Compost toilet - really?
We do have a compost toilet and we offer them as an option in our builds. You may wonder why. Why would you want one and are they really sanitary and don't they smell? In this post we will explain some of the options and the reasons we chose to have one.
When we first started thinking about living with a smaller footprint, traveling the country, water consumption was a definite topic of conversation. Not only was a regular toilet one of the heaviest users of water, traveling with an RV and often choosing to boondock, water was stored in tanks and thus only had limited supply. Compost type toilets became a potential option. Another benefit of this choice would be that we would not need a black tank. This saved space, weight, and the regular routine of having to empty it, clean it, and deal with sewage pipes. However, Julia is a very sanitary conscious person and the initial response to this was a definite no.
However, after some research and listening to several others who had made this choice, we decided to proceed. While we chose one of the most popular ones, Natures Head, we since learned that there are actually three types of "compost" toilets - Compost, Composting, and Incinerating. The first two are similar in that they separate number one and two, while the third is a bit different. Separating number one and two is the key enabler to not creating sewage which is also the cause of the smell. Let us briefly describe each.
Compost - While this is the name most of used to describe the category, it is actually a type of its own. Separett, a Swedish company that has been in this business for many years, providing toilets for small vacation homes that did not have sewer connections, is one example. They do separate number one and two, the former going into a container that is easily emptied, while the latter goes into a bag made of disposable material. The idea here is that it is compost ready and that you would then dispose of this bag on a weekly basis based on usage.
Composting - As the name here implies, it is starting the composting process. This is the type that we currently have - Nature's Head. Number one still goes into a container that is easily disposed of, while number two goes into a separate space that is first filled with a dry material such as peat moss. Instead of flushing, a crank is used to lightly mix the newly added content with the peat moss. Using this process, the compositing process initiates and based on usage would not need to be emptied for several weeks.
Incinerating - Again, using a descriptive name, this type of toilet uses a process where an incinerator burns the waste into a small amount of ash. This ash is then simply disposed in the trash. As it has to generate significant heat, this type of toilet does have an impact of electrical usage. The benefit of course is that the only output here is easily handled ash. No need to separately dispose of a container of number one. Separett, mentioned above also offers an incinerator toilet as does Incinolet
Having used this for over three years, we can confidently say that we have not had any problems with smells. We dispose of the liquids every three to four days, usually by either pouring it into a sewer pipe at a campsite or dump station or by simply carrying it in and emptying it into a regular toilet. The solids are emptied every three to four weeks into a trash bag which we then throw out with the garbage. If we were in a long term location, I guess we could have a compost, but that is not really feasible given our travel schedule.
As we started off saying, this is not for everyone. However for us it has been an easy process and now part of our routine. We save significant water and have never had one of those black tank incidents.
Please leave a comment below as to your thoughts and let us know if you have used any of the types above and what your experience has been.