ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Pee-Cycling & Humanure

Updated on July 28, 2012

Wet Your Plants ...

... with fertilizer tea made from one part urine and anywhere from eight to 20 parts water.
... with fertilizer tea made from one part urine and anywhere from eight to 20 parts water.
Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants
Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants

Includes three methods for using human urine as fertilizer.


No. 1: Urine Fertilizer

When you buy a bag of mineral fertilizer, it ordinarily has three numbers on the front. These numbers refer to the amount of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) the bag contains. All three nutrients are essential to plant development and growth--and human urine contains each one.

Unlike feces, human urine doesn't contain harmful pathogens; in fact, it's virtually sterile. And although many people have the same initial reaction (Gross!) a growing number of organic farmers see nothing wrong with urine fertilizer.

Urine is readily available (most people produce about a quart and a half per day), and "harvesting" it rather than flushing it saves water.

Indeed, urination and plant fertilization seems an ideal match. As micturition expert Hakan Jonsson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Studies explains, when our bodies create urine, they break complex organic matter into the basic mineral form that plants like best.

Research by environmental scientists Surenda Pradhan and Helvi Heinonen-Tanski substantiates urine's effectiveness as fertilizer.

In 2007, Pradhan was part of a study at the University of Kuopio's Department of Environmental Sciences in Finland in which urine was used to fertilize cabbages, a vegetable that requires high amounts of nitrogen.

In a more recent study, Pradhan and Heinonen-Tanski raised beets using various types of fertilizer. Plants that received human urine in conjunction with wood ash produced markedly larger beets than those fertilized with any other type, including mineral fertilizer. There was no difference in the nutritional value or taste of the beets.

How to Make Your Own Pee Tea

Interested in making pee tea for your home garden? It's easy. Just add at least eight parts water to one part urine. (Some gardeners recommend a ratio of 20 to one.) Apply the wee brew around plants once every two weeks.

Pathogens in urine, and there usually aren't many, become harmless over time. To make sure none exist in your pee tea, allow the urine to age one to six months before mixing up a batch.

Other Whiz-Bang Ideas

In the February/March 2011 issue of Mother Earth News, contributing editor Barbara Pleasant shares two other strategies for using human urine as fertilizer. Because Pleasant dislikes making pee tea, her family deposits urine into buckets of sawdust and onto bales of hay. Then they use the pee-soaked material as garden mulch.

For step-by-step instructions on making pee bales and using urine in compost piles, check out the video below.

Straw Bales, Compost Piles & a Jug of Urine

Pee Jugs for Girls

For those women who watched the video "Human Urine for Compost, Start to Finish" and wondered, "How do I pee into a milk jug?" the answer is, "Don't even try!"

Instead, do what California resident and pee-recycler Anna Zanda does. According to a Mother Earth News article, Zanda uses two plastic jugs. She cuts one jug in half, reserving the top to use as a funnel for a larger plastic jug. When not in use, the hole is plugged with a wine cork to trap odor.

Reading Material for the Compost Throne

The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition
The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition

The most comprehensive book on humanure available, The Humanure Handbook includes directions for inexpensively making your own composting toilet at home.


No. 2: Humanure

Composting human feces is also gaining popularity among organic gardeners. But making humanure, as it's called, is a more complicated and lengthy process than whipping up a batch of pee tea. In fact, it can take anywhere from six months to two years.

In Chicago, artist/landscaper Nance Klehm turned humanure production into a community project. The result? Bags and bags of pathogen-free compost labeled "The Great Giveback." For specific information about Klehm's "Humble Pile" project, follow these links: "Humble Pile: Human Waste Composting Project in Chicago" and “Weedeater.”

Of course, you don't have to be part of a neighborhood effort in order to compost human waste. You can do it at home like Boston gardeners Patrick Keaney and David Staunton, who create humanure out of waste collected from a homemade waterless composting toilet in their basement. Feces, mulch, wood shavings, and toilet paper season for a year in 18-gallon buckets with perforated lids. Then it's added to a composter and later used in their yard.

(Keaney and Staunton have also made the news for their auto shop, Green Grease Monkey, which converts diesel engines to run on used cooking oil.)

For directions on building your own composting toilet for about $25, see Joseph Jenkins's The Humanure Handbook .

Nature's Head Dry Composting Toilet with Standard Crank Handle
Nature's Head Dry Composting Toilet with Standard Crank Handle

Instead of building your own composting toilet, you can buy one. This waterless composting toilet from Nature's Head has a urine separator and a peat-moss based composting unit for ... everything else.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Thanks for your comments, Ben. Happy to gross you out--in a good way. (: Jill

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Cool! Neat! Gross! But Mother Nature abides all odors doesn't she? Great article, interesting and weird.



    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Absolutely! There's always lots of research to do. It's a humbling thing to discover just how much I don't know! Thanks for reading & commenting, nancynurse. Glad you stopped by. --Jill

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 

      7 years ago from Southeast USA

      Very interesting. Who would have thought it. You did your research. Thanks for sharing.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks for reading, Veggie-Mom!

    • veggie-mom profile image


      7 years ago

      This is fascinating information, thanks for sharing!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Gosh, I'd forgotten about that but have a hazy recollection of it from The Good Earth. Thanks for adding your comment, Johnna. DF

    • profile image

      Johnna Engelbreit 

      7 years ago

      About humanure - China I believe has done that for centuries. Pearl S. Buck, the writer, wrote about practices in China; they called it night soil - contents collected from slop jars grew beautiful roses.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thank you for reading, Erin! I'm glad you stopped by.

    • Erin Eisenman profile image

      Erin Eisenman 

      8 years ago from Montana

      We had a university professor teach about this...she's a die hard pee fertilizer fan. I have to admit, I've tried it and been impressed with the crops' production. Seems weird but if you want natural...there's not much more natural than that!! LOL! Thanks for a great hub! Love it!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks for your comments, James. Do you use humanure?

    • profile image

      James Connors 

      8 years ago

      This is not so unusual, only to Americans and other 'civilized' westerners who have been taught that human waste products are dirty and nasty and must be disposed of IMMEDIATELY after they leave the body. People around the world have used human waste products as fertilizers for centuries with no apparent ill effects.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      8 years ago from United States

      Yes, Harlan ... oh, the jokes. Like you, I had to edit quite a bit, and maybe I should have edited more!

      Have fun p'cycling. (I feel the same way about the "other," too, although in theory it seems like the environmentally conscious thing to doo. :)

    • Harlan Colt profile image

      Harlan Colt 

      8 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

      I have all kinds of jokes racing through my head, but none of them fit my standards for a public forum. I started to do this last year and forgot about it when I went offshore.

      This will get me going again, however, I think the humanure - is going a little too far for my delicate sensitivities, I'll stick with the chickens on that one.

      Up and useful!

      - Harlan

    • The Dirt Farmer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jill Spencer 

      8 years ago from United States

      Wild, huh? I guess the trick is getting the right plumbing so it seems less ... icky. Thanks for commenting, mj!

    • profile image

      mj smith 

      8 years ago

      Wow...who knew!! The pee thing sounds reasonable, the latter...not so sure about that.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)