The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure
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The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure

4.42 of 5 stars 4.42  ·  rating details  ·  443 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The Humanure Handbook There are almost seven billion defecating people on planet Earth, but few who have any clue about how to constructively handle the burgeoning mountain of human crap. "The Humanure Handbook," third edition, will amuse you, educate you, and possibly offend you, but it will certainly pertain to you--unless, of course, your bowels never move.This new edit...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 256 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Jenkins Publishing,U.S. (first published July 1996)
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Wayne
This is an important book, but not great reading. I was looking for "how to," but the author was so afraid of people's reactions (and rightly so), that he took most of the book warming the reader up with the "why." After a point--maybe the second chapter or so--I got the idea, but he kept repeating himself.

To summarize:
1. Pooping in water is unhealthy and bad for the environment.
2. Poop should be composted.
3. If poop is composted properly, the end result is not dangerous.
4. If it's not composted...more
Kerrie
Let's talk about poo.

It's gross, isn't it? Over the last 150 years or so humanity has advanced in the realm of how we handle poo. Instead of allowing it to flow through the streets, we sit on a ceramic bowl filled with water from the same source as the water we drink. We then flush it away into a city sewer (or septic tank), it gets treated with a bunch of chemicals, and the treated water is then put back into our water supply. Yum, chlorine!

With a dwindling fresh water supply for a growing popu...more
Jeremy
This book was a surprising eye opener to me. I'd always believed the fecophobic assumption that human manure was unsafe. While strongly commending people that compost it rather than flushing it, I also wrongly assumed that this compost was something one had to be highly wary of using.

In the Humanure Handbook, Joseph Jenkins spends a lot of time defending the practice and safety of composting human shit, and using the subsequent humus in gardens. Different than the direct application of "night so...more
Kat
Why do we piss, shit and vomit in our nice clean drinking water? I can't say I ever considered this question before reading the Humanure Handbook (via a free PDF). Since my guy and I are in contract on a sweet piece of land in the New York City watershed with a rustic cabin and no septic system (yet), I wanted more information on composting toilets and found this amusing and eye-opening screed.

In case you're wondering, my first purchase for "the land" will be a big ole truckload of sawdust so I...more
Jeremy Kinney
An excellent book! Though using human manure for composting is not a popular subject, it is one we all need to think about. Jenkins really puts the importance of humanure into perspective while making it an interesting read and even adding a little humor. This book is definitely for the environmentally conscious person who cares for the future of this planet. I would recommend this book to anyone because, after all, we all poop right?

In his book, Jenkins explains how ridiculous it is to pollute...more
Kyle
Jul 31, 2011 Kyle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
The most beautiful book ever written about shit. Not only is this something that I fully intend to practice on my homestead, but it is something that I wish I owned land RIGHT NOW so I could start doing it today, and stop wasting all of the valuable organic materials and nutrients my body passes.

If anyone should wish to criticize my praise for this book, please do so with A) proof that the system advocated by the author would not work, or B) a system that would be more hygienic and more effecti...more
Elizabeth
Great analysis of and unique insight into waste management, particularly the disposal of human waste (I refuse to use the word humanure). I found a lot of it overly technical and dull, but it was worth it.

Key things I learned:
- Composting human waste makes it safe to use for agriculture
- Asian agriculture uses it without composting, which is dangerous
- Excreting our waste into purified drinking-quality water is really dumb
- Composting closes the nutrient cycle and returns the nutrients in the wa...more
Elizabeth
I'm convinced! We'll be using Jenkins' method when we build our off-grid house, if not before. I've seen it in action a couple times now too; makes good conversation with other eco-minded folk. I continue to be surprised at how many people I find who are already using this method or planning to. Essential reading for anyone concerned about their impact on the planet and finding a better way to deal with our "waste" besides flushing it "away" with our drinking water...
Eric T.
A lot of very good data and information. Unfortunately, one must be subjected to the authors misguided religious/political views in order to get at the raw usable information provided. If you have any reason to be interested in waste management and have the cognitive capacity to exercise discernment, I recommend reading, at least portions of, this book.

(My personal interest in this subject has to do with waste management applications in 3rd world missions.)
Jonathan
Whether you like the topic or not, Jenkins writes a stellar reference book. Thoroughly researched, with the benefit of a lot of experience, and a heavy dose of zeal, Jenkins gives excellent instructions for building a sawdust composting toilet. If that's your thing, this is the best book out there.
Bruce
Excellent book. Not just for the technique (and there are some great youtube videos to help with this as well), but the great way the author tries to break down our general cultural resistance to dealing with our own shit, literally and figuratively.
Amy
Mar 03, 2008 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to help me save the world
Very encouraging. I look forward to shitting in a bucket in the near future.
Ruth Timmons
I was given this book by a friend when I complained that I wasn't finding anything on line about the practical details involved in composting toilets. She'd found this book in a reading list for would be Mars colonists. In it, Jenkins does a great job of discussing a topic most people would rather not think about.

There are other books that cover the dangers of not treating human wastes, but Jenkins also detail the problems and dangers of modern sewage treatment systems. Mainly that we in the fi...more
Jocie
A practical guide to putting back into the soil the nutrients you took out, in a way that is best for the health of your family and community.

(thermophilic composting done correctly (it is not that complicated) kills all pathogens except prions (mad cow disease). Septic systems and flush toilets- the water is usually treated and put back into lakes and rivers, the sludge is usually put into landfills (we are pulling nutrients out of the soil, and packaging them away!)- but watch out! This bioslu...more
Alison Van Arsdel
I thought this book was excellent and everyone should read it. If you aren't into the science or political parts you could skip the involved pages on those topics. But anyone who could read this book and not want to begin composting and using grey water systems...well, I don't know about them, they concern me.

I think the book gives you everything you need to get started including the motivation. If you are very serious about setting up a grey water and composting system and live in a trickier a...more
Polly
This book is free to download. just Google it.

You can guess what this book is about....
If you keep an open mind, you'll find that the author asserts this practice is entirely safe (more so than than our current "sanitation" systems: waste-water treatment plants, septic tanks...) and even better, effective at turning what some call "waste" into something useful. By composting our waste we're just completing the natural nutrient cycle. The author says he uses his own composted humanure on his gar...more
Yolanda
The author, in this revised edition, has become quite political, but the information is sound and helpful and very interesting (to me.) He also makes some good points about the importance of this concept. As the world struggles with safe water, we here in the USA (and some other places) use DRINKING water to, uh... you know. Really Not Too Smart. There truly are viable options to this.
Gururaj
It's a great book.

Great book to understand the basis of water pollution from human activity. I admire Joseph Jenkins to have gone against the tide and doing what he thought is right. It's definitely not easy to say the least.
I feel that it has solution to water problem in the developing world.

Nice quote from the author (The world is divided into two categories of people: those who shit in drinking water and those who don't)
Hilarious titles for the chapters are a plus - Crap Happens, Deep Sh*t. :...more
Anna
You can read my full review on my blog. The short version is --- the book has the same pros and cons as most self-published books. The author goes out on a limb about things that don't necessarily make sense and spends far too long defending other things that the reader presumably already agrees with or she would never have picked up the book. And yet, in the midst of all that, self-published books tend to have an authenticity, passion, and non-mainstream weirdness that appeals to me and lets me...more
Megan
I am having thoughts that this book is pretty revolutionary. Somehow I've always thought about western toilets as just wasteful of water...I had not thought about how we than treat sewage and turn it back to drinking water (with lots of chlorine and other stuff, requiring tons of resources), nor had it occurred to me that the waste just goes to landfills when it is totally a resource that can be used to improve soil quality. I watched a youtube video of the author, and my fave quote is: "You can...more
John
Aug 29, 2008 John added it
You can download this book from http://joseph-jenkins.com/
Based on what I understood from Jenkins, the main advantages of turning your feces and urine into nutrient-rich soil via natural composting, other than that you get nutrient-rich soil, are that it uses no drinking water as flush toilets do and that it yields non-pathogenic humus (even if people sick with dysentery, worms, salmonella and other fecal-oral route diseases added to the pile). The book describes how to do it at home on your own...more
Elizabeth Cook
This book is perfectly informative. Though it rambles on for a while about various environmental statistics it does eventually give you all the information you need to know to start up that advanced homesteading technique: DIY composting toilets! This book is written with a good sense of humor and some slightly creepy, but amusing cartoons of poop. I made the mistake of reading this during my lunch hour at work (my only available reading time most days.) I might recommend that you choose a diffe...more
HeavyReader
Jun 21, 2007 HeavyReader rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who think it's weird to put human waste into drinkable water
Shelves: gardening, how-to
Does it make sense to put human waste into drinkable water? I don't think so and neither does the author of this book (with whom my friend Louise did an internship).

This book gives you everything you need to know in order to compost your feces. It's a funny book too, not a dry academic tome.

I was kind of skeptical of all of this before my housemates and composted our poop for about nine months in 2004/2005. It worked! We used the compost on our vegetable garden and no one got sick. Yippee! The e...more
Michaela Hutfles
If you need to be sold on this as a good ideas, read the first half; if you need to understand how to do this because you are already sold skip to the second half.
Great book to hand to your building permit folks if you want to try to actually get this permitted on your property.
He kinda covers gray-water, but I would really suggest a different book if your seriously looking into gray-water reclamation.
Remember: it's not waste it's recyclables.
Mo Tipton
I never thought I'd be typing this sentence, but this book has actually made me excited to poop in a bucket. Jenkins has completely removed any of my lingering fears about the potential odor, mess, or dangers of composting humanure, and I can't wait until we live in a place where our roommates won't oppose such a practice (and I'm almost tempted to set up shop in my closet in the meantime). Great discussion of graywater treatment as well.
Geoffrey
This was the best book I read in 2005! *Warning* Reading this book will make flushing your toilet a guilt ridden experience. Funny. Irreverent. Packed with good science. Oh, that we weren't all composting it and capitalizing on that fertility, instead of flooding our waterways with it or burying it in the ground........This should be compulsory reading in junior high schools.
Word du jour - Fecophobia
Chloe
I lied, I didn't actually finish this. But I think I got far enough to get the gist of it. It's a little conspiracy theory-y, so to some extent you have to be a little skeptical reading it. However, theres lots of interesting facts, figures and baseline reasoning for composting toilets thats pretty compelling. I've gotta agree that our current waste management system leaves much to be desired.
Jane
This book is witty, informative and has convinced me to build a composting toilet. My only problem with it was that it had me convinced early on, and yet continued trying to convince me! Of course, I am sure there are people out there who are harder to convince than I was, so perhaps it's needed. Anyway, read the book and build yourself a composting toilet.
Chris Brimmer
Good overview and starting place, be not afraid. If you are committed to treating water to just flush it to be treated again then you are not ready for this. On the otherhand if you want to see the state of the art in alternative waste disposal (with tastefully abstract illustrations) this is the book. Californians pay attention!
David Koblos
An excellent guide to the eternal question: what to do with our excrement. The answer: use it to make good, fertile, healthy, and valuable soil. The how to is fairly simple, but this book goes into great detail to shed light on the nitty-gritty processes, answering all the questions suspecting minds have come up with.
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“We line up and make a lot of noise about big environmental problems like incinerators, waste dumps, acid rain, global warming and pollution. But we don't understand that when we add up all the tiny environmental problems each of us creates, we end up with those big environmental dilemmas. Humans are content to blame someone else, like government or corporations, for the messes we create, and yet we each continue doing the same things, day in and day out, that have created the problems. Sure, corporations create pollution. If they do, don't buy their products. If you have to buy their products (gasoline for example), keep it to a minimum. Sure, municipal waste incinerators pollute the air. Stop throwing trash away. Minimize your production of waste. Recycle. Buy food in bulk and avoid packaging waste. Simplify. Turn off your TV. Grow your own food. Make compost. Plant a garden. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you don't, who will?” 10 likes
“When viewed at the next quantum level of perspective, from which the Earth is seen as an organism and humans are seen as microorganisms, the human species looks like a menace to the planet. In fact, the human race is looking a lot like a disease -- comprised of organisms excessively multiplying, mindlessly consuming, and generating waste with little regard for the health and well-being of its host -- planet Earth.” 6 likes
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