This last week I read an article in Practical Sailor regarding the pros and cons of composting toilets. The author got things so wrong I thought, that I wrote to PS and told them that I thought their readers deserved better. But I have since learned that there are some composting toilets that really do have drawbacks that I am glad I don't have to tolerate.
I don't want to name names, but I will say that the two best known names have better advertising. And it appears that their units are a lot more prone to the above mentioned negatives.
The PS article said that (all) composting toilets REQUIRE a deck
vent, hoses and a powered fan. Since I have had my unit for 3+ years with no deck
fitting, hoses or a fan, I had to question why the author would say that. It turns out that he was talking about the better advertised units, apparently never having heard of any other alternative.
I do not want to sound like a salesman for the unit I decided on, while trying to point out that the cons that the author covered, simply were not true of all composting toilets.
At this point, I get to name a name. I believe that C Head
gets it right.
Be advised that I chose the subject line for this thread intentionally to make one of the two choices look better than the other. What is there about wet sewage issues that sounds better than sawdust issues?
Over and over again, I read here on the forum about people with questions about their wet sewage systems. And over and over again, I think about how I am so glad not to deal with those issues, to the point of wondering why anyone would tolerate a wet sewage system at all. But I have also read and heard reports of negatives with some user choices of composting toilets. It came to me again, that what one couple described as "not a perfect system", makes mine look like a perfect system.
Before I made my choice, I met 2 different boats had been so disappointed with their composting toilets, that they reverted to wet systems. But I persisted in my homework, and am really really.... really happy with the choice that eventually made.
It might be a good time to mention that composting toilets only start the composting process. The end product is not compost, but rather desiccated waste. So getting any moisture in the drying compartment is a BIG NO NO. If that moisture happens to be urine, things only go downhill fast, and the REQUIRED vent and fan come into play.
But it gets a lot more serious. It seems that some designs are prone to emitting effluvia due to the PROBABILITY of some of the wet getting into the dry.
The movement of air in a composting toilet should primarily be an aid in the desiccating process, and secondly to help make the solids bin unattractive to gnats. Please note that odor
control is not an issue with all systems. But there are toilets that have the potential for urine to find it’s way into the solids bin. Hence, “not a perfect system”. It is said that composting toilets are not well suited to the tropics due to the humidity. I am in the tropics. No vents, no hoses, no fans and no odor
With the C Head
, getting urine in the solids bin has to be intentional.
A well designed toilet is going to resemble something much closer to what bears do in the woods. Some people are willing to tolerate what I would not, because of their fear of odors. Simple is better. My point is, it seems that the better advertisers work
hard to appear to address the "ieuuuu" factor for anyone considering their product. In the end, (and in my opinion) what you have is closer to a contraption that cost more, takes more space, is harder to install and empty, and is "not a perfect system” (urine where it shouldn’t be).
For any of you who walk your dog, picking up after them with your hand in a plastic bag, and still concern yourself with the ieuuuu factor of composting toilets over wet sewage systems,... well... I tried.
A couple of points that I also want to mention in this potty RE-training here are splatter from men
relieving themselves while standing, and the use of rolls of TP.
When we go into the mens room, with it’s dedicated fixtures, we find something that accommodates men
while minimizing splatter. It’s called a urinal. Not sure why that is important in places where we share this space in public places with other men, but not important where we share this space with those that sit to relieve themselves, and sometimes have deal with said male splatter before sitting. In a constantly shifting space, (boat) it makes even less sense to try to hit the tiny bulls eye. And the convenience of men relieving themselves over the rail, too often leads to floating bodies with their fly open. Some pay attention to this detail, and some do not. I do not tolerate this unsafe practice. I happen to be one who saves the empty liquid laundry
detergent and fabric
softener bottles. Each male crew gets his own. The spouts often pop right out, or are easily cut out. What you are left with is a sturdy urinal with a handle, a wide mouth opening, and a really great sealing cap. This is usable in rough water
and calm, with less splatter than you can achieve with the permanent fixtures ashore.
Rolls of TP are very consumable. A very good idea for those that want us to believe we must use that product. Not so good for those who fall for it. And on a boat
, it becomes an issue of storage
. I noticed that consumption
was about a roll a week just for myself, when my wife was not aboard. I calculated that there was more usable TP in a box of facial tissue than on a roll. I went from 1 roll a week, to one box lasting 4 MONTHS. In one trip to Costco, I acquired what looks like 3 years worth of TP. If you only get one month out of a box of tissue, you still win.