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Old 23-08-2011, 06:19   #1
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Nature's Head (?) - Seriously . . .

OK, I am interested in this subject and this solution sounds nice from the PR campaign, but then I start thinking about it and the obvious questions arise that I find NOBODY is asking. So I just wrote this to the company and am awaiting their response:
Several things I don't see addressed on your site, or for that matter, anywhere when I research this topic:

1. Can you put toilet paper in it or do you have to store that nasty business somewhere else?

2. If it's water-less, how do you rinse a turd or a case of the runs down the bowl like a real toilet? I can imagine this getting really nasty if you can't aim your poop right through that tiny hole in the bottom.

3. If it only gets better the longer you let it sit, what are you supposed to do, buy a second one to crap in while the first one is composting? Because every time you crap in it, you are adding to the time it takes before it is done. If you crap in it at least twice a day (two people as you advertise), it will never be done composting and when you empty it, you have fresh turd in it.

I eagerly await your answer to these pressing questions so I can publish them in my sailing forum. Sorry for the graphic speech, but we are talking about a turd bucket...I'm not going to dance around that to get answers I need before purchasing.

Josef
Does anyone have any real experience with this thing that they can relate? All of the reviews I read just praise the thing, but nobody really addresses any of my questions. I would think these things are important to people who have to go!
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Old 23-08-2011, 06:42   #2
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

I do believe you can get a second cannister, so that the first turns nicely into compost. Otherwise, it is merely a repository for crap that needs to be cleaned. There is obviously a reasonable justification for coastal cruise and weekend style sailing. I have no concept of how this could ever work for a long distance sailor.
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Old 23-08-2011, 07:25   #3
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

This loo does not really work for continuous use, you use it on your summer 2 week cruise then leave it for a month or whatever and empty it. The vast majority of people cruising only need their heads for a few weeks a year, the other times they use their boat it's just for day sailing. In this scenario it works well.
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Old 23-08-2011, 07:40   #4
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Madwand View Post
OK, I am interested in this subject and this solution sounds nice from the PR campaign, but then I start thinking about it and the obvious questions arise that I find NOBODY is asking. So I just wrote this to the company and am awaiting their response:
Several things I don't see addressed on your site, or for that matter, anywhere when I research this topic:

1. Can you put toilet paper in it or do you have to store that nasty business somewhere else?

2. If it's water-less, how do you rinse a turd or a case of the runs down the bowl like a real toilet? I can imagine this getting really nasty if you can't aim your poop right through that tiny hole in the bottom.

3. If it only gets better the longer you let it sit, what are you supposed to do, buy a second one to crap in while the first one is composting? Because every time you crap in it, you are adding to the time it takes before it is done. If you crap in it at least twice a day (two people as you advertise), it will never be done composting and when you empty it, you have fresh turd in it.

I eagerly await your answer to these pressing questions so I can publish them in my sailing forum. Sorry for the graphic speech, but we are talking about a turd bucket...I'm not going to dance around that to get answers I need before purchasing.

Josef
Does anyone have any real experience with this thing that they can relate? All of the reviews I read just praise the thing, but nobody really addresses any of my questions. I would think these things are important to people who have to go!
That was funny!!!

Also very pertinent questions.
Love to see the reply from the company!
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Old 23-08-2011, 07:51   #5
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

I have installed a couple of Airheads and people love them but they are not living aboard, i believe natures head recomends emptying into a trash bag to continue composting ashore if you dont want to spring for a second tank. It seems to me that a long distance sailor would just dump it over the side when offshore just like they pump out their wet head overboard. The big advantage is they do not stink and open up a lot of storage where your blackwater tank used to be as well as not needing the periodic expensive hose replacement.
Steve.
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Old 23-08-2011, 07:52   #6
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

I'm thinking this would work best, as the "second" head. Or to replace the portapotty in a daysailer, as mentioned above. I'm thinking about one, for one out of two heads, so you can use whichever for the situation.

Seperating No 1 , and No 2 makes a lot of sense from the waste management standpoint, as disposal of each presents it's own challenges.

It actually should be very easy to make a filter that purifies No1 to make it safe for discharge, (don't the astronauts recycle theirs for drinking?). That would greatly reduce the amount of waste that needs to be carried.
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Old 23-08-2011, 09:00   #7
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

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Originally Posted by capn_billl View Post
It actually should be very easy to make a filter that purifies No1 to make it safe for discharge, (don't the astronauts recycle theirs for drinking?). That would greatly reduce the amount of waste that needs to be carried.
Safe? Maybe...but legal, nope. Only waste that has been treated by a USCG certified Type I or Type I MSD can legally be discharged overboard. See 33 CFR 159 Sub-Part B for what you'd have to do get anything certified.
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Old 23-08-2011, 09:14   #8
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

I think all your questions are answered in the Installation and Users Guide here: Nature's Head Composting Toilet - Installation Instructions and Users Guide

Composting is a terrific concept, but IMHO, it's not quite there for onboard use yet. "Nature's Head" seems to be very similar to the AirHead..Air Head Dry Toilet: Marine Composting Toilets - Environmentally Friendly Marine Composting Toilet System Neither of which is a true composter but a dessicator. The main drawbacks to onboard composters and dessicators are:

1. What to do with excess liquids. 90% of human waste IS liquid...mostly urine, but even solids are at least 75% liquid. Excess liquids have to be drained off , or you have wet soggy organic material...and wet soggy material doesn't compost, it rots. Adding dry material--peat moss is the recommended material 'cuz it breaks down quickly--regularly helps some, and there's usually more liquids than the evaporator--which, btw, requires power--in the self-contained units can handle either. Both the AirHead and Nature's Head separate urine from solid waste the urine is directed into in jugs (or a tank). You can't legally drain 'em overboard (unless you're at sea beyond the 3 mile limit), so the jugs must be stored and carried off the boat or the tank must be pumped out same as any other tank. So I can't see much advantage to this over a portapotty.

2. Even though urine is collected separately, solid waste is 75% liquid, so peat moss is needed to keep it dry. Enough peat moss to keep the thing working during an extended cruise can take up more storage space than a holding tank.

3. Composters need a 3" vent stack... AirHead originally specified a 3 vent but is now claiming that a 1.5 vent is adequate.

4. Continuous power 24/7 to run the evaporator.

5. Composting only works in temperatures above 70 F....and only works really well above 75. Below 70, bacterial activity becomes increasingly sluggish--TOO sluggish to make anything happen. So you have to keep it warm all winter--that's 24/7--or waste will just sit there. The good news is, nothing stinks much in cold weather either.

You may decide that this thing is greatest idea since the pop up toaster...but IMO, unless you're on inland or other "no discharge" waters, a Type I MSD (ElectroScan or PuraSan) is a MUCH better solution for the same money. On "no discharge" waters an "MSD" (means it's designed to be permanently installed and fitted for pumpout) portapotty requires -0- maintenance and costs <$200.
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Old 23-08-2011, 09:25   #9
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

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Safe? Maybe...but legal, nope. Only waste that has been treated by a USCG certified Type I or Type I MSD can legally be discharged overboard. See 33 CFR 159 Sub-Part B for what you'd have to do get anything certified.
The city of Houston now recycles it's waste stream into drinking water, so it is now ok for humans to drink, but still not ok for drinking by fish.

Where I boat is a no discharge zone, so any MSD other than a holding tank is useless.
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Old 23-08-2011, 10:19   #10
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

Peg, What is the legality of peeing over the side, as in hanging off the backstay which seems to be the common way for guys to deal with #1, i mean,if you pee in a conventional marine toilet and then pump and rinse it away the holding tank on many boats is full in no time. I read somewhere that peeing over the side was legal wheres peeing in a bucket and then emptying it over the side is not, do you know for sure.
Steve,
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Old 23-08-2011, 10:24   #11
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

Good info Peg! Thanks.

We looked into Nature's Head after seeing them at Strictly Sail Chicago in January. Intresting idea, but no takers here.
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Old 23-08-2011, 10:38   #12
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

We've had ours for roughly one year. I've been meaning to write up a big blog post about it but I wanted to wait a full year before I offered up a lot of opinions. But to answer your questions:

1. Can you put toilet paper in it or do you have to store that nasty business somewhere else?

- You can put toilet paper in there. Use the marine grade stuff and don't use that much. For #2, we use biodegradeable wet wipes. We keep little paper lunch bags in the head for anything other than toilet paper. At sea the paper bag goes over the side, in the harbor it goes into the trash. No problems with that technique in years (including when we had the standard wet head system).

2. If it's water-less, how do you rinse a turd or a case of the runs down the bowl like a real toilet? I can imagine this getting really nasty if you can't aim your poop right through that tiny hole in the bottom.

- We've never missed, including 40knot winds underway. A tiny bit of stuff might hit the edge on the way in if you're seated incorrectly. Happened maybe once or twice in a year. Just use a bit of toilet paper to clean it off and toss the whole mess in.

3. If it only gets better the longer you let it sit, what are you supposed to do, buy a second one to crap in while the first one is composting? Because every time you crap in it, you are adding to the time it takes before it is done. If you crap in it at least twice a day (two people as you advertise), it will never be done composting and when you empty it, you have fresh turd in it.

- We empty ours every two months or so and yeah you'll have some fresh stuff in there. But you won't see it staring at you if that's your concern as it's mixed up with the COIR and previously composted stuff. It's still much cleaner and faster than a pumpout, and much better for the environment than discharging overboard. You disconnect the top, then move the bottom unit (which just looks like lumpy dirt) out into the foredeck or on the dock. Wrap a plastic bag around the top so there's no mess or spills, flip it upside down, and everything goes into the bag. At sea use biodegradeable composting bags and dump the whole thing overboard. At harbor, a dumpster. I've been placing shitty diapers from my daughter in a dumpsters all over the place so you're not going to be the first person to put crap in a trash can.

The guy who runs the company is really nice and actually replaced our entire unit free of charge when I messed it up by yanking on the silicone seals that separate the solids from liquids. Completely my fault, and he shipped me a new unit as his #1 goal is happy clients.

It's absolutely the best and lowest maintenance head that I've used on a sailboat. There is still maintenance to be done and yeah it's still a head, but it far exceeds working with pumpout gear, pushing raw sewage into the water, holes in the boat, the stink, and needing to replace sewage lines.

Our boat smells better than any other in the harbor, hands down.
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Old 23-08-2011, 10:40   #13
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

I use one as do others on the forum. There are other threads discussing it. I lived aboard for close to a year with it.

1) Toilet paper takes longer to break down but their is noreason not to put it in the bowl.

2) If the bowl gets dirty a little toilet paper and a water spritz handles it. The hole isn't that small.

3) The answer to this varies. There is much written on composting human waste. Like any waste it must be carefully managed. As long as you've been careful not to get urine in with the excrement it is fairly easy to bag it and deal with it in some way, whether you take it somewhere for further composting or dispose of it at the dump. If you aren't living aboard it is a marvel how well it works and you almost never have to empty it!

It isn't for everyone I don't suppose. If you had a family aboard you might be better off building your own and including a system where you had multiple buckets and a storage system. It's certainly worth thinking the implications through.

I've had mine almost two years now and I'm very happy with it.
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Old 23-08-2011, 10:45   #14
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

as for permanent full time cruisers--where do you store the sh** when it hits the fan in a storm.....
marine grade tp melts in your hand before job is done--nasty stuff.
i think i like the traditional sink the boat kind of head/toilet.....or the plumbed in portapotty that actually has 2 pumpout capabilities.
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Old 23-08-2011, 10:46   #15
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously...

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I use one as do others on the forum. There are other threads discussing it. I lived aboard for close to a year with it.

1) Toilet paper takes longer to break down but their is noreason not to put it in the bowl.

2) If the bowl gets dirty a little toilet paper and a water spritz handles it. The hole isn't that small.

3) The answer to this varies. There is much written on composting human waste. Like any waste it must be carefully managed. As long as you've been careful not to get urine in with the excrement it is fairly easy to bag it and deal with it in some way, whether you take it somewhere for further composting or dispose of it at the dump. If you aren't living aboard it is a marvel how well it works and you almost never have to empty it!

It isn't for everyone I don't suppose. If you had a family aboard you might be better off building your own and including a system where you had multiple buckets and a storage system. It's certainly worth thinking the implications through.

I've had mine almost two years now and I'm very happy with it.
It's a funny thing that the only people who seem to dislike composting heads are the people who don't use them. All the folks I know who got a modern model and took the small amount of time to install correctly have been quite happy.
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