The Skyloo - the urine diversion toilet

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The “Skyloo” is the curious name I gave to the single vault urine diverting toilet several years ago. I called it a “Skyloo” because one had to ascend into it as it was built above ground level, thus coming closer to the sky. This name was subsequently also to describe any toilet built above ground level – not my original intention. My own “Skyloo” is still in use, it has been refurbished.

The urine diversion toilet is a well established method which is being used successfully in many parts of the world. Countries in Europe like Sweden, use it a great deal in the new era of ecological sanitation which is taking off in the northern hemisphere. The concept of urine diversion is also being used widely and successfully in Mexico, Central and South America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador), India, Japan and also in China. It is also being promoted on a relatively large scale in South Africa and Uganda.

Urine diverting toilets use a special pedestal in which the urine is separated from the faeces. The urine can either be collected in containers of some sort, or it can be led into a soakaway system. Considering the value of the urine, to allow it to soak away, unless on to a mature tree like a banana, is somewhat wasteful of a valuable resource.

The faeces fall down directly into a brick lined vault beneath the pedestal. Some dry soil and wood ash (or lime in some countries) is added to cover the faeces after every visit. This covers the deposit and helps to dry out the surface of the faeces and makes them easier to handle and transfer.

The distinct advantage of this method is that the urine can be collected separately, making it available as a liquid fertiliser. Also the solid component, being in a semi dry state, is much easier to handle and is safer from the beginning, even if it does initially contain pathogens. Being semi dry, it does not smell so much and its potential as a fly breeding medium is much reduced compared to the mix of urine and faeces. Eventually the faeces become completely desiccated.


Pictures & downloadable resources

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The Single Vault UD toilet called the Skyloo

The Skyloo. 2013 update

The Skyloo. 2017 update

The Skyloo. How to manage a single vault urine diverting toilet (ppt)

How to make simple pedestals (ppt)

Additional resources on main resource page here


© 2022 Dr Peter Morgan