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Old 12-08-2019, 17:44   #1
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Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

So other than getting an award for knowing how to spell diatomaceous I am hoping some one can help me in how to use it in my composting head. I recently purchased an Airhead composter for my boat which is going to be installed in the next few weeks.

I know flies can be an issue and I know some have successfully used diatomaceous earth to combat these little creatures. I will be using coconut coir as my "medium." My question is how diatomaceous earth do I add to the coconut coir? I have already bought the stuff but now need an idea of quantity to use.
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Old 12-08-2019, 18:12   #2
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

Try 1/2 cup in the bin mixed in well. This is to kill fly larva. We only use diatomaceous earth when we suspect a fly problem, which was exactly once when we were on the learning curve.

If you keep the screens in place on the air inlet and the exhaust hose, plus keep the seat down and the trap door closed, you may find the flies are not a problem, and the diatomaceous earth is not required.
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Old 12-08-2019, 18:22   #3
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

My experience has been that the key to a successful composting head is air circulation. I upgraded mine from 70mm computer fans to 90mm computer fans. I switched the power source to a cigar lighter outlet with a light on the plug so I could easily check when it was on. I also turn the wheel on the side so the insides are mixed up well. Also need good screens on the vents.

As for what goes inside the idea is to reduce moisture so to a great extent the amount of whatever you use to reduce moisture is a function of how much and how wet your bowel movement is. For the first few weeks I would check things every time I had a bowel movement and make sure what was inside was well mixed and drying quickly. If that was not the case I would add a little more; something seldom needed.

One thing to keep in mind that while separating urine to the front container is critical you may need to use something in the urine intake. I bought some spray at the Dollar Store used for when a pet messes on a carpet and would spray it in the urine opening to eliminate any crystals that formed.

My general rule is you can always add more but taking things out is a lot harder; so use a little at first and see if you have to add more later.
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Old 12-08-2019, 19:02   #4
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

I don’t know the answer to this question as we have yet to experience any issues with flies using our dry toilet.

I never picked up the stuff. And no fly problems. Not sure if you have a composting head (where actual conposting takes place aboard) or a dry head. We use peat moss and that's it in our dry, non composting head. Zero smell, zero plumbing, zero flies.

As to the urine diverter, we use a bit of vinegar in water from a spray bottle after each pee. Seems to work well also.
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Old 12-08-2019, 19:24   #5
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

All of these pieces of advice are valid, we have tried most of them with our nature’s head when we first started with it. Haven’t had fly issues, after a little experience you will have a process that works well for you. We prefer coconut coir, but peat will work fine as well. We have had ours for five years. It was a good day when we removed the marine head and all associated plumbing.

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Old 13-08-2019, 09:10   #6
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

I've had a Nature's Head for 2.5 years, and I've spent months on the ICW, made two 3 week trips to the Bahamas, almost always had 2-3 people on board, and I've never had a bug problem. I've used both peat and coconut coir, but I now use only coir because I realized how unsustainable peat is. I have the standard PC fan at the head, and because my exhaust hose runs all the way to the stern, I have a second fan at the transom thru-hull. No problems with smell, no problems with bugs.

The only real issue I've had is getting men to sit down while peeing. I finally have gotten to the point of telling them, look, if I go into the head after you and see pee on the seat, I will haul your carcass back down there and watch while you clean it.......;-)
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Old 13-08-2019, 09:19   #7
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

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Originally Posted by AJ_n_Audrey View Post
I've had a Nature's Head for 2.5 years, and I've spent months on the ICW, made two 3 week trips to the Bahamas, almost always had 2-3 people on board, and I've never had a bug problem. I've used both peat and coconut coir, but I now use only coir because I realized how unsustainable peat is. I have the standard PC fan at the head, and because my exhaust hose runs all the way to the stern, I have a second fan at the transom thru-hull. No problems with smell, no problems with bugs.

The only real issue I've had is getting men to sit down while peeing. I finally have gotten to the point of telling them, look, if I go into the head after you and see pee on the seat, I will haul your carcass back down there and watch while you clean it.......;-)
I chartered a boat with a dry head one time, rather than sit to pee, I just kept a plastic jug (gatorade bottle) in the head. Simply carry to the cockpit and dump. I use this idea when tent camping as well, it's cold and dark out there sometimes.
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Old 13-08-2019, 09:19   #8
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

I also have an AirHead and have had no issues with fly infestation. Keep the lid closed and the fan on at all times to evacuate any fumes. Keep the outflow screened and you should never have an issue.
I love my AirHead!
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Old 13-08-2019, 09:26   #9
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

I've had my AirHead for 6 years, and had a single episode with those little "fruit fly looking" fleas. Probably my fault, as one of the side screens was dislodged.
To be double sure I was done with them, I did an end of the season cleaning really well. Next season, dryer mix as suggested, sprinkled in a coating of diatomaceous earth, turned it into the mix. I don't know that there is a formula per se. Might contact AirHead?
No problems since.
Here's a snippet of a explanation:
The important thing to us is that if an insect with an exoskeleton gets diatomaceous earth on them, they die. At the same time, we can rub it all over our skin, rub it in our hair, eat it .... whatever ... and we are unharmed.
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Old 13-08-2019, 09:33   #10
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

I have been wanting to switch from peat. How hard is it to shred or decompress the block of coir? Could I saw the brick into small, easy to store, cubes and let the moisture in the head expand the coir?
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Old 13-08-2019, 09:40   #11
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

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Originally Posted by AJ_n_Audrey View Post
The only real issue I've had is getting men to sit down while peeing. I finally have gotten to the point of telling them, look, if I go into the head after you and see pee on the seat, I will haul your carcass back down there and watch while you clean it.......;-)
Any sailor worth his salt and any man secure enough in his manhood knows sitting down to pee is a requirement on boats.

I'm amazed none are doing so.

I was taught from an early age to sit and pee on boats (monohulls especially) because as the boat moves it is basically impossible not to miss.
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Old 13-08-2019, 09:45   #12
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect's exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process...
Safety considerations

Inhalation of crystalline silica is harmful to the lungs, causing silicosis. Amorphous silica is considered to have low toxicity, but prolonged inhalation causes changes to the lungs.[29] Diatomaceous earth is mostly amorphous silica, but contains some crystalline silica, especially in the saltwater forms.[30] In a study of workers, those exposed to natural D.E. for over 5 years had no significant lung changes, while 40% of those exposed to the calcined form had developed pneumoconiosis.[31] Today's common D.E. formulations are safer to use as they are predominantly made up of amorphous silica and contain little or no crystalline silica.[32]
The crystalline silica content of D.E. is regulated in the United States by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and there are guidelines from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health setting maximum amounts allowable in the product (1%) and in the air near the breathing zone of workers, with a recommended exposure limit at 6 mg/m3 over an 8-hour workday.[32] OSHA has set a permissible exposure limit for diatomaceous earth as 20 mppcf (80 mg/m3/%SiO2). At levels of 3000 mg/m3, diatomaceous earth is immediately dangerous to life and health.[33]
In the 1930s, long-term occupational exposure among workers in the cristobalite D.E. industry who were exposed to high levels of airborne crystalline silica over decades were found to have an increased risk of silicosis.[34]
Today, workers are required to use respiratory-protection measures when concentrations of silica exceed allowable levels.
Diatomite produced for pool filters is treated with high heat (calcination) and a fluxing agent (soda ash), causing the formerly harmless amorphous silicon dioxide to assume its crystalline form.[32]
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Old 13-08-2019, 09:54   #13
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

The rule on our boat for us and guests is everyone sits, no exceptions. We make that abundantly clear when letting guests know the on board rules, head use, vhs use, life jackets, etc. If a guest willfully breaks the rule, they never come on the boat again. You have to actually use the words “ everyone sits, no exceptions”. The requirement can be stated in a civilized fashion.


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Old 13-08-2019, 10:24   #14
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

I will probably routinely use the diatomaceous earth on a regular basis. At 1/2 cup per bin so to speak, the bag I bought for around $20 will last about 15 years or so, based on a crude scientific guesstimation technique. If the stuff works, why not use it.

And the use of a marine composting toilet used by some one not living on the boat full time will create very little to no health hazard unless I snort it. I am planing to head up to Alaska two years from now so that will garner the heaviest use of the head, and even then that will only be 2 - 4 months on the boat. So the only way I can see getting a whiff of the d. earth (tired of spelling it) is when I drop the goodies into a Canadian Coast Guard approved composting bag using Coast Guard approved methods to bang the stuff out of the bin.

And if the Canadian Navy were using composting toilets, every sailor would be required to take a one day course on how to use the head and maintain it.
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Old 13-08-2019, 10:35   #15
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Re: Composting toilet and diatomaceous earth

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I chartered a boat with a dry head one time, rather than sit to pee, I just kept a plastic jug (gatorade bottle) in the head. Simply carry to the cockpit and dump. I use this idea when tent camping as well, it's cold and dark out there sometimes.
Slightly off topic maybe, but I'm always mystified as to why men won't sit down to pee - especially on a moving boat.
In Basic Training (many years ago) our Drill Sergeant strongly 'suggested' that we sit down to urinate, to make life easier for the latrine crew (I was one) and to keep the barracks fresher.
And after decades of living in man-camps and budget motels with other construction workers, I appreciated the ex-cons I sometimes roomed with, who pretty much always sat down to pee - and expected you to, as well.
Do you think sitting down to pee will make you a pansy?
My wife really likes that I do, with or without the Airhead. Keeps ANY head, ashore or on a boat, a lot fresher.
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