Waterless toilets are becoming a hot topic amongst those intending on going green as often as they can.
So why waterless toilets?
Besides the fact that it helps in water conservation, it can help save money on water bills and other maintenance bills needed when dealing with septic systems and other alternatives.
While some have instant flashbacks to dirty porta potties and camp latrines when the idea of a waterless toilet is brought up, the fact of the matter is, these new waterless systems are designed to work for you and the earth by creating some form of compost that can later be used in gardens.
What is a Waterless Toilet?
A waterless toilet is just what it sounds like, a toilet that uses no water.
Also known as a dry sanitation system, waterless toilets use little to no water to treat or transport human waste.
One of the most common waterless toilets is the composting toilet and most closely resembles the porta potties most think of.
Despite what many believe, and unlike most porta-potties, composting toilets do not produce smell if maintained correctly.
How Does A Waterless Toilet Work?
Waterless toilets use the processes of decomposition and evaporation to recycle the waste that we put into them.
Garden compost piles have been around for some time.
Well, waterless toilets work primarily the same way.
By manipulating the environment of the composting chamber, generally located under the floor of the toilet, the correct balance between oxygen, heat, moisture, and organic material can be achieved for the aerobic bacteria. These bacteria are needed to transform the human waste into fertilized soil.
Once this delicate balance is reached, the decomposition process should be odor-free. For a waterless toilet to function correctly, it needs to perform a few different processes:
- Evaporate the liquid waste.
- Compost the waste and toilet paper wholly and quickly, without any foul odor.
- Ensure that the finished compost is safe to handle, meaning the bacteria rid the leftover waste free of any pathogens or viruses.
Once the decomposition and evaporation cycles are completed, the remaining product should be a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used in the yard and garden.
Types of Waterless Toilets
As with other home appliances, waterless toilets come in a variety of different types depending on your needs. One of the first things you will need to decide on is whether you want a self-contained system or a remote system.
- Self-Contained – A self-contained system allows the waste to compost in the toilet itself. By using a carbon-rich cover, like peat moss, after each use, the waste can break down in the toilet. Because this option leaves the waste more local, it needs to be checked and removed every so often.
- Remote – A remote system includes a toilet located in the bathroom, but instead of the waste remaining in the toilet to compost, it moves down a chute to a bin. This compost chamber is often located in a crawlspace, or even to a chamber located outside. With a remote system, there is no real need to change or check the compost because it is moved to a separate area for collection.
- Batch Composting – While self-containing and remote systems are the most common, a third option includes batch composting toilets. These toilets consist of two or more containers that are alternated so that one tank is actively being used while the other tank with waste can compost without the potential for recontamination.
- Incinerating Toilets – These dry sanitation units use fire to torch your waste in an incinerator instead of letting it naturally break down biologically. With these toilets, you use them as usual, and once you close the lid, you have to tell the toilet whether it is urine or solid waste that you want to dispose of, generally by pressing a button on the unit. After, the system will either cook the urine or torch the solid waste and turn it into sterilized ash.
Top 5 Waterless Toilets
While there are many benefits to waterless toilets, they aren’t as commonly listed as standard toilets are. That said, finding reliable brands and budget-friendly options can be difficult.
Many things factor into the budget of these touchless toilets, including the type of toilet, the design of the toilet itself, and the maker.
Below, we have compiled the top five waterless toilets on the market from three of the top brands and have ranked them based on reviews and budget. In the case of a tie in the customer rankings, the expense was taken into consideration.
Keep in mind, while the expense for these toilets are higher than standard toilets, there are more components to keep in mind when installing compost toilets. So while the initial investment may be high, water savings, along with other savings, later on, tend to make the steep investment well worth it.
1. [amazon link=” B003EX7LV6″]
[amazon box=” B003EX7LV6″]
The Nature’s Head dry composting toilet with standard crank handle is a self-contained, urine diverting, waterless toilet designed for use in a variety of situations. Its compact size makes it ideal for RVs, boats, tiny houses, and cabins. With its stainless-steel hardware and its robust construction, this unit was designed to withstand the harshest of conditions while still being lightweight and odorless.
This unit comes with a 5-foot vent hose, a bottle cap, a 12-volt power plug and a hand crank agitator in the base for fast composting.
2. [amazon link=” B01N3QSLZK”]
[amazon box=” B01N3QSLZK”]
The Separett Villa 9210 is designed for tiny homes, off-grid living and can be used in campers and other small spaces. The unit is waterless and designed to accept 12-volt DC power from a battery or a solar source, or with the included AC adaptor.
The Villa’s design catches the urine in a drain that is diverted into a grey water system or holding tank while solid waste and toilet paper are contained within the solid waste holding area. The vent fan helps pull air over the solid waste to help dry it and vent out any odor and should be changed every three weeks for an average family.
3. [amazon link=” B009Z7EKIC”]
[amazon box=” B009Z7EKIC”]
The Nature’s Head self-contained composting toilet with close quarters spider handle design can be used anywhere you may need a toilet, especially places where plumbing or electricity is difficult or non-existent. That means it can be the perfect unit for RVs and campers, cabins, barns, and even trucks.
Thanks to this unit’s low volume air circulation fan that is built into the head of the unit. This dry sanitation unit helps minimize any odor and recycle the air in your bathroom to help make the whole room smell better. The rugged design and stainless hardware make it extremely durable no matter what environment you are in.
4. [amazon link=” B001CFMUCS”]
[amazon box=” B001CFMUCS”]
This Sun-Mar Compact unit is both elegant and low profile, making it an ideal dry sanitation unit for any home or cabin. While it is a smaller unit, intended for a seasonal capacity of 3 adults, or residential use of 1 adult, it still has the power to save thousands of gallons of water while recycling waste and turning it into fertilized soil.
This waterless unit creates no odor, pollution and needs no sewer connection. It is also certified and listed by ANSI/NSF.
5. [amazon link=” B001CFQFL0″]
[amazon box=” B001CFQFL0″]
The Sun-Mar Excel non-electric self-contained composting toilet is both user-friendly and ideal for a variety of locations including cabins, greenhouses, cottages, or even pool houses. This unit requires no electricity, thanks to the patented Bio-drum that hastens odorless decomposition without the use of fans, heaters, or water supply.
This unit is the first toilet in its class to be certified and listed by the National Sanitation Foundation in accordance with Standard 41 composting capability.
Maintaining a Waterless Toilet
As with any appliance, you’ll need to properly maintain your waterless toilet for it to function correctly and prevent the spread of germs in your household.
One easy way to tell if you are properly maintaining your waterless toilet is by giving the room it is in a sniff. If there is an odor, then something isn’t working correctly. Properly maintained and cycled dry sanitation units do not have a smell to them.
Another essential step to maintaining your waterless toilet it to make sure it is adequately drained. Part of the composting process is moisture evaporation.
A few ways to attend to this issue is by either diverting urine away from the compost. While some moisture is used to keep the compost maintained adequately, most units come built with an overflow pipe that drains any excess water out of the chamber.
One of the most critical aspects of maintaining a waterless toilet is to add some carbon-based material or bulking agent to the chamber frequently. Materials such as sawdust or dried leaves work tremendous and should be added daily, and ideally with each use. Combining these materials give the proper carbon-nitrogen mix that helps to aerate the pile and prevent compacting.
After a given period, depending on the unit chosen, the compost will need to be removed once it has been sufficiently decomposed. The general time frame for most units is about six months between emptying the chamber, but some units may need to be emptied sooner or can go longer, again, depending on the unit.
Choosing a Waterless Toilet
Because waterless toilets are a little less prevalent on the bathroom market compared to touchless and standard toilets, it can be a daunting task trying to get all the proper information and deciding on what you want.
Once you’ve done some research, you can go with a prefabricated dry sanitation system, like one of the toilets reviewed above, or some chose to build their own. Either way, there are a few different things you’ll want to keep in mind when it comes to selecting a waterless toilet.
You’ll want to keep space in mind when it comes to installing a waterless toilet. In many cases, a compost bin will be needed underneath the toilet, and in some cases, in a crawlspace. So you’ll want to make sure you have space for the bin, for proper ventilation, and for cleaning it out.
If you are going to build your own unit, you’ll want to avoid complicated designs. The simpler the design, the easier it will be in the long run to maintain and monitor. The more complicated the design, the more complicated the fix tends to be.
The size of your family is also a major determining factor in as to which waterless toilet you purchase. You want a unit that can handle daily use by everyone in the family. So, if you have a standard family of four, you’ll want a toilet that can withstand daily use by each member, so a larger unit would be better. If you are a family of two, or even single, a smaller unit should do just fine.
Finally, you’ll want to check with your local authorities and the National Sanitation Foundation to find out if your waterless toilet will meet safety and sanitation standards in your area and whether your planned method of disposing of the urine and compost is legal.
Asking these questions early on can save you further troubles down the road.
Is a Waterless Toilet for You?
Waterless toilets can seem a little icky at first, but after doing some research and looking at the different options on the market, dry sanitation can have many benefits you didn’t know of.
Being environmentally friendly, and in many cases, easily portable are only a few of the benefits. Kitchen waste can even be tossed into many composting toilets, helping eliminate some extra garbage from the household.
Waterless toilets aren’t for everyone, that is for sure.
However, given the many benefits they provide, it would be no surprise to see them more often in camping areas, public pool houses, and even on construction sites.