Yep, this post is about building a homemade DIY septic system from cheap plastic barrels and used tote tanks! It’s not exciting, it’s not sexy, but it is necessary…
If you are just camping/living somewhere for a few weeks, a basic latrine with suffice. However, if we are talking months or years at your self-built log cabin at an off-the-grid location, you’ll need something more effective to deal with the regular human waste. You can either buy an expensive off-the-shelf septic system or you can build something like a small low-cost 55 gallon drum septic system, or a larger tote tank system.
Below are three very cheap to build ‘Do It Yourself’ home septic systems — a small scale 55 gallon drum septic system to two larger tote tank septic systems. All of which are very cheap and relatively simple to build.
1 –DIY 55 Gallon Drum Septic System
This superb step-by-step tutorial shows how to quickly and cheaply build a small 55 gallon drum septic system. This homemade plastic barrel septic system is only suitable for human waste, it is not big enough for laundry etc. The tutorial states this system is suitable for two adults, but I would think that with careful usage, this could cover the needs of a small family with two adults and two young children. Check it out.
This is a very cheap and simple plastic barrel septic system for one to two people. It is only suitable for human waste though. It cannot deal with laundry etc.
2 — DIY Tote Tank Septic System
Below is an excellent video tutorial from UnitedStatesofBuild. The video documents how to build a low-cost, off-the-grid tote tank septic system. Totes are large plastic liquid containers that are housed in a protective steel/aluminium frame. They are often shipped on pallets for transport.
Totes can be acquired cheaply as they are usually considered a waste product once used. A quick Google or eBay search for ‘used totes for sale’ will give you an idea of cost and availability. Tote tanks are also great for large-scale rainwater collection systems!
3 –A Larger DIY Tank Septic System
This video tutorial is by Make Science Fun. It covers how to build a larger-scale above ground aerated water waste treatment system build with totes. This system is a larger, more expensive DIY tank septic system, but it still a fraction of the cost of a professionally installed commercial system.
This is a larger, more complicated septic system, but it is very efficient and can break down and process much greater quantities of waste.