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Old 22-04-2017, 11:08   #1
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Composting Toilet Question

A speculative question (since I haven't bought my boat yet). I've read all of the benefits of outfitting a boat with a composting head. They seem to have the capacity choices of 2-4 people for normal use. That would work for me as 1-3 would normally be aboard. But I'd like to ask those that already have composting heads a question about the occasions, when there are guests aboard. 6 people for a 1 week cruise, a mix of adults and children. How do you deal with the extra use? More trips to the land based dumpster? Extra buckets for storage? How do you instruct your guests, especially the children? And has "over use" ever been a problem for you?
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Old 22-04-2017, 11:29   #2
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

Mrs. Flare and I get about 1 month per change of peat which is equivalent to 8 person weeks. One week of six people would be 6 person weeks.

I think the Nature's Head could handle it. Personally I'd keep an eye on it and possibly sprinkle a little fresh peat on the top if I thought it was getting too damp.

Another note. We use our head full time. We almost never end up using a head ashore.
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Old 22-04-2017, 11:32   #3
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

Just talked to Mrs. Flare. She takes the kids in the head and explains the pee hole and the poop hole and how to use the lever to open the trap door.

If they're very young she takes them in the head when they need to use it.

Nobody does it wrong after Mrs. Flare is in the picture.
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Old 22-04-2017, 12:53   #4
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

Stay with a regular marine head if cruising. We have had 2 c heads, currently have a nature's head on one side and a airhead on the other. My opinion, they suck. You play with crap constantly. 3 adults using one you will need to empty it every 5 or 6 days (every 2 on the pee jug) and it's a mess. Even more so if one person has diarrhea just one time. We use coconut coir, and just getting it from compressed form to expanded, to the composter is pain and a mess. I literally have to deal with crap every few weeks. If you have only the one composter then the crap never really composts especially the fresh stuff.
I consider ours litter boxes for adults.
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Old 22-04-2017, 13:11   #5
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
I consider ours litter boxes for adults.
There speaketh a wise man.


(I have never had one, used one etc.)
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Old 22-04-2017, 13:32   #6
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

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Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
Stay with a regular marine head if cruising. We have had 2 c heads, currently have a nature's head on one side and a airhead on the other. My opinion, they suck. You play with crap constantly. 3 adults using one you will need to empty it every 5 or 6 days (every 2 on the pee jug) and it's a mess. Even more so if one person has diarrhea just one time. We use coconut coir, and just getting it from compressed form to expanded, to the composter is pain and a mess. I literally have to deal with crap every few weeks. If you have only the one composter then the crap never really composts especially the fresh stuff.
I consider ours litter boxes for adults.
You say you deal with crapl every few weeks . How many weeks ? How many people?
Sounds like you may be doing something wrong .
I have a homebuilt one no issues ( I use peat moss )
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Old 22-04-2017, 13:56   #7
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

Our current cat had a airhead when we got it. We installed a c head which we replaced when a guy here was selling nature's heads for 150.00 (about what a c head is only worth as they suck worse)so we tried it after a year of using mainly the air head. 2 to 3 people, but even 2 healthy adults the air head had to be opened up, and poop manually removed, compost stirred, etc etc every 2 weeks. The poorly designed stirring bar misses about 1/2 the compost.meaning it leaves the compost on the bottom and in front and behind the rod undisturbed. So the unit quickly and easily fills up.
The nature's head has a much larger better designed mixing rod and bin so it mixes better and holds more. 2 adults could probably go 3 to 4 weeks. Add a 3rd and definitly 2 weeks or so. The problem with the nature's head is the unit is massive and it has to hinge back to remove the urine jug. So the unit has to be mounted 4 to 6" away from any wall.
It really is a pain to dump crap every 2 to 4 weeks, pee jug every 3 or 4 days, mix peat/ coir every 2 to 4 weeks, so basically playing with it 12 to 20+ times a year. If we found an adequate holding tank, and the correct marine head for our needs we would replace one of them in a NY minute. Our tank and plumbing etc had been removed by the po.
We did use a rv marine, portable style unit for a few months ( Heck if we're dumping poop in a dumpster it usually meant there's a toilet around to pour a self contained heads waste,contents into) it worked good but venting was an issue and the metal components truly aren't Marinized meaning it only lasted 6 months until parts were falling apart. But 6 months of no compost to deal with.
Bugs aren't and have never been a problem,, there's enough crap on a boat to deal with without having to deal with actual crap monthly... a properly vented, working marine head, would be a blessing and yes we've had to replace plumbing and macerators, joker valves etc etc but still so much nicer then composters.
I know this may be pretty damning of composter manufacturers but maybe they should sell them for what they are actually worth Instead of charging ridiculous prices for so e thing that isn't that great a solution.
Real world cruising out of the US, everybody and I mean everybody dumps their tanks or directly overboard discharges pretty much anywhere they might be.
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Old 22-04-2017, 14:21   #8
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

We use a nature's head and we have no complaints! Full time use for two people.
Empty schedule: liquids, every day. It's no big deal. Just pour!
Solids: about 1 x per month, we have emptied it week 3 too. It just "depends" on how full it is.

I usually mix the coconut coir. I don't have any issues with it. It's a bit like dirt and just smells earthy. There has never been on "mess" because I just put the brick in a bucket and pour a little water over it and allow the fiber to swell, which breaks apart the brick. I add more water to the bucket until the texture is right. It takes about half an hour of sitting and occasionally flipping the fiber for the bucket to be ready. In the mean time I do another chore or relax. No biggie!

My only complaint is that the flap and bowl need fairly constant maintenance to be clean. But what toilet doesnt?

I have to wonder about the folk who get more than a days use from their urine jug. Maybe we just have a very liquid diet (coffee, tea water) but to my mind, with 6 people on board I would expect to empty the jug at least twice per day. The solids container every 5-7 days. But 6 people probably could not stand each other for 5 consecutive days so you would get relief from constant use on shore.
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Old 22-04-2017, 14:24   #9
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

Our Nature's Head is mounted 1 5/8" from the wall. That's the distance from the wall to the stainless hinge.

We can lift the bowl and take out and replace the pee bucket.

We can also slide the bowl off the base and replace it.
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Old 22-04-2017, 14:47   #10
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

Your correct, you could mount it closer then we did, unfortunately our walls narrow where the back of the base is needing it to be out further. Still it's freaking huge compared to the other
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Old 22-04-2017, 15:09   #11
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

As previously stated. these "composting" systems have to be emptied at least every 2-3 weeks. But it takes at least 2-3 months for anything to turn into actual compost, plus temps in at least the mid '70s F...so most of these systems are really just glorified cat litter boxes.

If you don't want to deal with maintaining a toilet and holding tank, the simplest solution is an "MSD" version portapotty. The "MSD" designation means it has the fittings to connect a pumpout line and vent line. No other plumbing needed unless you want to install a y-valve and pump in the pumpout line to dump the tank at sea. The 5-6 models hold 50-60 flushes...you'd need at least a 30 gal tank to hold that many from any marine toilet. No moving parts, so nothing that needs lubrication or maintenance...just pour a bucket of water into it while pumping or dumping to rinse out the tank. No odor because the tank is vented...No-Flex, Odorlos or any of several other non-toxic tank products will keep it odor free. And they're inexpensive...about $250 for the potty, plus the cost of a few feet of hose.
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Old 22-04-2017, 15:54   #12
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

We’ve had our Nature’s Head going on five years I’d say. Two adults, full time. We typically get around five weeks between dumps. Have gone as long as seven and as few as three, but five is about our average. The three is when we have had guests on board, usually another couple.

From what I read, our numbers are pretty typical. If you are consistently having to empty sooner with two adults then either you are dealing special health issues, or you’re doing something wrong with the mix/air.

For us, pee bucket is dumped every two to three days, depending on how much beer I’m drinking .

There is nothing particularly offensive or harsh in dealing with a properly running composter. The bin will look, smell and feel like moist soil. I think for a crew of two, there is no better head for a cruiser. Much better than a standard marine head, in my opinion (and I had one for many years).

To the OP, I think you may be pushing the numbers if you say 2 to 4 people on a regular basis if you you’re talking full time. These heads are great for two, perhaps three, full time. Beyond that I think you would overwhelm the system, or have to dump a lot.

Of course two to four for non full time use is fine, and the system can manage higher loads for short periods. I think six might really tax things, but for one week it would be OK. You’d just have to dump soon after and start a new pile.
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Old 22-04-2017, 16:09   #13
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

^^ yeah mike, thats about what my folks seem to be getting out off their airhead with two onboard, at least a month and usually more between emptying. Pee bottle about every two days. It seems to cope when we visit ok, just fills up a bit faster and needs more fill material to soak up the moisture.

It did get a bit whiffy across the tasman. I dont think the airheads cope very well with a rolling and heeling boat. As urine seems to drain back into the poo chamber if you are on the wrong tack.

Theirs doesn't yet have the fan, so I expect it to be even better with the fan working. So far a massive improvement for them over the old portapottie, and much less hastle than finding a pumpout station or illegally dumping a full and smelly holding tank into a harbour when portbound.
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Old 22-04-2017, 17:05   #14
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

No regrets on the composter on this boat. IMHO, would never go back to all the hose runs, tank, thru-hulls, etc of the standard outfit. It's a bit more hands on as was mentioned, but dumping the urine container every day or two and the solids every couple weeks seems like a small chore for us and worth the absolute simplicity and ease of maintenance the unit otherwise gives us.
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Old 22-04-2017, 17:21   #15
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Re: Composting Toilet Question

The best part no more plugged /non functioning head in 15 to 20 ft swells with 30 kts wind to deal with
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