A pit toilet or compost toilet is a method of collection of human waste, used for composting, controlled decomposition, or waste disposal used most often in areas with no sewer system. Pit toilets are used in rural and wilderness areas as well as in much of the developing world. Many variations exist, but at its simplest, the principle is that waste is controlled and decomposed into harmless by-products.
A typical pit toilet
The slit-trench latrine is the simplest type of pit toilet, consisting of a relatively shallow (3-6 feet/1-2 metres in depth) trench narrow enough to stand with one leg on either side. This type is used either by squatting, with the users' legs straddling the pit, or by various arrangements for sitting or leaning against a support structure. Such support may vary from the simplest forms such as a log, plank, branch or similar arrangement placed at right angles to the long axis of the pit.
A cathole is a one-time use pit toilet often utilized by campers, hikers and other outdoor recreationalists. In New Zealand a rudimentary toilet consisting of a small outhouse over a pit is called a "long drop."
While an "advanced pit toilet" might sound like an oxymoron, in its more complex forms, or higher capacity forms - commonly associated with outhouses though sometimes used underneath a house, or as a central collection area for several outhouses or other waste collection arrangements - the pit will be larger, and covered with a supporting structure. This structure may be simply a metal plate, or board floor - with a hole over which the user positions themselves during use. A provision for seating is often placed above a pit toilet, this may be a simple hole, or several holes, in a board surface at sitting height. In bitter cold Arctic climates, honey buckets are used inside the home and carried to such covered pits outside.
A more "inviting" structure may also be built. Many of the more elaborate outhouses provide not only a roof for shelter, but also one or more private rooms in which the users may find a comfortable seat with a hole in it, and perhaps access to water for washing. Read More