Composting toilets FAQs
Here at ToMTuR, we’ve used our Nature’s Head® composting toilet in all kinds of conditions during our travels. So, our answers are based on real, personal experience!
The Nature’s Head® composting toilet is:
- 48.3 cm wide (at the widest point, when using a spider handle)
- 53.3 cm high
- 48.3cm from front to rear
- 33 cm wide at the base
- 41.3 cm wide at the seat
If your installation space is limited, we recommend the spider handle as it does not extend as far as the standard crank handle. The flexible ventilation hose also has a rotatable attachment for ease of positioning.
If you want to position the toilet directly in front of a wall, simply remove the rear hinge, it is not necessary for the toilet to function.
The gross empty weight is under 13 kg for the heaviest model. When it comes to emptying, the urine bottles should be removed, making even a full solids container easy to lift and empty.
The currently installed fans consume 60 mA at 12 V, That’s a consumption of under 1.5 Ah within 24 hours. It can be run from a mains supply, solar panel or rechargeable battery. For locations without electricity, please contact our office, as there are other options for outbuildings, garden sheds, etc.
If you are using your composting toilet full time, running the fan 24/7 enables the compost to process faster, dries it, and also removes any slight odour. If you are not going to be using the toilet for 10 days or more, you may unplug the fan. Always empty and clean the urine bottle before leaving the toilet unused.
When installing the power connection for the fan, you should make sure that this is done at permanent plus or similar and cannot be switched off accidentally with e.g. the water pump.
Yes. Make sure that the mounting brackets are well sealed to prevent water from entering. You will also need to drill some holes in the urine tank holderto drain any water from it, or cover it when you shower. Please call us for additional help when you are ready to install.
Yes, it will work fine in a basement, bunker, and any room or closet where a toilet is required. See the FAQ on cold conditions for using a composting toilet in an unheated basement during the winter.
Not at all. As long as the toilet bowl trap door is closed, ladies can simply sit and have a pee as usual. All urine is directed to the front of the bowl and into the urine bottle.
No. Our experience shows that children learn to use the toilet very quickly.
You can stand to urinate, but is recommended to sit. Always remember to direct flow towards the front end of the toilet, and make sure the toilet bowl trap door is closed. A Nature’s Head® composting toilet does not have a lift-up toilet seat, so gentlemen should be conscious about not leaving liquids on the seat.
After emptying the solids section of a separating toilet, you’ll need to prime it for use with a suitable substrate. We recommend coconut coir (coconut fibre) because it is eco-friendly, biodegradable, light to handle and store, and a sustainable product.
Simply combine one coco coir brick (650g – available from our online shop)with 1 litre of water. Let the coir to absorb the water and swell for two hours or so. It will increase its bulk to provide around 6 to 7 litres of finished substrate. Simply pour this into the solid container of your composting toilet, and you’re good to go! Using hot water will quicken the swelling time.
If you are using the toilet with more than 3-4 people, please use 2 bricks.
No. The coir already in the solids section is all the substrate you need. After use, just close the trap door, give the agitator handle a turn or two, and you’re done.
Any kind of toilet paper will work, but single ply paper doesn’t fill up the solids container as quickly. We ourselves use a separate bucket / bag for the toilet paper to extend the time before emptying is required, but this is totally up to you. We know a lot of customers dispose all of the paper in the solids container.
We do not recommend this. Many brands of tampons are made from a mix of rayon and non-organic cotton and are commonly chlorine-bleached. These will not decompose. Organic, 100% cotton tampons will compost, but will take a significant amount of time. The small ribbon used to remove the tampon might also get tangled in the agitator arm or its mechanism.
You can easily empty the contents of menstrual cups into the solids container. The coconut fiber quickly absorb the additional liquid.
If blood gets into the urine container through the holes, this is not a problem. Rinse any remaining blood in the outlet with a little diluted vinegar / citric acid from your spray bottle so that it does not dry there.
No. Vegetable wastes could slow the composting process, and the solid container would fill up faster. Therefore, only ever put the recommended substrates into the solids container.
In the US, coconut fiber is often more difficult to get than sphagnum (peat) moss, which is popular for US composting toilets. Should you need to use sphagnum moss as a substrate, please make sure that it is not treated / fertilized, as this could affect composting.
We recommend that you are planning a longer trip, you should take coconut fibre with you as a dried / pressed brick (available at our shop here). We calculate that 650 g of coconut fibre is required per re-filling. When travelling, please note that the import of coco coir or other soil-like products might be restricted or illegal in the country you’re entering.
Composting works at 13°C and warmer. The warmer it is, the faster your waste will compost. When the temperature in the solids section drops to freezing, the compost will be dormant until heat is introduced into the area.
Drying by the fan also works at low temperatures, making it easy to use the toilet even in cold conditions.
Your Nature’s Head® composting toilet will not be affected by freezing temperatures. In freezing conditions, you should empty the urine bottle. The compost within the solids container will be unharmed in freezing weather.
Cleaning a composting toilet is incredibly quick and easy – and no chemicals are required. There are no filters to clean either.
- The urine container can simply be rinsed with clean water. If urea deposits should settle, this can be removed with warm water with a little household vinegar added.
- The toilet bowl has a smooth surface and no edges, like an ordinary water-rinsed toilet. This construction makes cleaning very easy. If you want to clean the bowl, we recommend spraying it with diluted vinegar and wiping with toilet paper. If something should end up next to the flap, you can remove any traces with damp toilet paper.
You do not have to clean the solids container.
The residues after an emptying serve as a composting starter for the next filling. How good is that!
Once composted, the solid waste from a Nature’s Head® is dry and safe to dispose of. Ideally, you should dispose of the contents of the solid container on a compost heap. After a year of rotting time, you will have lovely high quality humus for your garden!
If you are on the road, the compost can be disposed of in normal waste refuse, bagged in a bio-degradable bag. Alternatively, it can be buried without bags, if kept a sufficient distance from lakes and rivers.
Urine, due to its nitrogen content, is a great fertiliser for trees, and when diluted, for other plants too. You can
- Pour the container into any toilet
- Use a chemical toilet disposal point
- Pour it on the ground beside trees, where permitted
- Dilute it to use a fertilizer around any flowering shrub or plant (not direct on edible plants for obvious reasons!)
Urine can also be legally and safely disposed of in the open sea.
It is best to allow the solids to decompose before emptying your toilet. The longer you wait before emptying your toilet, the nicer the job will be. You will find that even in as little as one week much of the solid wastes have begun to decompose, and just the paper products are visible.
Do not leave the liquid wastes in the tank for extended periods – this should be emptied every 2-5 days. While everyone is different, some urine will smell bad if allowed to sit for extended periods.
From our own experience, we know that a few minutes after the last use, no unpleasant, fecal smell is perceptible. Furthermore, there is no “container full” indicator as with a standard camping toilet. So, you can be much more flexible with a composting / separating toilet, as far as disposal is concerned. Many boat or RV owners, for example, leave the solid wastes in the toilet over the winter and empty it in the spring.
No. The key to a ‘no smell’ composting toilet is the separation of the urine from the solids. When your composting toilet is working properly, it will have a slight earthy smell from the compost being created.
A composting toilet is often known as a separating toilet, as it separates the liquid waste (urine) from the solid waste.
- When the toilet bowl trap door is closed, urine from anywhere in the bowl will flow into the urine bottle at the front.
- When the trap door is open and a person is sitting on the toilet, the urine will still divert to the front.
This makes the Nature’s Head® the only urine separating toilet where men can urinate while standing.
Any toilet that can be taken and used outside your home is, technically, a portable toilet. Our composting toilets can be positioned almost anywhere, as they weight under 13kgs when empty.
The simple answer – hygiene. This type of toilet seat is much simpler to clean. Also, a moulded seat is sturdier than the lift-up types, has no bolts or fittings, and it won’t crack or break.
The Nature’s Head® separating toilet was specifically designed for the marine and “on the road” market, where loose flapping toilet seats can become a safety issue. For example, we know of issues with boat owners who have had a toilet seat break off in rough conditions. The moulded seat design eliminates this potential hazard.
Your choice! We were amazed to find that lots of people search online using the French-style term “composting toilettes”, so we’ve used it here and there in the website.
Another matter of personal choice! Since a composting toilet works by a natural, biological process (composting) and is good for the environment (no water, no chemicals, no sewage), we reckon the terms apply to all composting toilets anyway.