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Old 06-08-2014, 08:05   #1
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Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

Hope its okay to start new thread on this. There are a number of brands of composting toilets out there. I like the fancy ones, but they're absurdly priced. Are there any decent composting heads out there that are affordable to the non-wealthy, working cruiser? If you have one, do you like? Is it worth saving my pennies for the costly brands?
Thanks for any input! I've been using "poo powder" and special bags to break down & sterilize waste, but HUGE hassle. Am always cruising in no discharge zones, often no pump outs available, so gotta do something...composting seems the way to go (figuratively)
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:20   #2
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

I will be watching this with interest. I am looking for a "fixer upper" boat and plan to use a composting head. Do you know the legalities when sailing into port? They eventually have to be emptied- are we allowed to just toss the contents over board once they are "done"?
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:04   #3
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

Just remember they don't actually compost as fast as deposits are added. You are still moving poo. Better than a regular portable, but not compost. I've heard some folks have problems with flies and went back to holding tanks.

Live-aboards that tore it out after 5 months.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:48   #4
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

We've used both the Airhead and the Natureshead. Of those two we definitely prefer the Natureshead. On our next boat I think we will try the CHead. A smaller unit but about half the price. The CHead uses a separate bucket to try to complete the composting before disposing.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:54   #5
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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Just remember they don't actually compost as fast as deposits are added. You are still moving poo. Better than a regular portable, but not compost. I've heard some folks have problems with flies and went back to holding tanks.

Live-aboards that tore it out after 5 months.
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Not surprised he had problems as it doesn't seem he followed the instructions regarding installation of a Natures Head. Also would of been nice if the brand of unit was mentioned, thanks.
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Old 06-08-2014, 10:34   #6
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

You still need a place to put the effluent...it doesn't compost into nothing. Do you have farmers that want your effluent? Probably not. It's still waste no matter how you look at it, it's just at different stages.

Something simple as a bucket and tossing cedar sawdust on top after each use is the cheapest you will get. This keeps the flies out, the smell down, lets the effluent compost some, but you still eventually have to get rid if it.

On my homestead I built a methane digester, which allowed me to push ALL my compost through it to generate some methane gas. You "could"do this on board, but there is no way you'll produce a useful output, and it's probably too risky to store gaseous methane onboard anyway. The only thing a composting toilet is going to get you is reduction in moving parts. But you still have to get rid of your effluent.
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Old 06-08-2014, 16:30   #7
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

Good insights so far, thanks!
Scot, the ingenious thing you did on your homestead sounds really interesting- are there any articles/info. on it?
Ah yes, there still is the "effluent" & I had the misconception that it somehow dried out & shrank in a composting head, as well as killed bad organisms like ecoli. I have a learning curve here...and lots of homework to do
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Old 06-08-2014, 17:01   #8
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

Have 2 boats. Ripped out standard systems and installed Airheads on both. Been using them for 4 years now and will not go back. If you install them per the instructions and follow the directions you will have zero smell and very little chance of leaking. Another positive is you can get rid of a thruhull or retask the intake for something like a watermaker.
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Old 06-08-2014, 17:33   #9
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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I will be watching this with interest. I am looking for a "fixer upper" boat and plan to use a composting head. Do you know the legalities when sailing into port? They eventually have to be emptied- are we allowed to just toss the contents over board once they are "done"?
If by "done" you mean completely composted, the recommend time for human waste is 2 years.
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Old 06-08-2014, 18:09   #10
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

There have been many discussions on the pro's & cons of composting heads on this site & other sites like sailnet. From what I've read most that have installed them, love them. I've ripped out the head, holding tank & glassed over the thru hull on my boat...

Like anything else in life, there's always going to be the nay sayers.
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Old 06-08-2014, 18:23   #11
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

On the threads I have read, the vast majority of owners of composting heads love them.

The composting heads don't really compost, they just dehydrate the poo. Nothing wrong with dehydration but it is not composting.

Pee goes in a different container.

The one composting head I like but whose name I can't remember, , is designed by an ex Green Beret down in FLA. His design is danged simple and bullet proof. The poo bucket is a five gallon bucket you can get at any US hardware store and the pee container can be a one gallon milk jug. You don't have to buy "special" aka expensive containers from the company if you loose one.

His design allows you to put in hydrogen peroxide or bleach to treat the solids.

Later,
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Old 06-08-2014, 18:47   #12
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pirate Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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...I've heard some folks have problems with flies and went back to holding tanks.

Live-aboards that tore it out after 5 months.
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I was fine for almost a year with the C-Head, then the flies came along. It was pretty awful cuz they start out as maggots. I went looking on the net and found the referenced article.

I've been fighting back for about a month with the first line of defense of bug spray, and weekly dumpouts into trashbag, a sticky fly strip then an overnight soak of the bucket in seawater. The C Head is just a bucket and a milk jug at heart so it's very simple to dump and clean.

This happened when I switched from peatmoss to coir. Peat is cheaper, smells ok to me but is a tad messy, but so is the coir. Wood shavings from pet store don't cover well, same with paper "clods" from pet store. I also add diatomaceous earth as a bug killer. I haven't tried sawDUST yet as peat is cheap but maybe I will.

As all users have mentioned, the mixture does not smell up the boat.
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Old 06-08-2014, 19:38   #13
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

How do you stop the poo leaving skid marks down the side when taking a dump at sea when heeling?

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Old 06-08-2014, 19:41   #14
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

If you like a porta potty you'll love a composter from what I understand! They are slow and don't get rid of the liquid..... why not just use a porta potty?
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Old 06-08-2014, 19:59   #15
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pirate Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

why not just use a porta potty?

Very limited capacity = storage issues.

And mixing solids and fluids = stink.

Uses water to flush.

That said, if you sail where you can legally dump almost at will, then the holding tank is ok too.
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