Help me find a bathtub that is cheap, septic tank-friendly, and preferably DIY

Updated Oct 12 2015
Thanks to April for uploading this pic of her stock tank tub in her tiny house bathroom to our Flickr pool.
Thanks to April for uploading this pic of her stock tank tub in her tiny house bathroom to our Flickr pool.
I have a huge problem with my bathroom. We have a super-tiny corner shower stall.

I would love to have a bathtub, but we have a septic tank that is small like the rest of our house. Do you know of any way that we can make/buy a bathtub that deals with grey water a la the amazing inventions of Burning Man?

Please hurry, because I am dying to take a bath! -Amy

We don't know much about DIY bathtubs and grey water, but maybe look into a tank tub, like the one in the photo above?

Any other Homies have advice for a cheap, DIY, septic tank-friendly bath setup?

  1. Unfortunately I don't think there is any bathtub that automatically deals with grey water on its own, but you can buy grey water pumps. Like this one http://www.enviroshop.com.au/shop/Bathtub_-_Laundry_Greywater_Pump.html which essentially act like a sump pump for your bathwater. Though I'm not 100% sure, you may just be able to buy a sump pump since it does essentially the same thing, it plugs in and pumps the water out.

    Check your local legislation though, in a lot of places in North America using grey water is still illegal.

    If you do go the pump route, try to build an area for your bathwater to pump into. Essentially you want to create a dirt filter for your bathwater, that way the bathwater going into the groundwater is clean and doesn't have soap residues and the like in it. There are lots of books and youtube tutorials on building a simple biofilter by yourself. You will also need to consider what bath products you use as a lot of the stuff commonly found in the drugstore isn't the easiest to filter. Good luck, I hope you can move forward with it!

  2. Just a tip, looking into gray water use and disposal for your area if you want to be above board. There can be regulations on collection, treatment, use and disposal of gray water depending on where you live. I work for a company that deals with (in part) rainwater collection systems, gray water systems we're designing are using special filters and sterilizers to clean collected water for use.

  3. Maybe I'm just naive about laws/regulations about this stuff, but couldn't you just drain the grey water into a separate tank? I'm thinking you could route the tub drain into something like a couple of 55 gallon barrels outside of the house. You wouldn't need to pump the water anywhere assuming the barrels were lower than your drain. Then, you could water your yard with it.

    As far as the bath tub goes, if you got something like the tank tub in the picture, I would suggest insulating around it. Seems like a metal tub would lose heat rather quickly.

  4. You know, a few years ago when water was very expensive in Colorado, plus there were restrictions on washing your car, and irrigating lawns (DON"T HAVE A LAWN!!) I used to shower the dirt off really quick, then plug the tub and bathe in the tub, then stand up and shower off the bath water. (My father was a farmer, loves the bath, but thinks it's dirty, so this is all his idea. Sometimes it was really irritating in a house with only one bathroom).Then later in the day, or the next day, I bucketed out the water to water all my plants. Plants don't care about soap, but it will kill bugs, if they absorb enough to line their digestive system with the oils they can't absorb any nutrition and die. Since I had moved plants inside from an outside patio I was happy with that. But where we lived in Mexico, the condo's lawns were watered with grey water. I think your plants will absorb the water in the top 2 feet. How low is your water table? The last place I lived in the country we had to have a 100 foot well dug. And every farm in the middle of nowhere has a well and septic, I HATE city water. I need no poison, like fluoride for me, or my cat or my plants! Matter of fact, IF I run out of rainwater, I have to fill buckets with the city water then wait a day for a few of the crappy things they put in to dissipate…

  5. OH! you go look for a tub at the 'resale' that sells household cabinets and etc when the builder puts in new ones. Some are run by charities. Also, there are always OLD plumbers who have a sea of tubs and toilets sitting around to re-use for people who don't feel like spending more than $100 on a tub, OR to get a tub from the correct time period for your house, OR to find a tub big enough for taller or wider people. In Denver, Co, my roommate and I looked for a tub for our ample hips, "trying on" a few dozen, outside! I would never try to buy new…

  6. What about a sitting tub? One that is just large enough for you to sit and stretch maybe a little. they will use less water and take up less space and still give you the feeling of taking a bath. You could make one or purchase one. If you have a window in the bathroom you could always syphon the water out of it and into something else that you can use to water your garden or lawn (The soaps don't usually have an affect on the plants unless you are using some crazy soap or going all natural in the garden) and if you close the window you can make the room really warm and it's like a nice little sauna, just be careful of the paints on the walls, you'll want something glossy, or semi gloss on the walls so moisture doesn't get in and you can wipe them down afterward, otherwise you will get moldy drywall.

    • The tubs I usually see in modern (post 40's-era) homes are only big enough that the water comes up to my hips sitting down, but as short as I am I can't stretch out any appreciable amount. The tub I have right now is especially deep in that the water actually comes to my waist sitting in it, but I can't get my feet & knees in at the same time let alone my torso & any part of my legs.

      OTOH, most "sitting tubs" called as such are much taller, and while they require my knees to be appreciably bent to sit in them, they usually let the water cover my feet, knees, hips, AND boobs all at once, shoulders too if I try hard enough, but have very little space for any kind of stretching out. They also take more water than a modern tub which is why they're not in fashion.

  7. Unless you're putting harsh chemical soaps/cleaners down the drain there's nothing wrong with discharging your grey water elsewhere–not the septic tank. Just use biodegradeable soaps and cleaners.

    Holding grey water for more than a day or so can be bad news. The best (in my opinion) and most hands off approach is to discharge to a Dry Well. This is commonly done to extend the lives of soon-to-fail/failing septic tanks. Washing machines and sinks (unless you use a garbage disposal at the kitchen sink) can be routed to the Dry Well too.

    Lots of info online on how to build one. The well itself is a very doable DIY–repiping can be daunting unless you have experience but is still possibly a potential DIY. Good luck.

  8. The only name came on my mind was walk in bathtubs. Unlike a conventional bathtub, a walk-in tub requires no maintenance, will fit in the place of old bathtubs and is easy to get in and out of. The health benefits of walk-in tubs include making daily personal hygiene easier and safer. These tubs are designed for a person to enjoy all the benefits of hot water hydrotherapy with ease of use. If you like these features you can visit http://www.walkinbathtubor.com for more data and ideas.

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