Find Parts & Supplies

September 19, 2011

Most of components of the Twin Bucket Emergency Toilet can be found in a typical household or be obtained free or at low cost in most neighborhoods.  The heart of this system is plastic containers, such as those used in the food industry.  Since Federal regulations prohibit the commercial reuse of plastic buckets and barrels for food, containers are sold cheaply for other uses or simply dumped into land fills.

Think containers!  For emergency systems every size is useful.  Three and four gallon buckets usually discarded by bakeries come with good lids and work for the twin toilet, particularly for kids.  You can store water and carbon material in square receptacles.  The Tap Up handwashing apparatus can be fashioned from smaller buckets.  Large 55-gallon barrels in which food is transported are excellent for rainwater harvesting and long term composting.   Wheeled recycling barrels can be used for both storage and transport.  So keep your eyes open for plastic containers and collect and store as many as you can.

Other items for readiness.     Disposable plastic gloves, hand sanitizer, remoistened wipes, toilet paper, and print copies of Twin Bucket Emergency Toilet leaflet and A Sewer Catastrophe Companion.   Depending on your situation you may fashion a dedicated sanitation kit, integrate sanitation supplies in a general kit, or simply rotate household supplies, ensuring you  have sufficient reserves for an extended emergency.

Please note!   Vendors are listed below but that does not mean we’ve tested and endorse. Most suppliers of emergency toilets and components mistakenly assume that users have disposal options.   A Cascadia Subduction Zone quake is likely to destroy piped systems so plan accordingly to use dual containers to separate pee and poo.

Supplies for the Twin  Bucket Emergency Toilet

Buckets: Buckets in various colors with lids that fit can be ordered here.

Lids:  You need lids.  A lid with a spout is useful for pouring urine.  Many lids are not reusable but U.S. Plastics “Saver” and “Gamma” lids are.  You can also get buckets with lids.

Seats:  Plastic seats need to be purchased unless you fit standard toilet seats to containers.Plastic toilet seats generally fit cylindrical buckets ranging from 3 to 7 gallons.  Get them at emergency suppliers (QuakeKare, Emergency Essentials, etc), at camping stores (Andy and BaxREICabela’s,Gander Mtn, etc) or from  While it’s best to have a seat which you can easily shift from bucket to bucket, there are less expensive seat options. Pipe insulation purchased at a hardware store or a kid’s pool noodle split on one side, can also make comfortable seats.

Bucket toilets:  Emergency Essentials and Tote-able offer bucket toilets with snap-on seat and seat cover for about $15.  Add found buckets to separate pee and poo and move the seat from one to another.

Carbon substrate to compost poo:   Ask your local lumberyard for sawdust and the coffee roaster for coffee husks.  Save bags of shredded paper.  If you don’t have a much space, buy wood pellets or coconut coir fiber bricks as these expand when a small amount of water is added.  (Add 1.25 liters of water to a brick-sized coir brick to yields 8 or 9 liters of friable carbon coverning material.) Many options are available on when you search for ‘coir fiber bricks.’  Also consider a bag of wood pellets.

Make a kit?  For about $40 you can get everything required for a nested bucket sanitation kit that makes a fine and loving gift.

Twin Toilet Kit nests in one bucket

Twin Toilet Kit nests in one bucket

Other Toilet Products

Waterless urinals:  These separate urine efficiently in communal situations.  FalconWaterless, Sloan and others carry them.

Personal funnels for females include the reusable GoGirlWhiz Freedom, and the disposable P-Mate.  Funnels can also be made from plastic bottles or by being creative with origami.

Air Head Composting Toilets are designed for use in boats and off-grid cabins, this is a small, well-designed, high-quality vented, urine diverting dry toilet. $995.

GreenFlush Restrooms is a Vancouver, Washington firm that manufactures attractive structures which harvest rainwater and reuse it to flush toilets.

More Emergency Sanitation How To

How to sandbag or seal a toilet: If a quake is followed by a tsunami and flooding, household toilets will likely overflow.  A company in the UK that provides instant sandbags, which expand when wet, also carries toilet seals.  Toilet seals  prevent backflow. Here’s how to sandbag a toilet to keep a toilet from backing up in a flood.

How to build the Loveable Loo: Video shows construction and use of  Loveable Loo 2.0 available here assembled ($225) or in kit form ($160); extra buckets and liners extra. (Loveable 1.0 vid is more fun.)

DIY Composting Toilet  Video 3:22 shows DIY toilet using 55 gal drum.

How Christchurch coped.  Makeshift Christchurch Toilets is a popular website shows that even at the worst of times a homemade toilet can bring comfort and be infused with whimsy.   Pit latrines were dug in the beginning but given risk of  groundwater contamination residents soon abandoned.

How Christchurch did it right.  A team from the New Zealand  Parmaculture Guild came up with the two bucket system and developed sophisticated dry composting systems to meet the needs of people in Christchurch following the 2011 earthquake. See Compost Toilets for Resilience  for how to, handbooks, and photos of folks at work. In October 2011, PHLUSH proposed the Christchurch Twin Bucket Emergency Toilet to the City of Portland, which endorsed it.

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    Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human, or PHLUSH, is an all-volunteer advocacy group based in Portland's Old Town Chinatown. We collaborate with grassroots organizations, environmental activists, planners, architects, code officials and city managers. We receive support from the Old Town Chinatown Community Association and Neighbors West-Northwest. PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

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