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Old 12-07-2010, 14:18   #211
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Originally Posted by Reiheld View Post

My current concern is this: What happens when you attempt to explain to the nautical equivalent of Deputy Barney Fife, that no, you don't ever pump anything out, and in fact you don't own a holding tank?
Were I ever in that situation, I would simply take Barney down below, lift the lid and show him my setup.

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Originally Posted by 4arch
I'm planning to make my own composting head this winter using an Ecovita Privy Kit, a bucket (for solids), a plastic cat litter jug (for liquids), and some plywood I already have. I plan on building the plywood in and painting it with epoxy paint to make it look like it belongs there. I would have preferred a Nature's Head or Airhead but they won't work with my head configuration. Plus, the way I'm doing it will be a lot cheaper. I'll post pictures when I get around to doing the build/install.
I did the same thing and have been very happy with the results. I actually built two. One for the boat and one for the garage with interchangeable tops.





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Old 12-07-2010, 20:17   #212
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From the U.S. Coast Guard Regulations
Types of MDSs
The USCG recognizes three MSD equipment classes:
a. Type I. A flow-through discharge device that, under the test conditions described in 33 CFR 159.121,
produces effluent having fecal coliform bacteria count no greater than 1000/100 milliliters, and no visible
floating solids. A Type I MSD is commonly a physical/chemical type (macerator/chlorinator).
b. Type II. A flow through discharge device that, under the test conditions described in 33 CFR 159.121,
produces effluent having a fecal coliform bacteria count no greater than 200/100 milliliters, and
suspended solids no greater than 150 milligrams/liter. A Type II MSD is commonly a biological (aerobic
digestion) plant, but several physical/chemical plants are certified as Type II MSDs.
c. Type III. A device designed to prevent the overboard discharge of treated or untreated sewage, or any
waste derived from sewage. Most Type Ills are holding tanks, but there are also vacuum collection
systems, incineration systems, recirculation systems, and a composting system.
It is vital to recognize that an MSD type is based on the equipment installation. For example. a
malfunctioning flow-through discharge device that has a closed overboard discharge valve is NOT a nodischarge
device. It is a broken machine.
Reference 33 CFR 159.53 General Requirements
Certification of Holding Tanks
Type III MSDs that store only sewage and flushwater at ambient air pressure and temperature are certified
by definition. There will be neither a label nor a letter, so the inspector should verify that the installation
is as it is claimed. The tanks should be adequate to retain the wastewater generated while the vessel is
within U.S. waters. Gray waters and galley wastes should not be directed to such a system, because the
rotting food can cause the tank contents to putrefy, worsening the situation. The following are not
acceptable as being a Type III MSD: ( I) use of piping as a holding tank or (2) securing the direct
overboard discharge piping from the head with a valve. Type III systems installed on a vessel before 30
January 1975 are certified under 33 CFR 159. 12(b). These devices were not reviewed; no certification
letter or label is necessary.
»Reference 33 CFR 159.123. Certification of certain Type III devices

hope this does away with your concerns...so long as your pee jug is vented to atmospheric pressure (don't screw the cap on tight) and you dispose of it appropreately you should be fine.. you can print a copy off from the uscg site and you should be fine...But then again, so should cedar buckets and I hear that some will give you a hard time about a cedar bucket composting system...
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Old 13-07-2010, 01:48   #213
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Having shot my mouth off on this board quite a bit on the composting toilet issue, I thought I'd add a kind of surprising recent experience I've had with same. I'm away from home doing some repairs on a rental house I own, and, being in the process of replacing the entire floor of the bathroom (thank you, former tenant, may you rot as the floor has), I've had the water off in the place for a bit. I can do with bottled water just fine, but the toilet thing was an issue. I thought about using a 5 gallon bucket with sawdust as a gonzo composter, but it seemed...um...uncomfortable. Then I suddenly thought, hey, the toilet is here and dry, why not use it? So I lined the john with a plastic contractor bag, threw in some sawdust (actually dried pine sawdust kitty litter) and used that.

Despite the gonzo arrangement, despite the small capacity and lack of vents, there has been ABSOLUTELY no odor of any kind. I mean, I can smell it when I go, but that's it. I cover the paper and leavings with a handful of the litter after use, use a bottle instead of the toilet for urine, and there have been no problems. It's been just me, but even with the small capacity of the lined toilet bowl, it lasts about a month before I have to dump the bag (there's a compost pile in the back yard) and even then there's been no smell.

My point is, we may be making this a LOT more complex than it is in our search for sterilization. As long as there's an absorptive medium with which to cover the fecres, and the urine is separated, it seems to work in an odorless and entirely satisfactory fashion. I suspect a 5 gallon bucket with an attendant toilet seat would last a couple at least a month aboard without having to dump it, and if my experience is any guide, there would be nothing objectionable about the setup.

In a related story, I was planning on using one of those "sun shower" setups to bathe until I get the pumbing lines back where they should be. I've used them before on boats and at festivals, and they do work, but they're awkward, and 5 gallons of water is a handful to manhandle.

I hit on the simple expedient of using 2 litre soda bottles instead. I took a bottle cap and drilled 6 holes in it as a spray nozzle. I fill the things 2/3rds full of cold water from my water bottles and in the morning when I make tea I fill em up the rest of the way with boiling water (Use a funnel though. Direct contact with boiling water makes the plastic deform). One bottle, if you're frugal, gives an entirely satisfactory shower. Two are positively luxurious. I've also started using the setup for dishes and the like. Works well, costs nothing. My kinda thing.
This makes me wonder ... how necessary is it to vent it in a boat? I've installed ours but didn't have time to install the vent before leaving the boat. Maybe I should try it without a vent and see how it goes. I hate the thought of cutting an unnecessary hole in the boat. Any thoughts?
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Old 15-08-2010, 08:12   #214
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Does anyone have an incinerator toilet or have they disappeared from the marketplace?
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Old 29-08-2010, 22:16   #215
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Clever thoughts on Crap

This site is blessed with many smart CAN DO people and it shows. I'm living onboard and sailing in Queensland Australia and with (private!) Marinas getting absurdly legalistic and more expensive as you near the tropics - CONSERVATION is foremost in mind.

Back to basic in water-use!

- If you must use LESS WATER you get the same result if you use MORE TIME with dribbles keeping your body suit constantly wet'n soakin.

- Many little cut-up (and overlocked...) hand towels in a hot-water basin makes 1-2 liter provide for a good healthy wash-down. Use one dripping towlett a day and Bob's your Uncle smelling like roses. Two people working together can share just one steaming towlet with very good result.

- Remember that good hygiene and healthy food will put most doctors out of business!
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Old 30-08-2010, 07:00   #216
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. . . Back to basic in water-use! . . .

- Many little cut-up (and overlocked...) hand towels in a hot-water basin makes 1-2 liter provide for a good healthy wash-down. Use one dripping towlett a day and Bob's your Uncle smelling like roses. Two people working together can share just one steaming towlet with very good result.

- Remember that good hygiene and healthy food will put most doctors out of business!
I don't know about that last statement ". . . put most doctors out of business!" - after two young healthy people "working together . . . sharing one steaming towlet . .." I think that maybe you will be needing a baby doctor before the year is out.
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Old 30-08-2010, 07:50   #217
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Originally Posted by Doodles View Post
This makes me wonder ... how necessary is it to vent it in a boat? I've installed ours but didn't have time to install the vent before leaving the boat. Maybe I should try it without a vent and see how it goes. I hate the thought of cutting an unnecessary hole in the boat. Any thoughts?
From what I've experienced on my composting toilet, get the vent. That said plan carefully on it's placement. A well designed head has a bit of negative pressure caused by the small exhaust muffin fan. On my Cat I vented it from underneath the bridge deck. I wouldn't put it anywhere near a open hatch or on deck. Though it is true they are the least smelly heads inside the boat, it's the right after your brother in-law has his morning visit that there is an unusual waft coming from the vent. Aim it well.
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:46   #218
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Very informative thread. I'm currently pretty enamored of the idea of a composting head. I have a couple of questions for those of you who have installed them.

We currently have 2 heads. We would like to remove the head in the front head and use the space for sail storage and as a work room for parts. (keeping the plumbing intact so if we ever decide to sell her, it can be easily converted back to a usable head. If we do so and go down to one composting head, will this be sufficient for a family of 4?

I worry about emptying the compost before it has adequate time to break down. What do you do if you need to clean out the composting tank within say, one month? Is it usually broken down enough to transfer without being totally gross? Is there a way to line the composting tank on the Air Head or Natures head with a garbage bag so that you'd just have to open the tank, tie up the bag and take it to a trash bin on shore? Or would the plastic liner slow down the composting rate?

I really would like to remove the holding tanks and hoses and reclaim the space for something more useful. I'm also not deterred by being up close and personal with waste. I have an almost 5 month old in cloth diapers. My days are spent thinking far too frequently about poop.
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Old 12-09-2010, 07:14   #219
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4 is gonna push it. I have a natures head and I am very, very happy with it. 2 Natures Heads will be OK easily for 4. Alternative might be to have a 5 gallon sealed bucket for composting, what with the added business and all.

These units will not work with a liner because there is an agitator (hand crank) and I think it would interfere with the agitator.

I bought Natures head because the toilet seat was molded in whereas the air head has a traditional 2 piece unit lid and seat. Coffee filters work great.

I found it to my advantage to do the big job away from the boat when at convenient, however I evaluated it for almost 2 months and I used it almost exclusively and never had a stink in the boat and I did not empty it during this time. Worked great. Near the end the handle did require some muscle to crank. I never did assay the remains. I just dumped it into a kitchen sized white Hefty bag, cinched the string and headed to the dumpster. Get the heavy duty bag, that is one bag 'ya really do not want to break. Really!

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Old 12-09-2010, 09:15   #220
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I ordered the nature's head also, afterall. Several people I spoke to who use them everyday and exclusively say that they tend to empty it every two or three weeks as it is lighter and the bag breaking threat is dimminished. Even if taken to the advetised number of "uses", I think it was 60, it would be about 2 weeks at once a day. There is no way that the modt recent "uses" will be very broken down even if it is only one person. They do make additional boxes with tops if for some reason you wanted to let it compost down more fully before dumping it and had the space, but probably not practicle. Of course it'll continue to decompose in the trash bag also so I figure if there is a need to empty it when out of range trash collection and inside the limmit I will double bag and tie them off. Still less space than all that water in a holding tank.

(to be clear, I mean 2 weeks once a day for 4 people--edit!)
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:51   #221
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Thanks Conrad, that is very helpful! I'm really enthused about making the switch. Dealing with less than fully composted matter more frequently sure beats dealing with a clogged head, nasty hoses and holding tank overflow- even if it only happens once in a great while. Once is one time too many!

I suppose we can try it with one head while we are coastal in the US. If we needed to add another head, it shouldn't be any trouble as the holding tank and hoses for the forward head will have already been removed.
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:08   #222
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Thanks Conrad, that is very helpful! I'm really enthused about making the switch. Dealing with less than fully composted matter more frequently sure beats dealing with a clogged head, nasty hoses and holding tank overflow- even if it only happens once in a great while. Once is one time too many!

I suppose we can try it with one head while we are coastal in the US. If we needed to add another head, it shouldn't be any trouble as the holding tank and hoses for the forward head will have already been removed.
I double bag so no danger of breaking but if it hasn't had a chance to break down it will still smell in the bag and without aeration it doesn't compost in my experience. If you have a place to move it where it can get secondary composting that is probably the best solution. With four people the urine will be an issue. I can't stress enough that urine in the excrement tank is a problem and four people can fill the NH tank twice a day. Once it is full the urine can flow back into the solids tank. By the same token four people will fill a lot holding tank as well. I'm not living aboard now but I did 8 months with my NH and was glad I had it. Before making the change a 10 gallon holding tank would last less then two weeks - the NH got me two months.
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Old 12-09-2010, 17:11   #223
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Very informative thread. I'm currently pretty enamored of the idea of a composting head. I have a couple of questions for those of you who have installed them.

We currently have 2 heads. We would like to remove the head in the front head and use the space for sail storage and as a work room for parts. (keeping the plumbing intact so if we ever decide to sell her, it can be easily converted back to a usable head. If we do so and go down to one composting head, will this be sufficient for a family of 4?

I worry about emptying the compost before it has adequate time to break down. What do you do if you need to clean out the composting tank within say, one month? Is it usually broken down enough to transfer without being totally gross? Is there a way to line the composting tank on the Air Head or Natures head with a garbage bag so that you'd just have to open the tank, tie up the bag and take it to a trash bin on shore? Or would the plastic liner slow down the composting rate?

I really would like to remove the holding tanks and hoses and reclaim the space for something more useful. I'm also not deterred by being up close and personal with waste. I have an almost 5 month old in cloth diapers. My days are spent thinking far too frequently about poop.
I've had boats with traditional marine heads, RV heads and composting heads.

I favored the composting head on my pocket cruising trimaran where both the space and weight of a holding tank was a real issue and dumping overboard was not legal much of where I sailed. With shorter trips, everything could fully compost after the cruise before emptying.

My feeling is most of those attributes are no longer big benefits on larger boats sailing where it is legal and apporpriate to discharge overboard regularly. I much prefer the simple act of turning a valve on a self draining holding tank to lugging out and dumping by hand incompletelely composted human waste. It's also not easy to do discretely.

The space and weight of a day's worth of waste in a holding tank on even a low 30s foot monohull is usually not a big problem.

Commercially produced composting heads are more expensive, require power and require manual dumping of waste. I see no reason to take on these liabilities if overboard dumping and holding are not issues.
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Old 12-09-2010, 19:18   #224
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We currently have 2 heads. We would like to remove the head in the front head and use the space for sail storage and as a work room for parts.
Maybe you could have two heads and alternate using one at a time on a 2 week schedule. That way the unused head would have that extra 2 weeks to finish the process before emptying?

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Old 13-09-2010, 08:19   #225
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I like the concept of the composting toilet, but have always been concerned about its applicability for the long term liveaboard. The glib phrase about allowing it to turn into compost and then it can easily be got rid of may be applicable to the weekend sailor, but the 24/7 cruiser means that there will normally be a reasonable percentage of waste product not broken down into compost. I worry then about the disposal of this as normal pump-outs are not feasible, and double bagging and just throwing into the normal waste not only is a nasty trick on the waste disposal people, it may well be highly illegal in some countries.

The solution from Airhead is for the long term liveaboard to have a second solid tank, with all the associated problems that this will entail:

(From Air Head)
We have many long term live-a-boards. You can expect about 1 month of use for two people before the solids fill up. The liquids would fill up much quicker.

The material of course would not be fully composted when it fills when living on the boat. You can simply empty the contents into a garden composter to allow it to complete its work. You can also buy a second solid tank from us to allow the first to compost before emptying it.



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