Letter Re: Sanitation Considerations

Mr. Latimer:

Regarding the problem of smelly outhouses– Deuteronomy 23:13 directs us to “cover that which cometh from thee.” This can be done with soil, or with sawdust, straw, or other common materials. If this is done every time the pit privy is used, the foul odor is nearly eliminated, rendering it no worse than a properly-functioning compost pile. This will also help to reduce danger of contaminants leaching out into the water table. It also eliminates most of the fly problems. You will notice that this is the equivalent of a composting toilet, primitive style. However, there is no need to empty it. Simply dig another hole and move the privy. Trees and other vegetation will be happy to access the compost. Those in the colder regions will want to be sure the hole is large enough to last through the winter months when the ground is frozen. And, speaking of cold, don’t forget the styrofoam seat! There can be a tendency for mold to grow on the seat and lid, so a routine wash with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, et cetera is helpful. Outhouses can be real problems, but they don’t need to be.

One item everyone should read is Notes on Nursing, by Florence Nightingale. She spends a lot of time on the destructive force of open sewers and the necessity of pure air. While this may seem trivial to our society, a collapse of infrastructure would put these issues right in our face. – C.F.