Proper Outdoor Defecation

When most people are outdoors it is evident they choose to defecate with little preparation other than finding a somewhat out of the way location so as to preserve a modicum of modesty. Once out of sight, they do their business directly on to top of the ground and for good measure throw out the wad of toilet paper used to wipe themselves with. Little thought goes into what will happen once the deed is done.

Exposed Feces Causes Disease

The How to Shit Outdoors Series

The last Survival Topic served as an introduction to How to Shit Outdoors. The article touched upon why proper disposal of human waste is very important to wilderness survival and revealed that most people do not know how to correctly accomplish the task of defecating outdoors.

In many outdoor areas frequented by crowds, one only has to step a short way off the beaten track to find plenty of toilet paper “flowers” and human feces lying about. Besides being unpleasant and smelly to come upon, the mess harbors disease organisms and vermin.

Flies and other insects walk upon the decaying offal as they dine, laying eggs to multiply their numbers. These same insects will then alight upon your person and your food, thereby spreading disease organisms quite some distance from the offending mess.

Improper Feces DisposalPeople typically defecate like this in the outdoorsWithin feet of a picnic area and stream, whoever left this calling card either had no knowledge of how to shit properly outdoors or simply did not care they are spreading filth and disease.Flies and other vermin will dine on or hatch out from this exposed feces, and then walk upon the food people are eating nearby.You can be sure that areas frequented by the public have messes like this scattered all over the landscape, contaminating drinking water supplies for miles around. This is why you MUST condsider all water unsafe to drink until treated.

Rainwater carries a slurry of improperly disposed of human feces into groundwater, surface puddles, ponds, lakes and streams. Laced with disease organisms that were in the feces to begin with or formed once it had been deposited, people and animals then come in contact with or drink this polluted water.

Even water that appears to be pure and pristine is often harboring disease organisms from human feces that can make the wilderness survivor very sick.

Goals of Proper Defecation

Before you actually do the deed there are three basic goals that need to be taken into consideration when looking for a place to defecate. You want to:

  1. Minimize the chance of other people stumbling upon your feces.
  2. Avoid the spread of disease and contamination.
  3. Increase the rate at which your feces is decomposed.

Upon identifying these goals we are now in a better position to carry on with the task at hand. Now we will explore the best method of disposing of human body wastes.

Soil Helps Decompose Feces

Centuries of experience has shown that burying human waste is usually the best and most efficient method of accomplishing the goals outlined above. But there is more to burying human wastes than just digging a hole and dumping it in. With a little knowledge you can affect the rate of decomposition by taking advantage of microorganisms that are living in the upper portions of the soil.

Soil is typically composed of several layers, for our purposes the most important of which are the upper two layers. These consist of decaying plant matter on or near the surface followed a little deeper by the organic rich top soil that is chock full of the microorganisms and invertebrates such as worms and other creepy crawlies that are largely responsible for the process of decomposition.

How to Bury FecesThe proper way to dispose of human waste is to dig a hole and bury it. This puts filth out of view but also encourages organisms in the soil to work upon it, turning feces in black gold that is good for the soil.Try to select an area that has deep topsoil

Your fresh steaming pile of feces will be heartily welcomed by the hungry denizens of the organic rich layer of soil. These creatures will almost immediately begin the process of turning your fresh feces into fine organic fertilizer that will benefit the soil and ultimately be absorbed by plants to feed the ecosystem. This is a far better alternative to the disease ridden mess most people leave behind from their behinds.

The key is try and keep your feces within the organic rich top soil area and avoid digging down so far as to enter the subsoil area which is usually mineral rich but contains little organic matter. Typically the organic rich layer of soil is darker in color than the layer beneath it.

  1. If the organic rich layer of soil is thick enough, dig a hole six to eight inches deep. In thinner soils dig down only about 4-inches.
  2. Place the soil you dug up off to the side in a pile. Try to keep the top section of soil containing small plants and roots in one piece so that you can use it as a plug.
  3. Defecate into the hole.
  4. Cover with the loose soil you dug up, then add the top plug.

Now your feces has been covered from view, denied access by flies and other vermin, and is set to swiftly be decomposed into harmless, helpful soil by legions of microscopic creepy crawlies.

In the next Survival Topic we will explore how to choose the best areas in which to dig our holes for outdoor defecation. See Where to Defecate Outdoors.

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