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Old 08-10-2014, 12:28   #61
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Re: Composting head for live aboards?

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The bugs we got were extremely small. Arguably invisible to the human eye unless under a flashlight, originally we thought it was just dust or lint. But each speck of lint turned out to be ~500 little crawling bugs. These were all over the boat, and the compost was the source of them. There is no screen small enough to keep things like this out and from all I know they came in from a human's ass.

I was never able to identify what they are. Google "tiny white bug" and count the billions of possible results. They were immune to every form of pesticide I could find (and I bought all of them), including using bombs. They most closely resembled "springtails" or "book lice", but not quite.

We are currently having this bug invasion! We discovered the little intruders last night and are looking for answers. The only difference is we are not finding them all over the boat. In fact they are not even all over the toilet! Just the seat and the lid (BTW it's an Airhead). Did you manage to get rid of the bugs or ever figure out what they are? I am cleaning the head like mad to keep up with them!
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Old 05-07-2016, 15:04   #62
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Re: Composting head for live aboards?

Try using coconut coir rather than peat moss.
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Old 05-07-2016, 16:42   #63
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Re: Composting Head for Liveaboards ?

Excellent advice! Here we are in the bug capital of the western world, yet we have had no trouble using coir, readily available from Amazon and garden shops. The compressed bricks take up little storage space, and expand in a zip lock 2-gallon bag with added hot water, providing enough desiccating fiber for a couple of changes, at least for our C-head. The other thing we have used with good success is sawdust and wood shavings left over from our cypress paneling project. Smells pleasant, not dusty, messy or insect-infested, like peat can be, and the price, free and abundant, was right. Other people claim success with pine pellets or cedar hamster bedding available at pet stores. Peat, unfortunately, seems to be the most troublesome choice, bulky, dusty, buggy, and non-renewable. Once you have beasties, I am not sure how you eradicate them. Borax or diotomaceous earth liberally sprinkled in the solid waste bucket?
Good luck.
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Old 05-07-2016, 17:12   #64
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Re: Composting Head for Liveaboards ?

For the bugs throw in a handful of diatomaceous earth and in no time no bugs.
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Old 06-07-2016, 14:45   #65
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Re: Composting Head for Liveaboards ?

I have not had the success with the diatomaceous earth that others have had. I put in copious amounts and it did nothing for the gnats
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Old 08-07-2016, 12:37   #66
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Re: Composting Head for Liveaboards ?

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Hey guys I am looking to hear from live aboards that have had a composting head. Is it possible? Does it really not smell? Why not just route a solar vent to our existing holding tank for the same general effect?
We have one (Airhead) on our Brewer 42. They do not "smell" like a toilet AT ALL - they often have a faint but pleasant pine smell from the peat. Our urine bucket is plumbed into a holding tank so you don't have to keep emptying it - that tank has a faint smell but I think it is the hoses. Urine doesn't usually smell in a tank.

After having repaired and replaced many heads - the fact there is no plumbing (unless you choose to do what we did) is simply awesome. You are also immune from being cited if boarded and inspected.

For us the downside is the cleaning issue - even though it doesn't smell it is not easy to clean and always seems to be urine stained. Not having a flush takes some getting used to and if your aim is not good, or you had a vindaloo the night before, or you are half asleep and forget to open the flap, the cleanup can be awful. Add to that the revulsion that visitors (non boaters) seem to have to the idea of composting one's faeces in such a small space, and then having to empty it into a bag again in a small space, the disadvantages stack up.

They are also a little awkward - keeping the urine out of the solid chamber present challenges in aim, positioning etc. I think at sea it would be a real challenge.

It's a personal choice, but it is certainly a great environmental solution. They are amazing and I never would have believed they don't smell. But they DON'T. For us the jury is out - but we may be leaning toward installing a standard head so that we don't have to explain to guests that they need to sit on a fancy bucket that has weeks of our poo sitting in it :-) We may regret it, but it's all about comfort levels.
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Old 08-07-2016, 17:39   #67
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Re: Composting Head for Liveaboards ?

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We have one (Airhead) on our Brewer 42. They do not "smell" like a toilet AT ALL - they often have a faint but pleasant pine smell from the peat.

...

For us the downside is the cleaning issue - even though it doesn't smell it is not easy to clean and always seems to be urine stained. Not having a flush takes some getting used to and if your aim is not good, or you had a vindaloo the night before, or you are half asleep and forget to open the flap, the cleanup can be awful. Add to that the revulsion that visitors (non boaters) seem to have to the idea of composting one's faeces in such a small space, and then having to empty it into a bag again in a small space, the disadvantages stack up.

They are also a little awkward - keeping the urine out of the solid chamber present challenges in aim, positioning etc. I think at sea it would be a real challenge.
Hi worldoceans, we have a Nature's Head, so very similar to your AH. I infer from your post that guys pee standing up with your setup? My understanding is that both AH and NH toilets are designed to have both (all?) genders sitting while peeing. In that position everything just flows to the right spot. At least with the NH, the design fits the anatomy. No chance of missing, although I did raise the lip a bit (with a bead of 5200) to prevent any back flow from the urine funnel to the feces trap door.

I've never found emptying the head to be a particularly hard chore. It's much like emptying a large flower pot of soil. A bit heavy and awkward, but nothing offensive or untoward.

We don't many guests on board, but those we've had have not had any trouble adjusting. Most people seem to appreciate the idea. But any guests we have are fellow cruisers and/or good friends, so they already know we're weird .
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Old 11-07-2016, 09:48   #68
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Re: Composting Head for Liveaboards ?

There seems to be a downside for those larger-capacity composting heads, then. Ours seems to be quite easy to clean. A gallon jug of urine is no more awkward and obvious to carry and empty than any other similar sized container, but 2.2 gallons gets heavy for this old.bat's walk up a long dock toward the shoreside toilet. The same goes for solid waste. My C-Head needs to be tended to a bit more often, dumping the lumpy stuff into a dedicated and vented 5-gallon bucket, or for our short trips, tossed into a plastic bag and heaved into a dumpster when we are near one, but it seems no more trouble than taking out the galley trash. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

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Old 13-07-2016, 06:44   #69
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Re: Composting Head for Liveaboards ?

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I have not had the success with the diatomaceous earth that others have had. I put in copious amounts and it did nothing for the gnats
I agree. I think it depends on the type of bug you have. The ones we had that resemble yeast (they're the tiniest little things) don't seem to mind the diatomaceous earth. I think they may be too small. But some people swear by it, so maybe it's a matter of different stuff for different bugs.
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Old 13-07-2016, 06:47   #70
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Re: Composting Head for Liveaboards ?

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They are also a little awkward - keeping the urine out of the solid chamber present challenges in aim, positioning etc. I think at sea it would be a real challenge.
We've used our Air Head at sea and as long as it is installed properly (not athwartships) and used properly (it's recommended to sit when underway) then there's no issue with keeping the liquids and solids separate. We've never found it awkward or difficult or challenging.
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