20 Most Asked Questions About a Composting Toilet

Compost toilets are a good solution for when Tiny Homeowners don’t have access to the septic tank. It’s a common solution, yet mysterious part for new tiny home owners. We get a lot of questions on them at ShopTinyHouses and here are some of the most common questions we get about compost toilets: †

1. What is a composting toilet?

A composting toilet it water-less and will turn your human waste into safe and usable compost. The compost toilet takes the waste just like the flush toilet. The main difference is that the waste is stored and requires someone to regularly turn or spin it to help the composting process along. Just like a regular garden composter, the compost in the toilet needs to be turned to help the waste break down faster.

In order to help the composting process along and keep the smell manageable, you will have to add additional materials into the compost contained area. Depending on the type of toilet you have this can range from peat moss, sawdust, or even popcorn

2. Does composting toilets smell bad?

When people consider the new idea of compost toilets, they assume the toilet would stink up the house. They donít. 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.

3. Does a composting toilet meet zoning requirements?

There are no national building laws that apply to everyone in the country when it comes to compost toilets. Each building code is set by your individual county, municipalities, and states. You can find your local guidelines with simple Google search, but itís always best to ask your local zoning board before buying your compost toilet.

4. Can compost toilets be mobile? Can I use it for RVs, boats, or tiny homes?

Yes. Composting toilet such as the Natureís Head Toilet can be mobile. Certain self-contained travel-ready toilets have to be able to handle violent motion or jarring without being damaged or without waste leaking or spilling.

5. Can I Use Toilet Paper/Tissue In a Compost toilet?

Unlike RVs and camper toilet systems, there is no need to buy special toilet tissue for composting toilets. Composting toilets do a great job of breaking down any toilet tissue you toss in right along with the human waste.

Any kind of toilet paper will work, however single ply paper breaks down quicker. Many single ply papers are approved for septic tanks.

6. What is a Urine Diverting Toilet?

A Urine Diverting Compost Toilet, like the Nature’s Head, works by separating the solid and the liquid waste into two separate compartments. By separating the two, you can minimize the smell of the waste in the toilet. In fact, compost toilet smells better than a traditional flush toilet. When poop and urine mix together it creates sewage creating the smell that you associate with typical toilet. When poop and urine is separated, you create two reusable materials that can be put back into the environment.

7. Does the fan/power for venting need to run all the time?

Majority of compost toilets have some sort of venting to help the composting process. A lot of times that does involve a fan. If you are using the toilet full time, you need to keep the fan on at all times. This is important so you can enable to the compost to process faster.

If you are not going to use the toilet for 10 days or more, then unplug and empty the solids bin and clean the urine bottle if you have one before leaving your toilet.

8. How do I dispose of Urine?

Urine is a great fertilizer for mature trees or can be diluted for plants. Diluting Urine with eight parts water to one part urine will ensure you have a great liquid fertilizer for your plants and smell will not be an issue.

9. How can I dispose of the compostable material?

A lot of the times the compostable material should go into a compost pile to finish composting or if you are just looking for a method of disposal it can be thrown in a garbage bag in the trash if needed.

10. What happens if there is diarrhea or other liquids that get into the solids bin?

In cases like prolonged diarrhea or excessive condensation, add a small amount of your composting bulking material (coco fiber OR peat moss).

11. Does composting work in cold conditions?

Composting works from 55 degrees and warmer. The warmer it is, the faster your waste will compost. When the temperature drops to freezing, the compost will be dormant until heat is reintroduced into the area.

12. What should I do if the compost is too Wet to churn?

In cases like prolonged diarrhea or excessive condensation, add a small amount of your composting bulking material (coco fiber OR peat moss

13. What should I do if the compost is too Dry to churn?

If the compost is too dry or hard, and add some water wait for the peat moss or coco fiber to absorb the moisture, then turn the agitator.

14. Can you pee standing up?

You can stand to urinate when using urine diverting but is recommended to sit so liquids don’t end up in the solids bin. There is not a lift-up toilet seat, so males should be conscious about not leaving liquid on the seat.

If you have a composting toilet where all the solids and liquids go into one area you can use it just like a regular toilet.

15. Will freezing temperatures damage to a toilet?

With compost toilets, liquids will be your main concern. If you have a urine bottle or tubing with urine itís best to empty it in freezing temperatures. The compost and toilet will be unharmed in freezing weather. Composting toilets can be used in all climates. The composting process will stop during very cold weather. If possible, keep the composting chamber a heated part of the home and/or insulate it.

16. Best things to mix into your compost toilet?

We recommend whatever is recommended by your composting manufacturer a lot of times they will have their own mix. In the case of Natureís Head Toilet, we recommend using coco fiber (coir). If you do not have that available, you can also use peat moss. Other toilets also like to use sawdust.

17. Does compost toilets require electricity?

A lot of compost toilets do require electricity mainly for fanning for the vent. Some can hook up to batteries and other direct to wall plugin.

18. How do you keep the bowl clean, when there is no flushing water?

The best way to do this is to keep a small spray bottle with water in it next to the toilet. If the bowl gets a little messy, simply give it a few squirts and wipe it down.

19. Can I add veggie Scraps to my solids waste bin?

Adding any compostable scraps will slow down the breaking down the solids, and also have your toilet fill up prematurely. Only use the compost medium that is recommended for your compost toilet.

20. Will I have to deal with worms, flies, and other bugs in my composting toilet?

The majority of composting toilet users have no problems whatsoever with insects. Since there is no odor, the toilet doesnít attract insects. †Although, there is an exception to every rule. Some users who have decided to shovel dirt, wood chips, peat, and/or any other type of organic material from their own backyard into the chamber as bulking material had issues with insects. Sometimes these organic materials contain insect eggs/larvae, which hatched and invaded their operation.
There are also a few examples of flies getting into the chamber if/when the fan is turned off for several days, but if the fan is left on, the constant moving of air being sucked through will prevent any of that from happening.

Have any more questions? Feel free to comment below and we’ll answer them!

9 thoughts on “20 Most Asked Questions About a Composting Toilet”

  1. This is just to sell you composting toilets. Read up or go to youtube and make yourself a WORM TOILET. That way the worms eat it, the newspapers or toilet paper are part of what they digest and you end up with worm castings for your garden or to sell in bags at flea markets you probably see on your journey.

  2. We need one for our off-grid home in Canada, but have heard the fan sucks a lot of your home heat out. Is this true??


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