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Old 01-12-2009, 18:33   #31
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I purchased a Natures Head for my Cirrus to replace an old nasty direct discharge head. I just couldn't see where I was going to put a holding tank, and I was really not looking forward to another portapottie. Time will tell of course, it hasn't really seen much use, but for now it's certainly a lot less smelly and hard to deal with than a full portapottie. No smell at all, actually, other than pine. Someone on a forum recommended using pine sawdust instead of peat moss, and that's what I did. I bought Feline Pine cat litter, which is compressed pine sawdust, added some water, and it turns into sawdust. However, if you don't like the smell of pine I wouldn't go that route. You can put the TP in the unit if you want, but just like a regular marine head some people choose not to. The good thing is, if someone tosses a bit of plastic or a tampon or whatever else shouldn't be put into a toilet, it's not as big a deal. So far, I am happy with mine.
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:40   #32
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The Envelope Please:

I would like to take this Oppoooitunity to thank all that took time to educate me and others on the proper methods of poo disposal, curing and holding using the composter method.

I am sold on a composter toilet, the Airhead looks the most economical in comparison to the others. I am curious as to why the $200, 400+ price disparity?

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Old 02-12-2009, 08:31   #33
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Mule,

What do you mean? Is the Airhead cheaper than others? It's the only one I considered as all others I looked at used considerably more current to encourage the aerobic decomposition. Most had heaters...

Cheers,
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:37   #34
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I'm by no means an expert on the subject but some have spoken of growing vegies in human waste. From what I have been told it is no problem for urine but poo takes, at least two years to break down enough for safe use.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:10   #35
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Solitude,

You're right about the poo breakdown IF it is left to decompose naturally. However, surrounding the defecant in peat moss and adding bacteria greatly increases the speed of composting. Geoff had to have the compost tested in order to sell it with the claim of "fully composted material in three months!" and the results showed the material to be fully composted early in the second month. What's cool about it is the more crap you add, the faster the bacteria grows and the more heat is generated. The more heat and bacteria, the faster the process.

~A.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:27   #36
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I've had both an airhead and traditional marine heads. I think each has it's advantages and disadvantages. The degree to which those are important will depend on your cruising grounds, use and personal attitudes.

Pluses and minuses I saw of composting head:

+ If you are cruising somewhere you can't frequently discharge, it allows you to retain waste with less weight and less volume.
+ Can easily be plumbed with no below the water though hulls (both safety and maintenance issues)
+ Less prone to some maintenance issues such as blockages, pump failure, etc. that some traditional marine heads have. (dependent on system)

- Costs much more than traditional marine head system
- Requires electricity (though minimal) & the maintenance of electrical components.
- Dealing with waste before it is all composted (longer cruises)
- Need to carry compost material
- Less accepted by some guests

For me, when I was using a small trimaran in areas I could not discharge, the advantages of the composting head outweighed the negatives and justified the cost. The weight and space were real issues. Often, my cruises were short enough I could let the compost just sit in the boat and finish composting after the cruise was over and not have to deal with partially composted material. By the way, toilet paper completely composted.

I now have a larger boat in the Caribbean and much prefer my traditional marine head. It's cheaper. It has a gravity feed disposal system. All I have to do is open the through hull when out of harbor and it empties on it's own. Weight and space are not issues. I don't have to deal with the electric aspects or deal with partially composted waste. I don't feel dumping waste in a large tidal ocean away from any harbor is any less environmentally friendly than dealing with half composted airhead waste.

A couple recommendations for those considering a composting head:

1. Carry extra ventilation fans.
2. Be sure water can't get in the vents - it will kill composing and create a sewage smell.
3. Some diluted head treatment to spray in the urine area after reach use (not compost area) kept it clean and eliminated urine odor.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:40   #37
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Clockwork: Dont get me wrong, I would love to have an "organic" toilet that really got rid of everything. It just doesnt sound like it's there yet to me. Holding tank outside the US??????? You're kidding right? Where would you pump it out in Mexico or the Carribean? Even many Canadian cities just dump it all in the water.... although I hear they are starting to change that... Millions of gallons are dumped by many US cities every year.... and everyone is worried about a few boats.... dont get me started please!
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:20   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Millions of gallons are dumped by many US cities every year....
No US sewers constantly drain into open water without treatment. The EPA fixed that twenty years ago. Sure, you can find info via Google that says "37% of US sewers drain into our lakes and rivers!!!!!!!!!!", but the information is very ambiguous. It's likely more along the lines of "37% of sewers have reported capacity overloads during flooding, resulting in uncontrollable runoff of sewer contents likely to contain human waste."

There is no question that the US waste disposal system is in need of updating and capacity increase, and that it has many problems that can harm the environment.


Quote:
..and everyone is worried about a few boats...
The problem with boats is they congregate in very small areas, and these areas are usually protected and fairly stagnant. Ten boats sitting in a small anchorage discharging two or three #2 uses every day can have a huge impact if sustained for four or five months; much more than sporadic accidental discharge from sewers. The crap gets covered in bacteria, which then allows algae to bloom, and that algal increase can greatly increase the turbidity of the water. High turbidity means less light for photosynthesizing plants and bacteria which eventually translates into decreased sea grass growth, and reduced fish population.

Too many boaters don't understand why throwing that banana peel and plate scraps in the water is a bad idea. Sure, if just one or two boats did it once in a while it's not problem. But chronic discharge of organic matter in confined areas has a huge impact on local ecology.

This is not to say that you, specifically, do not know this, but your post suggests that boats couldn't possible pose a threat to ecosystems. That statement is factually incorrect and too many people believe "it's no big deal".

I'll get out of the companionway now...
Aaron
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:53   #39
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850 Billion gallons a year ....

I havent said we shouldnt try to do the right thing, but other than the US (and marginally so here) we have no where to put our crap!

From USA Today: "Sewage often travels through same pipes as rainwater
Combined sewer systems, many of which are more than 100 years old, carry sewage and storm water in the same pipes. During wet weather, the volume of sewage and water becomes too much for the pipes to handle. In those conditions, the system is designed to allow the mixture to bypass the treatment plant and flow directly into local waters ...... Each year, combined sewer systems discharge an estimated 850 billion gallons of storm water mixed with untreated sewage into local waters, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
At least one-third of the nation's large, publicly owned sewage treatment systems have been penalized by the EPA or state regulators for sewage spills or other violations. ....
Total fines amounted to $35 million. The fines were assessed against 494 of the nation's 4,200 municipal facilities that treat at least 1 million gallons of sewage daily. In addition, some states have levied penalties that aren't included in the data.
Cities with the largest fines included San Diego ($6.2 million), New York City ($3 million), Los Angeles ($1.6 million), and Pittsburgh ($1.2 million).
States where sewer systems paid the largest amounts in fines, both federal and state, were: California ($7.8 million), Tennessee ($3.4 million), New York ($3 million), Kentucky ($2.9 million), Maryland ($2 million), Florida ($1.5 million), Pennsylvania ($1.4 million), Indiana ($1.4 million), North Carolina ($1.2 million), and Oklahoma ($1.1 million)."

Yes, boats congregate in small areas..... usually right where the city dumps the sewage!
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Old 02-12-2009, 13:29   #40
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Airhead Composting Toilet

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mule View Post
Key term here is "almost finished" I think the board will be eagerly awaiting a report from you as to whether or not this whole thing is as advertised. Thanks

Da Mule.
Subsequent replies posted quite adequately addressed any naysayers.

I will reiterate that Geoff at AirHead is a class act, the AirHead composting toilet is a high quality product, and installation is quite straightforward.

I'll be using mine in the spring of 2010 and anticipate no problems.
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Old 02-12-2009, 14:47   #41
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I disagree that the composters are more expensive,while that may be true if you instal a cheapo marine toilet and pump directly over the side but if you factor in the cost of a quality unit plus holding tank plus deck fitting plus sometimes many feet of very expensive hose,through hulls ,seacocks hose clamps and on and on and on and then figure on replacing that hose every few years and it is way more expensive even if you do the instal yourself and of course you still have to pay for pumpouts.I have installed both systems for customers and there is no comparison on the instal.I instaled an airhead in my own Catamaran a few years ago but unfortunatly never had the pleasure of using it as the boat burned in a warehouse fire first.The customer who we installed one for(cherubini 44) loves it and it sure smells a whole lot better these days,they have been using it for about 5 yrs now,not livaboard though.
Steve.
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Old 02-12-2009, 15:27   #42
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We have had 2 composting heads, the first a Airhead and now a Natureshead. We bought the Natureshead as it was less expensive, had a larger urine holding capacity and is a lot easier to take apart to dispose of the final product #1 or #2. We also like the granite look of the Natureshead.
I to don't believe that a composting head is more expensive than a conventional setup. There is also no ongoing maintanance except adding the peat.
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Old 02-12-2009, 22:41   #43
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I have to say that this thread has packed so much good info into only 3 pages I'm amazed. I've spent hours sussing here and there and still didn't find as much solid info as has been posted in this. Magnificent work team.

Blahman and Bloodhound, the pair of you are brilliant.

Now, being a bloke, I'll have to practice aiming. I did like that line Opps, hang on, don't need too. I think D1 has banned me from her micro-house. I don't mind as I still find 13yo girls a tad more freaky than a hungry Pitbull
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Old 02-12-2009, 23:26   #44
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I like the concept of these composting toilets, however, how practical are they for long term cruising - for example:

How easy is it to find the peat in 3rd world countries?

How much peat do you need for a 2 month trip?
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Old 03-12-2009, 08:45   #45
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These are the approximate costs I had to install an airhead composting toilet. Like many users, I did not want to empty the urine bottle after each use by hand, so installed a small 3-gallon holding tank. I also priced the components in my traditional head system for comparison. All prices in U.S. $.

Airhead composting system:

$950 – Toilet
$15 – above the water line though hull
$15 – liquid waste hose
$85 – liquid waste pump
$220 – two inexpensive dorade vents for head ventilation
$50 – ventilation hose and hose clamps
$60 - 3-gallon liquid holding tank
$50 – electrical wiring costs (fan ventilation of unit)

$1,430 = Total

I carried an extra pump and 2 fans costing about $120 total. The peat and coffee filter like things and cleaning were other ongoing costs. Some of the other composting heads sell for about $100 less.


My traditional head system consists of the following:

$160 - Head with pump
$110 -12-gallon holding tank with fittings
$8 - Intake hose
$30 – Discharge hose
$30 – SS deck fill
$140 - Out seascock and through hull
$75 - Intake seacock and through hull
$20 - Misc hose clamps, etc.

$573 = Total

I carry a spare pump assembly which costs just under $100. Oil, and cleaning are other ongoing small costs.


Additional notes:

In my case, there was extra time and money to modify the flooring, etc. to accomodate the composting toilet. (about $300) In contrast, the used boats I've purchased have always had some components from previous traditional head systems that can be reused, even if I'm mostly gutting the system. (deck fill, seacocks, etc.) This of course many not always be the case. Every boat and system will present it's unique issues.

Obviously different people may choose differnet options than I have, but I thougth some numbers of actual installs for comparison might be useful.
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