Composting toilets have been around for many years, yet there are still plenty of misconceptions about what they are and how they are used. These toilets are useful when you live off the grid or if you want to reduce your home’s water use. They are also commonly used by people who own RVs or own a lake cabin that doesn’t have indoor plumbing.
If you are interested in learning more about composting toilets, how they work, and why they are becoming so popular, be sure to check our helpful buyer’s guide.
All You Need to Know About Composting Toilets
If you don’t know much about composting toilets, you are probably imagining something similar to an outhouse or port-a-potty. That is definitely not what these toilets are.
A composting toilet can turn solid waste into useful compost. This works by creating an oxygen-rich environment that allows aerobic bacteria to break down the waste.
There are two designs of composting toilets. Self-Contained and Central, or Remote.
Self-Contained Composting Toilet
A Self-Contained Composting Toilet is one that contains its own composting system. A compost chamber is often positioned beneath the bowl.
These toilets are commonly found in RV’s, tiny homes, boats, or any place a person may reside without indoor plumbing. They are also found in seasonal lodging homes such as cabins or summer cottages. While most are designed for temporary use, there are some models that can be used in a residential setting.
Central or Remote Toilets
With a Central or Remote composting toilet, the unit directs waste to a central composter that is located in another part of the home. This could be in the basement or in some cases, outside. A large enough central system can easily connect to multiple toilets, allowing this type of compost toilet to be used in large homes that have several bathrooms.
How Do Composting Toilets Work?
There are three important variables that all composting toilets require to function correctly. These variables are moisture level, carbon-nitrogen balance, and temperature. Both self-contained and central composting toilet systems have to establish and maintain a specific level of moisture. They also need the right temperature and carbon-nitrogen balance for the bacteria to grow, thrive, and compost the waste.
You will need to have the right amount of moisture for a composting toilet to work as it should. Too much moisture will drown out the aerobic bacteria needed to compost the waste. It’s important to keep the compost moist, but not wet. The process of reaching this precise level begins with how the toilet deals with liquid waste.
The most common method is to divert the liquid waste into a separate container that the owners much empty out. There are some composting toilet models that come with a container to use. And there are also models such as those made by Sun-Mar that can evaporate liquid waste. However, you will still need a container or drain pit to use as backup for this type of toilet.
A composting toilet will also draw moisture from solid waste. This process involves using a ventilation system that constantly circulates air using a fan. This type of system can help reduce the volume of the compost by as much as 95%.
The proper disposal of liquid waste helps decrease the event of nitrogen buildup in the compost. However, you still need to add in materials that are rich in carbon to balance the carbon and nitrogen level. Some materials that you may want to add include peat or coconut fibers.
Getting the Right Temperature
To keep the aerobic bacteria alive, you will need to keep the temperature of the compost within a certain range, typically between 60 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. There are some manufacturers of compost toilets who will help take the guesswork out of getting the temperature just right. Their toilets include features such as sensors, thermostats, and automatic mixers.
Reviews for the Best Composting Toilets
As more people become aware of the benefits of using a composting toilet, more companies have started designing their own eco-friendly toilets in hopes of cashing in on this popular item. There are now so many different types of composting toilets on the market that choosing the right one can be overwhelming. That is why we have put together a list of the best composting toilets for you to consider.
1. Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet
The Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet was initially designed to be used at sea on a boat. However, this convenient toilet can be used on land or at sea, anywhere you don’t have electricity or access to indoor plumbing. It can also be used by homeowners who want to conserve water or decrease their carbon footprint.
Because it was originally designed to serve its purpose on a ship, this composting toilet has a very durable design and features high quality materials to ensure it will last. This is a great quality unit and the low volume fan helps to prevent odors by circulating the air.
2. Visa 268 from Sanitation Equipment
The Visa 268 from Sanitation Equipment is the perfect choice for those who want to purchase a composting toilet on a budget. It is also a good choice for anyone who plans to use this unit for boating or camping trips.
The Visa 268 has a sturdy lip that snaps securely when closed to minimize accidents while you are on the go. It is rugged and durable enough to withstand plenty of use over the years. This toilet features a replaceable piston pump that is easy to operate. It also has a two-directional rinse system. The waste tank and the water level indicators are easy to read, and the holding tank has a vent for easy clean up. The toilet bowl is deep and designed for optimal comfort.
3. Thetford Porta Potti 550E
The Thetford Porta Potti 550E features a compact size and comfortable height. It has a battery-powered flush and a large toilet bowl. This portable toilet is designed for easy access, hassle-free emptying, and easy cleaning. It also includes an integrated toilet paper holder for added convenience.
The tank level indicators help you keep track of waste levels to eliminate any issues. This Thetford Portable Composting Toilet is sanitary, odorless, and leak-proof.
4. Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet
This dry composting toilet from Nature’s Head is the second one on the list from the brand. It features a hand crank agitator that can help progress rapid composting. The toilet is perfect for use in any area that doesn’t have indoor plumbing or sewage lines. It has a low-volume air circulation fan that reduces the odor in the air.
The toilet is designed to be lightweight, compact, and odorless. Since it was originally manufactured to be used at sea on large boats, the Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet has a very rugged design and durable frame.
5. Sun-Mar Compact Self-Contained Composting Toilet
The Sun-Mar Compact Self-Contained Composting Toilet is one of the most aesthetically pleasing of all dry composting toilets, and one of the most compact as well. It will look perfect in your bathroom and it is one of the best options for tiny houses or any location with limited space. It is easy to clean, odor free, and environmentally friendly. While it is small in size, this Sun-Mar toilet is not portable, so it cannot be used on an RV, boat or camper.
How to Buy the Best Composting Toilet for You
The best way to determine which composting toilet is right for you is to consider your needs for this type of product. To do that, ask yourself which of the following will you require the most from your toilet.
- Will you need your composting toilet while camping at least 3 or 4 times a year?
- Will you use the toilet occasionally, but year round, such as in an outside building that you use for work or hobbies?
- Will you use it frequently, all year long and will it replace your traditional toilet?
If you want to move your composting toilet around and take it with you on camping trips, you will need to purchase one that is portable and doesn’t need to be fixed in one place all the time. It will need to be strong and durable enough to handle the transportation, installation, and uninstallation. However, you may not need this traveling toilet to take on as much long-term wear as you would one that is used in your residential home.
If you want to install a composting toilet where it will be used in the same place all the time, but infrequently, you don’t need to purchase a portable compost toilet. But you will want to find one that is strong enough to handle your requirements.
You should also pay attention to water requirements. Some composting toilets need water for use, while others do not. If you don’t have indoor plumbing in the area where you want to install the toilet, one that doesn’t require water may be the best option for you.
If you want to install a composting toilet inside a tiny house or want to use it in place of your traditional toilet, you will want to purchase one of the highest-quality models there is to ensure long-lasting durability.
Another thing that you will want to look for is an NSF and ANSI Certification. This ensures that the toilet you purchased meets the guidelines that were set by the National Sanitation Foundation and the American National Standards Institute. This certification ensure all products manufactured for public use meet stringent guidelines related to public health protection. There are some composting toilet manufacturers who have registered their products with one or both organizations. This certification lets you know that the product you purchased is safe for yourself and your family to use.
Which Composting Toilet Is Right for You?
Choosing a composting toilet takes a lot of work because you need to first find out all there is to know about these products. After that you need to determine how often you will use the product and which composting toilet currently available are the best quality.
If you are new to the concept of composting, you should try to buy one that is easy to use and as uncomplicated as possible so that you may avoid as many issues as possible.