Sure, nobody really poops anyways, but maybe some dwarf somewhere did once need to poop or pee and the rest of the dwarves made some accommodation for such a contingency.

Is there any info about this in the books, any of them?

Is there any reasonable speculation about this that is either insightful or amusing?

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    Well, since that rolls downhill, and the Balrog was cranky about something... – Radhil Feb 15 '17 at 12:29
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    Now we know what that well was for... – isanae Feb 15 '17 at 12:46
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    Very carefully. – Paul D. Waite Feb 15 '17 at 13:28
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    @MustafaAKTAŞ Thinking about Smaug – did the peoples around The Lonely Mountain find giant steaming mountains of Smaug scat? What was that like?? – Kenny Evitt Feb 15 '17 at 15:06
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    Very well, thank you. <mandatory> – Gallifreyan Feb 15 '17 at 16:12

This answer will mostly be opinion based, but I'll use some canonical sources to try and support my arguments and answers.


Firstly, I highly doubt Dwarves produced waste other than food waste due to the lifestyle they lead.

Food Waste

I don't think there would be much waste created by the Dwarves. They likely don't waste anything they eat, this could be because they have big appetites or because they simply dislike wasting. If any waste food is created they may be able to trade back with the Men they originally traded with for food:

Men became the chief providers of food, as herdsmen, shepherds, and land-tillers, which the Dwarves exchanged for work as builders, roadmakers, miners, and the makers of things of craft, from useful tools to weapons and arms and many other things of great cost and skill.
The History of Middle Earth: The People's of Middle Earth - Of Men and Dwarves

The Men may have found out that food waste could be used as fertilisers and would therefore be "of great cost" and the Dwarves could therefore trade that for other food.

Furthermore, one of the Dwarves in the First Age (Mîm) talked about eating roots, which could be cooked as well as hoarded "like the nuts of a squirrel"

But when they were cooked these roots proved good to eat, somewhat like bread; and the outlaws were glad of them, for they had long lacked bread save when they could steal it. ‘Wild Elves know them not; Grey-elves have not found them; the proud ones from over the Sea are too proud to delve,’ said Mîm.

‘What is their name?’ said Turin.

Mîm looked at him sidelong. ‘They have no name, save in the dwarf-tongue, which we do not teach,’ he said. ‘And we do not teach Men to find them, for Men are greedy and thriftless, and would not spare till all the plants had perished; whereas now they pass them by as they go blundering in the wild. No more will you learn of me; but you may have enough of my bounty, as long as you speak fair and do not spy or steal.’ Then again he laughed in his throat. ‘They are of great worth,’ he said. ‘More than gold in the hungry winter, for they may be hoarded like the nuts of a squirrel, and already we were building our store from the first that are ripe. But you are fools, if you think that I would not be parted from one small load even for the saving of my life.’
The Children of Hurin: Chapter VII - Of Mîm the Dwarf

Mîm's roots may mean that dwarves didn't have to waste food as they could cook as many roots as they needed to eat. Although as isanae pointed out, Mîm is what's known as a "Petty-Dwarf", which "were banished in ancient days from the great Dwarf-cities of the east". Although, this may not make them a good representation, their name in the dwarf-tongue is known and therefore makes it likely he learnt of them when he still lived (or his ancestors) in the "great Dwarf-cities" of old.


Dwarves show an aptitude for building tunnels or shafts to the outside. This would suggest the possibility of having shafts out of the mountain which would be used for body waste removal (and possibly other/food waste as well).

There used to be great windows on the mountain-side, and shafts leading out to the light in the upper reaches of the Mines.


huddled close together in a corner to escape the draught: there seemed to be a steady inflow of chill air through the eastern archway.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter IV - A Journey in the Dark

Other options would include waterways or simply pumping out the waste with hand-pumps or Archimedes screws. Dwarves may have possibly used aqueducts and leats to provide flowing water to their mansions, and be used as sewage. They may also have used pumps similar to that of the Romans (below) to pump waste water out of the mountain, possibly having waste reservoirs to pump to, until having either pumped out of the mountain or up to the surface (Bearing in mind that simply because they were underground didn't mean they couldn't be at a higher altitude to the base of the mountain).

enter image description here

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    Surely even dwarven artifacts wear out from extended use tho. And all that mining/excavating sure seems like it would produce a lot of material of which they wouldn't likely find an economic use. – Kenny Evitt Feb 15 '17 at 21:43
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    Ah well said, didn't think if your first point. For your second, I think they would've gotten rid of the waste in the same way they moved their useful ore, or like in the Hobbit, just let it fall down a bottomless lit – Edlothiad Feb 15 '17 at 22:11
  • Note that Mîm is one of the Petty-Dwarves, who "were banished in ancient days from the great Dwarf-cities of the east". "[They] became diminished in stature and in smith-craft, and they took to lives of stealth" (TS). I'm not sure they are representative of what Dwarves eat in their underground cities. Still, +1 for having the courage to tackle this one :) – isanae Feb 15 '17 at 23:33

I always assumed they were really big into mulching and food efficiency. Sewage and crop waste goes back into the fields/mushroom fields. The high parasite risk the reprocessing would create was why dwarves were always shown to have really robust immune systems.

The dwarves in the games I run have a huge food waste taboo, and a lesser waste in general taboo. The idea of a garbage pit makes no sense to them, everything has a use. This meshes with their utilitarian industrial mind set.

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    The reason dwarves are strong is because Aulë made them this way: "And Aulë made the Dwarves even as they still are, because the forms of the Children who were to come were unclear to his mind, and because the power of Melkor was yet over the Earth; and he wished therefore that they should be strong and unyielding." Nothing to do with "reprocessing waste". The rest is a personal anecdote. – isanae Feb 15 '17 at 19:13

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