How do you make a outdoor urinal? And can you make a waterless urinal from recycled materials and things you find lying around the house? Thankfully a simple outdoor toilet/urine recycling system is easy to make, environmentally friendly and cheap.
Every person in the world produces urine. You probably pass between 1.3 and 2 litres of it every day (2 litres is 4.5 pints). Normally you just flush it down the toilet. That might be convenient for you but the planet hates you for it.
Urine from a healthy person is sterile but if you mix it with ordinary sewage it becomes toxic waste and a proper nightmare to get rid of.
So it would be useful to have a way to dispose of your urine safely and productively wouldn’t it? Enter the homemade outdoor waterless urinal.
Your Urine is an Untapped Resource
Depending on your diet (high protein is best) your pee contains between 12% and 14% nitrogen. This is one of the things that plants need to grow. The problem is that if you urinated directly onto plants you’d burn them. Your urine is just too strong.
But if you can find a way to treat and ‘dilute’ your pee, you’d be able to use it as a cheap, and not particularly icky, source of fertiliser.
My homemade outdoor urinal safely treats and converts urine into plant food and compost – no waste, no odour. Just plants and piss.
By using ordinary hay (dried grass) to treat the urine, you let it break down in a carbon rich environment. The nitrogen is ‘diluted’ by the carbon in the dried grass which turns your hot urine into something a whole lot more like compost.
After a year you can either dig it out and use on your garden as mulch or add more hay and compost on top to build up layers of well rotted material.
You can buy a plastic funnel for a pound or less at most DIY shops.
How to Make Your Own Waterless Urinal
I’m all about recycling and reusing materials wherever you can. And my waterless urinal design is no different. If you want to make one of these you will need:
A length of old hosepipe
A plastic funnel and tape
Half an old whisky barrel
Meadow hay or dried grass
Homemade or bought compost
Step 1: Make Your Funnel and Hose
Put the hose over the spout of the funnel. You might need to cut the pipe to get a good fit. Secure with tape – strong adhesive duct tape or plumbers tape is fine. I use T-Rex tape because it has a dinosaur on the packet and sounds cool.
If you intend on actually peeing into the funnel, go as large as possible. This will be how you transport the urine to where you want it: the middle of the hay.
Step 2: Fill Your Whisky Barrel with Hay
Then fill your whisky barrel up with hay. If you don’t live in the Highlands of Scotland and can’t find whisky barrels lying around, you can use any strong container with holes in the bottom. An old bath tub would work well.
I used seven kilos (18lbs) of hay that I bought from a discount store. If you know a farmer or own your own hay field, you can probably get it cheaper. Don’t use fresh grass – it will just go slimy and horrible.
When I first got my barrel it was pretty fresh and smelled of wonderful malt whisky. Heaven. I’d sneak outside for a sniff before work (joking of course…).
Put the hose in the centre of the hay and cover. It should point downwards away from whatever you’re going to grow.
Step 3: Cover Your Homemade Urinal with Compost and Sow Seed
A thin layer of compost on top of the hay will perform two functions. Firstly it will help minimise any odours from rapidly composting grass. It will also give you a good medium on which to grow your plants.
A layer of 5-10 centimetres (2-4 inches) should be enough.
Now your urinal is ready to be sown. What you grow is up to you. If you’re a hard-core garden survivalist wild-man you could grow vegetables. Or if (like me), your wife has a say, flowers.
The plants you grow will be fed by the nutrients in your urine which are made useful to the plants by the decomposing hay. It’s science, Jim but not as we know it.
The contents will settle over time and you may want to top up with more hay and compost after your plants have died back in the winter. If you dig out your barrel, put that lovely nutrient rich stuff on your compost heap. Your veggies will love you for it.
Top Tips for Your Outdoor Urinal
If urinating in front of your neighbours is a step too far, you could do it in a milk bottle or similar container and transport it to your ‘special planter’.
Get your kids involved for a bit of a science lesson. Mine helped build and plant our urinal and had a great time doing it. Maybe ‘forget’ to tell the neighbour’s kids about this one though.
I got the inspiration for this system from ‘Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants‘ by Carol Steinfield (Amazon) which is a comprehensive look at uses for urine.
If you make your own waterless outdoor urinal or recycling system, send me a photo. Your messages are a constant source of inspiration.
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