Build Your Own Composting Toilet — The Indie Projects

After many years using a chemical cassette toilet we’ve decided to move over to a home made composting toilet, mainly due to the fact that they are incredibly low maintenance and you can empty them pretty much anywhere!

But don’t they smell?!

Composting toilets can smell. However, so do normal toilets, and chemical toilets, and pretty much any toilet. The way to minimise smell in composting toilets boils down to:

  1. Separating the urine from the faeces

  2. Covering faeces in compostable material (there is a wide variety, most use sawdust)

Building your own composting toilet is also incredibly easy. We have been scratching our heads ever since we built it because we can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner!

Below are the steps to building one, along with the materials needed.

Materials needed:

Step 1 – Creating the box

Your time on the toilet needs to be comfortable, after all this is a space where you will be depositing your bodily waste daily, and if it’s a comfortable experience then that makes life more enjoyable. The key to a comfy toilet experience is to consider:

  • Height of the toilet. You don’t want your legs dangling, but you also don’t want your knees up by your ears

  • Toilet seat. You can go wild here, buy the craziest one you want. Just make it comfy.

We were slightly – read: incredibly – restricted by the choice for height of our toilet due to the area we would be storing it. Our toilet is going to slide out from under our bench seating in our Mercedes Sprinter van conversion, which we happened to build at an impossibly perfect height for us. Which also reads as; an impossibly low height for our toilet. So yes, I’m slightly contradicting myself in Step 1 by telling you to make the height comfortable, and then building mine lower than I would like! 


We were limited by the bench height, and had around 30cm to play with. Not very high, but high enough. Trust me.

Building the frame of the toilet is simple:

  1. Decide on desired height of toilet, and correct width. Remember to include the size of the toilet seat you’ll be using. You’d be surprised how wide you will need it.

  2. Cut out six pieces of ply for box size (top, bottom, four sides)

  3. Attach all four sides, and bottom section of ply

Attaching the ply with a pocket hole jig increases the strength of the box, and also hides all the unsightly screws. 


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