. It will have to come from your own crops. That is a lot of pressure. In today’s world, most people are not prepared to grow their own food. They don’t have the knowledge or the know-how. It is going to be a scary situation.

If you are familiar with gardening at all, you are probably well aware of the many, many products on the market to help your garden thrive. Fertilizers are regularly used by commercial farms and hobby gardeners. They help speed things along while ensuring plants are healthy. If your plants and the soil in which they grow don’t have the necessary nutrition, your garden is going to fail.

If Your Garden Fails – You Starve

Without backup foods and preps of course, and we’ve written previously on several of the best survival foods to be stockpiling today.

That should be a simple fact to understand, which is why you need to know about survival composting.

Compost is Organic Material with the Nutrients for Rich Soil

Compost is organic material added to the soil. Compost is rich in things like nitrogen and carbon. These components are what make soil rich and fertile. Fertile ground is what you need to make your garden grow. If your soil is healthy and full of nutrients, you won’t have a need for fertilizer.

Compost Attracts Worms

Compost attracts worms as well. Worms thrive in rich soil and make it even better. Their little tunnels help break up the soil, making it nice and loose for the sprawling roots of your plants. They also add their own fertilizer and organic material to the soil for the plants’ roots to feed on. It is a harmonious balance that every gardener strives for.

Why Compost?

Every time you grow something in soil, you are depleting the nutrients. Think of your soil as a bucket of water. Each time you grow a plant, you are taking out some of that water. Soon, it will be empty. Your soil will quickly be drained of the nutrients it needs to feed the plants. This is why it is so important you are constantly adding nutrients to the soil in the form of compost.

If you continue to plant, harvest, plant, harvest, you are going to deplete your soil. Practicing proper crop rotation is one way you can give the soil a rest. This is a practice that is very common in today’s world. Farmers will rotate fields each season. One season it is planted with something like corn or potatoes and the following year a cover crop, like clover or alfalfa is planted. The cover crops add nutrients back to the soil. The plant material sits in the fields over the growing season and winter, slowly breaking down and feeding the soil so it is ready to go the following year.

Unfortunately, in a grid down situation, that may not be possible. Every inch of ground you have available is an invaluable commodity. You need to grow as much food as possible on every bit of land available.

You can skip the downtime for a field by mixing in compost after a harvest. The compost cuts out that waiting period. You would harvest, add in your compost and allow it to sit in the ground over the winter months, eliminating the need to give your field a rest season. Your fields or garden bed are going to be ready for your seeds.

What is Compost Exactly?

Compost is really garbage. It is a lot of kitchen scraps that you wouldn’t eat. Things like potato peels, rinds, coffee grounds and so on. It can also be the parts of the fruits and vegetables you don’t eat like the tops of the carrots or the core of an apple. Newspaper and cardboard are also nice additions to a compost heap. Compost is comprised of organic material. Anything that can break down can be tossed in a compost pile. You would want to avoid things like plastic that don’t break down-at least not in the next five lifetimes.

Compost has fondly been dubbed Black Gold. It is a vital part of a healthy garden. After the kitchen waste has been given some time to break down, it turns into a dark loose material. It resembles a mixture of straw and dirt once it has gone through the break down process. This material is worked into the soil with a rototiller, hoe or just spread over the top and allowed to naturally work its way in.

Compost is not fertilizer. Compost feeds the soil. Fertilizer feeds the plants. If your soil is rich in nutrients, you don’t need the addition of chemical fertilizers. There is a reason organic gardening is so popular these days. The produce from an organic garden tastes better and is far better for you than produce grown with the help of some chemical fertilizer cooked up in a laboratory.

Now, when we say organic matter is what makes up a compost heap, we are also talking about waste i.e. poop. Every compost heap is benefited by the addition of poop. Yes, poop. Chicken poop and steer manure is so popular for use in gardens, it is sold by the bag at nearly every nursery and home store. You don’t have to pay for this excellent soil additive. You make your own everyday, right in your own home.

Yes, human waste is a fabulous addition to your compost heap that can mean the difference between having food on the table and starving. Before you turn up your nose, wait. There is plenty of evidence to back up the use of human waste in the garden.

Poop for Compost Heaps?

In today’s world, people are picky about the poop they use to fertilize their gardens. As mentioned earlier, chicken and steer are highly sought after. Feces is high in nitrogen. It will make your plants green and very leafy. As you get into composting, you are going to hear a lot about what NOT to compost. One of the things that is always heavily debated is the human waste addition to a compost heap.

Plenty of compost experts are going to tell you to never use human waste in your heap. There is a good reason for that. Human waste is full of parasites and bacteria that can make you incredibly sick. We know how important it is to wash our hands after taking care of business so we don’t spread disease. We know that poor sanitation can lead to a lot of nasty viruses and outbreaks of potentially fatal diseases.

So, why would we ever use human waste in a compost bin?

It’s free. It’s plentiful. And, it is a great way to recycle. After a world as we know it ending situation, compost is going to be a necessity and the one thing you are guaranteed to have available is human waste.

Safety of Human Waste in Compost Heaps

This is a topic that will get people really fired up. After movies like “The Martian” and a society that is more environmentally conscientious, recycling everything, including human waste, has become very trendy. It is something referred to as humanure. The bacteria and other pathogens found in human waste need a certain temperature to thrive. Think about the meat you cook for dinner. If you were to eat raw chicken or hamburger, there is a pretty good chance you could get sick. If you cook the meat to a certain temperature, the nasty viruses are killed and the meat is safe to eat. This concept applies to human waste as well.

Human waste needs to be heated in order to kill off the harmful organisms. This does not mean you cook up a poop stew. A compost heap provides all the heat needed to kill the harmful bacteria, viruses and other dangerous organisms that are in human waste.

The break down of organic material creates a reaction that quite literally cooks the manure and transforms it into the nutrient-rich compost that can make your garden flourish. In a recent test of the humanure system, Nance Klehm collected feces from 22 people. The people pooped in buckets and delivered it to Klehm. She dumped all of the waste material together and allowed it to sit in a compost heap for 11 months. It was given a stir and then tested again a year later. It was completely free of the bacteria and pathogens that typically contaminate human waste. It was completely safe once it went through the break down process, which we will cover in depth a bit later.

Composting Toilet

The composting toilet is a great way to get started with the humanure process. There are a number of different ways to create a composting toilet or you can spend a little extra cash and buy one that has everything you need. A composting toilet will catch all of the human waste. Every time a person uses the toilet, they add a layer of sawdust or woodchips. This helps contain any odor, covers up the business and starts the process of breaking down the waste to turn it into compost. Sawdust or wood chips are the best option for your composting toilet when it is in use in the house. Once you remove the basin/bucket or whatever you are using to catch the waste, you can add things like straw, grass clippings and etc…to the waste to help speed up the composting process. A composting toilet will not only save water, but it will give you an excellent additive for your garden. Imagine a world without plumbing, which is exactly what will happen after a massive EMP. People will still need to use the toilet. It just makes sense to put everything to good use!

Aerobic Composting of Human Waste

Aerobic composting is basically an open air compost heap. You will quite literally have a pile of poop in the yard or wherever you have designated your compost heap to be.

The waste from the composting toilet is dumped into the pile along with your kitchen and yard waste and allowed to ferment. You will need to use a pitch fork to “stir” the pile from time to time. In the very beginning of a compost heap, it will smell. Just avoid the area until the process gets moving along. The breakdown of organic material produces heat. The center of a compost heap can reach temperatures of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where you want your heap to be temperature wise for at least three weeks. You will often hear gardeners and expert composters talk about a heap and say it is too hot to be put into the soil. It is. It would actually scorch the soil if a cooking heap of compost was put into the soil. When a compost heap is “hot” you will get a very strong ammonia smell. Give it a good stir, wait a day or two and the smell will dissipate.

A hot compost pile is killing off those harmful pathogens and bacteria that are typically found in human waste. It is important you actually take the temperature of your compost heap. This is a critical step in the process of turning otherwise deadly human waste into a nutrient-rich material that will make your garden thrive.

Once the pathogens and bacteria are killed off, your heap cools down and you get this mellow process that slowly transforms the waste into an earthy, almost dirt-like substance.

Don’t Get the Compost Too Hot — Or You’ll Kill Good Microbes

It is possible for your compost heap to get too hot. If you have a lot of nitrogen-rich waste in your heap, things can really start cooking to the point the good microbes are killed off. If this happens, the breakdown process is interrupted and the heap will no longer be compost. It will be a very flammable alcohol. These hot heaps are fire hazards waiting to happen.

Human waste has got a bit of a bad reputation. When done right, it can be an invaluable tool to your survival garden. Check out the following books to learn more about survival composting with human waste.


Building Your Compost Bin

You can make your own outdoor aerobic compost heap with a few wooden pallets. Create an open U with the front being the open place. The pallets along the back and both sides will help keep the heap contained in one area. Ideally, you will want three bins so you always have a fresh batch of compost cooking. Once you have constructed your space for your heap, it is time to start adding your organic matter. There are some basics you will want to follows. Things to add to your heap include;

• Human waste

• Chicken, horse and other livestock waste

• Kitchen scraps

• Grass clippings

• Newspaper

• Cardboard

• Dead leaves, branches

• Cotton rags, scraps

• Ash from woodstove

• Sawdust (if using a composting toilet, you won’t need any extra)

• Wood chips

• Hay/straw

There are some things you will want to keep out of your compost heap. These are things that may introduce unwanted elements, like a noxious odor and unwanted parasites and diseases.

• Weeds or their seed heads

• Meat bones

• Milk products

• Plants that are diseased or full of pests like aphids

• Grease, lard or oil will attract flies, which brings maggots

• Black walnut leaves and branches are toxic

• Avoid adding wood chips that have been chemically treated

• Avoid any chemicals in general

You will be amazed at how quick your compost heap builds up. Once your pile has reached a certain height or you have been building it for about a month or two, it is time to leave it alone and let it do its thing. You can buy an actual compost heap thermometer at Home Depot or online. It is pretty quick and easy to check the temperature of your heap. Poke the thermometer in, wait for the dial to stop moving and you will know where you stand. If it is too hot, give the heap a good stir and spread it out. If nothing is happening, you need to add more waste to help get things cooking.

You will soon see how easy it is to compost and will appreciate what it does for your soil.

Why Survival Composting? Modern Day Society Could Crumble

Rather than the world moving toward an advanced and peaceful society, the fact is that the chaotic nature of unruly governments and religious extremists like Islamic Radicals mean that we will always have war, violence, disease and the possibility for a clash of civilizations. History is littered with these clashes and multiple societies have crumbled in the aftermath.

Only someone with their head in the sand would fail to realize that history has a bad habit of repeating itself. So whether our next clash is the result of the Biblical judgments of a Holy God, or because of the next major world war that some say is shaping up right now — or a combination of both to the shock of many — we need to be prepared with ways to support our family and possibly even help our neighborhoods and communities in the years ahead.

If stores ever close their doors suddenly, a lot of people simply are likely to die in the aftermath, not having seen the signs that danger was approaching. They won’t have food. They won’t have water. They won’t have any idea what to do to feed and protect themselves.

Food, Supplies, Plans, Knowledge … and Prayers Don’t Hurt

The right foods, supplies, plans, knowledge and a lot of those prayers for those who believe are going to make the difference for those who seek to be prepared.


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