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Old 14-11-2008, 08:03   #1
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Composting Toilets

Im thinking of replacing our marine toilet with a composting toilet. Offhand, I would think a model which separates A from B (or shall we say #1 from #2) would lend itself to being a lower power unit.

He is the trick: currently the shower is co-located with toilet and I wonder how additional water would affect things.

Does anyone have any experience with one of these and, if so, what are your thoughts?
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Old 14-11-2008, 10:32   #2
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I installed an air head composting toilet on a small trimaran where I felt both the weight and space of a traditional holding tank system would be issues.

I felt it would be especially well suited to small trailer sailors on short cruises of 2 weeks or less or weekend sailors. On longer cruises, you will have the issue that since you are continually using the head, you will reach a time where it is full, but not all the waste is composted. (However, keep in mind, one need to deal with uncomposted waste in most marine head systems)

To answer your question, at least the model I had would not work at all well with water getting in it. It works specificailly by keeping urine out and having airflow to dry things out. However, I think one could easily fabricate a cover that would keep any shower spray out. I don't think there is any way spray would get in below the toilet seat.
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Old 14-11-2008, 11:31   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
To answer your question, at least the model I had would not work at all well with water getting in it. It works specificailly by keeping urine out and having airflow to dry things out. However, I think one could easily fabricate a cover that would keep any shower spray out. I don't think there is any way spray would get in below the toilet seat.
I had thought that might be the case for larger amounts of water. My planned solution was to fashion a fold up seat cover that would have positive lock. It would double as a shower seat if it was uncomfortable but not too rough. Put the cover down over the closed lid and shower away. But I dont know how sensitive it is to humidity.

Out of curiosity, does yours take a fan ?
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Old 14-11-2008, 12:45   #4
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composting head

I have an Airhead composting toilet and I like it. It is very simple, easy to keep it functioning, no through hulls, no odor, legal on any body of water. I believe that you would have to try hard to get much water into the solids tank during a reasonable shower.


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Old 14-11-2008, 14:07   #5
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I don't think the humidity an hour or two a day would make any notable difference.

I had problems for a while by getting some spary into the vent. A simple loop in the hose with a small drain hole was the solution.

Although I read you can go without a fan if you can funnel wind in, I think using a fan is a good idea. It uses very little energy which was no problem for me though all I had was an outboard with a 15-amp max output. (As I recall, the fan was someting like 1/10 amp and consumed less power in 24 hours than my anchor light did overnight)

The fan motor can burn out easily, so bring a couple spairs along. They can be purchased cheaply at Radio Shack. Without the fan and just a little water intrusion, the composting basically stopped, and smelled.

Another hint- A spray bottle with some scented head treatment diluted with water sprayed in the urine area after each use, keeps the urine smell at bay. I noticed less odor with this sytem than most traditional marine head systems.

Instead of using their small collection bottle for the urine, I just installed a gravity fed 3-gallon tank under the floorboards. It worked great.

Also, if you don't have room for their turn hadle, a ratchet handle will work. (airhead)
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Old 14-11-2008, 17:01   #6
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I added a Airhead composting toilet to my catamaran recently and took it out for it's first test last week. The electrical plug to the motor (fan) made a poor connection and therefore did not work unless I held them together (not practical). Ordering a replacement from manufacturer so I agree, take spares. However, I like the lower weight, no pump out and environmentally friendly. Fan draws 1 amp/hour (Theoretically).
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Old 14-11-2008, 17:19   #7
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I used to have a composting toilet - It worked fine if there were one or two people using it steadily. Any guests and it would overload and start to stink. Ditto what someone said above about the fans burning out - They will burn out but are pretty cheap and easy to replace.
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Old 15-11-2008, 22:29   #8
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How do you dump it? Do you just dump the pee overboard? What about the rest. Is that legal?? I know you can just hang it over the side and be legal, but as I understand it, a bucket is considered a "conveyance" and thus not legal.
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Old 15-11-2008, 22:43   #9
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Lots of good info on the Nature's Head - Eco-Friendly Waterless Composting Toilets for Marine and RV use. web site. This is the one I am looking at. I just wish it were not so tall... my wc shipmate is about 13" high... this one is nearly 20" tall. If not I would have bought it already.
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Old 16-11-2008, 15:47   #10
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Most of the useful nutrients for plant growth are in the urine, so emtying it into closed waters is not a good idea. Apart form the waste of nutrients that could be used for increased productivity on land, excess in the waterways can lead to blooms. We shouldn't be discharging any of our waste water into our waterways, including all the treated sewerage, but getting it back on the land for growing things.
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Old 08-12-2008, 11:44   #11
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How do you dump it? Do you just dump the pee overboard? What about the rest. Is that legal?? I know you can just hang it over the side and be legal, but as I understand it, a bucket is considered a "conveyance" and thus not legal.
What I did was install a 3-gallon, gravity fed holding tank which I pumped our where legal. Without the solid waste or sea water taking up space, one got a lot more for the volume. Of course, you could also add a tradional deck pump out, or make a tank you could carrry off.

The solid waste is another matter, and one of the reasons I favor the composting head for short -term cruising, but am not as happy about long term. For longer-term, you will eventually have to empty the composting bin before it's all composted. However, I see no reason this can't be dumped where ever it's legal to dump holding tanks. As most of it will be composted, it seems to me more environmentally friendly that dumping a hold tank.

Alternatively, you could purchase as second composting bin, so by the time you need to swap the first would be completly composted. However, this would require more space which largely eliminates much of the benefit of this system in the first place.
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Old 08-12-2008, 15:35   #12
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Thanks, But with adding a holding tank and an extra composter and with all that extra. I think I will keep my regular head. Sounds like a lot of extra work for the same thing. I see no benefit at all. All the extra cost to add the same thing. Head, holding tank and pump out. But do what you want. I cant see how to even get that huge thing through my little door.
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Old 08-12-2008, 18:01   #13
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From Carol, a dealer (but don't jump down my throat; I only sell these for pocket money and karma): By not using water, there is far less pumpout frequency. Especially for long tie-ups, liveaboards and lake-bound boats, composting toilets make sense. No one is swimming in your excreta, especially you. No one is suspicious about your seemingly long durations between pumpouts. No one is sweating the broken-down pumpout boat. Both the AirHead and the Nature's Head come with lids, so no worries about the shower.
Also, with no saltwater flush, there is less corrosion of lines (and no lines) and many report less odor. Bring solids and liquids to land. Liquids are great for your compost, the nearby forest, and even gardens (by certain guidelines).
Fans might break down faster because they are on all the time and because they are subject to moisture. I haven't had that issue yet. You can use the solar muffin fan.
For more urine capacity, use extra bottles or do an overflow to your holding tank, as suggested earlier. Also, check out the design of the Mr. Peebuddy make-it-yourself boat urinal by my friend and liveaboard (Ahlberg 35) Chris Melo in my book. You'll also see what he does with the urine from his urine-diverting toilet:
(Think herbal.)
Composting toilets aren't for everyone but neither are heads and sailboats. My office is on an island in New Bedford and I've seen the evidence of many a holding tank drained illegally and the contents washed up at my seawall.
Carol at Ecovita.net
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Old 13-12-2008, 12:18   #14
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...Sounds like a lot of extra work for the same thing. I see no benefit at all. All the extra cost to add the same thing. Head, holding tank and pump out. But do what you want. I cant see how to even get that huge thing through my little door.
I think whether or not it's a benefit is very situational. The above post mentioned many of the benefits I've seen.

In my situation, I certainly did not have the same thing as normal marine head. I had no pump out and only a very small (3-gallon) holding tank for urine. Unlike a traditional system, there is no solid waste in this tank and in the end I never discharged any sewage but rather just threw compost into a composting bin. Both the weight and space savings were significant, which was a big help in a small trimran, but not what I'd choose for a larger monohull. It fit easily through the door of a small trimaran, having about the same foot print as a conventional marine toilet.

These differences may not benefit you in your situation, but as someone who has installed both, I feel you do not end up with the same thing. The systems are very different.
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Old 13-12-2008, 13:01   #15
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Weight reduction is the motivator that keeps me coming back to composting heads. Sure seems like an opportunity for reduced complication, weight, and holes in the boat.

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