Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bag 'em or Burn 'em ?

At our remote Cabin in Northern Canada, 
we have no regular toilet or sewage disposal system. 

What to do with used Ostomy pouches & flanges ? 

We do have the finest outhouse on the lake, 
but it's only used for 'natural composting'. 

The plastics on ostomy pouches and flanges 
would not compost for decades, 
so I needed to find another method of disposal.

Actually, our outhouse isn't really a convenient place for 'ostomy changes'.  I found our workbench attached to the woodshed is best.

  • It is outside so smells drift away. 
  • The bench is at the right height. 
  • And there is a special freedom about changing in wide open spaces!

I leave on the workbench a plastic pail containing toilet paper, disposal bags, and pouches. 
Everything I need, and all in one place.

But how to dispose of the full pouches? 
Digging a hole to bury them is impractical because it's all rock, and holes can't be dug. 

One option is to bag them.  Each day I leave a full pouch (sealed in a disposal bag) in my plastic pail ... along with my ostomy supplies. When I leave the cabin to return to the city, I just move the disposal bags into a large garbage bag, and drop it into a regular garbage container in the city. This method works fine, but I am cautious with handling and transporting.  It would be an unpleasant clean-up if the garbage bag broke.

A 1-week Collection                                                  Garbage Bag to Transport

Second option is to burn them.  Each day I just toss the disposal bag into the fire in our wood-burning stove. This may sound gross, but experience says it's very practical. 

  • There is no smell, as the chimney draws all smoke and gas upward and out the top of the cabin.
  • Bag contents dry and burn, and completely disappear within minutes.
  • And 'disposal' is complete every day ... avoiding a collection of bags to be transported home at the end of the trip.

Of course this method only works on days when we have a fire to heat the cabin.  On hot summer days we don't want the extra heat in the cabin, so I revert to the first option of bagging them (later to be burned at a campfire or in the wood-burning stove).

My easy conclusion, based on years of experience  ... Burn 'em


  1. Hi Paul,
    Have you tried the caps for the pouches from http://www.ostosolutions.com/ ?

  2. nice setup bro, i burn em, i can but dont get fire season permits to do so, but i would check out a cheaper incinerator. the fumes eat metal faster than wood burning

  3. Thanks for the link. I read about the OstoSolutions cap and think they would be usefull and eliminate the need for a disposal bag.

  4. Hi i went on a trip to maine this past summer and they had an electric burner for their toilet system i but i was afraid that might not work on the bags so when i changed my bag i just bagged them up and put them with the trash have you had any experiences with that type of system?

  5. We have no electricity at our cabin, so no experience with the electric burner system. I think that burning plastic would smell worse than the contents :)