Composting toilets are becoming more and more popular nowadays. It’s rather easy to understand why – with the whole eco-friendly boom and global warming going on, it’s important to save as much water as possible. You may have already invested in a low flow showerhead and finally, decide to turn off the water while washing your teeth… but have you ever considered replacing your toilet with a non-flushing one? Those who clicked on this by mistake or those of you who don’t know what a composting toilet is in the first place will probably be pretty shocked at that statement.
Yes, composting toilets do not use any kind of water to flush the water. Instead, they store it in special isolated chambers (either under the bowl or under the bathroom floor), where the feces and the urine are dehydrated and transformed into compost, that can then be used to fertilize the soil. This has tons of advantages, including providing you with free fertilizer, not consuming any water, etc… However, there are a couple inconveniences to it as well. Most people would have a hard time getting used to a toilet that doesn’t use water to clean itself, and will probably feel nauseous knowing that their waste is kept and treated for a long time right under the bowl. Others will wonder if there’s any smell, considering the whole decomposition process. However, we assure you that it’s not as bad as it sounds. All composting toilets have a vent pipe that goes from the composting chamber through your roof, so there’s barely any way for the smell to get out. The process itself is mostly anaerobic, and the result is a completely dry matter with barely any smell.
To help you find the best composting toilet for your needs, we’ve put together a short list of our personal favorites. If you would like to find out more about how this system works, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page for a short guide and random trivia.
Top Rated Composting Toilets for 2018
Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet is one of the most popular models for people who wish to purchase a composting toilet. This model is made in the US, all the parts are made from high-quality stainless steel, and features an elongated seat for your comfort. The composting and storage chamber are built under the bowl, and there are a 5 ft vent hose and fan included in the package. Some customers have reported that that was too short of a tube to accommodate their houses, and the fan is pretty weak. However, most people say that the smell is not an issue with this unit, and they’ve been OK with not turning on the fan at all. You should see for yourself – if you’re overly sensitive to smells, this is your first experience with a composting toilet, or you’re planning to have it in your house as a permanent solution, it’s probably a better idea to get your own accessories (aka a longer vent hose and a more powerful fan).
This toilet separates liquid and solid waste as much as possible so that the composting process can go on smoothly. You can add anything from wood shavings to moss in order to help extract moisture from the solid waste so that there’s less smell and the composting process is quicker. If we were to give you an estimate, we’d say you can have a family of five use this toilet regularly with no problem.
The only disadvantage is the price, which might bite your wallet. Check the latest price here:
Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet with Standard Crank Handle
Here’s another Nature’s Head model that we liked. Thea features and accessories are pretty much identical to what you get with the Self Contained model above, but this one has an improved feature – the crank handle. This handle is connected to the base, and you can use it to agitate the contents for a faster composting. If you can’t be bothered with waiting several days for your waste to be taken out, this feature will come in handy. Or, if you’re afraid that the smell is going to persist if the composting process lasts for too long, again, this model is an excellent choice. This model collects the urine in a special lidded bottle so that it’s pretty easy to clean and get it out a few times per month.
However, you might still want to consider getting a longer vent hose, as this one also comes with the only 5ft of it. It’s kind of a bummer considering the price, but you know, better safe than sorry. To find out more about this model, click the link below:
Sun-Mar Excel Non-Electric Self-Contained Composting Toilet
If you don’t have access to electricity in the place where you plan to have the toilet, it’s best to opt for a non-electric unit. While Nature’s Head models we mentioned above require a standard 12V socket to make the vents work, this one doesn’t even require that. It’s a fully mechanical unit, with an included venting kit and separated chambers for the waste. It is a rather low profile unit, at least compared to the two Nature’s Heads toilets above, and is also wider.
For residential use, it is recommended that you have 1 of these toilets for every 2-3 people, and for camping use, it’s okay to use it by 5 to 7 people. Find out more about this product and shop the latest price here:
Biolet Toilet Systems BTS33NE
Another non-electric model is the Biolet Toilet Systems BTS33NE. You might as well bring this toilet with you in the middle of the Grand Canyon, and you’ll have a perfectly functional and efficient unit to answer the call of nature. This model is pretty similar in size and shape to the Sun-Mar ones, being a quite low profile and having an elongated bowl. However, this model does have a differentiating feature – it does not have a special flask for liquid waste. Instead, there’s a drain pipe that would drain the liquid to whatever is under the toilet. Be warned and read the instructions carefully when installing this unit – otherwise, you might realize that you pee all over the floor.
This unit is better suited for camping or any kind of outdoor use, where you can have the drain pipe go straight into the ground. This could support a group of 5 to 7 people on the weekend with no problem (given that you have installed your drain pipe correctly). Check out more details and shop the latest price for this unit here:
A Further Guide to Composting Toilets
If you’ve ever gone on an adventure to look for composting toilets online, you’ve probably realized that there’s not too much variety when it comes to them. It’s understandable, mostly because of the motives we’ve listed above – people are still not used to the idea of having their waste stay and undergo decomposition under the toilet bowl for a few months. It doesn’t sound too hygienic, sanitary, and too good-smelling. Composting toilets have started to become popular in the last couple of years, and it’s only natural that you’ll find around 5 products on Amazon or eBay.
If you’ve never heard of these units and are pretty confused when it comes to how they work, we’re here to give you a hand. A composting toilet works on the principle of transforming your solid waste into dehydrated fertilizer, that can be discarded easily after a period of time. But how do they do it?
Most combusting toilets have two special chambers under the bowl, or even under the bathroom floor. One is for solid waste and another for urine. The urine recipient is usually a lidded flask that can hold up a rather large quantity until it has to be emptied. The solid waste chamber deals with the solids, which undergo a process of dehydration in there. You can either leave the container empty and let the feces dehydrate naturally, or you can help speed up the process by adding some bulk material.
Common bulk materials are all sorts of water-absorbing additives, such as wood shavings, paper shredding, moss, sawdust, or ash. You can usually find that in any gardening store, so it shouldn’t be a problem to find.
There are two main types of combustion – aerobic (no, not that fitness class), and anaerobic. Basically, one of them uses air for faster dehydration, and the other one keeps the waste in an airless environment. Most of the units we mentioned in this top are aerobic combusting toilets. These are usually easier to clean and maintain, especially in a permanent residence.
But where does the smell go? We’re glad you asked – of course, these toilets come with a ventilation system included in the package. It usually includes a vent pipe and a little fan, which are usually powered by electricity (typical 110V socket required). There are also non-electrical units, such as the ones over at #3 and #4, which usually have some kind of thermostat underneath the unit to push the odors into the vent pipe. However, be warned that not all ventilation systems that come with the toilets are perfect for all situations. That’s a pity indeed, especially considering the price, but you’ll have to be ready to purchase extra accessories if needed. For instance, Nature’s Head units come with only 5ft of the vent pipe, which might not be enough for placing it in your house. Also, don’t expect the fans to have some monstrous power to them – so if you’re extremely bothered by the thought of foul smells, get a powerful fan of your own as well.
However, you might want to think about getting one. If you’re still not convinced that you need it, here are some advantages:
No water consumption
Studies showed that almost 30% of the water used by a family was used for toilet flushing. The figures were extremely high, and the water pollution was becoming more and more of a problem. That lead to two things – for once, the apparition of the EPA standards, that require flushing toilets to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush, and the re-popularization of composting toilets. For some people, those might seem as unsanitary as the pit latrine you’ve seen on your great grandpa’s farm. However, that’s not the case – these composting toilets use anaerobic dehydration to dispose of the waste and transform it into free fertilizer. If you have a garden, investing in such a unit will have even more than one advantage. However, back to water consumption – these toilets use absolutely no water. Thus, they can cut up to one-third of the water bill for your family. Besides, it’s very environment-friendly, so if you want your household or wood cabin to live a greener life, a composting toilet is the best.
As mentioned above, if you plan to take this toilet with you in a camping spot, to your villa or cabin, or even have it in a vehicle, the waste you take from it will be even useful for the surroundings. While you might want to take it a bit further from a common camping site (the waste does smell), it can work wonders for your personal garden.
Easy to install
Installing a composting toilet is as easy as it gets. It basically just drops in place, and connect the ventilation system to the outside world. No need to do any plumbing, screw and unscrew any bolts, or deal with water pipes.
Of course, there are a couple of disadvantages as well, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!
We would be too hasty to say that these don’t smell at all. However, don’t take it literally, they will not let the poop and pee smell out, but the combusting process will create a certain specific smell in your bathroom. People have described it in many ways – some as damp soil, others as a swampy or mossy smell, and so on. In any case, it doesn’t literally smell like shit, but it will titillate your olfactive sensors a bit. Be warned especially if you plan to have it in your house as a permanent solution.
While a normal flushing toilet unit will generally cost around $500 tops, you’ll have to pay around $1000 to $1500 on a combusting toilet. Of course, this will pay off in water bills later on, but you still have to be prepared for spending $1000 and up on your toilet. Still, take these as nothing more than estimates – the actual prices may vary.
This would be everything you need to know before purchasing a combusting toilet. Yes, it might sound weird at first, yes, it might not be the best idea for a city condo. Yes, your family might not appreciate it at first. But everyone will certainly start thanking you after a month, or whenever the water bill shows up. You’ll also have endless free fertilizer for your flower patches or backyard, and the environment in your are will definitely appreciate it. We hope you found this guide useful, or at least interesting, and that these suggesting gave you a little food for thought.