Toasty ways to upgrade your outhouse this winter

Cozy outhouse

No one wants to go outside at 4 a.m. in the middle of winter—but if you have a year-round cottage with an outhouse, those nighttime pit stops are pretty much inevitable. Here’s how to make your biffy as comfortable as possible, even in the depths of winter.

Insulate—even a little

You don’t have to go all crazy with the spray-foam insulation, but even a layer of cardboard stapled up on the inside walls will help add an extra line of defence against your bare skin and the icy air. Snow piled up around the outside of the privy will also help keep the wind out. Or get Medieval and hang heavy material on the walls, against the door, and as curtains for the windows—anything to block drafts. And don’t forget the floor—put down a rug for the duration of the season.

Install solar panels

If your outhouse is in a sunshiny area, experiment with putting solar panels on the roof and using them to run a small, on-demand space heater in your outhouse.

Warm your seat

The worst part about an outhouse in the winter is the cold toilet seat—so invest in a cover that slides over the seat to keep it warm. Two socks work if you don’t want to spring for a commercial cover. Better yet, cut a toilet seat out of styrofoam, reinforce it with plywood, then slide it on top of your regular seat when the weather’s frosty out.

Avoid getting covered in frost

When it’s cold, the vapours rising from your privy can form frost on the inside of the outhouse—which looks lovely, but is a) kind of gross and b) can cover you in a frost shower as soon as you close the door. Cover the hole when you’re not using the outhouse to reduce the vapours, and bang on the outside of the building before you enter.

Keep a two-by-four nearby

If it’s cold enough, you may just get a large, icy stalagmite forming in the pit and—urk—poking up through the hole. Aside from potentially preventing access to the toilet, no one wants to sit on an icicle—so bash it with a heavy piece of wood you keep handy for just that purpose.

Use candles

Heat and light, all in one—plus, you won’t have to worry about where to put your flashlight. The candle won’t make your outhouse tropical, but it will help a little. Better yet, experiment with one of these nifty tealight-and-flowerpot heaters. Seal up your candles and matches (and toilet paper!) when they’re not being used so they don’t get frosty.

Create an indoor outhouse

Invest in a composting toilet, and you’ll never have to make a chilly run to the loo again. Yes, you’ll miss how gorgeous the stars are at night, but that’s the tradeoff for being able to go to the bathroom without pulling on your boots. You can either buy a ready-made model, or build your own with these handy instructions. If you want something really convenient, try an old-fashioned chamber pot.

What are your hints for making an outhouse a little more enjoyable when it’s below freezing?