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Old 28-04-2013, 07:48   #16
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Thanks for all the replies.

How exactly does a composting head work? IE where do you keep the waste? Most compost systems I know of smell pretty bad.

And why would a Lavac toilet help?
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Old 28-04-2013, 07:52   #17
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Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

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I guess I'm just lucky -- mine doesn't smell. I wouldn't be able to stand that sewer/urine smell and I'm not fond of mildew either although it's easier to deal with. It is possible to eliminate the smells, and really worth the effort.
The brain edits out smells that it considers typical.

Try it some time. Put some potpurri out and within a couple hours, you will have to shove your nose in it and breath deeply before you smell it and it will be faint. But someone walking in the room will be overwhelmed by the smell of grandma's house.

I suggest answering the question again after having an impartial observer (who is honest) tell you it doesn't smell.

Then again you may be the 1 in 100 boats that don't have the issue.
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Old 28-04-2013, 08:01   #18
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Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

When people say a composting toilet smells "musty", do they actually mean "mildewy"?

It's a bit weird, because the lack of, well, fermentation, for want of a better term, coupled with constant ventilation should make it less mildewy than a wet system cooking in the heat, no?

I'm considering a composting toilet, but I have been unable to find anyone with such a thing in my neighbourhood, and I want to be as sure as I can be before ripping out the holding tank and associated equipment.
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Old 28-04-2013, 08:02   #19
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Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

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Im with Ketterwell on this, im a boatbuilder and have been working around marinas for over 30 years, most boats stink, ive also noticed that a lot of owners say their boat doesn't smell when in fact they do. We have built odor free systems using common sched 40 pvc pipe from home depot, with either off the shelf plastic or custom fitted plywood/epoxy/glass tanks but I will be installing an Airhead composting toilet on my Gemini cat next month, partly for the lack of stink but also for a lighter, simpler system.

Steve.

You learn to tune out the odors on your boat, so if you're smart, you ask people who have just stepped aboard.

I'm always told there's no odor. That's no accident.
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Old 28-04-2013, 08:39   #20
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Re: Why do so many heads have that musty smell?

Thsi has been discueed many times on this forum. One thread is entiltled "Why does my head smell like - well a head?" or somethng similar.

the answer to the problem is to hook at hose (and valve ) up between your sink drain and your toilet seawater intake.

Once a week, close your sink drain cock, open the cross valve, cvlose youe seawater intake for the toilet, pour a liter of vinear into the sink and pump it through the toilet. Every couple of days, just pump fresh water throught the toilet.

you will not have a smell problem from the toilet.
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Old 28-04-2013, 09:19   #21
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

There's a discussion on DIY composting heads at SailFar.net
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Old 28-04-2013, 09:23   #22
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

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There's a discussion on DIY composting heads at SailFar.net
Thanks, I'll take a look
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Old 28-04-2013, 09:27   #23
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

Dead phyto and zooplankton has a sulphury poop smell to it. Once you eliminate the light (for phyto) or the dissolved oxygen level gets to low (for zooplankton), it dies and starts decomposing. Phyto and zooplankton also lives in fresh water and all water salinities between fresh and oceanic water.

The only way to not have that smell is to not have plankton in there in the first place, which as others have said means putting relatively pure fresh water down your head.

I pump the lines in my head completely dry after using it which helps with the smell. It's a matter of pumping air through after the last of the water has disappeared.
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Old 28-04-2013, 09:47   #24
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

Pump the toilet often and plenty... will keep the salt water organism issue away. IF the head is meant to shower in, leave something cracked... hatch or port. a little rain wont hurt anything. Weak solution of bleach in a spray bottle is a good idea for cracks and crevices. It doesnt take much bleach to keep things at bay... If your discharge hoses are old and full of urine soaked calcium (or whatever that stuff is!) replace them, then do all t he above with a fresh start.
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Old 28-04-2013, 09:55   #25
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

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Thanks, I'll take a look
On SailFar.net you should search for: the $10/20 (or even free).
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Old 28-04-2013, 10:02   #26
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

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On SailFar.net you should search for: the $10/20 (or even free).
Sweet! I found it!
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Old 28-04-2013, 10:08   #27
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

Since the saltwater "stink" is a result of seawater flush and not so much freshwater (lakes), I suggest to you that it is not from the organisms dying; it is because when there is not enough oxygen, facilitative (those that can function either using oxygen or anoxic pathways) bacteria begin using sulfate as an oxygen source and producing sulfide. There is significant sulfate in seawater (1.9%) and very little in freshwater (<0.01%).

Why does this distinction matter? Because it points to a second sort of solution; provide the oxygen source. Just as a holding tank benefits from either ventilation or oxygen-containing additives (a nitrate source such as Odorlos or Camco Ultra), the same is true of the bowl. And sure enough, just the smallest amount sprayed into the head before you leave can work wonders.
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Of course, no matter what you do, there is always a good chance the first flush will stink. Sea life (plankton, grass, anything that is living in the piping or that you sucked up) will have died and even a seawater won't stop all of that. Dead grass is dead grass.

Not saying that freshwater flush isn't a fine idea. Just trying to clarify the chemistry.

----

Head smell in a charter boat? Poor maintenance is so common it could be anything.
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Old 28-04-2013, 10:17   #28
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

Where's Peg Hall?
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Old 28-04-2013, 10:25   #29
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

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Where's Peg Hall?

I remember her saying some time ago that she was leaving the forum. However, her book is still available.
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Old 28-04-2013, 10:25   #30
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Re: Why do so many Heads have that Musty Smell?

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Originally Posted by thinwater;1221967[B
]Since the saltwater "stink" is a result of seawater flush and not so much freshwater (lakes), I suggest to you that it is not from the organisms dying; it is because when there is not enough oxygen, facilitative (those that can function either using oxygen or anoxic pathways) bacteria begin using sulfate as an oxygen source and producing sulfide.[/B] There is significant sulfate in seawater (1.9%) and very little in freshwater (<0.01%).

Why does this distinction matter? Because it points to a second sort of solution; provide the oxygen source. Just as a holding tank benefits from either ventilation or oxygen-containing additives (a nitrate source such as Odorlos or Camco Ultra), the same is true of the bowl. And sure enough, just the smallest amount sprayed into the head before you leave can work wonders.
Sail Delmarva: Something Free, Something Lazy

Of course, no matter what you do, there is always a good chance the first flush will stink. Sea life (plankton, grass, anything that is living in the piping or that you sucked up) will have died and even a seawater won't stop all of that. Dead grass is dead grass.

Not saying that freshwater flush isn't a fine idea. Just trying to clarify the chemistry.

----

Head smell in a charter boat? Poor maintenance is so common it could be anything.
The smell is from dead plankton, but as you say it could also be contamination from actual poop. But in the absence of human waste, the smell can be purely from plankton.

The clearer a body of water, the less plankton that is found in the water. Very clear fresh water lakes will not cause much stink at all if any. Rivers and estuaries that are loaded with nutrients that allow for intermediate to large amounts of plankton will cause the head to stink when the plankton dies. The primary indicator as to how much stink there is going to be is water turbidity. Yes, that sulphury smell is an indicator of anaerobic conditions.

I do this kind of stuff for a living. We study water chemisty, nutrients and plankton....this part of the food web. Anyone who has kept nutrient loaded water in a closed container for a few days regardless of salinity and then opens the lid and smells it knows how much it smells like sulphury poop.
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