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A honey bucket (or "bucket toilet" or "bucket latrine") is a bucket that is used as a toilet in homes that lack indoor plumbing. It is a very simple, crude form of a dry toilet and may have significant risks to health. They are often used in emergencies and were historically common in cold climates where installing running water is difficult and expensive. However they are still commonly used in households in many countries, such as Ghana.
More sophisticated honey buckets sit under a wooden frame affixed with a toilet seat lid and may be lined with a plastic bag but many are simply a five-gallon bucket lined with a bag. Newspaper, cardboard, and other absorbents are layered into the honey bucket.
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 a cover material after each use, such as lime, ash or fine sawdust (similarly to the operation of a urine-diverting dry toilet). When the bucket is full, it can be covered with a lid and stored in a safe location until it can be added to a composting process, for example.
The "bucket system" was used by low-income communities in South Africa. The South African government aims to replace this bucket system with sanitary sewers and other sanitation systems, but as of 2015, this has not yet been completed in the entire country.
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