The Facts about Composting Toilets

 The Facts about Composting Toilets

A lot of Tiny Housers go for composting toilets and that’s what we’re talking about today. Because composting toilets eliminate the need for flush toilets, this significantly reduces water use and allows for the recycling of valuable plant nutrients. Although there are many different composting toilet designs that continue to evolve, the basic concept of composting remains the same.

What is a composting toilet?
A composting toilet is typically a waterless system that uses decomposition and evaporation to recycle human waste. These toilets compost waste and toilet paper while also remaining odorless. They can be good options for reducing water waste and for off the grid or tiny homes.

How does a composting toilet work?
Whether a composting toilet uses a self-contained or central system, it still needs to establish the right environment for the aerobic bacteria to break down the waste. Doing this requires the right moisture level, carbon-nitrogen balance, and temperature. If these conditions are not met, then you might be greeted with an unpleasant surprise when you go to empty or inspect your compost.

composting toilet infographic

Do composting toilets smell bad?
When people consider the new idea of compost toilets, they assume the toilet would stink up the house. They don’t. In fact there, there is very little odor at all, and what little smell you get is similar to the smell of wood or mulch.

It’s all about the cover material
There is nothing worse than a smelly composting toilet. Thankfully, cover materials solve that problem. 

The best cover material for composting toilets needs to be:

  • Absorbent enough to help control moisture levels
  • Porous enough to allow oxygen into the mixture
  • Good at controlling odors

Do your own research but these are some of the common natural bulking cover materials for Composting Toilets.

  • Peat moss
  • Coconut fiber
  • Sawdust
  • Chopped Straw
  • Soil
  • Pine needles
cover materials for Composting

Here’s some more information on materials to add to your Composting Toilet:
What Materials Should Be Added to a Composting Toilet? (gardenguides.com)

Can I put a composting toilet in my house?
You should contact your local health department and check with them about local and state regulations regarding composting toilets before installing one. Some states require composting toilets to be certified and have specific guidelines for building composting toilets. There are a handful of states that composting toilets are allowed. 

States That Embrace Composting Toilets
Washington, Arkansas, Texas, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Florida and Massachusetts are among the states that allow a composting toilet to be placed on a property rather than the traditional sewer system or septic tank. 

Can you buy a compost toilet for a boat, RV, or tiny home?
Yes. You will need to look for mobile toilets that tend to be travel-friendly. The self-contained toilets should prevent waste spilling or leakage even when there is a violent movement happening. 

Is it safe to use toilet paper in a compost toilet?
When you buy a compost toilet for camper or RV or tiny house you don’t need to carry any special toilet paper. This system can break down the toilet paper just like solid waste quickly. Although you can use any toilet tissue, it will still be ideal to go with a single-ply choice.

Is a composting toilet worth it?

Composting toilets are worth it if you are after a few of these advantages:

  • Reducing dependence on traditional plumbing
  • Reducing wastewater use
  • Reducing impact on environment
  • Creating compost for plants
  • Solution for settings where septic systems aren’t available or when plumbing is not available
  • Solution for when water is scarce
  • Save money

Slow Composting Toilets require no electricity or water.
All that is needed is a scoop of saw dust or peat moss spread over your waste after each use. When the system fills it is added to the compost pile.

We’ve talked about the Pros, What are the Cons of Composting Toilets?

Not Always Practical

Composting toilets might seem like an efficient way of addressing the environmental and economic problems associated with going to the bathroom. The truth is, we are still living in a world where this remains as an alternative and not the mainstream.

Composting toilets often do not work in different cities or spaces, especially highly urbanized areas that can pose a challenge for environmental codes that do not permit the use of composting toilets. It is also not a good option for multifamily setups or apartment complexes that have little ventilation.

Some Models May Require Electricity

More and more composting toilets have advanced features like electronic monitoring and connectivity, which will require the use of electricity. If you are living fully off-grid, then a composting toilet will not work for you.  You might need to buy a battery to hook it to if a toilet is necessary for your situation. If you choose to go the non-electrical route, bear in mind that the composting process will take more time to finish.

May Still Emit a Slight Odor

While many great brands of composting toilets will insist that their offerings do not emit odors, this claim remains to be seen. Many highly satisfied owners of particular composting toilets may sometimes mention that theirs still emit an odor, no matter how slight it is.

This is especially true if you fail to empty your composting toilet regularly or do not completely achieve the separation of waste.

While this can certainly be a downside for some, it is still an easy fix with good cover materials and regularly maintaining the toilet’s moisture levels. Both will make clean-up and maintenance easy and will certainly result in little to no odor!

There’s lots of online information for you to review especially now that the Tiny Home movement has gained popularity, so have composting toilets. 

If you are ready to invest in a greener future, a composting toilet may just be for you!

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet