How to Build Dry Toilets

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Ecological Dry Toilets

There are a many ways to apply this concept which allows us to return our bodily wastes respectfully to the land, without using or contaminating water.

In general, the urine is kept separate and is given to plants as nitrogen-rich fertilizer which transmits no diseases when dispersed on the soil. The feces, which may contain many disease organisms, are kept safely "jailed up", covered with dry material like wood ashes, dry soil, sawdust or rice hulls, and stored long enough for all those nasty organisms to die of thirst, starvation, or assasination by normal soil organisms. This is much simpler than it may sound, since urine and feces come out of the body quite separately; it is just a matter of putting the correct (untouched) funnel in the correct place to catch the urine.

Ecological Sanitation (EcoSan) can and should be applied throughout the world. It can equally well be applied in rural and urban situations. A whole city in China is being build with dry sanitation and 4-story apartment buildings.

In dry places with absorbent soil, simpler systems can be built, in which the excrement decomposes in the soil, and sometimes trees may be planted later ontop. See the excellent work on this by Peter Morgan

In addition to contributing to health, water, agriculture, and nutrition, EcoSan even helps reduce the Greenhouse Effect, but reducing methane emissions and feeding plants that pull CO2 from the air.


Success Story

Plans, Illustrations, Posters


Chris Canaday


See the booklet Sanitation and Cleanliness of the Hesperian Foundation, downloadable in various languages from

This booklet includes my basic designs for building double-chambered urine-diverting ecological toilets without having to buy specialized urine-diverting toilet bowls. It is part of a larger book on Environmental Health, put together in cooperation with United Nations.

Much more information is available from the Stockholm Environment Institute, leaders in this field.


Related articles

An EcoSan toilet for washing with water (as opposed to wiping with paper)can be seen in the Composting Toilet article of the Construction section of Howtopedia How to Build a Compost Toilet.