How Does a Composting Toilet Work & Should You Switch to One?
Over the past few years, housing and design trends such as tiny houses have put a spotlight on composting toilets.
Whether you are looking into moving into a tiny house yourself or you simply are considering alternatives to traditional flush toilets, you may be interested in learning more about composting toilets and their pros and cons.
We will talk about what composting toilets are, how they work, what their advantages and disadvantages are, and what to look for in a quality composting toilet.
What is a Composting Toilet?
With the traditional type of flush toilet which most people have in their homes and businesses, both liquid and solid waste are flushed down through the plumbing system and out of a building.
A composting toilet works completely differently, following the same basic principles as a composter that you might use for your garden. Indeed, just as a garden composter breaks down waste to produce usable compost, a composting toilet does the same thing.
How Does A Compositing Toilet Work?
The exact way in which a composting toilet functions depends on the specific type of composting toilet you buy.
But this is the basic process:
First, you need to fill the composting chamber with coconut fiber or a similar carbon material. There are a number of options here, each with their own pros and cons.
When somebody uses the toilet, the toilet separates the liquid waste from the solid waste.
The liquid waste is transferred to a container which can be removed. Depending on the model you purchase, there may be an evaporation chamber to handle getting rid of the liquids automatically.
As for the solid waste, this is transferred to the previously mentioned composting chamber.
A composting chamber features conditions which promotes the growth and activity of aerobic bacteria. Such an environment is optimized in terms of temperature and humidity. A specific balance of carbon and nitrogen is required as well, which is what the carbon material is for. The bacteria process the solid waste into compost.
There is a handle located on the side of the toilet which connects to an agitator bar inside the composting chamber. By turning the handle after doing your business, you can blend the new solid waste into the compost which is already present in the chamber.
Obviously, some maintenance is required on your part if you choose to use a composting toilet.
As mentioned, some models can evaporate liquids using heat. For those which retain liquids, you will need to dispose of these liquids yourself when the container that holds them is filled.
As for the compost, what you do with that depends on the regulations where you live.
You do not need to clean up the inside of the composting chamber every single time that you emptied it out. You actually should leave the compost coating walls alone. The toilet will function better this way.
You should routinely clean the bowl of the toilet itself. You can do this using water with a little bit of vinegar.
Composting Toilet Pros and Cons
Is a composting toilet right for you?
Let’s consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of this type of toilet.
A composting toilet is particularly ideal in situations where you will be off the grid. Installing a septic system can be complicated and expensive, and there may be regulatory issues as well. A composting toilet offers you an alternative to the setup.
Just as a composting toilet gets you around needing a traditional septic system, it also can help you get around certain plumbing requirements.
In dry locations where water rationing may be in effect, a composting toilet can go a long ways toward helping you conserve water for other uses. Indeed, it could reduce water usage by as much as 30,000 liters over the course of a single year.
It generally costs less to install a composting toilet than you would pay to install a flush toilet.
Many composting toilets are compact in design, built specifically to fit into small spaces. This may be essential if you are living in a tiny house or apartment, or if you will reside in an RV or fifth wheel.
There is no need to have a blank tank in your home. This means you no longer need to spend money purchasing chemicals for black tank maintenance, nor do you have to deal with emptying out the black tank—or worrying about it getting clogged up.
In most locations, you do not need to do anything special to get rid of the composted waste. You can just throw it away. Again, check your local regulations.
You are doing your part for the environment in using a composting toilet. If it means that you do not need to install a septic system or additional plumbing, that means you will be disrupting your local environment less. You also will not be sending your waste to sewage plants.
You might think that a composting toilet would produce an odor. But that is only true if you are not maintaining it.
Your composting toilet will probably be a subject of fascination among your houseguests. You can look forward to explaining its eco-friendly benefits, and how it has helped you to save time, hassle, water and money.
Technically, a composting toilet is fairly low-maintenance. But many people would prefer that it be entirely hands-off. You do need to be prepared to regularly empty out both liquid and solid waste.
Unlike a traditional flush toilet, a composting toilet does need energy to work. An exhaust fan needs to be powered at a minimum. Some units also require power to produce heat to evaporate liquid waste. Thankfully, their energy consumption is low. If you are off the grid, you can even use solar panels to provide your composting toilet with the power it requires.
Mold can grow in the composting chamber if you are not careful with how you use and maintain your toilet.
A Composting Toilet May Be Right For You If …
You want to live off the grid. It is significantly easier to do this with a composting toilet than it is with the traditional flush toilet, especially on a site which does not already have a septic system (or cannot have a septic system).
You want to move around regularly. If you have a traditional flush toilet, you can only use it if you park at sites with appropriate hookups. If you have a composting toilet instead, you are liberated from needing to hook up to empty your black tank (you will still need a solution for your gray water).
You want to save water. Whether you are doing this out of necessity or out of respect for the environment, a composting toilet will go a long way toward helping you achieve your goals of water conservation.
You do not mind some manual maintenance on an ongoing basis. Once you make a routine out of this, you may hardly think of it anymore.
A Composting Toilet May Not Be Ideal For You If …
You want to keep toilet maintenance on a regular basis to an absolute minimum. A flush toilet will serve better in this respect.
You are squeamish about your own waste. Some people do not like the idea of handling their excrement, even after it has been processed into compost.
If you are not bothered by the maintenance required, and you do not mind disposing of the compost, then perhaps the benefits of a composting toilet are just what you need!
What is the Best Composting Toilet for Sale?
Now that you have had a chance to learn what composting toilets are, how they work, and what their pros and cons are, you may be looking for composting toilet reviews which help you to identify the best composting toilet on the market. Right now, our top recommendation is a product called Nature’s Head.
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Review
The Nature’s Head composting toilet stands out for few key reasons:
Installation is a breeze.
The toilet is extremely compact.
For a composting toilet, it is surprisingly low maintenance.
Let’s go over the benefits!
Why Choose the Nature’s Head?
The exceptionally compact build of the toilet measures only 19.8 x 20.8 x 20.5 inches, and weighs just 27.2 pounds. That means that 1-it is easy to pick up and move, and 2-you should be able to squeeze it into even a tight space. Indeed, even if you live in a van, you should be able to find room for Nature’s Head.
With its stainless steel construction, the Nature’s Head composting toilet is built to last. This makes it a far cry superior to many RV and fifth wheel toilets.
Even a novice should be able to install this toilet with ease. You use two brackets to mount it where you want it. You’ll then need to connect a 12volt power hook-up as well as a ventilation hose. That hose needs to reach outside, so you will need a venting solution already in place before you order your toilet.
This composting toilet is very efficient, which makes it a cost-effective option. It shouldn’t cost you more than $10 to purchase some peat moss for the composting chamber, and that should last you at least a couple of years.
Many models of composting toilets need to be emptied out literally every few days, but Nature’s Head only needs to be emptied every couple of weeks. For those who really want to keep maintenance to an absolute minimum with a composting toilet, this benefit is hard to beat.
With proper maintenance and venting, this toilet does not produce an odor. It is hard to overstate how important this is if you are living in a small space, even with good ventilation.
The Nature’s Head composting toilet offers excellent reliability. If you take care of this toilet properly, it should continue to perform great over the many years ahead.
In short, the many benefits of this particular model of composting toilet do a great job addressing common concerns of homeowners who are thinking about putting in a composting toilet for the first time.
Does the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Have Any Drawbacks?
I’ve had a lot which is good to say about the Nature’s Head composting toilet, but are there any disadvantages to report?
If you have not figured out a solution for venting in advance, that is going to be a hassle during the installation. But this is not the case only with this toilet. This is something you would need to figure out regardless of the model of composting toilet you would be installing in your home. It is smart to check out the installation instructions in full before you make your purchase so that you can carry out the advanced planning you need to in order to be ready to install your toilet quickly and easily when it arrives.
Some units seem to be afflicted with issues affecting the fan. This does not seem to be the case with the vast majority, only the occasional unit. Customer service for Nature’s Head tends to be quick and helpful with resolving issues, so that is a big plus if you happen to run into any snags.
Aside from these occasional fan problems, it is hard to come up with any real drawbacks to the Nature’s Head composting toilet.
This is an incredibly compact, easy-to-install, low-maintenance composting toilet which makes for an excellent solution for your RV, tiny house, van, boat, or any other dwelling.
Where Can You Buy the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet?
Ready to purchase the Nature’s Head composting toilet for your home or RV?
Start conserving water and living off the grid now. Click the link below to buy yours!