What is a Composting Toilet?
A composting toilet, also called a biological toilet or dry toilet, uses the natural processes of decomposition and evaporation to recycle human waste. It is a type of toilet in which no, or very little, water is needed to flush away the waste into city sewerage or septic system. In this kind of toilet, solid waste gets mixed with elements such as sawdust, paper, wood chips, ash, straw, peat moss, and earth, among others, and converted into a harmless fertilizer by aerobic action. Therefore absolutely no water needs to be used.
With recently upgraded technology, composting toilets have become more efficient and self-contained. These kinds of toilets are ideal for areas with no water supply, and that has no connection to a drainage system such as when camping, in an RV, or on your boat.
The composting toilets tend to be more expensive compared to conventional flush toilets, but they can be used where conventional toilets do not work, nor does it require the plumbing that is a must with conventional toilets.
It reduces water consumption and thus lowers the need for disposal of wastewater. It is highly suited for new construction at remote sites and also consumes very low power. By composting human wastes, you can keep adding organic wastes to the environment.
However, the maintenance of composting toilet systems requires more work and responsibility on the part of both users and owners than with a conventional toilet system.
How Does a Composting Toilet Work?
The composting process on these toilets works on a very simple theory. The waste material is allowed to decompose in the same way as the garden waste decomposes in the garden composter. The difference is mainly what content is being composted.
Usually, three things are needed for a composting toilet to work efficiently. Firstly, a vent system is necessary as the waste is 90% water. It is required to allow the water to evaporate and the odors to dissipate. The small amount of solid material that remains is converted to useful fertilizing soil by natural decomposition.
Secondly, the environment plays a vital role in which the waste is decomposing, and it must be suitable so that decomposition occurs quickly. The urine moves to the deepest part of the composting chamber for gravity. When the urine and solid waste separate, an ideal environment is created for aerobic organisms to start their activity.
Four fundamental components must be in place and also well balanced for the faster and efficient decomposition process in this kind of eco-friendly toilet that breaks down all the solid part of the human waste. These four elements include moisture, oxygen, aerobic organisms (like bacteria, fungi, compost worms, and insects, among others) and heat. These four elements when present in the right proportions will allow the toilet papers, feces mixture and other additional organic plant components to decompose naturally. The finished product of the composted mixture that is formed after the entire decomposition process is over commonly known as humus or humanure.
These toilets are very simple to install. Two brackets are needed to attach to the floor to secure the toilet in place.
Most toilets have a pipe to vent the gasses and odors of solid waste. Therefore a hole may need to be drilled to route the pipe to the open air.
For the best operation, a composting toilet needs a power supply to operate a fan to remove excess gasses and odors and a heating attachment to speed up the composting action by evaporating the liquid waste quicker. It requires an electric supply, either 12v or 110v, to operate the extraction fan and heater if fitted. The toilets with electricity supplied via solar cells are genuinely independent of any external power or water.
Before first use, the appropriate amount of carbon materials like peat moss or sawdust or other elements needs to be filled in the toilet, and the toilet is ready to use for the faster decomposition process.
At the end lies the most vital part that the finished compost must be safe and easy to handle. By the time when the toilet needs emptying, much of the unpleasant odors have dissipated, and emptying the tray is no more an unpleasant task. Modern self-contained composting toilets are designed in such a way that the owner can deal with all these elements with the least effort and input.
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Types of Composting Toilets
The composting toilets are basically of two types, self-contained units where the composting unit in which the process of composting the waste will take place is part of the toilet and remote system toilets where the composting unit is set away from the toilet.
There are other alternative slow composting toilets. However, as these rely on natural decomposition, it takes a long period to finish composting.
5 Best Composting Toilets Available on Amazon
1. Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
Features: Stainless steel hardware, robust construction
Product Dimensions: 22 x 20.5 x 21.7 inches
Weight: 28 pounds
It is a very self-contained, compact toilet. Though it is small, it has an elongated comfort-sized seat. The product needs no water to operate and comes with a urine separator, which normally requires emptying approximately every two days.
This toilet works at any temperature. Before using the toilet, it is filled with about 2 gallons of absorbent. There is a spider-shaped agitator handle that is turned a few times to mix the waste with the moss while the toilet is in use.
After about every 80 uses, the toilet needs emptying. A vent pipe with a fan operates on either 12v or 110v to remove any odors from a vent pipe. It manages solid waste very efficiently.
2. Camco Portable Travel Toilet
Features: 5.3-gallon holding tank, 2.5-gallon flush tank
Product Dimensions: 15.5 inch H x 14 inch W x 16 inch
Weight: 10.8 pounds
Camco portable toilet is an awesome handy composting toilet to own and to use in and out of the home. It has a nice big 5.3-gallon detachable holding tank. Odors and leakages are prevented with the sealing slide valve lock to stop spilling out. It uses a powerful bellow type flushing mechanism, and a heavy-duty construction keeps it from falling apart when you need it the most.
Size-wise, the product is small enough to allow portability while also wide enough to accommodate different types of users. It weighs about 11 pounds with a durable build quality that can support users of up to 330 pounds. The freshwater tank holds 2.5 gallons of water, so buyers can use it well before having to empty it. It’s effortless to use. Since this is a manual flush toilet, consumers that using it for the first time may need to read up the manual.
3. Sun-Mar Excel Self-Contained Composting Toilet
Features: Bio-drum for processing compost, 100% non-polluting
Product Dimensions: 33 x 22 1/2 x 33 inches
Weight: 90 pounds
It is the bestselling composting toilet in North America. It can cope with three adults or a family of five continuously or even up to 6 adults on a weekend vacation.
This toilet has an electrical heat and vent fan. Under normal circumstances, all liquids get evaporated, so it manages liquid waste very nicely.
There is an emergency ½” drain outlet to stop overflows in case of excessive use or power cuts.
The seat of this toilet is quite high than a standard toilet to accommodate the composting tray at the base. It is also called comfort height toilets. A small step is included to make the toilet more comfortable to use.
4. Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet
Features: Stainless steel hardware, robust construction
Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 20.8 x 20.5 inches
Weight: 27.2 pounds
This toilet is mostly similar to Nature’s Head Self Contained Toilet, except a standard crank handle, which is used in this case instead of the slider handle.
It contains the same elongated comfortable seat design as well as the urine separator, which channels urine into a detachable urine bottle. There is a 12v or 110v vent fan which removes foul odors through a 5’ outlet pipe.
The toilet provides a container and a lid to remove the waste product, and in case you want to compost the waste for more extended periods, additional containers and lids are available. Some people might find the 5’ outlet pipe a little short when used with an RV, so it requires buying some extra pipe to extend the waste gas outlet.
5. Porta Potti White Thetford Corp
Features: Swivel hose
Product Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 16 inches
Weight: 10 pounds
Porta Potti is an award-winning, top-of-the-line portable toilet suited for RVs, boats, trucks, vans, healthcare, camping, and even off-the-grid lifestyle. Its sleek design comes with comfortable seat height, increased bowl size, and battery-powered flush. This superior-quality portable toilet comes with a sealed valve to prevent odors from escaping and has a rotating pour-out spout that efficiently empties the wastewater tank without backsplashes. It is easy to use and clean, and the curve has an ergonomic carrying handle, an integrated toilet paper holder, and a tank level indicator.