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A honey bucket is a bucket that is used as a toilet in homes that lack indoor plumbing. They are most often used when cold weather or other 'emergencies' make other options, such as an outhouse, too uncomfortable to pursue. A sophisticated honey bucket sits under a wooden frame affixed with a toilet seat lid and may be lined with a plastic bag. Many honey buckets are simply a five-gallon bucket lined with a trash bag. Newspaper, cardboard, and other absorbents are layered into the honey bucket. The buckets are often the same type of plastic five-gallon (19 litre) buckets used for shipping many paints, cleaners, and solvents, as well as institutional quantities of food products. Honeywagon is the traditional general term for a cart, wagon or truck for collecting and carrying excrement or manure.
Honey buckets in North America
Honey buckets are common in many rural villages in the state of Alaska, such as those in the Bethel area of the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska, and are found throughout the rural regions of the state. Honey buckets are used especially where permafrost makes the installation of septic systems or outhouses impractical.
They were also relatively common in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut of Canada, but by now have mostly been replaced with indoor plumbing and sewage pump-out tanks. They are still found in summer cabins where the use of a sewage tank is impractical.
The bucket is emptied when it becomes full or starts to emit foul odor; usually once a day for large families, and about once a week for smaller families. A honey bucket well is a hole in the ground, capped with a raised wooden enclosure or none at all. A hopper is a metal container, which is removed by the city/village authority to a larger dumping area, such as a sewage lagoon.
To eliminate offensive odors, the material in the bucket can be covered with an appropriate cover material, such as lime or fine sawdust, after each use. When the bucket is full, it can be covered with a lid and stored in a non-freezing location until it can be incorporated into a contained compost pile. The compost pile is also covered with material such as straw to eliminate odors and avoid attracting vermin and flies.
Honey buckets in South Africa
The "bucket system" is used in rapidly developing parts of South Africa. The South African government hoped to replace this through rollout of comprehensive sanitary sewer system by 2007, but as of 2009, this had not yet been completed.
- Daniel W. Smith; Nola Low (1 January 1996). Cold Regions Utilities Monograph. ASCE Publications. pp. 9–3. ISBN 978-0-7844-7413-6. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- Jenkins, J.C. (2005). The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure. Grove City, PA: Joseph Jenkins, Inc.; 3rd edition. p. 255. ISBN 978-0-9644258-3-5. Retrieved February 2013.