It’s been three months since we wrote about “Installing a Composting Toilet.” We have no regrets about our purchase of a Natures Head Composting Toilet and life with the toilet has been great.
Installation was easy and straight forward. Living with it has been simple as well. It does not smell. It takes us ten minutes to dump the compost bin and less time to dump the pee. Far less hassle than hooking up your sewer hose to dump your black.
Our water tends to last longer now, and if we’re in a spot that allows it, we can stay put for twice as long.
In the past few months, we’ve received a lot of questions. And even some arguments about the toilet since we installed it. So we wanted to cover those in a Q&A below.
Q.) DOES IT SMELL?
No guys seriously, it does not smell. If everything is working properly, there is no odor. One would think almost expect the poop to smell. But every time we’ve changed the compost bin, it just smells like a bag of dirt purchased from your local hardware store. Better yet, it looks like a bag of dirt.
We have learned the caveats here, though.
First, if you get pee into your compost bin, it will reek. This only happened once when the pee container overflowed.
How did it overflow? We forgot to empty it before going to bed.
Second, no getting around this one. There is a strong odor when dumping the pee. A two-gallon jug of urine smells like unyielding ammonia. And when you empty said container, you are going to smell it. No matter what. So make sure you are dumping it far far away.
UPDATE: Our Friends MeanFor Adventure gave us a great tip that works! A few tablespoons of sugar in the empty container and it removes the smell when dumping. It worked for us. We’ve only tried it a few times, so we’ll keep experimenting. I was a little skeptical at first. But so far, no strong odors like previously.
Q.) HOW OFTEN DO YOU DUMP IT?
The rule of thumb for us has been a day and a half with the urine jug. And two or two and half weeks with the composting bin. With our black tank, we used to be going 10 to 14 days at a time.
PRO TIP: We use General Hydroponics CocoTek Bale Coco as our composting material. It has less of the fibers found in the Coco Coir brand that end up sticking to the handle.
We usually pre-make a dozen 1 gallon zip lock bags that are ready to go for fast change out.
Q.) WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Dirt, here look at our poop:
Q.) HOW MUCH LONGER DOES YOUR WATER LAST?
I would say double. Before hand if we were boondocking we’d last about a week and a half with all of us taking only one shower. The fact is, we aren’t flushing water into the black tank every day. It makes a noticeable difference.
Q.) WAS IT WORTH THE COST?
Do I think the toilet itself is worth $800+ dollars? No.
Do I think it was worth paying that for the convenience, ease of use and reduction in water use? YES, Absolutely.
I would buy it again.
Q.) IT’S NOT REALLY A COMPOSTING TOLIET
If we are going to get really technical, then yes. You are sort of correct. It’s not coming out the other end as pure compost.
The human excreta is usually mixed with sawdust, coconut coir or peat moss to facilitate aerobic processing, and odor mitigation. Most composting toilets use slow, cold composting conditions, sometimes connected to a secondary external composting step.
The Natures Head Composting Toilet is a cold composter, and you are assuming that the aerobic process will continue later in a landfill or in the ground or somewhere else depending on how you dispose of it.
This type of composting also doesn’t kill everything. You need heat and high temps to do that. So it’s not immediately usable compost.
Q.) ISN’T IT ILLEGAL TO DUMP YOUR POO IN THE TRASH?
We have received the most combative debates over this point. Because everyone on the internet is a legal expert, or their cousin is.
The Wynns made a video, in which they explain that they dump the compost into a compostable bag and chuck it in the trash. We have since done likewise.
But some take issue, claiming that dumping human waste in the trash is illegal, or harmful or something.
Let’s lay this out, as I did some research here.
The Environmental Protection Agency has no jurisdiction over the byproducts of a dry toilet as long as excreta are not referred to as “fertilizer” (but instead simply a material that is being disposed of). Federal rule 503, known colloquially as the “EPA Biosolids rule” or the “EPA sludge rule” applies only to fertilizer. Thus, individual states regulate composting toilets.
Many questions about have focused on the disposal in landfills. And the EPA does regulate those. Today’s landfills are designed to minimize their impact on the surrounding environment. They are built and operated to prevent contamination of groundwater and surface water, prevent the release of methane gas, and prevent unstable soil conditions. In most landfills, garbage is added in a series of layers and covered with heavy soil to prevent water from seeping through and percolating into underground water.
Regarding byproduct regulation, several US states permit disposal of solids from composting toilets (usually a distinction between different types of dry toilets is not made) by burial, with varying or no minimum depth mandates (as little as 6 inches). Those states are Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.
Of interesting note is that most of the regulation of the composting toilets is for housing. No one cares about RVs apparently.
I have compiled an entire STATE BY STATE break down of every law regarding composting toilets CLICK HERE for your viewing and reading pleasure.
A quick summary.
The EPA regulates landfills. Landfills can accept human excreta.
These states don’t give a literal shit and have no laws or regulations:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming
These states have regulations about composting toilets. Some of it long and boring. Almost all regarding housing. I am not a lawyer. This is my interpretation. You can read those regulations here
Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
So a few final thoughts. If you are to get one of these, I would strongly suggest you look into purchasing a 9 inch Squatty Potty.
What is a Squatty Potty you say? Well, only the most awesome invention ever.
The Natures Head is large, and I’d say it sits higher than our original standard sized toilet. The Squatty Potty makes it’s use more comfortable.