Sanitary Stoneware Toilets - Rural Ceramist Production (introduction by TAM Ceramics LLC of NY USA)


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  • RHarveyatTAMCeramics
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Re: Sanitaryware and the widespread prevalence of production resources


Thanks for asking and again, for the wonderful work of SuSanA! What’s new is that the toilets, water filters and cookstoves of the presentation, all ceramic, can be produced almost anywhere by the poor and for the poor and that micro-industry of many kinds will grow out of this. The model is applicable on a widespread basis in a way that the others you mentioned are not. They are imports and this is about training and knowledge sharing.

The resources of local clay and ceramic materials along with the expertise of local ceramists will be what make the model work, employing their neighbors as well. Those toilet bowls and squatting pans you mentioned, are they affordable to those whose daily income is US$1.00 or $2.00? In the model we’ve proposed the poor will be doing production and services in their communities, so having access to these interventions in a sustainable way. They will familiarize their neighbors in a way that outsiders, though welcome, cannot.

Because of this the toilets (and filters and stoves) will be affordable within the community of production. **Projects including these interventions together will have a synergy of many aspects**: production, use and behavior change, plus monitoring and evaluation in all aspects of these. This is why toilets, water filters and cook stoves are described in one breath.

Those in production will sell these items for a higher price outside the community of course, and many will leave for more lucrative positions elsewhere. But because community leadership should want to get WASH and indoor air quality to their people the local application should work. It’s largely about community engagement and leaving no one behind.

I believe I included the Toilet Talk in what I submitted to SuSanA, but here it is again as an example of what I’m talking about. Which of those other toilets can be made locally, almost anywhere? All of this starts with training the poor for the poor. Again, here’s the voice link to the Toilet Talk, available at the link of the following page (about one third down):

Dare I say that one fine day another human right will be acknowledged: the right of local people and communities wherever, to a knowledge of their local resources. Again, ceramic science is the study of inorganic, non-metallic substances at high temperature. As such this is at the origin of industry, applicable nearly anywhere.

Apologies that you asked a simple question and I have given you an earful! I will do my best to contribute to SuSanA as appropriate, promise! BTW, a big part of what will make the products of these interventions possible is an understanding of the forming processes of ceramics. Attached are two small manuals on this, out of print, but the first is still available on Amazon.

Blessings and all the best,


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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Sanitaryware and the widespread prevalence of production resources

Dear Reid,

Our forum’s main focus is sanitation and we only deal with water treatment topics on the side (where they are related to WASH). It wasn’t clear to me from your posts what work you are doing in sanitation? I have seen many toilet bowls and squatting pans made out of ceramics, so I am not sure what you are getting at – what’s new?

About drinking water treatment, have you had a look at the RWSN discussion group (Rural Water Supply Network). See here:
It might be more useful to you than the SuSanA Discussion Forum.

By the way, I couldn't listen to your Toilet Talk from the link to Google Drive that you gave in your post. But your Toilet Talk is also available on this page (about one third down):

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Freelance consultant on environmental and climate projects
Located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • RHarveyatTAMCeramics
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Re: Sanitaryware and the widespread prevalence of production resources

Greetings All, I am a ceramic industrial designer, focused on environmental health and development, embarrassed that only now am I aware of the good work of SuSanA and the opportunities implicit. Capacity development is essential of course, and please allow me to suggest that of the presentation of the following link:

Ceramics is uniquely suited to addressing the urgent needs of environmental health, the more so because all necessary resources are nearly everywhere. Clay materials are nearly everywhere as are the ceramic traditions carried on by clay worker/ local ceramists.

Even in remote villages of, say sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southern Asia there are local ceramists who produce such ceramic ware as water storage containers, cook pots and construction brick. They tend to be capable of a whole lot more as well as being eager to diversify in their products and processes. Note that digging, and processing clay is halfway to production and they are totally familiar. The forming processes and simple firing are familiar to them.

Here is a link to a simple drawing of a sanitary stoneware squat toilet, for an ecological public toilet that can be set up almost anywhere using products of the local ceramists. All that they really need is training, i.e., *capacity building.* The reason that sanitaryware toilets are the worldwide standard is that the glass surface is easy to keep clean as such.
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  • RHarveyatTAMCeramics
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Sanitary Stoneware Toilets - Rural Ceramist Production

Greetings to All,

As a new participant please allow me to do a self-introduction. I am a ceramic industrial designer, focused on environmental health and development. This posting is about sanitation of course, but I should first tell you about work with TAM Ceramics, , Niagara Falls, New York USA. We are readying distribution of water filter media of granulated ceramics, coated with a small amount of silver, for large-scale water filters of the same. These will remove waterborne pathogens to the highest standard, getting safe drinking water to entire communities on a point-of-use basis. Entire communities will be served with safe drinking water, maintained through human engagement. I.e., no chemicals, electricity or equipment.

For proper sanitation, it needs to be realized that sanitaryware toilets can be produced on a widespread basis by local people. In this case, however, high-fire clays such as kaolin will be needed, white clays that are not quite so common as pottery clays; a question of geology. The white clays will be combined with more common clays for ‘sanitary stoneware’ toilets, of strength equal to porcelain but having a gray color.

Do checkout the following three links for better explanation. The last of these is to a small manual that gives specifics on the forming processes for such ceramic ware as sanitary stoneware squat toilets. It’s out of print but still available on Amazon.
Voice, ‘Toilet Talk:’
A rough drawing of a sanitary stoneware squat toilet:
The manual, ‘Plaster of Paris: Techniques from Scratch:’

Following is a link to a recent presentation, included here because the viability of toilet production suggests for synergy sake, projects that include other ceramic devices of environmental health:

Please feel free with any thoughts.

All the best,

Reid Harvey
Senior Scientist, TAM Ceramics LLC of New York USA
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