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Homesteading Book Review: The Best Books To Help You Become Self Sufficient

Homesteading Book Review: The Best Books To Help You Become Self Sufficient

homesteading book review

The practice of homesteading can find its way into one’s life in many different ways. For some, being a homesteader looks like producing your own food, making your own clothes, managing a small hobby farm, or generating your own power. For others, the journey towards self-sufficiency might be as simple as adding a vertical garden of climbing peas to your apartment balcony.

I started out by adding chickens next to my small raised bed, then integrated other versions of homesteading into my life gradually. The process was a slow one, but that made it fun and manageable.

Start small. Take baby steps to start your homestead. Pick a skill you’re wanting to learn and engage with a book from that list, then see what happens. Happy reading!

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Homesteading can be life changing if you give it the chance, but, like anything, the first step is to learn. I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are the most helpful books for those looking to get into homesteading, and sorted them by category.

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Homesteading Books For Beginners

Homesteading Books For Beginners

Homesteading entails many different areas of work and varieties of DIYing, which can all seem a little overwhelming to a beginner. This booklist includes guides that are broken down simply, ideal for someone who wants to start a self-sufficient life but is looking for some guidance on how to get started.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

by Carla Emery

If I had a friend who was getting into homesteading and asked for my advice, this is likely the first read I’d recommend. Carla’s encyclopedia includes detailed instructions for a plethora of important homesteader skillsets, including canning and preserving food, gardening, growing your own food, beekeeping, cooking on a wood stove, raising livestock, milling flour, tapping maple trees, and much more.


New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency

New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency

by John Seymour

With the newest version published in 2019, John’s Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency is full of comprehensive information about life as a homesteader. The guide also includes detailed instructions for various elements of the lifestyle, like how to create an urban organic garden or how to harness natural energy.


The Homesteading Handbook

The Homesteading Handbook

by Abigail Gehring

I know firsthand that life can quickly become noisy, chaotic, and overwhelming. This read delves deeper than the mere process of minimization — it’s about what that process can do for you.

Dana elaborates on the reasons why decluttering can often feel difficult. She writes about the ways our emotions get in the way of creating a clutter-free life for ourselves, and ways to combat these mental roadblocks.


Mini Farming On Quarter An Acre

Mini Farming On ¼ An Acre

by Brett Markham

If the self-sufficient lifestyle of homesteading is appealing to you, but you don’t have a ton of land to work off of, this book is for you. Brett walks you through ways that having less land doesn’t have to limit you when it comes to homesteading.

Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers what’s essential for beginners to know, like buying and saving seeds, crop rotation, farm planning, seasonal gardening, crop rotation, and many other basic farming need to knows.


The Backyard Homestead

The Backyard Homestead

by Carleen Madigan

With several different editions including an all-inclusive guide to raising livestock, growing your own food, kitchen know-how, building projects, and a seasonal planner, Carleen’s The Backyard Homestead series is one of the best guides for beginner homesteaders. Each guide includes step-by-step instructions for the topic it covers, along with pictures and diagrams for you to follow.

Homesteading Books On Buying And Managing Land

Homesteading Books On Buying And Managing Land

Owning, managing, tending to, and working off of your land is the first step to becoming a successful homesteader. Without your own land, it’s hard to maintain a self-sufficient life. These homesteading books will help you locate quality farmland and gain tips for keeping it up on your own.

Finding Good Farmland

Finding Good Farmland

Larkin Hansen

Finding Good Farmland covers every aspect you should consider before buying your own farmland, including government regulations, residential concerns from the surrounding area where you’re searching, soil conditions, and ways to budget. This read is a great self-checker if you’re looking for quality farmland and want to ensure you’ve thought through the basics and the details.


Five Acres and Independence

Five Acres and Independence

by Maurice Grenville Kains

Maurice provides an easy-to-understand view of what small-scale farming entails practically. This read helps you evaluate land economically and agriculturally, guiding you in making an informed purchase. You’ll learn suggestions for land management like draining the land or improving soil quality, suggestions for when to grow seasonal crops, tips for raising goats, chickens, and bees on a small-scale farm, as well as marketing tips for farmers.


Land Buying Tips From the Pros

Land Buying Tips From the Pros

by Pat Porter

Pat’s book will give you specific information about different types of land and what to watch for when thinking about investing. No two types of land are the same, and purchasing a plot comes with a lot of need-to-knows about that specific land type.

The bulk of this book is a compilation of tips from experts on budgeting for rural land based on phone calls Pat had with these eight different experts.

Gardening Books For The Homesteader

Gardening Books For The Homesteader

Growing your own produce from a garden is a huge aspect of homesteading. For me, working in my yard and garden is super cathartic, but it’s also a huge undertaking. Wisdom from expert authors about the best times to plant each crop, tilling and fertilizing methods, tips for crop rotation, and much more will be extremely helpful when creating your first garden.

Organic Gardening For Beginners

Organic Gardening For Beginners

by Lisa Lombardo

Organic Gardening For Beginners opens with an overview of the most popular types of organic gardening, as well as the benefits and setbacks to each. This section is helpful for beginner gardeners to decide which method works in their space.

Lisa also provides explanations to several natural growth methods like controlling pests without chemicals, and a crop-by-crop inventory that tells beginners what they need to know about each plant and vegetable to start growing.


Growing Vegetables The First Time Gardeners Guide

Growing Vegetables:

The First Time Gardeners Guide

by Jessica Sowards

Jessica’s YouTube Channel, Roots and Refuge Farm, is filled with wisdom for the first-time gardener, and so is her book. I would recommend this quick read to anyone who is looking for the most basic information when it comes to growing your own food in a garden. Conversational in style, Jessica delves into common questions like where to put your garden, how to prep your soil, and how to keep pests and critters out of your home garden.


The Flower Gardeners Bible

The Flower Gardener’s Bible

by The Flower Gardener’s Bible

The ultimate flower gardener’s handbook, Lewis walks readers through everything from what to think about when choosing your growing site to increasing the lifespan of your flowers. The books includes many helpful tips on how to improve soil, fight off pests, make informed decisions about seasonal planting, and specific information about each type of flower.


Vertical Gardening

Vertical Gardening

by Derek Fell

Don’t let space limit you from becoming a homesteader. Derek’s book on vertical gardening is made for those who want to start a garden but don’t have a ton of space. The growing up and not out method is not dependent on having land to plant on, anyone can do it! With over 100 colorful pictures and diagrams to help with the process, Vertical Gardening showcases ways to grow perennials, shrubs, vegetables, flowers, and fruits no matter where you live.


A Seasonal Gardeners Handbook

A Seasonal Gardener’s Handbook

by Donna L. Long

The biggest key to knowing when to plant each crop without wasting seeds is to pay attention to seasonal crop patterns. Take it from Donna, knowing when to plant what is an intricate process. Her guide will have you creating your own seasonal gardening calendar and planting by the natural signs of the Earth in no time.

She teaches you everything you could ever want to know about seasonal gardening, including when and when not to prune, creating a simple compost pile, hardening off, tips for plant’s chilling hours, planting by the phases of the Moon, and when to plant each type of annual.

Preserving Food On Your Homestead, Best Books

Preserving Food On Your Homestead, Best Books

Preserving, canning, cooking for yourself, managing your food storage – these are all key aspects of the homesteader’s life. These books will take you through what you need to know to bake, save, and store all your own food stuffs.

The Ultimate Guide To Preserving Vegetables

The Ultimate Guide To Preserving Vegetables

by Angie Schneider

Angie’s ultimate guide gives readers access to charts, colorful pictures, and step-by-step instructions for all kinds of preservation methods like canning & pickling, fermenting, freezing, and dehydrating food. It’s a very helpful book for beginners because the instructions are highly detailed.

Her book also includes many of Angie’s family recipes to try on your homestead, like canned dilly asparagus, fermented corn salsa, dried scalloped potatoes, and dried pumpkin pie.


The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving

The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving

by Ball Test Kitchen

The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving is a classic for homesteading and food preservation. It shows up frequently on best of lists when it comes to food prep. Why? It includes over 350 recipes for the beginner to the experienced homesteader, ranging from jams, fruits, butter, jellies, jerkies, pickles, and salsas.

The instructional section of the guide covers water bath and pressure canning, pickling, fermenting, freezing, dehydrating, and smoking with detailed instructions and step-by-step photos to make the process simple and efficient.


The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning

The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning

by Diane Devereaux

Pressure canning is one of the most popular methods for preserving cooked meals. Diane’s The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning is a step by step resource to teach you the art of pressure canning, so you can preserve your favorite low acid foods for you and your family.

Covering everything from soups and stews, jar meals, broths and beans, and game and other meats, this guide will introduce you to everything you need to know about canning through colorful pictures and diagrams.


A Year Without the Grocery Store

A Year Without the Grocery Store

by Karen Morris

This book is geared towards food preservation to prepare for times when grocery stores may not be accessible. Homesteading is all about self-sufficiency, and these tips from Karen will teach you what you need to know to have enough food for you and your family at the ready, no matter what.

Complete with tips for economically storing food your family wants to eat, simple recipes for baking basic comfort foods from scratch, how to safely store and use water, and common mistakes homesteaders make when storing food with ways to do better.

Books on Off-Grid Living and Alternative Energy

Books on Off-Grid Living and Alternative Energy

Becoming self-sufficient with your energy sources is freeing because it cuts out the middle man. Plus, using alternative energy is great for the environment. Many homesteaders go off grid entirely, so let’s take a look at some books that can educate you on how to make off grid living a reality for you.

Off Grid Living 2022-2023

Off Grid Living:

Back to Basics Guide To Become Self Sufficient

by Small Footprint Press

This updated, 30-day guide to go from energy dependance to an entirely off grid life is extremely worthwhile for the new off gridder who wants to adopt the lifestyle as quickly as possible. This guide includes information on living off the grid without giving up any of your luxuries, how to use solar, wind, and geothermal sources, how to install different types of water systems in your home, the best US states for living off grid, and more.


Off Grid Solar Power Simplified

Off Grid Solar Power Simplified

by Nick Seghers

The most popular method of alternative energy on the homestead is solar power. Many people have asked me about putting solar panels on my own tiny house because I’m one of the few out there that is totally off the grid. Let me be the first to say the process isn’t easy and there is a lot to learn!

Nick is an electrical engineer who specializes in solar power design, so his tips are definitely backed by experiences. This manual delves into things like a comprehensive tool list for installing your own panels, tilting, cleaning, optimizing solar input, types of photovoltaics, and much more.


Wind Energy for the Rest of Us

Wind Energy for the Rest of Us

by Paul Gipe

Not as popular as the solar power method but still accessible for the average homesteader, wind turbines are another way to access alternative energy off the grid. Paul’s Wind Energy for the Rest of Us moves through many different methods for harnessing wind energy on your own homestead, including small and large turbines, water-pumping windmills, and multimegawatt wind turbines.


The Complete Guide to Water Storage

The Complete Guide to Water Storage

by Julie Fryer

Learning to store water is a vital for the life of a homesteader. But properly storing your water so its genuinely useable is a learned process, and this read is a great guide for getting started. Using tanks, ponds, and other means of water storage to maintain a safe and viable source of drinking water has become popularized in prepper and homesteader circles. Other water-saving techniques such as rainwater harvesting and gray water collection are also valuable and are explained throughout this guide.


Wood Stoves How to Make and Use Them

Wood Stoves:

How to Make and Use Them

by Ole Wik

Ever considered cooking with a wood stove? This quick read goes over everything you need to know about using and tending to a wood stove, including information about types of wood and stovepipes, how to actually use the wood stove once its going, how to cook with a wood stove, and general safety tips to consider when using an open flame in your own home.

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Homesteading For A Living: Books On The Business Side

Homesteading For A Living

Homesteading goes beyond self-sufficiency – it can also be a business, that, when maintained well, can bring you abundant rewards and financial freedom. Agricultural financing isn’t easy, but with a little guidance you can create the space to sell your tomato harvest, goat cheese, or homemade bar soap and make a substantial profit.

How to Make Money Homesteading

How to Make Money Homesteading

by Tim Young

This simple guide examines an array of skills that are crucial for turning your homestead into a business. Follow along with Tim and learn how to insulate yourself from financial collapse by monitoring which risks you take, manage your finances as you sell your crop, plan for retirement on the farm, and generate livable income from your own homestead. This book features interviews with 18 homesteaders and farmers who share intimate stories of their own journeys toward a fulfilling and financially freeing life on their homestead.


Starting & Running Your Own Small Farm Business

Starting Your Own Small Farm Business

by Sarah Beth Aubrey

Another great source for those who want to start homesteading but don’t have a ton of space to work with. Sarah Beth’s Starting And Running Your Own Small Farm Business is chalk full of savvy skills to help you get started, like planning your budget, web design to self-promote, and food service wholesalers.


The Organic Farmers Business Handbook

The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook

by Richard Wiswall

After working for twenty-seven years at Cate Farm in Vermont, Richard knows the ins and outs of running a farm like a business. In his book, Richard shares advice on how to make your vegetable production more efficient, manage your employees, create a budget, and turn a livable profit on your homestead.


The Future Is Rural

The Future Is Rural

by Jason Bradford

You might want to give yourself a minute to take this one in. Written by Jason the biologist and farmer, this book gives a very meta-assessment of what we know about our modern world and why that analysis can benefit the rural community.

Jason explains why, sociologically as well as economically, the decline of rural areas and dependence on fossil fuels will reverse entirely in the coming decade. This will greatly elevate the importance of self-reliance. If you’re looking for a high brow evaluation of why turning your homestead into a business and independently oiled machine is worth it, this is the book for you.


Farm Record Keeping Book

Farm Record Keeping Book

by Exocet Journals

Staying organized is crucial for running a successful farming business. Writing everything down in an all-inclusive journal can help with that. This record keeping journal is one smart way to log your daily farm routine, livestock care, seasonal crop rotations, repair operations, budget, and more – all kept in one place.

Books On Homesteading Skills, Tools and Supplies

Books On Homesteading Skills Tools and Supplies

Repairs, updates, and maintenance work is required for maintaining a successful homestead. Knowing which tools get the job done and understanding how to perform basic repairs can help you keep your farm in tip top shape and keep you from having to call for backup.

The Tool Book

The Tool Book:

A Tool Lover’s Guide to Over 200 Hand Tool

by Phil Davey

Phil’s tool book is basically an encyclopedia for common household tools. Leaf through this guide to find pictures of common tools from every imaginable angle, detailed patent drawings, zoomed in diagrams, and step-by-step illustrations of each tool being used with expert advice on how to use each tool best. The book covers different types of hammers, spades, chisels, and more.


Woodworking The Complete Step-by-Step Manual

Woodworking: The Complete Manual

by DK

This step-by-step carpenter’s manual includes guidance for a wide range of skillsets. New carpenters will learn the ins and outs of basic design techniques, how to use essential tools, and basic carpentry techniques like woodturning, furniture restoration, and wood joints.

More experienced carpenters can use their skills and follow the steps in the 28 different DIY woodworking projects the book provides. There’s something here for everybody wanting to learn more about woodworking.


Do-It-Yourself Plumbing

Do-It-Yourself Plumbing

by Max Alth

Another essential skill to get good at is plumbing, especially if you aren’t wanting to hire out on your homestead. This DIY guide includes over 500 photos, diagrams, and drawings to teach how to fix leaky faucets, balky toilets, clogged drains and traps, and even how to install hot-water and steam-heating system on your own.


Farm and Workshop Welding

Farm and Workshop Welding

by John Seymour

With over 400 step by step photos and tons of tips and suggestions for beginner to experienced welders, this comprehensive welding guide has it all. Learning to cut and shape metal will help you keep your homestead up to par and give you the freedom to create endless projects on your own.

Flip through Andrew’s comprehensive guide for detailed descriptions of specific types of welds like arc, MIG, gas, TIG, and plasma cutting. It also includes advice that extends into the wider workshop with advice on drill use, cutting threads, and blacksmithing.


Tools A Tool-by-Tool Guide to Choosing and Using 150 Home Essentials

Tools:

Guide to Choosing and Using 150 Home Essentials

by Steve Dodds

Knowing which tools to use and how to use them is the first step in keeping up with repairs around your homestead. This quick read chronicles 150 power and hand tools with explanations on how to use them.

Steve informs readers in three clear cut sections. The first covers where you can go to find quality tools and what specifically to look for to ensure years of dependable use. The second section explains how to use eight basic tool kits, and the third section is a tool-by-tool inventory of virtually every power and hand tool you could need.

Homesteading Books On Raising Livestock

Homesteading Books On Raising Livestock

A homestead isn’t complete without livestock. If the goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible, producing your own food with as few outside sources as possible, raising animals is the best way to make that happen. This booklist will provide you with all the know-hows you need to reduce your dependance on big agriculture and learn to produce your own dairy and poultry.

Raising Chickens and Goats

Raising Chickens and Goats

by Jason Howard

Chickens and goats are the most popular choices for raising animals on a homestead, especially if you’re getting into agriculture for the first time. Jason goes over how to know if your chickens and goats are healthy when you purchase them, how to keep them from getting sick, and ways to protect your livestock from predators.

For chickens, he talks about how to build a chicken coop, tips to raise robust chickens, and how to choose the best chicken breed on a budget, and more. For goats, he goes over the best places to buy a healthy goat, common mistakes homesteaders make when raising goats, tips to keep your goats from getting diseases, and more.


The Homesteaders Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook

Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook

by Amy Fewell

Pretty much anything you’d want to know about raising chickens is likely found in the little guide. Amy provides detailed explanations of everything from understanding why chickens do what they do, creating your very own poultry or egg business, preventing and treating ailments with herbal remedies, setting up your property, coop, and brooder, and hatching new chicks.


Keeping A Family Cow

Keeping A Family Cow

by Joann S. Grohman

Keeping A Family Cow was originally published in the early 1970s as The Cow Economy, and has been reprinted many times with updates and edits. If you’re wondering if you should get a cow but aren’t sure where to begin, this is the book for you. Joann goes over cow knowledge essentials, like the health benefits of untreated milk, how to easily milk your cow, details on calving and breeding, and the ins and outs of making butter, yogurt, and cheese.


Raising Pigs

Raising Pigs:

The Ultimate Guide to Pig Raising on Your Homestead

by Dion Rosser

Learn the ins and outs of raising pigs with detailed instructions in Raising Pigs: The Ultimate Guide To Pig Raising. Dion’s ultimate guide covers how to choose the type of pig that will best suit your needs, how to build proper housing and fencing for your pigs, how to properly care for your swine, how to feed your pigs well, and tips for pig reproduction and breeding.

Books On Bees And Beekeeping

Books On Bees And Beekeeping

Beekeeping is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. There are extensive benefits that come with adding beekeeping into your self-reliance skills on your family’s homestead.

The importance of bees often gets overlooked, but they are actually one of the most necessary creatures to sustaining humankind. Their role as pollinators is essential to our food chain and the longevity of society.

By beekeeping, you can do your part to help keep bees from going extinct. And the honey is a major plus! Check out this booklist to kickstart your journey as a beekeeper.

Beekeeping For Beginners

Beekeeping For Beginner’s

by Amber Bradshaw

If you’re new to beekeeping completely, I’d definitely recommend this read. Follow along with Amy, a homesteader and experienced beekeeper, to learn the basic fundamentals of modern beekeeping. This book will walk you through picking the right hive, bringing your bees home for the first time, surviving winters with your bees, the basics of collecting honey, and more.


Beekeepers Problem Solver

Beekeeper’s Problem Solver:

100 Common Problems Explored and Explained

by James E. Tew

It’s easy for things to go wrong when learning the art of keeping bees. This book explores 100 common problems for all beekeepers, from the beginner to experienced level. Then, it provides several methods to solve those problems directly. Each issue is addressed in detail with photographs and diagrams and tangible solutions from highly experienced beekeepers.


Honey Bee Biology And Beekeeping

Honey Bee Biology And Beekeeping

by Dewey M. Caron with Lawrence John Connor

This extensive and heavily researched beekeeper’s guide is for those curious about the science and history behind the art of beekeeping. This deep dive into beekeeping concentrates on the why, how, and when of beekeeping both today and in the past. Dewey and Lawrence explain bee basics in a manner meaningful to people who lack an intensive background in biology, covering colony management, basic bee biology, and more.

Helpful Reads On Permaculture

Helpful Reads On Permaculture

The practice of permaculture is all about managing your land and life in a way that is harmonious with the natural world. Getting started with permaculture begins with your thoughts then moves into your habits and lifestyle.

It means designing your land in a way that does not harm the earth, using your resources with environmental caution, decreasing your waste and your consumption, and creating an ecologically sound life on your homestead.

Permaculture A Beginners Guide

Permaculture: A Beginners Guide

by Graham Burnett

This is a valuable read if you’re entirely new to the lifestyle and mindset of permaculture. It’s a generalized beginner’s guide, so I don’t go this route if you aren’t actually a beginner – you might be frustrated by the level of simplicity! However, if you’re looking to learn the very basics of what permaculture is and how you can take baby steps to adopt the lifestyle, this is your book.


Earth User's Guide to Permaculture

Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture

by Rosemary Morrow

This is a slightly more detailed and extensive guide to permaculture than the one above. Rosemary talks a lot about the principles behind living a life built around permaculture: to care for people and the earth wherever possible.

Practically, she also provides detailed tips and instructions for the following practices: seed-saving, integrated pest management, domestic and rural water usage, dealing with weeds and wildlife in an ecologically friendly manner, and designing land to withstand natural disasters.


Permaculture Design a Step by Step Guide

Permaculture Design

by Aranya

This book is specifically geared toward land design and management under the umbrella of permaculture. Aranya explains the design process in extensive detail from beginning to end, covering designing frameworks, site surveying and mapmaking, placement and integration, and working with clients. There is an abundant use of flowcharts and diagrams throughout to help you learn the practice.

Prepping And Survival Skills

Prepping And Survival Skills

A prepper is an individual who focuses on training themselves in both urban and bushcraft survival skills to be prepared for all situations. Learning prepping and survival skills is a great way to prepare for all circumstances and make sure you have everything you need on your own homestead, should you be disconnected from civilization. These books go over basic and advanced survival skills for preppers and homesteaders alike.

Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide

Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide

by Jim Cobb

This step-by-step survivalist guide is full of advice, techniques, strategies, and skills to learn from the perspective of a lifelong prepping expert. Jim gives insight on preparing for the worst with skills like water collection for drinking and hygiene, storing water, growing food, hunting game, foraging in the woods, first aid and home remedies, and tactics for fortifying and defending your home.


SAS Survival Handbook

SAS Survival Handbook:

How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate

by John Lofty Wiseman

John’s handbook specifically addresses ways to survive unforeseen situations as they arise. John provides strategies and tactics for surviving in any type of situation, from accidents and escape procedures to adapting to various climates like polar, tropical, or desert, to identifying edible plants, to creating fire. The is an all-inclusive how to for surviving anything, complete with detailed descriptions, illustrations, instructions, and diagrams.

Natural Medicine And Remedies

Natural Medicine And Remedies

For some, being entirely self-sufficient without using outside sources includes medicine. Many homesteaders engage with herbal remedies like tinctures, teas, syrups, and salves to calm anxiety, heal wounds, or help with ailments like headaches or the common cold. These easy reads will give you some basic advice for beginning the world of herbal medicine.

The Homesteaders Herbal Companion

The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion

by Amy Fewell

This book is the go-to guide for those wishing to start their journey with home remedies. Amy covers everything from incorporating herbs and essential oils around your home, the basics of herbalism, and how to properly use each type of herb around your homestead. Whether you are new to homesteading and herbal medicine or you know the basics already, there is much to gain from this comprehensive guide.


Medicinal Herbs A Beginners Guide

Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

by Rosemary Gladstar

In this beginner’s guide, Rosemary goes over 33 common healing plants and their uses. She also includes advice on growing, harvesting, and preparing each plant along with tips for using herbs in healing tinctures, oils, and creams. This is a valuable read if you’re looking for an in-depth inventory of useful medicinal herbs with pictures and tips for usage.


Be Your Own Doctor

Be Your Own Doctor

by Rachel Weaver

This book is specifically geared toward creating safe, high quality, in-home medical care. Rachel divides her book into sections: essential household remedies with which includes remedies for common issues, first aid, and immunity boosters, then health hormones and pregnancy, and, lastly, planning ahead and getting supplies. I would recommend this one to anyone thinking about trying herbal medicine in their homestead.

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How To Build A Simple DIY Compost Bin

How To Build A Simple DIY Compost Bin

how to build a simple diy compost bin

NAVIGATION

Why Should I Build My Own Compost Bin?

why build a compost bin

When I first started composting, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on fancy, overpriced composting bins or compost tumblers. I wanted to use the materials I already had lying around to try it out and see if I liked it. There are two simple approaches to building a composting bin that I like to recommend for beginners to get started quickly.

The first is a simple wooden compost bin that you can assemble yourself with just wood, screws, and glue. The second is a trash can composter, which you can make from an old trash can and a drill.

How To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin In 10 Easy Steps

How To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

The reality is, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to create soil to sprinkle across your vegetable garden or fertilize your fruit trees. Just gather your supplies and follow 10 simple steps to assemble your wooden compost bin.

Supplies You’ll Need To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

Supplies To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

While you can make your compost bin any size you want, the board sizes included here should be enough to build a small bin about 30″ wide by 24″ deep by 24″ tall. Keep in mind lumber sizes are nominal, meaning a 1″ x 4″ is actually 3/4″ x 3-1/2″, and a 1″ x 6″ is really 3/4″ x 5-1/2″.

  • 2-1″x4″x8′ boards (we recommend cedar)
  • 8-1″x6″x10′ boards (we recommend cedar)
  • Box of 1-1/8″ galvanized screws
  • Box of 2″ galvanized screws
  • Screw gun or screwdriver
  • Hammer (to tap boards into place)
  • Carpenter’s square (to check alignment)
  • Wood glue
wooden compost bin

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10 Steps To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

10 Steps To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

Step 1: Cut your wood

The first thing you’re going to want to do is cut your wood to a proper size. Regardless of the exact method you choose to use, your bin should be big enough to handle to process of turning the compost. For this specific compost bin design, you’re going to cut up these pieces:

  • (10) 1x6x30″ for the horizontal slats for front & back
  • (10) 1x6x24″ for the horizontal slats for the sides
  • (8) 1x4x24″ vertical legs for the corners
  • (5) 1x6x31-½” slats for the lid
  • (8) 1x4x12″ battens for the lids and slide-in front panels
  • (1) 1×4 cut 24″ long, then rip in half to make rail pieces
cut wood pieces for compost bin

Step 2: Build the back of the bin

Once you have your lumber cut, you’re going to want to build the back of your wooden compost bin first. Place two leg pieces flat on the ground, then place six horizontal slat pieces between them. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but using the carpenter’s square to check for alignment when building each panel will help things go much easier when assembling the entire box structure. Screw your horizontal slats to the vertical legs with 1-1/8″ screws. Keep the ends of the horizontal slats 3/4″ inch from the outside edges of the leg pieces. Leave a 3/4″ gap between each of the six horizontal slats as you screw them in.
build back of compost bin

Step 3: Build the sides of the bin

Now you’re going to make the left and right sides of the bin the exact same way — laying the leg pieces flat and aligning the five horizontal slats between them. Space the slats the exact same way as you did for the back of the bin and screw them in. Once you have the sides made attach them to the back using 2″ screws and wood glue. The structure you’ve assembled so far should look like this example.
build sides of compost bin

Step 4: Attach the rail pieces at the front inside of the bin.

Next, attach the thin rail pieces to the horizontal slats on the inside front edges of the side panels with 1-1/8″ screws. These should be set back about 7/8″ from the front of the boards on each side to allow the removable front pieces to slide in and out easily.
add slide rail peices to compost bin

Step 5: Connect vertical legs to the front corners.

Using the 2″ screws and wood glue, screw the legs on the sides on the front of the bin. The sides of the front legs should be flush with the fronts of the legs on each side.
attached front legs to compost bin

Step 6: Build the bottom half of the slide-in front panel

The front facing panel is going to be split into two portions that slide into the structure. For the lower panel, use three horizontal slat pieces and space them ¾ inch apart. Then, use two batten pieces and space them 3-1/2″ inches from the ends of the slats. Attach the wood with your 1-1/8″screws.
build removable bottom panel on compost bin

Step 7: Attach your three flat sides to the leg pieces

You’re going to do almost same thing to make the upper panel, but this time using 2-1″x6″x30″ slats and make sure the batten pieces extend past the bottom slat to create the 3/4″ gap between the top and bottom panels when assembled. The finished parts should look like this example when finished.
build top wooden panel for compost bin

Step 8: Check to make sure you can easily remove both front panels

Double check at this point that both the removable front panels will easily slide up and out of the groove. You don’t them binding or getting stuck. If necessary, detach the rails you installed in Step 4 and move them back about 1/8″ or more to allow for a wider groove for the front panels.
check that front panels will easily slide out

Step 9: Add the lid

Finally, construct the two lid portions in the same way you built the front sliding panels, only make the slats 31-1/2″ long so they set on top of the sides.
construct lid for compost bin

Step 10: Add in your scraps

Your new wooden compost bin is ready to go. All you need to do now is mix in your brown and green materials, add a little water, and you’re all set to create earthy compost to nourish your garden!
add scraps to finished compost bin

How To Build A Compost Bin Out Of A Trash Can In Five Easy Steps

How To Build A Compost Bin Out Of A Trash Can

The trash can compost bin is even easier to put together than the wooden bin. Gather your supplies and follow these simple steps to assemble your compost bin from a common trash can.

Supplies You’ll Need To Build A Compost Bin Out Of A Trash Can

Supplies To Build A Trash Can Compost Bin

  • Plastic trash can
  • Screwgun
  • 3/4″ spade drill bit
  • 3 bricks
  • Bungee cord

Five Steps To Build A Compost Bin Out Of A Trash Can

Five Steps To Build A Compost Bin Out Of A Trash Can

Step 1: Drills holes in the can

First, take your drill and ½-inch bit and drill small holes through the sides and bottom of your track can to allow air to get in.
drill holesd in trashcan

Step 2: Add in your scraps

Next, layer your brown and green materials on the inside of the can. Brown materials include things like fall leaves, pine needles, twigs, chipped tree branches/bark, unlaminated paper, sawdust, coffee filters, dryer lint, or cardboard. Green materials include things like fruit and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings, weed clippings, or flowers.
add scraps to trashcan

Step 3: Add water to your compost bin

Add a little bit of water to the top of your can, but be careful not to add too much! You want to add just enough water to make your scraps barely wet, without submerging them in standing water.
add water to compost pile

Step 4: Mix your compost

Now, let’s get ready to mix up your compost. This is the work that compost tumblers do, but you can do this yourself with a simple bungee cord. Make sure the lid on your can is secure, then wrap the bungee cord vertically around the bin to keep the lid super tight and in place so nothing falls out when you roll it. Then just give your bin a quick roll around the yard to blend in all the nourished contents and make the most out of your mixture.
roll trashcan to mix compost

Step 5: Wait for your compost to turn to soil

Lastly, place your freshly mixed compost bin on top of your bricks (this trick will help to ensure good airflow) and wait for the compost magic to happen.
set trashcan composter up on bricks for airflow

composting with worms

Outdoor Compost Bin Verses Indoor Compost Bin

Outdoor Compost Bin Verses Indoor Compost Bin

When I set out to build my first compost bin, I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going to put it once I had the thing built. I had to consider the benefits and setbacks of keeping my bin outside verses inside.

Outdoor Compost Bin

Outdoor Compost Bin

ouotdoor compost bin

One of the first questions beginner composters ask themselves is whether or not they should keep their compost inside of outside. Here’s the scoop on outdoor compost bins.

Pros

  • Less Mess
  • Conveniently Located
  • Faster Composting Time

Cons

  • Might Attract Animals
  • Influenced By Weather
  • Further From The Kitchen

PRO: There’s no mess or odor inside your house or apartment.

A helpful aspect of outdoor composting is the lack of mess you bring into your living environment. Composting can bring unwanted bugs, odors, and other pests around if not done properly, and those aren’t things you want in your clean kitchen. Keeping your compost outside keeps the mess outside too.

PRO: Place your bin right next to your garden for easy access when the soil is ready to be used.

If you’re compost bin or pile is outside, its way easier to start using your fresh soil immediately after if it is ready. You can easily keep your pile in the back corner of your yard or right next to your garden bed to dump onto your plants when the hummus is at completion.

PRO: You can put your bin or pile in direct sunlight.

Sunlight speeds up the composting process by adding heat to the pile, which helps the bacteria and fungi work faster. Indoor composters have a lid or take place in enclosed bins or cyclers. If you keep your compost outside, you can put it in direct sunlight to achieve faster results.

CON: It’s easier for nighttime critters to mess with your scraps.

One bad thing about having a giant pile of food and trash in your yard is that, unfortunately, animals love food and trash. Keeping your compost inside keeps it out of reach of racoons, squirrels, rats, mice, or whatever critters you may have around. When you have an outdoor pile, you run the risk of having some unwanted guests messing with your scraps and compost process.

CON: Weather and climate changes can affect the speed of your compost turning into soil.

Keeping your compost outside makes it more susceptible to the elements than if you were to keep it indoors. Conditions such as temperature, wind, and rainfall influence the composting process. Where you live and the general climate in your area will influence decisions like how big to make your pile, what scraps might be most successful, the best location for your pile, and how often to turn it. With indoor composting, you don’t have to consider these things.

CON: You have to walk outside to add new scraps to your pile and manage your compost.

If your pile is outdoors, every time you cook and want to add more to your mix, you’ll have to walk outside where you have your compost bin. This can make it more tempting to just chunk scraps in a kitchen garbage can instead.


Indoor Compost Bin

Indoor Compost Bin

indoor compost bin

There are also pros and cons to keeping your compost in your kitchen. Here’s the scoop on indoor compost bins.

Pros

  • Easy Access
  • Protected From The Weather
  • Safe From Animals

Cons

  • Odor Inside Your House
  • Messy Kitchen
  • Attract Pests or Flies

PRO: You have easy access to your compost and can add your kitchen scraps immediately.

Because your compost bin is sitting on your counter, you can easily throw your scraps into your pile after you’re done cooking or even while you’re cooking. This can make it easier to keep up the environmentally conscious habit.

PRO: Your compost is entirely protected from weather and the elements.

An indoor bin is protected from rain, wind, extreme cold, and extreme heat. You won’t have to adjust the makeup of your pile to fit particular climate conditions. This extra step won’t be something you have to adjust your pile for.

PRO: Your compost is entirely protected from animals that could mess with the process.

Critters can’t bother your pile if it’s indoors. This prevents racoons, foxes, or rodents from weaseling their way into your pile, eating your scraps, and disrupting the progress those active bacteria and microbes have been making in your pile.

CON: If your compost produces an odor, the inside of your house or apartment could smell.

Compost can be smelly. Ideally, the scent coming from your compost pile will be a sweet, earthy aroma that is pleasing to the nose. However, when things in your pile go wrong, those kitchen scraps can produce quite an awful stench. This isn’t as much of an issue when your pile is in open air and kept in the yard, but a gross odor isn’t something you want filling up your house.

CON: Your compost or scraps could make a mess inside your kitchen if you aren’t careful.

Keeping your compost inside makes it easier to make a mess in your kitchen. The composting process is messy, packed with scents, garbage and bacteria. Having your compost pile spill all over your kitchen isn’t exactly ideal.

CON: Your compost could attract pests or fruit flies.

Fruit flies, ants, mites and other small insects can gravitate towards your indoor compost pile. These are not desirable for the outcome of your compost, but they’re also just gross to have around. If your bin is outside, these bugs won’t be as big of a deal — but once you have those guys inside, they can be hard to get rid of!


What Type Of Compost Bin Is Best?

What Type Of Compost Bin Is Best

A simple compost trash can or wooden bin can certainly suffice to produce nutrient-rich compost, but there are perks to trying different bins, containers, and methods. I’ve listed various types of compost bins below with pros and cons, whether each belongs indoors or outdoors, and an estimated cost. I hope this helps you make a wise, informed decision about the type of compost bin that’s best for you.

Compost Trash Cans

Compost Trash Cans

A compost trash can is the easiest type of bin to build yourself, and it’s also one of the cheapest options. You don’t need a ton of extraneous supplies to make this composter work and you can build it in an hour or less. It’s also beneficial if you want to use the supplies you have laying around the house already to build a compost bin.

plastic compost trashcan

Pros: This type of compost bin is the easiest and cheapest to make yourself, DIY style.

Cons: It’s harder to turn your compost in this type of bin due to the shape.


Wooden Compost Bin

Wooden Compost Bin

Want to build one of the simplest, most popular compost bins? Wooden compost bins are helpful because you are in charge of how big or small you want your bin to be. They also aid in managing the moisture levels of your pile. Cedar is one of the best options to use to create this bin based on its durability.

outdoor compost bin made of wood

Pros: This type of bin can be assembled easily for a moderate price.

Cons: Wooden compost bins rot easily due to moisture from rain.


Wire Compost Bin

Wire Compost Bin

If you’re in need of a compost bin that holds your compost tightly as well as aerates it evenly, a wire bin might be the way to go. You can mend the shape of the wire mesh to fit the size of your pile. A compost bin made from chicken wire or wire mesh is a fairly popular option for storing compost because it is the best method to provide ventilation to your decomposing compost. You can also combine this method with the wooden bin by creating a wooden frame and filling in the walls with wire mesh to aid air flow.

simple wire compost bin

Pros: The holes in the wire helps regulate air flow for the microbes

Cons: Holes in wire bins make it easier for critters and pests to get into your compost


Compost Tumbler

Compost Tumbler

outdoor compost tumbler

A compost tumbler is a sealed, metal container which can be rotated to mix the composting materials without having to manually turn your pile. Compost tumblers were invented to make composting more user friendly. They have open bottoms and are lifted entirely off the ground, which is different from bins which sit on the ground directly. It’s recommended that you spin your tumbler about three or four spins a week to keep the scraps mixed up and the microbes happy.

Pros: The pro on this one is obvious: lack of intense manual labor. The tumblers do the hard work of turning the pile for you.

Cons: Experts say that expensive tumblers aren’t usually worth it — the turning process on compost tumblers isn’t as effective to produce high-quality compost as turning your pile yourself. Large outdoor tumblers are expensive.


Countertop Composter / Food Cycler

Countertop Food Cycler

Food cyclers are different than any other kind of compost bin because it does all the hard work for you right from your kitchen. You just throw your food scraps into the cycler, seal the lid, and press the power button to let the cycler quickly decompose your scraps. Several experts have started to go the countertop composting route because they have easy access to their bin while cooking. Plus, these cyclers are electronic, and the turnaround rate is fast. A food recycler breaks down food waste using a three-phase cycle. Each of the three cycles can last between three and 48 hours, depending on the type of cycler you are using and what scraps you choose to compost.

countertop food cycler and composter

Pros: Food cyclers turn your kitchen scraps into fertilizer for you, so there is very little management on your part.

Cons: Food cyclers are made small to fit on your countertop, which means they can’t hold as much organic waste as a pile or bin. Countertop cyclers are expensive.


Lomi Compost

Lomi Compost

The Lomi composter is a specific brand of countertop kitchen composters that will turn food scraps, bioplastics, boxes, and more household waste into soil in a single 24-hour cycle. This is one of the fastest methods for composting scraps into useable soil. The Lomi composter is highly convenient. All you have to do to use it is place it on your kitchen counter, give it your food waste, and press a button.

lomi composter

Pros: Lomi is the fastest method for composting. It turns your compost on its own and gives finished results in 24 hours.

Cons: The Lomi Composter is small, just like other kitchen composters. It cannot hold a large amount of organic waste at one time. It is one of the more expensive methods to compost your kitchen scraps.


Bokashi Compost

Bokashi Compost

Bokashi composting is a fermentation process, which sets it apart from other types of composting. The Bokashi method uses anaerobic bacteria instead of aerobic bacteria to break down organic waste, meaning the pile will work in the absence of oxygen.

To use the Bokashi method, composters use a Bokashi bucket. The Bokashi bucket has a tight lid and a spigot at the bottom to drain off the liquid that is created as your kitchen scraps decompose. Draining the liquid is a crucial element of the Bokashi process. If you don’t drain the excess liquid, the compost bucket produces an awful stench. The excess liquid, called bokashi tea, can be used as a nutrient rich, natural fertilizer.

bokashi composter

Pros: Bokashi composting does not require manual turning or monitoring of any kind, it works on its own. You can compost kitchen scraps that don’t breakdown easily in traditional compost bins, like dairy, meats, and oil.

Cons: The Bokashi method produces a sour, acidic, pickle-like smell as it ferments. This can be bothersome to some composters. Bokashi composting doesn’t produce soil at first. The method preserves scraps in a semi-decomposed state for you to bury and turn into mature compost later.


Hot Composting

Hot Composting

Hot composting is a much faster method for turning organic waste into soil than cold bin composting is. Hot compost bins usually function around temperatures between 40° and 77° Celsius, or 104° and 170° Fahrenheit. How does your pile heat up? By turning your compost and introducing the active microbes and bacteria to oxygen, causing them to release thermal energy.

After you initially build a hot compost pile, you will need to monitor and record the daily temperature of the pile with a compost thermometer. There are several different factors that can affect the temperature of your pile, like moisture levels, the number of scraps you add, or the type of scraps you use. The entire hot composting process usually takes about four weeks to turn into soil.

hot composting pile

Pros:

  • Hot composting produces a greater volume of soil than cold composting.
  • Hot compost contains far fewer weed seeds than cold composting.
  • Hot compost leaves you with richer substances in your soil/fertilizer.
  • The entire process only takes about a month.

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of attention to manage and turn the pile.
  • You have to build your pile in a large, compact manner or it won’t retain heat. This can be tricky and
    frustrating to get right.

Cold Composting

Cold Composting

Cold composting is composting in its most basic form. It undergoes the same process of turning organic scraps without the use of oxygen and heat. When you make a cold compost pile, all you have to do is throw your scraps in a pile and wait. You do not have to actively turn the pile, because the goal of introducing the microbes to air flow isn’t the same as it is with hot composting. In six months to a year, the bottom portion of the pile will become a thick hummus you can spread in your garden or under your trees.

cold composting pile

Pros:

  • Requires minimal effort to maintain. The pile basically does all the work on its own.
  • The pile doesn’t have to be a particular size or shape, you can just dump on more waste as you go.

Cons:

  • The entire process takes anywhere from six months to a year or more to complete.
  • The lack of high temperatures brings an abundance of unwanted weed seeds.

tiny house toilet options
Your Turn!

  • What supplies and materials will you need to buy to build your own compost bin?
  • What type of compost bin are you going to build?

Tiny House Toilet Options: What It’s Really Like To Use A Composting Toilet

Tiny House Toilet Options: What It’s Really Like To Use A Composting Toilet

tiny house toilets
Tiny house toilet options are a rather taboo topic; it’s an area where I think people have a lot of questions but are too afraid to ask. It’s one aspect of tiny living that sparks morbid curiosity.

  • How do you set up a toilet in a tiny house?
  • What are your tiny house toilet options?
  • How does a composting toilet really work?

And of course, Is a composting toilet gross? Does a tiny house toilet smell?

NAVIGATION

But we all must heed the call of nature. If you’re planning a tiny house, you need to know your toilet options, so you can be sure to choose a tiny house toilet that you can live with. Today I’m going to give you the straight talk about tiny house toilets. As someone who’s lived with a tiny house composting toilet for years, I’m happy to share all the honest details of my experience with tiny house toilets.

My Tiny House Toilet

My Tiny House Toilet

When I first built my tiny house, I was firmly against composting toilets of any sort. Frankly, I thought it sounded strange and challenging. I wanted a flush toilet.

My tiny house setup is pretty similar to others’ situations. I stay on a piece of land owned by a friend, and we have an arrangement where I can stay there if I pitch in on the taxes for the land. When I was deciding where to spend on land setup, I was treading that fine line of spending enough to make it livable, but not so much that I couldn’t walk away if something didn’t work out. So I ran water to my land for about $4,000. I installed a driveway for $2,000.

But then I got an estimate to have a flush toilet installed, and I went into sticker shock. It was $50,000!

tiny house outhouse toiletThere are a lot fewer regulations around freshwater compared to sewage. There are more inspections, infrastructure, health codes, and more that you have to navigate. In Charlotte, where I live, the permit for water metering alone is $2,200 for freshwater and $9,700 for a sewer connection! That’s just the meter! You’re spending almost $10,000 just for the privilege of paying for sewerage.

So for price alone, I decided that maybe I could reconsider the necessity of a flush toilet. I grew up camping; I went through boy scouts. I figured I would give a compost toilet a shot and see if it was really so bad.

Several years later, I can attest that a compost toilet is a totally livable tiny house toilet option. I barely think about my toilet anymore. It’s become part of my routine home maintenance and housekeeping, and it’s no big deal.

I recently put in a septic system on my property, but it’s not specifically just for my tiny house; it’s for my planned expansion. It’s much cheaper than connecting to sewer. Fortunately, where I live, it’s allowed. In many cities, if there’s a sewer system, you don’t have a septic option. Many places won’t give a certificate of occupancy without a sewer connection either.

If you do have the option of septic, it’s much more affordable. At the low end, a septic system costs around $3,000. They average between $5,000-$10,000, up to as much as $30,000. If you live in a highly-populated area like New York or California, you may have more environmental restrictions, so even septic gets expensive.

Regardless of where you live, if you’re considering a compost toilet as one of your tiny house toilet options, there are quite a few things to consider in your exploration. As someone who decided rather quickly as I was building my tiny house, I must admit that it’s not bad. I really don’t mind my compost toilet at all.

Tiny House Toilet Options

Tiny House Toilet Options

If you’re building a tiny house and want to weigh all your tiny house toilet options, there’s quite a range to explore. Here are a few of the more popular tiny house toilet choices and what I’ve learned about each.

traditional flush toilet

Traditional Flush Toilet

As far as tiny house toilet options go, this one is probably the most comfortable but maybe the least practical in terms of cost (and depending on your land setup). To have a flush toilet, you’ll need to connect to your cities sewage or install septic. For some people, it’s worth the investment. For others, it’s a deal-breaker.


five gallon bucket

5-Gallon Bucket Composting Toilet

From the most traditional to probably the least traditional, you can go with the economic 5-gallon bucket composting toilet. These are easy enough to make. You line the bucket with a bag and affix a toilet seat to the top. You fill the bucket with an absorbent substrate.


luggable loo toilet

Luggable Loo

I have the Luggable Loo, and I’m quite pleased with it. I’ve been using it for years. It’s very similar to the 5-gallon bucket option, but the lid snaps into place, and it’s built to be extremely durable. Initially, I chose this tiny house toilet option out of convenience, but it’s worked well for me. Compared to the other costlier options, I haven’t found any noticeable drawbacks to choosing the Luggable Loo composting toilet.


Separett Villa 9215 AC-DC Composting Toilet

Separett Villa 9215 AC/DC Composting Toilet

The Separett Villa 9512 is a waterless and self-contained composting toilet. There’s a high-tech fan system that helps vent and a tank for holding waste. It’s big enough for three weeks of use by several people. Bob Vila voted it the best composting toilet on the market, but the price tag is a little high at around $1,000.


Sun-Mar Excel Non-Electric Waterless Composting Toilet

Sun-Mar Excel Non-Electric Waterless Composting Toilet

The Sun-Mar Excel unique-looking toilet is a self-contained compost toilet that requires no electricity to work (perfect for a tiny house). It’s high capacity, and according to the Daily Gardener, “If you’re only going to use it now and again—perhaps in a cabin used on weekends—it will cope with five to seven users.” The vent on the back helps keep it from smelling. Again, this toilet is around $1,200, making it a cost-prohibitive tiny house toilet option for some.


Self-Contained Composting Toilet

Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet

The Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet separates solids from liquids, making it a practically odorless option (almost all toilets will have some odor, of course). The Nature’s Head toilet needs to be emptied every few weeks and can be used with a composting medium (like peat moss) to help make it simple to compost. The price point is around $1,000, making it a similar tiny house toilet option to the other composting toilets I mentioned.


Self-Contained Composting Toilet with crank

Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet with Crank Handle

Voted one of the best composting toilets by NY Mag’s The Strategist, the Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet with Crank Handle seems to be a preferred choice for RVs, campers, and van-lifers. The crank handle helps agitate the contents of the toilet, making it compost faster and easier. An Amazon reviewer and user recommends spraying it out after liquids, using a spray bottle filled with water and natural dish soap, which minimizes the smell.

In general, I’ve heard the best reviews of the Nature’s Head toilets, and I’ve also heard positive reviews on the Separett. It’s also important to recognize that certain toilets will have safety certifications, which can help if you want to be sure to go the completely legal route. Some municipalities require toilets to meet specific codes and regulations. If this applies to your area, you may want to consider one of the commercial brand toilets.

tiny house water

What Is It Like To Have A Composting Toilet?

What Is It Like To Have A Composting Toilet

So, what is it really like to have a composting toilet? I get asked this question more often than you’d think. People want to know—does it smell? How do you use a compost toilet? Isn’t it gross?

First of all, I was definitely concerned when I started on my tiny house journey. I’m very clean and tidy, to the point of being a bit of a neat freak. So the thought of a dirty, smelly toilet in my tiny home was not appealing to me. Plus, I worked a professional job, where it was necessary to be hygienic and presentable at all times.

composting toiletBut after several years, I can say, it’s not a big deal at all. It’s incredible how quickly you get used to using a composting toilet. Besides, I’m often out and about, living my life during the day. To be very candid, it’s rare that I need to use my composting toilet. Not to mention that I live on 32 acres, and being a guy, I can find a tree for liquid waste. There will be weeks, sometimes even months, where I don’t need to use my composting toilet at all.

Now for solid waste, it’s a little trickier, especially if you’re not out and about throughout the day. Even with liquids, going in the same spot year after year becomes an issue. It can damage the soil, trees and pose certain hazards (and urine smells).

I also should add the caveat here that as a guy, I’m not as familiar with feminine hygiene needs and the composting toilet, so I had to do some research on the topic. Macy over at Mini Motives has a comprehensive post about feminine hygiene and composting toilets. It seems that many of the sustainable options for menstruation work just as well with composting toilets. As she says, “Whatever you use is your preference, and they CAN all be used with composting toilets.”

Charlotte has a lot of health requirements surrounding the disposal of solid waste. You are required to bag it and put it in the trash. At first, this seemed odd to me, but if you think of it like baby diapers or dog waste, it’s really not too different. There are eco-friendly bags that help. I also suggest reading the Humanure Book, which delves into what you need to know to compost human waste safely.

I’ve learned that the smell factor is an issue if you don’t separate liquids and solids. Things that are wet smell more and break down quickly. Bacteria are drawn to warm, wet environments, especially those that are dark and have oxygen. So, it’s essential to keep waste covered and dry.

You can still use toilet paper with a compost toilet, especially if you’re bagging it up. There’s RV-specific toilet paper that breaks down quickly and is suitable for those with compost toilets.

Tiny House Toilet Indoors Versus An Outhouse

Tiny House Toilet Indoors Versus An Outhouse

Almost every tiny homeowner I know has a composting toilet inside their tiny house. When I first started using a composting toilet, I was still in the process of building my tiny house. Because of this, I was using my bathroom as storage, and I had no space for anything. I wasn’t sure what to do with the toilet, so I set it up outside with a little coverage deck (again, keep in mind I live on a vast, isolated piece of land).

tiny house bathroomsWhen the house was ready, it was time to move the toilet inside, and I remember thinking, “Why?” Why would I want to invite smells, bacteria, and occasionally even flies into my house?

If you can make an outhouse or outdoor bathroom happen, I say, why not go for it? I’ve seen some nice setups, where people have a little shower in their outdoor bathroom, a sink, and a little toilet. You could go with an outdoor bathroom or just an outhouse. It’s less of a headache than having a bathroom indoors.

But of course, there are some hazards, including pests, bugs, and even animals that are more prevalent outdoors (and more likely to break into your outhouse). In the middle of a winter storm, pouring rain, or the dark of night, not everyone loves going outdoors to do their business. Plus, it gets very cold in the winter, which is excellent for keeping smells at bay but not great for comfort. The heat can get intense in a small space in the summer, and you may end up with flies and bugs.

You have to weigh the pros and cons of the outhouse versus an indoor bathroom with a composting toilet and decide what’s right for you. Again, my experience is as a guy who is very comfortable outdoors and lives in an isolated area. For a family or those living in a tiny house community, your needs may be very different.

Compost Toilet Hacks & Materials

Compost Toilet Hacks and Materials

If you decide that a composting toilet is the right tiny house toilet option for you, certain items will make your bathroom experience more pleasant and easier. Not only will these items cut back on the smell factor and keep your bathroom cleaner, but they’ll prevent some of the issues that arise with tiny house toilets.

Tiny House Toilet Hacks

Tiny House Toilet Hacks

  • Consider a built-in woodchip bin. A built-in bin is a nice feature in a tiny house bathroom. You could, of course, use a bucket or container to hold the wood chips, but having the bin makes it look more cohesive. I’ve seen some built-in bins about 2 feet x 2 feet, with a closed lid to store the chips.
  • Install a solar-powered vent fan. A fan is a must-have if your bathroom is indoors. You need something to move odors out of the small space. Make sure the end of the vent is carefully screened to prevent flies and pests from sneaking into your bathroom.
  • A urine diverter keeps the toilet smelling fresh. Even though we think of solid waste as the source of smells, the truth is that wet matter smells much more than dry. If you want your bathroom to stay fresh, a urine diverter is a fancy funnel that splits the liquids and the solids. I’ve heard from female friends that this is an especially appreciated feature.
  • Seal the toilet lid carefully. Take time to seal the toilet lid very carefully. A good seal will go a long way toward keeping smells out. You can use weatherstripping, similar to what you would use on a door, to get a nice tight seal.

design your dream tiny home

Tiny House Composting Toilet Materials

Tiny House Composting Toilet Materials

The other question I often get about my toilet is about the materials used to absorb the liquids and solids inside the toilet. You need some absorbent material in the toilet to keep things from getting messy or smelly. For me, wood shavings (yes, from the pet store) are my preferred choice.

I’ve tried many materials, and the same wood shavings you’d buy for hamsters or guinea pigs work well inside your compost toilet. It’s absorbent, low-odor, cheap, lightweight, and easy to deal with. It might feel a bit funny buying hamster shavings for your human toilet but let me tell you—it works!

Composting Toilet Materials Options


wood shavings compost material

Wood Shavings

What I use, and my highest recommendation. I’ve tried many toilet materials, and the shavings from the pet store are the best, cleanest option.


sawdust compost

Sawdust

Similar to pet wood shavings, sawdust works well for composting toilets. The main issue is that unless you live near a lumber mill or own a woodchipper, unlimited sawdust can be tough to access.


use cat litter as compost material

Cat Litter

Some folks have tried various types of cat litter for composting toilets. It’s a bad idea, and it isn’t a sustainable option that works well for humans.


coco coir composting

Coco Coir

Made from the shells and husks of coconuts, coco coir is sustainable and can work well for composting toilets, but it’s challenging to come by and can be expensive.


compost with peat moss

Peat Moss

There are more sustainable peat moss options out there now, and it’s not difficult to find. As far as materials go, peat moss isn’t a terrible tiny house toilet option.


wood ash compost

Wood Ash

I wouldn’t recommend using wood ash as your tiny house toilet material. It’s very messy and hard to deal with. It is, however, odor absorbent.


grass clippings as compost material

Grass Clippings & Leaves

I’ve also found that this is not a great long-term solution. Unless you have something to finely breakdown the clippings and leaves, it’s a pain to maintain. Plus, leaves and grass clippings have their own smell as they breakdown, which can exacerbate the already smelly situation.

compost bucket toilet construction steps

Should You Choose a Composting Toilet For Your Tiny House?

Should You Choose a Composting Toilet For Your Tiny House

All in all, using a composting toilet isn’t a bad tiny house toilet solution. Having used one for many years now, it’s not terrible at all. To be honest, I hardly even think of it most of the time.

There are a lot of people out there who claim that a composting toilet doesn’t smell…and they’re unfortunately wrong. The odor seems to be the biggest worry for most tiny house owners, and I’m not going to lie—it’s a toilet; it smells. The biggest thing you can do to mitigate the smell is to keep your toilet outside and choose the outhouse option as your bathroom solution.

I realize that an outdoor toilet isn’t realistic for many people, so the next best way to combat the smell is to have a really good ventilation fan. If you install a high-quality fan and keep your toilet sealed, you will minimize the smell. It’s also crucial that you’re diligent about using plenty of cover material and cleaning out the toilet frequently. Those steps will go a long way.

If you choose to dispose of the waste in a bag, you can put it out with the trash (again, like pet waste or a diaper) in most places. It’s not pleasant to think about, but once you’re used to it, it’s really no big deal. If you choose to compost, make sure that you have the approval of the landowner (if that’s not you).

While most of us probably don’t want to think too much about the toilet for our tiny house, it’s one of those things that makes life more livable, clean, and comfortable. The call of nature is something we all must heed, so it makes sense to find a tiny house toilet solution that you can live with in the long term.

Even though I’ll admit, I decided to take the plunge into a composting toilet as a last-minute solution to save the plumbing costs; it’s something that I’ve been satisfied with for years.

design and build collection

Your Turn!

  • What are your biggest concerns about using a composting toilet?
  • Do you prefer an outdoor or indoor bathroom?

How Do Tiny Houses Get Power? Connecting Your Tiny Home To The Electrical Grid

How Do Tiny Houses Get Power? Connecting Your Tiny Home To The Electrical Grid

how do otiny houses get powerTiny houses take a page from RVs when it comes to getting power. You have three main options: be fully connected to the electrical power grid, go fully off the grid, or to use a hybrid approach.

Whatever way you get power into your tiny house, it will take some planning and jumping through hoops when it comes to codes. With all of these recommendations, I’d strongly encourage hiring a licensed electrician.

Also check out the more detailed posts on tiny house electrical.

*Disclaimer: Keep in mind that if you wire your own tiny house, you’re assuming all risks. It is suggested that you hire an electrician and consult local, state, and federal officials for all safety measures and code compliance. See our full legal page for further information here: https://thetinylife.com/about-us/legal/

Connecting Your Tiny House To Power – Standard Method

connecting your tiny house to power grid

The easiest method to connect your tiny home to power is similar to how RVs get power, which is through an extension cord. You’ll want to use a drop power cord sized for a 50-amp circuit. While you could go smaller, it’s suggested that you plan to have a full 50-amp circuit for some buffer and future expansion.

Power Grid To Electrical Meter

power grid to electrical meter

The power from the power company will be fed from the grid through your electrical meter to your main box. This is the most difficult part because it is the focal point of the permitting process. For stand-alone power, you may be able to get a temporary power pole for a while, but at some point, you’ll need to convert to a permanent connection.

The easiest way to do this is to have another house on the property that’s already connected to the grid. Barring that, figure out a way to have “an excuse” to have power on the property before you have your tiny house there. Things that I know have worked for people in the past are having a power connection for a powered gate, a security light on a pole, or a little shed that you need power in that they can connect up.

tiny house electrical

Tiny House Power Connection

Tiny House Power Connection

tiny house power connectionOnce you have power on site, you’re going to want to connect your tiny house to that power source. To do this practically, use an RV-style plug connector like the one below. These are very affordable and allow you to make a custom length drop cord for your tiny home.

Another great thing about these is that they’re seen as a “temporary” power connection by building codes, which makes navigating building codes and electrical codes much easier.

Connecting Your Tiny House To Power – Off-Grid Method

connecting your tiny house to off grid power

This option is most realistic if you’re not moving a lot. To power your entire tiny house, you’ll need a lot of solar panels. As someone who has lived off the grid for close to a decade, believe me when I say it’s not without its downsides. I get into all the details in the below posts:

tiny house solar power setup
how to run ac on solar power

Connecting A Tiny House To Solar Power

Connecting A Tiny House To Solar Power

This is going to be identical to the standard method above with the only difference being that instead of the power coming from the power grid, you are your own power grid. It’s important to note that your solar panel array will produce power in DC (direct current) and will need to be converted by an inverter to AC (alternative current). From there, it will output the energy into a single line which will connect to your tiny house via the RV extension cord.

TINY HOUSE SOLAR SETUP

tiny house solar setup

Connecting Your Tiny House To Power – Hybrid Method

This method is essentially the best of both worlds, but does require some extra work and thus extra expense. In general, I’d say this method isn’t for the DIYer and that you should loop in a licensed electrician because it gets pretty complex quickly.
To do this, you’ll have to have your traditional power grid source and your solar power source set up. Both of those will feed into a net meter power meter, and from there the power will output from the meter into your tiny house.

Your Turn!

  • How do you plan to get power in your tiny house?

Why You Need To Be Using Propane In Your Tiny House

Why You Need To Be Using Propane In Your Tiny House

why use propane in a tiny houseMany people look to propane in their tiny house because it’s a practical way to heat, cook, and generate power. It’s also widely available and pretty affordable to boot, while the broad array of propane appliances and applications makes it practical, especially if you’re living off the grid.

NAVIGATION

Why You Should Use Propane In A Tiny House

why you should use propane in a tiny house

As I mentioned, propane is an ideal way to run your tiny house mainly because of three things: It’s practical, portable, and affordable. When I first started designing my tiny home, I hesitated when it came to propane because it’s a non-renewable fossil fuel. But after crunching the numbers, it was the only realistic way I was going to be able to go off grid.

Propane is Practical In A Tiny House

Propane is Practical In A Tiny House

Propane is a very versatile accelerant when compared to what else is out there. A gallon of propane is equivalent to about 27 kilowatt-hours, which is a lot especially for the density. You can get a lot of use out of a small amount with minimal downsides and, all in all, it’s pretty safe.

solar power for tiny housesIf you want to live off the grid, you’ll quickly realize that propane is the only practical way to do so. People often have aspirations of getting by entirely on solar power or using firewood, and while both have their place, they also have practical limits.

When planning, I drew up budgets for my solar array with two scenarios: one using propane, the other avoiding propane. The difference in system costs was an additional $60,000 for panels and batteries that do not need propane. I have been living off the grid using a mixture of solar power and propane for over eight years now. Trust me when I say that propane needs to be part of the mix.

Propane Is Portable

Propane Is Portable

The portability of propane is a really nice feature and makes it even more practical. I use 20 lb. propane tanks to do everything with my tiny house. At that size I can easily carry them around and swap out empty tanks. I can also quickly load up the tanks in my car when it comes time to fill up.

Propane In A Tiny House Is Affordable

Propane In A Tiny House Is Affordable

Because 20 lb. tanks are so widely available, they’re easy to find at a price that won’t break the bank. All in, I spend about $100 a year in propane for everything. I cook a lot, grill a lot, take long showers, and more. In general, I set aside $15 a month to cover propane costs including the cost to retire and replace tanks when they get too old over time.

How Much Propane Does A Tiny House Use?

How Much Propane Does A Tiny House Use

Like I said, I use 20 lb. propane tanks to do everything with my tiny house and have eight tanks in total. That includes one tank for my gas stove top and hot water heater, one for my outdoor gas grill, one for my outdoor shower in the summer, and one for my back up heater, plus backup tanks.

heating a tiny houseI only get propane once a year, so eight tanks is perfect for my needs. Typically I use one 20 lb. tank every three months for cooking and heating water, for a total of four per year. I use one or two for supplementary heat per year. Then my grill uses two or three per year. My eight tanks usually last me about a year, give or take.

Keep in mind that I cook three square meals a day, every day. I also love taking long hot showers, and on workout days, that may mean two showers per day. I also love to grill, so three to four nights a week I grill out. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may use more or less.

How To Install Propane In A Tiny House

How To Install Propane In A Tiny House

My general advice is to leave this one to the professionals. Hiring a plumber to run your gas lines in your tiny house will run you around $1,000 all in and, in my mind, that’s money well spent. However, if you want to try installing it yourself, I have a few suggestions.

Tiny House Propane Diagram

Tiny House Propane Diagram

tiny house propane delivery system diagram

Keep Your Propane Lines As Simple As Possible

Keep Your Propane Lines As Simple As Possible

The fewer connections and junctions in your propane lines, the fewer places there are for gas to leak. My suggestion is to centralize your propane lines to one end of the house, use an exterior mounted tankless hot water heater, and have your stove top right on the other side of the wall where that tankless heather is.

This keeps most of the gas lines outside of your house and shortens the runs for your gas lines.

Test All Your Connections By Spraying Soapy Water

Test All Your Connections By Spraying Soapy Water

Once you have your system set up, make sure you check each and every connection by spraying a mixture of water and dish soap. This will get your connections all sudsy and, if there is a leak with the gas turned on, you’ll see small bubbles form.

Have A Gas Leak Detector

Have A Gas Leak Detector

In addition to your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, you should consider having a gas leak detector like this one off Amazon for only $20.

Tiny House Appliances To Run On Propane

Tiny House Appliances To Run On Propane

There are different appliances you can consider running with propane in your tiny house. I mainly run my hot water heater and cooktop, but I’ve talked with different tiny house folks to get them to weigh in on the suggestions below.

Tiny House Propane Heaters

Tiny House Propane Heaters

I use propane as a backup for heating in my tiny house. Since I live off the grid, there are times that I’m running low on power in my battery bank. This is particularly the case in the winter, since the days are so short.

I use a Mr. Heater Propane Radiant Heater that I’ve had for years now and works really well. These are specifically designed to be used indoors and include a low oxygen sensor shutoff and a tip over shut off.

The one downside is also the major upside. It is designed to be unvented, so it’s super simple to setup, but if you don’t know, propane heaters like this put off a lot of moisture into the air — about 32 ounces of water per gallon of propane burned.

The other option is the Dickson Propane Fireplace. This one is pretty expensive, but it’s the only heater I found that is low enough BTUs for my tiny house AND is direct vent. That makes it a big winner in my book.

portable propane heater
wall mounted propane heater
tiny home propane heater
propane heater in tiny house

How Many BTUs To Heat A Tiny House: 4,000-6,000 BTUs

This is highly dependent on your climate, but for my climate in NC, where the winter can get down into the 20s and 30s at night, 4,000 BTUs is just about right, and sometimes even too much.

Propane Hot Water Heaters For A Tiny House

Propane Hot Water Heaters For A Tiny House

I love, love, love my tankless hot water heater and the gas options make it so simple. I’ve talked about my tankless hot water heater for my tiny house before, and also how I don’t recommend the popular RV-500. If you’ve never had a tankless before, they’re great. Endless hot water yet much smaller and lighter than traditional tanked versions, which is a huge plus.

tiny house tankless hot water heaters

Rinnai
V53DeP
Precision Temp RV-550 Eco Temp
L5
Eco Temp
L10
Rheem
RTEX-11
Rinnai V53DeP Precision Temp RV-550 Eco Temp L5 Eco Temp L10 Rheem RTEX-11
My Ranking
Flow Rate 5.3 GPM 1.5 GPM 1.5 GPM 2.9 GPM 2.68 GPM
Energy Type Propane/Natural Gas Propane Propane Propane Propane
Why Consider Best performance and build quality Good option for 12-volt systems Great for outdoor showers Budget friendly with good functionality Super compact
Who Is It Best For General and off-grid water heating RVs Weekend cabins and seasonal outdoor showers Budget-minded tiny house folks Those on the grid
Price $550 $1,195 $129 $349 $275
BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW

tiny house hot water heater comparison

Tiny House Propane Cook Tops And Stoves

Tiny House Propane Cook Tops And Stoves

I’ve used just about every kind of cooktop out there and if I wasn’t off the grid, I’m not sure what I’d choose between an induction, glass top, or gas range. I’ve used all three and liked them all.

That said, my tiny house has a propane cook top, which is made by Verona. I chose that one because it was one of the few two-burner models out there. The funny thing is that it’s not meant to be used as a main cooktop, rather as a secondary one, but I was able to buy it stand-alone and it’s worked out great!

tiny home propane cooktop
propane cooktop in tiny house
small kitchen poropane cooktop
propane cooktop

tiny house kitchen inspiration

Tiny House Propane Fireplaces

Tiny House Propane Fireplaces

Some people really like having the look of a fireplace without all the ash and smoke. For me, I found that a nice Wood Wick candle will bathe my entire house in a very soothing light that I love. There are also nice small wood stove options out there, the Dickerson Marine Stove, and then various gas inserts you can choose from.

The hardest part here is finding one that is small enough and with a blower that doesn’t take too much power. Venting is also a concern, because the flue pipe sometimes is required to be quite big to vent properly.

propane fireplace in tiny home
advantages of propane fireplace
tiny house gas fireplace
tiny home propane fireplace
small propane fireplace
propane fireplace

tiny house heating options

Propane Generators For A Tiny House

Propane Generators For Tiny Houses

If I could do one thing differently about my solar panel system, it would be to have a backup propane generator be part of the system. I may still do this because my inverter actually can sense when the batteries are low and automatically start the generator to run until the batteries are topped off and then shut down.

generac generator

Generac 6998 Guardian Series 7.5kW – Propane Generator

Generac is one of the top brands of standby generators on the market and a 7.5 kW generator is a great size to power almost everything in your tiny house without any sacrifices. Connected to your existing LP or natural gas fuel supply, it kicks in within seconds of sensing power loss automatically and runs for as long as necessary until utility power returns.

Kohler Generator

Kohler 6 kW Generator – 6VSG – Propane Generator

The generator made for renewable energy, including solar power or other remote applications. The KOHLER 6VSG battery-charging generator efficiently charges battery banks when renewable energy sources can’t keep up with demand. If your battery charge drops below a pre-set level, the 6VSG charges it automatically.

Briggs and Stratton Generator

Briggs & Stratton 40626 12kW – Propane Generator

Standby generators offer a new upgraded control system that features multi-line text and graphics, programmable exercise times, and a low-speed idle mode to save fuel and reduce noise. A new automatic voltage regulator communicates directly with the controller to help optimize generator performance and deliver tighter voltage control.

Your Turn!

  • How are you planning on using propane in your tiny house?