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Decomposition of Human Waste

How long does it take for human feces in a cathole to break down into soil?

Question:

How long does it take for human feces in a cathole to break down into soil?

Submitted by – Donald, Garland, TX

Answer:

Short answer: a long, long time. Just like a compost heap, when you have moisture and warmth, the process takes less time. Out there in the wilds, you have a great variety of moisture levels and temps. Here in Wyoming, where I am, there are low levels of moisture and long winters, so fecal matter can be dug up years later—with lots of nasty pathogens still active. It would be a different story in, say, the swampy land of South Carolina. In the end, it becomes of great importance where we place our excreta. Dig down 6 to 8 inches at least 200 feet from a water source—and hide the spot well. —Buck