We have now been using the composting toilet for two weeks.

The Nature’s Head toilet seems to be a great choice for our small bathroom. There are other fancier options and low-tech options that are also effective. The Sun-Mar model the builder originally picked out was too costly, way too big for our bathroom, and there was far too many variables to go wrong with this high-tech toilet. We opted for something simpler.

The bucket toilet option with a fancy wooden box container is something we are still considering, but to meet RV certification codes, we were advised to stick with a commercial option rather than a home-brew composting toilet. The Nature’s Head has been OK so far.

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“What’s that smell?”
The first few nights of using the composting toilet, we kept getting hints of an “out-house” smell floating through the house. It was disturbing as we couldn’t imagine putting up with it in the long term. We chalked it up to a lack of working ventilation.

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Venting:
When our house was first delivered, the venting fan that came with the toilet didn’t work. I was certain it had to do with the AC-adapter that our builder cobbled together:

AC Adapter

After I disabled the fan housing to get the voltage and amperage requirements from the fan, I checked out the local Radio Shack to see about picking up a variable voltage AC adapter. Two trips later to find the right voltage and connector nib, we had a working fan. Within minutes, any smell that was wafting through the bathroom was gone.

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Lessons Learned:
It is IDEAL if all users of the toilet sit while urinating. It’s easy to splash and get liquid into the main composting tank. Mixing the solids and liquids increased any possible off-gassing. As long as the liquid tank is vented well and we don’t let the urine stagnate more than a few days the smell is non-existent, indoor and out.

We don’t think we’ll ever have the toilet sitting long enough to adequately compost in it. And with both a man and woman using the toilet frequently, it will be more maintenance for upkeep. We’ll be placing the chips and waste into a biodegradable trash bag and placing it with the rest of the trash for curb-side pickup. We may experiment with different types of toilet paper and/or throwing this away in a separate receptacle so that we may be able to have longer periods between “toilet duty”.

“Isn’t putting human waste in the trash kind of dirty?”
Don’t we already place many millions of non-biodegradable diapers into the trash each day? Our poop mixed with wood-chips and other bio-matter is a far more Earth-friendly option than wasting landfill space on the plastics that compose diapers and the weird liquid absorbent gel inside them.

“Where are you disposing of pee?”
After reading a number of articles about using urine in gardens and then seeing it for ourselves, we’ve been diluting our urine then pouring it into the flower beds and around other plants to return nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. The area doesn’t stink as the urine doesn’t pool and fester smelly bacteria.

“Don’t you feel dirty dealing with your waste?”
It’s a little awkward at first, but so is changing all those baby diapers, isn’t it? We keep the area clean with vinegar and water, wear gloves during the disposal process, and make sure to wash our hands.

We feel like this entire process is saving so much drinking water and not putting additional strain on the city’s sewer system. Think about how much drinkable water is wasted with each flush. We’ve even thought about doing a “toilet tally” to see how many flushes we’re saving weekly.