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The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  923 ratings  ·  83 reviews
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 edition of The Humanure ...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 255 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Joseph Jenkins, Inc. (first published July 1996)
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Wayne
Dec 31, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jeremy
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Baxter Trautman
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love this book! It's very readable while also being very scientific, and yes, even spiritual about composting our own waste (see "The Ego Vs. The Eco" section). No, it's not at all gross if done correctly, and yes, people have been doing it since, well, forever! Obviously not everyone has the resources to turn their own waste into good dirt but those of who do kind of have an obligation to at least read this book.
Kat
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: homesteading
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
Peace
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Rachel B
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

A very interesting read overall! I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in "sustainable living." The concept of composting one's own excrement obviously won't appeal to everyone, but this book gives lots of detailed information on the why and how for the counter-cultural.

As interesting as the book was, it begged for a proper editor. The author was very repetitive, went off on unrelated tangents, and simply had an inconsistent writing style throughout the book. Several of
...more
Jeremy Kinney
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Gururaj
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Eric T.
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.)
Elizabeth
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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...
Michaela Hutfles
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
David Hughes
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
A sobering yet inspiring read. My favorite quote:

"Less than 1% of the earth's water is available for drinking. Why shit in it?"

I've read so much about nutrient cycling using livestock, and the odor-free deep bedding composting methods used by farmers like Joel Salatin. This is essentially the same thing, but for humans.
Bruce
Feb 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Justin
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
It is beyond doubt that future historians will look back on our generation and the multiple water shortage and contamination problems we currently suffer from, and wonder how Western civilization could have advocated urinating and defecating into what little purified drinking water we have left. I apologize to the light-hearted among my readers for touching on such an apparently foul subject, but the growing global water and health crises stand in such stark contrast with current ...more
Bethany
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wanted to really, really like this book. I wanted to tell everyone that they should read it and that it really would solve world hunger, bring about world peace, stop the soil, air, and water pollution problems that are wreaking havoc on the health of humanity around the world over. I wanted to. I do, after all, have good reason to really like this book. I already compost my family's poop. I fertilize the garden with urea tea. I recycle my greywater, using it to boost moisture levels in the ...more
January
Why oh why did I not force myself to finish reading this before starting to build my compost toilet? Here are the things I learned, some of which conflicted with my assumptions about the compost toilet, which I had already done a fair amount of research on before reading this.

- You dont have to turn piles. Indeed, it saves time and decreases the loss of organic matter and nitrogen if you dont.
- By insulating a compost pile, top and sides, with straw or even finished compost, this will allow
...more
Thomas
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was already convinced about Humanure, and this book just proved it all for me. It meant that a few chapters (esp. at the start) felt a bit like padding, but if you're a bit unsure about humanure/composting in general, this book will convince you! One difficulty that I had was ease of reading- I grabbed the ePub, and for whatever reason the formatting went haywire so the tables and grids weren't available for me which was a shame (bit of a numbers guy!) but otherwise this book comes highly ...more
HorriblePumpkin
Mar 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
The book's entire idea in a few sentences: Layer the contents of a bucket you do your business in between straw. As you fill up the bucket cover the feces with sawdust each time. Wash out the bucket in between loads. Let that pile compost for three years. You saved the entire world and this compost is totally safe to use on food crops. Also, pee on trees and it saves the world. But if you'd rather spend thousands of paragraphs reading about how great it is to compost human waste and congratulate ...more
Jonathan Schaber
Good read about crap, and what to do with it.

I have asked myself for quite some time: "Well I'm reasonably healthy and so is my family, we are all one of God's creations, but why can't we use our poop in our gardens to grow food like we do with composted animal manure? It doesn't make much sense. We eat the same things every other animals eat, so why not compost our poop along with animals?" This book did a wonderful job of answering those questions.
Autumn
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
This shit is so important!! It's common sense, really. Composting humanure is truly the only sustainable path into the future. The technique is simple, safe, and shifts our perspective from "waste" to valuable resource.

If this were required reading in schools, I can only imagine the profound impact this would have on the health of our society.

My only critique is that it is a bit repetitive. The same amount of content could be synthesized more effectively into a more concise read.
David Gross
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
My main problem with this book is that it touts itself as a handbook when it's really a philosophy book with a couple of practical chapters at the end. I was easily convinced that this is something that needs to be considered, so beating me over the head with it for a couple hundred pages before telling me how to go about it was unnecessary and pretty annoying.
Royce Ratterman
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good historical transcript and overview filled with interesting details, statistics, charts, and other pertinent information.
An average of 1,000 pounds of Humanure per year... each. Feeling a bit flushed now? Looking for a stinking fun read?
Read for personal research. I found this book's contents interesting.
Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast.
Desiree
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Humanure Handbook is a great how to and more importantly why-to guide to composting human manure. It's clear, informative, scientific, interesting and at times even humorous. Jenkins is a great writer with a passion and knowledge of nature and ecology is quite thorough, making this work popular for very good reason.
Johnny Stevenson
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Wordy and redundant at times, lots of unsubstantiated historical theories about Eastern vs. Western philosophy, but excellent as a practical guide for setting up a composting toilet system. Definitely the best book about shit out there.
Chris Goh
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books ever read. Alter my perspective about sustainability and closed loop system. Earth will be a better place to live if we all practice the principles taught in Humanure Handbook. Will apply the learnings on our farm.
Daniel E.
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love that the author made this important book available for free online! We need global permaculture to restore our habitat and a key to renewing dead soils is just 3o feet away from the last thing we ate...!
Elizabeth
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book

Answers all your questions and then some about composting. What most won't even talk about, even tho it's about saving the planet. 👍
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