Wonder how to use composting toilets? If you think they sound disgusting, they are not, if done well. Obviously they are not for everyone. But they can be good for allotments and other areas like for camping, and boats.
Removing the water is actually what can if done well, remove the usual ‘toilet smells’ that can happen with some toilets. The idea is obviously save water, but you do have to be careful to make things safe, so work with experts, if not an expert. You’ll need planning permission.
The Compost Toilet Handbook is an expert guide to building your own compost toilet. This illustrated manual explains how to make, use and manage compost toilets that rely on biology to recycle material. Based on the author’s 40 years of experience, the book has 161 pages of colour photos, with illustrations from 13 countries where compost toilets are in use. The book also includes case studies of compost toilet projects in African schools and prisons, Haitian schools and orphanages, and school in Mozambique, Nicaragua, Mongolia – and an ecovillage in the US. It also covers emergency tips and composting in cold weather. Joseph Jenkins is a consultant on composting toilets, and has worked in 64 countries. He lives in the US, obviously with a compost toilet!
So here’s a quick science lesson: when you mix urine and poop together, it creates smelly ‘blackwater’. Modern compost toilets no longer use sawdust, but instead use urine diverters and bowls to separate the two, with air filters to dry everything out. So waste products go to different places, and the solids dehydrate to turn into compost. Urine can be diluted to pour down drains (don’t pour it on plants, it often contains medicines and pollutants and even if very diluted, the worms will give you nasty looks).
You still use biodegradable toilet paper and clean composting toilets as normal, using natural cleaning products. The containers for composting toilets can last a week or two, depending on use.
So why would anyone want to use a composting toilet? Mostly to reduce bills, and for people with no running water or good sewage systems. Humanure is pretty harmless, as long as you eating normal food. Some people grow their own fruits and veggies with it, but you are not legally allowed to sell it, without getting approval from the Environmental Agency! You should not grow food that has been in touch with animal poop, due to most eating meat.
In fact, composting bins done well smell more like ‘earth in a forest’, rather than the disgusting smells you sometimes find in people’s or public bathrooms. It’s the water traps that cause the stinks, half the time. Also ensure that urine does not share greywater sources (like sinks and basins) as they may contain skin cells, grease or fat (don’t pour fat down the sink).
- Natsol offers modern no-water, no-power composting toilets with no chemicals nor smells. It specialises in ones for allotments, small rural cabins, camping sites, churches, golf courses, large gardens and off-grid homes (and has ones for wheelchair access).
- WooWoo is like an online supermarket for composting toilets! It sells the top brands including ones for parks, golf courses and allotments. Air Head toilets are good for motor homes, yachts and narrowboats.
- Eco Loos (Wales) have kits to build your own vandal-resistant composting toilet. It also offers toilets for wheelchair-users. Toilet revolution is another online store.
- The Water-Wise Home is a colourful illustrated guide by a US expert on rainwater harvesting, greywater reuse and compost toilets.
- How to Sh*t in the Woods is by environmentalist Bill McKibben, who offers techniques to keep trails, bushes and wild waters clean, when indoor plumbing is not an option. Has info on outdoor laws.