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JRhetts
03-01-2011, 04:35 AM
I guess its time for a report on our use of the NaturesHead composting toilet.

As a part of our remodel of our Darrin Fink-built FusoFM260-based expedition vehicle, we elected to install a composting toilet in lieu of the Thetford cassette. We have been living in the rig full-time for 8 months.

We primarily wanted

longer between-dump times,
less water usage, and
more flexibility in dump strategies,
without incurring any increased 'messiness' in the process.

OVERALL EVALUATION: BINGO!!! This has been a winner!

The unit is very well made, simple to install, and the company provides excellent customer service.

As a baseline with the Thetford cassette, two of us living aboard full-time had to dump every other day. And despite the fact that we both preferred to dump a cassette rather than deal with a hose and a big blackwater tank, with a cassette it is still a smelly and at least mildly messy business.

NOTE: With this kind of composting toilet the physical apparatus separates urine and feces. So you have two separate vessels to empty. While this may sound like more work, we DEFINITELY found IT IS NOT. The nasty smell comes from combining the two; neither alone is particularly bad [ esp. not the feces.]

With the composting unit, in warm weather we got up to one month between dumpings of solids, and in cold weather [averaging low 40s to low 20s F] it averaged 10-14 days between dumps of solids. The liquid bottle had to be dumped regularly every other day, but this was MUCH easier than the same frequency with the cassette combined output. Simply put, we could dump sterile pee lots more places with less splashing and odor than the combined output from the cassette. The solids are remarkably easily dumped into an ordinary plastic 13 gal garbage bag, and then either spread around as fertilizer or placed for landfill collection. And since the solids are not in liquid form, there is NO SPLASHING or other objectionable side-effects from doing the dumping.

Interior smell from the toilet was virtually non-existent until we had reached the limit of the peat moss volume, and then it was more like a gentle nudge to "do the job."

We used a small spray bottle with water to "assist" the last of one's pee to fully vacate the front part of the bowl, so water usage was less than one liter per dump i.e., VERY low.

We find this an optimal way to deal with the inevitable problem, and are very glad we went this direction.

SO, after 8 months of full-time 'living', these are our observations.

John

Roaming Robertsons
03-01-2011, 04:58 AM
Thanks for the info. This seems to be a curiosity out there but without much good info. You mention the solids and liquids having separate compartments. What happens with the toilet paper? Does it go down with the solids or is it handled separately?

dwh
03-01-2011, 08:22 AM
What nobody ever mentions when talking about these portable composting toilets, is that if you take a crap in it on Tuesday, and then empty the solids container on Wednesday - what you are emptying is NOT compost...it's feces.

It CANNOT be spread as fertilizer because it has not had the time (or temperature) for the composting process to destroy the bacteria and pathogens.

Composting takes time. If there is also temperature, then the time can be reduced, but even with temperature, it's not a fast process. That's my problem with these portable composting toilets - I can see using one for a few months, and then letting it sit for a few months for the composting process to run its course, then emptying it. But empty it too soon after using it, and what you are disposing of is NOT safely composted human waste:

http://weblife.org/humanure/chapter7_19.html



I'm also pretty sure it's not legal to just toss it in a handy dumpster either. Most states allow the solids from a composting toilet to be thrown away only if A) it's actually compost, and B) the trash is destined for a "sanitary landfill":

http://weblife.org/humanure/appendix3.html

http://web.mit.edu/urbanupgrading/urbanenvironment/sectors/solid-waste-landfills.html


Uncomposted (or partially composted) human waste is sewage and so the normal sewage rules apply.

JRhetts
03-01-2011, 03:52 PM
Thanks for the info. ...What happens with the toilet paper? Does it go down with the solids or is it handled separately?

You can add paper to the solids as you do with a flush toilet; this slows down the total time for composting. We use a separate small wastebasket, as is the custom in Central and South America and much of Africa; smell is negligible between empties.

Cat Jockey
03-04-2011, 04:45 AM
Thanks for taking the time to fill us in. That helps push me to take the jump I have been considering.

Concerningdhw's concerns, there are solutions to this. What I have decided that in combination to a composting toilet I will bring a rafting expedition grade toilet system as well. You can get these in sizes of a 5.5 gallon cassette down to a size that will fit inside of the bow or stern of a kayak. Dumping on Weds? No problem. Use your groover monday and tuesday (or how ever many days prior needed), properly dispose of the composted material on weds.

As far as what to do with your now used groover, well, I am sure one could add the contents to the composting toilet, but you don't have to. A groover can be stored outside the vehicle, emits no smell if you store it in your toilet area, utilizes RV dumps. Keep in mind too that us rafters can go out on the river for 3+ weeks, sitting next to a FULL groover (I am talking 5.5 gallons of number 2 in a 20 mm ammo can) baking in the desert sun. And depending upon the length of trip, a rafter could find himself surround by 4 full groovers. 20 gallons of good stuff.

Properly treated and NO #1 with the #2 and it is no big deal to let a groover sit for three weeks with stuff in it, even on the roof of your rig in direct sunlight.

Maybe it sounds like a hassle to have two toilet systems, but to me, it is a lot less hassle then having a blackwater system including tank, antifreezing measures, weight, space, dependency on RV dumps.

More importantly, the compost/rafting groover combination gives me MORE freedom to be further away from more people for a longer period of time. Even if I did a cassette, I would still bring a rafting groover so that in addition to an outside shower, I can have an outside bathroom for nice weather - let's face it there is something to don't @$!% where you sleep and eat and any time I can utilize an awning or pup tent for an outside bathroom while camped, I will, regardless of what the internal toilet system is and how comfy the seat may be.

Thanks for the report and just my $0.02 to make the composting toilet a completely valid, no need for rv dumps, system.

Scott Brady
03-04-2011, 05:06 AM
John,

Thank you for the detailed review and your experiences. As with the diesel cooktops, there was a lot of missinformation floating about.

All the best in your travels.

dwh
03-04-2011, 09:48 AM
Dumping on Weds? No problem. Use your groover monday and tuesday (or how ever many days prior needed), properly dispose of the composted material on weds.

Yea, not a bad idea. The problem is time. With heat to kill the bacteria and pathogens, you could make it safe in a matter of minutes. It still wouldn't be compost, but at least it would no longer be hazardous waste.

Without heat, the recommended time to let it sit is a year. A Year.

Don't get me wrong, I really LIKE the composting toilet idea, and I was looking very hard at replacing the Thetford and 10g black tank in my camper...but I just can't get around the problem of what comes out of a portable composting toilet is neither compost, nor decontaminated.

Which means that while it would surely be handy, it still has to be treated as sewage and dumped into a proper sewage disposal, just like a cassette.


Also, forgive me if I seemed to be coming down on you John - I certainly wasn't and I too very much appreciate the time and the report. I really want one of these myself...but...this one issue keeps nagging at me.

The Adam Blaster
03-04-2011, 07:31 PM
Without heat, the recommended time to let it sit is a year. A Year.


Just curious on this point - what do you mean by "without heat"?
Are you saying at the point of freezing, absolute zero, somewhere in between? :D
A year seems an excessively long period of time to compost some semi-solid materials, especially when a generous amount of peat has been added to the mix.

kerry
03-04-2011, 10:18 PM
Anyone have a link to the composting toilet in question?
About 15 yrs ago, most western rivers imposed the requirement of having a washable toilet system on raft, canoe and kayak trips so the waste could be dumped into RV waste stations. The BLM claimed that it was necessary because boaters were dumping garbage bags with human waste into local landfills and this was not permitted. Seemed like an odd claim to me so I called the EPA or whatever federal agency was responsible for landfills in the west. I was told that the BLM was giving us a line of BS. As I had thought, the person at the federal agency pointed out that if this was the case, why were diapers allowed in landfills? Plus sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants was routinely dumped in landfills.
Given that phone call, it's hard for me to imagine that dumping the output of a composting toilet into a landfill would be a problem.

Hill, Bill E.
03-04-2011, 10:30 PM
Anyone have a link to the composting toilet in question?


Not sure which model they have, but here is the site: http://www.natureshead.net/

John, does your toilet require power?

Back a few years, I looked into these for my cabin, but the ones available required either power (12V or 110V) or an extensive vent system.

I know they have gotten better over the years, just curious if yours is powered, or has a solar powered vent fan.

bajajoaquin
03-04-2011, 10:54 PM
Just curious on this point - what do you mean by "without heat"?
Are you saying at the point of freezing, absolute zero, somewhere in between? :D
A year seems an excessively long period of time to compost some semi-solid materials, especially when a generous amount of peat has been added to the mix.

I'd guess that "heat" means something over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a sustained period. This is to allow the bacteria to break down the pathogens and make feces into compost.

It seems to me, from DWH, Cat Jockey, and the original poster, that the value here is not that you create compost, or that you decontaminate the waste in a reasonable amount of time. The value is that by separating the waste into solid and liquid, you can extend the effective capacity of your holding tanks. Each, on its own, is easier to dispose of than when you mix the two.

dzzz
03-05-2011, 05:21 PM
All existing mobile toliet systems have potential exposure to pathogens, so I don't see how the lack of complete composting is a problem. It's not like anyone is having a snack while pumping out a black tank or emptying a cassette into an outhouse. Low odor pooh once a month into a garbage bag sounds pretty good. No water in the bowl and special TP processing not so good.

But overall the report sounds very good. Especially based on full time use. What's an alternative to Natures Head that has a liftable seat? I understand why the Natures Head seat design might be desirable, but I ain't peein' sitting down.
Natures Head says the fan uses 24 amp/day. That's non-trivial for some smaller electrical systems.

kerry
03-05-2011, 05:41 PM
On the river in canoes we always burn our toilet paper in a coffee can to reduce volume in the toilet. A little ingenuity might integrate a tiny incinerator into the composting toilet to burn the toilet paper and provide some heat to speed up the composting.:)

Cat Jockey
03-05-2011, 07:50 PM
Definitely valid points dwh. Even if you adhere to treating 3-4 week old compost as contaminated, there is still a huge difference in mobility and freedom and length of stops at RV dumps:


As a baseline with the Thetford cassette, two of us living aboard full-time had to dump every other day.

&


With the composting unit, in warm weather we got up to one month between dumpings of solids, and in cold weather [averaging low 40s to low 20s F] it averaged 10-14 days between dumps of solids.

Huge difference for those like me that do not want a black water system. If you live in your rig for a year, you are talking about 20 RV dumps versus 180 - eliminating almost 90% of neccessary stops with a cassette. It means the freedom to camp in the middle of nowhere for a month versus 2 days.

Cat Jockey
03-05-2011, 08:09 PM
Anyone have a link to the composting toilet in question?

http://www.airheadtoilet.com/
http://www.natureshead.net/marine.html

I like this one:

http://www.sun-mar.com/prod_self_mobi.html


A little ingenuity might integrate a tiny incinerator into the composting toilet to burn the toilet paper and provide some heat to speed up the composting

They make those too:

http://ecojohn.com/ecojohn_sr.html

I am planning a collapsible propane incinerator. I have experience working a homemade propane bronze foundry and have been working on a design for a small RV unit. That takes care of a lot of trash issues as well and can make you completely independent of RV dumps by incinerating the composting toilet contents and providing 1000 miles of fuel, well, you can disappear for a while without needing anything.

Land sailing daddy-o - completely self supportive for extended periods.


The BLM claimed that it was necessary because boaters were dumping garbage bags with human waste into local landfills and this was not permitted.

That was a problem. A lot of these rivers out west are in the middle of nowhere. You get off the river and the closet town could be a 45 minute drive and at that point, the town could be a gas station, general store and a post office. You get rafters, everyday getting off of the river with 12 people after a week and they throw their crap in the gas station dumpster. We are not talking metropolitan sized landfills where it wouldn't be noticeable.

The other influence was the increasing volume of users escalating after the 80's. There are a very limited number of campsites on the river (only certain places where you can actually get the boats eddied out and have an area to make camp), so each camp site has high usage. Cat holes and toilet paper and open pile 'o poo became a problem. Add to that the most of these rivers go through desert or semi-arid enviornments and you have a problem. As an example, one stretch of river in Colorado recieved 250,000 visitors, mostly commercial rafters, in a 3 month period at the industry peak. Most confined to a 10 mile stretch with a dozen places to stop. That is a lot of people using a very, very few stops, to eat and camp and use the bathroom.

dzzz
03-05-2011, 08:46 PM
Definitely valid points dwh. Even if you adhere to treating 3-4 week old compost as contaminated, there is still a huge difference in mobility and freedom and length of stops at RV dumps:
............

I expect no one treats it as contaminated. It goes in the trash or is spread.

I hate to think of fixing/cleaning a broken incinerating toilet. A composting toilet isn't going to break significantly, and is less complex. I can understand preferring an incinerating toilet, but it doesn't extend off-grid time compared to a no energy composting toilet or a hole in the ground.

I was close to ordering a vacuflush, but I've pretty much turned 180 degrees and thinking about low odor simplicity. When poo and technology combine I don't want to be the repair man.

kerry
03-05-2011, 09:20 PM
The other influence was the increasing volume of users escalating after the 80's. There are a very limited number of campsites on the river (only certain places where you can actually get the boats eddied out and have an area to make camp), so each camp site has high usage. Cat holes and toilet paper and open pile 'o poo became a problem. Add to that the most of these rivers go through desert or semi-arid enviornments and you have a problem. As an example, one stretch of river in Colorado recieved 250,000 visitors, mostly commercial rafters, in a 3 month period at the industry peak. Most confined to a 10 mile stretch with a dozen places to stop. That is a lot of people using a very, very few stops, to eat and camp and use the bathroom.

Yes, except the toilet requirement had been in effect for quite a while before they changed it to a washable toilet with an rv type dump system. I can certainly understand small towns not wanting to have their dumpsters filled with plastic bags of crap, but to justify it with public pronouncements of human waste not being permitted in landfills was equally as crappy.

Cat Jockey
03-05-2011, 10:28 PM
kerry


Yes, except the toilet requirement had been in effect for quite a while before they changed it to a washable toilet with an rv type dump system.

The toilet requirement came first. Then everybody started using ammo cans and 5 gallon buckets lined with trash bags. Then promptly discard their bags 'o poo from 12 people for a week in the first small town gas stations. EDIT: The point being that the BLM had to do something. Yes, a 5 gallon bucket kept the campsites clean, but people got rid of the stuff ASAP. Now the BLM has everything from local municipalities to Indian Nations complaining, "hey, all this human waste you are requiring these rafters to pack out, they are dumping on the first piece of private property they come across." And, I don't blame those people. Again, very, very small communities getting bombarded by groups dropping off 300-400 human days of poo. In one day. (12 people X 7 days = 84 poo days. 3 or 4 of those groups on high use rivers over a 3-4 month season = one years worth of human poo getting dumped at gas stations and post offices every day for 100 days straight. #1, that is not cool to do to somebody and #2, no pun intended, that is a very unsafe amount of human excrement concentrated in a small area. /EDIT


I can certainly understand small towns not wanting to have their dumpsters filled with plastic bags of crap, but to justify it with public pronouncements of human waste not being permitted in landfills was equally as crappy.

I think you are discounting the small size of some of these BLM referenced landfills and the volume of human poo they get influxed with 3-4 months a year. It was a legitimate issue for both unplesantness and safety. Again, very high ratio of human waste to landfill size - much higher than anything you will find in 95%+ landfills in the US. I am not trying to be argumentative and leave it at that. ;)

dzzz


I expect no one treats it as contaminated. It goes in the trash or is spread.

If I was as far back as I could drive in the Alaskan bush, yea, just like the bears - in the woods. Or even in Colorado or Oregon, Montana, etc. If I was spending a month in the desert of the south west, I wouldn't. Even without an incinerator, I could go one month very easily without needing an RV dump.


I hate to think of fixing/cleaning a broken incinerating toilet. A composting toilet isn't going to break significantly, and is less complex. I can understand preferring an incinerating toilet, but it doesn't extend off-grid time compared to a no energy composting toilet or a hole in the ground.

Indeed. What I am working on is a small, 12"-16" square incinerator utilizing propane and on board air that is used outside the vehicle at camp and then comes apart/collapses for storage. Primarily for trash, but also for compost remains. Should be cheap and easy and take up very little space/weight, so it fills my needs to be able to remain self sufficient for weeks on end.


When poo and technology combine I don't want to be the repair man.

Words of wisdom to be sure. That is signature quality. :xxrotflma

dwh
03-08-2011, 03:29 PM
Just curious on this point - what do you mean by "without heat"?

According to this (and other sites I've seen, such as one report I read from some university study):

http://weblife.org/humanure/chapter7_19.html

"A thermophilic compost pile will destroy pathogens, including worm eggs, quickly, possibly in a matter of minutes. Lower temperatures require longer periods of time, possibly hours, days, weeks, or months, to effectively destroy pathogens. One need not strive for extremely high temperatures such as 65C (150F) in a compost pile to feel confident about the destruction of pathogens. It may be more realistic to maintain lower temperatures in a compost pile for longer periods of time, such as 50C (122F) for 24 hours, or 46C (115F) for a week. According to one source, "All fecal microorganisms, including enteric viruses and roundworm eggs, will die if the temperature exceeds 46C (114.8F) for one week." 42 Other researchers have drawn similar conclusions, demonstrating pathogen destruction at 50C (122F), which produced compost "completely acceptable from the general hygienic point of view."


And, from the same page:

"A sound approach to pathogen destruction when composting humanure is to thermophilically compost the organic refuse, then allow the compost to sit, undisturbed, for a lengthy period of time after the thermophilic heating stage has ended. The biodiversity of the compost will aid in the destruction of pathogens as the compost ages. If one wants to be particularly cautious, one may allow the compost to age for two years after the pile has been built, instead of the one year that is normally recommended."


And,

"In the words of Feachem et al., "The effectiveness of excreta treatment methods depends very much on their time-temperature characteristics. The effective processes are those that either make the excreta warm (55C/131F), hold it for a long time (one year), or feature some effective combination of time and temperature.""

dwh
03-08-2011, 03:33 PM
All existing mobile toliet systems have potential exposure to pathogens, so I don't see how the lack of complete composting is a problem. It's not like anyone is having a snack while pumping out a black tank or emptying a cassette into an outhouse.

The issue is not that the person emptying the unit is going to get sick, the issue is that what is being emptied is not decontaminated and so it can't be just tossed away anywhere one pleases.

dwh
03-08-2011, 03:47 PM
The BLM claimed that it was necessary because boaters were dumping garbage bags with human waste into local landfills and this was not permitted. Seemed like an odd claim to me so I called the EPA or whatever federal agency was responsible for landfills in the west. I was told that the BLM was giving us a line of BS.

From what I can see here, the regs are State regs, not Fed regs:

http://weblife.org/humanure/appendix3.html


The states may not have regulated disposable diapers (yet), but many of them have clear regs concerning composting toilets.


California and Idaho specifically mention in their definitions of "graywater" that laundry water from diapers is not greywater.

The Adam Blaster
03-08-2011, 04:14 PM
I guess to be positive about the level of safe decomposition of the waste you'd have to #1 use a thermometer buried inside your "pile" and #2 stir the material to ensure proper mixing of the waste to make sure it was all properly composted at the minimum necessary temps. over the specific period of time.

But, even after bagging the material and throwing it in a dumpster, the decomposition continues - albeit if the bag is sealed the heat will stay in, but the lack of new oxygen may hinder the process.

Also, the main concern would be with the latest addition of material into the system just before removal and disposal occurs. This would be the highest possible level of non-composted material being taken out of the toilet system.

Maybe an extra safeguard would be to plan your "additions" as long as possible ahead of the time when you empty the toilet system.
Probably not as easy as it sounds... lol

dzzz
03-08-2011, 05:16 PM
I think a little bit of common sense is all that's needed. Anyone who needs to pretend we don't spend all of our time in the presence of various forms of mammalian fecal material probably doesn't want a composting toilet. Or to read this thread.
The ethical obligation is to not increase disease risk to anyone.

Trasharoo could be excellent for hauling a bag externally to the vehicle,
to plug a forum members product. One could comfortably spend months in the desert without the need to dispose of solid waste.

For disposal in pit toilets the contents could be emptied into a biodegradable yard waste bag and the whole contents tossed in the hole. (Always working on ways to spend no more time near pit toilets than I can hold my breath)

Cat Jockey
03-09-2011, 06:42 AM
I think a little bit of common sense is all that's needed. Anyone who needs to pretend we don't spend all of our time in the presence of various forms of mammalian fecal material probably doesn't want a composting toilet. Or to read this thread.
The ethical obligation is to not increase disease risk to anyone.

Well said. Small volume partially composted toilet stuff can be ethically dealt with in ways other than an RV dump as the true issues arise with high concentration and this can be avoided.

JRhetts
03-26-2011, 06:22 AM
Not sure which model they have, but here is the site: http://www.natureshead.net/
John, does your toilet require power?


Bill

This is the unit we have and I reported on. Others are very similar, and yet others are very different.

We have a 12v fan drawing less than 10mv running 24/7. This draws fresh air across the composting pile, adding oxygen and eliminating odor. We draw off the 600 aH battery bank and 0.5Kw solar panel system we have on our vehicle, so it is truly nothing in the scheme of our things. One could use a dedicated solar vent fan and probably do just fine even in a space inhabited 24/7 and thereby not need any battery support.

Now to the YMMV area. Yes, there must be pathogens in the solids we dump. But both I and my physician wife estimate that there are pathogens of almost untold quantities and variations all around us. But upon some introspection, more specifically, in my personal background I have a couple of things that reduce my concern: i) I raised children, handling their diapers constantly and never got sick; b) I traveled throughout the jungles of West Africa in the 1960s, encountering literally hundreds of enthusiastic natives with their hands held out for ritual greetings -- literally covered in poop they had just wiped from their posteriors; iii) we have traveled and lived in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, where sanitation standards are VERY different from our own, and we have not been harmed or debilitated by these excursions. All of this makes us think that we are more robust than our sometimes squeemish feelings might lead us to think. So we are not particularly afraid of this vector of contamination.

Others have every right to feel differently and act accordingly. Indeed, it might just be that we have been lucky, but ... I'd rather be lucky than good, as I recall someone once said.

J

dwh
03-26-2011, 09:08 AM
Now to the YMMV area. Yes, there must be pathogens in the solids we dump. But both I and my physician wife estimate that there are pathogens of almost untold quantities and variations all around us. But upon some introspection, more specifically, in my personal background I have a couple of things that reduce my concern: i) I raised children, handling their diapers constantly and never got sick; b) I traveled throughout the jungles of West Africa in the 1960s, encountering literally hundreds of enthusiastic natives with their hands held out for ritual greetings -- literally covered in poop they had just wiped from their posteriors; iii) we have traveled and lived in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, where sanitation standards are VERY different from our own, and we have not been harmed or debilitated by these excursions. All of this makes us think that we are more robust than our sometimes squeemish feelings might lead us to think. So we are not particularly afraid of this vector of contamination.

I agree. I personally was also a parent and am not squeamish. Nor do I worry about being contaminated. I also wash my hands. No worries.

My concern, as I mentioned in post 20, is NOT about being personally infected from handling waste, nor about the owner/user of the "composting" toilet becoming infected - I assume you wash your hands too.


My concern is specifically that what is being called "compost" is not. It's marketing doubletalk which makes pathogenic waste appear to be "totally harmless, just dump it any old place".

I think not.

SChandler
03-28-2011, 08:20 PM
Why not just bury the compost? Wouldn't this be similar to if you were hiking in the woods and nature called? The difference would be you'd need a bigger hole and the breaking down of the fecal matter has a head start. If you are in the bush somewhere remote and it's time to dump either the urine bottle or the compost, why not treat it like you would hiking? Dump the urine on the ground, away from bodies of water and bury the compost. What's wrong with treating the generated material this way?

Just so we're clear, I'm not proposing doing this in the middle of a city park in Downtown, Whatever Country. I'd really like to hear thoughts on treating the materials this way when in remote locations.

kjp1969
03-28-2011, 09:04 PM
As a father of 3 and RV'er of 7 years, plus the designated clean-up guy around the house for all manner of bodily fluids, human and animal, I have a pretty high tolerance for the gross. Even still, dedication to a composting toilet seems to this guy to be, uh, how to put this, strong. :sombrero:

A question that's probably been asked and answered before, but I'm interested in your perspective: Why not do it normally, with a dedicated black water tank that gets dumped into the sewer system which is already engineered to perfectly handle a large volume of human waste? Even a fairly small 15 gal. tank would probably last 2 people a couple of weeks.

762X39
03-29-2011, 12:23 AM
My experience with composting toilets dates back 25 years so I totally don't get what the issue is.To one of the previous posters, it is about not having to empty a black water tank every week (among other things). A composting toilet typically requires emptying about every 4 or 5 weeks and even then the end product is pretty benign. We can argue symantics about just what you are taking out and disposing of and yes you do have to change your habits but if my wife can squat behind our truck on the highway to pee, anything is possible and reasonable.:coffee:
I am going to search my files for a simple composting toilet system that I came across and post the link.

762X39
03-29-2011, 11:33 PM
I am going to search my files for a simple composting toilet system that I came across and post the link.
http://humanurehandbook.com/
The above link has a lot of useful information if anyone is interested.:coffee:

FellowTraveler
04-08-2011, 12:35 AM
I've considered making my own composting toilet for my rig and considering adding heat to the mix via a heat exchanger using engines cooling system.

My theory is while underway the temp would rise in the compost system but not to the level of the engine temp because of venting, thinking venting can be reduced a little to raise temps.

dwh
04-08-2011, 12:45 AM
I've considered making my own composting toilet for my rig and considering adding heat to the mix via a heat exchanger using engines cooling system.

My theory is while underway the temp would rise in the compost system but not to the level of the engine temp because of venting, thinking venting can be reduced a little to raise temps.

One problem is that the beneficial bacteria die at around the same temps as the pathogens. So if you raise the temp of the compost from warm to hot, then you don't end up with compost, you end up with cooked sewage.

Might be sterile though.

Composting takes time for the bacteria to do its work. When it gets too cold, the bacteria goes dormant - too hot and it dies.

How long do you expect the heap to remain in the vehicle for that process to happen? 6 months would be a good start.

FellowTraveler
04-08-2011, 12:57 AM
One problem is that the beneficial bacteria die at around the same temps as the pathogens. So if you raise the temp of the compost from warm to hot, then you don't end up with compost, you end up with cooked sewage.

Might be sterile though.

Composting takes time for the bacteria to do its work. When it gets too cold, the bacteria goes dormant - too hot and it dies.

How long do you expect the heap to remain in the vehicle for that process to happen? 6 months would be a good start.

Oh well back to the drawing board!

DzlToy
04-10-2011, 06:21 PM
...diapers [are] allowed in landfills... plus sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants was routinely dumped in landfills.
Given that phone call, it's hard for me to imagine that dumping the output of a composting toilet into a landfill would be a problem.

^^This

additionally, have you even done number 2 in the woods? do animals do both in the woods? do guys routinely pee off the side of a trail when camping, hiking, mountain biking, rock crawling, dirt biking, etc?

Im not saying pollute the environment by any means, but lets use some (un)common sense here..

The OP just shared eight months of his personal experience using a composting toilet. I would guess that he has encountered just about every possible thing one could encounter during that time. If you want a flush toilet and blackwater tank or incinerator toilet, get one, but based on this post and many others like it, there are many advantages to composting toilets.

dwh
04-10-2011, 06:34 PM
but based on this post and many others like it, there are many advantages to composting toilets.

No doubt. But making compost isn't one of them, since they don't actually do that.

r_w
04-11-2011, 03:49 PM
No doubt. But making compost isn't one of them, since they don't actually do that.

Yes they do, eventually; just not in the timeframe we are talking about...

I wish I would have known about this toilet, as the one I bought for my cabin was way more expensive and way harder to deal with. I am going to buy one of these for my workshop, as I don't have to punch the metal roof for the vent.

kerry
04-11-2011, 11:20 PM
Kind of off topic, but the comparison between a typical RV toilet and a composting toilet is not the best comparison. There are RV toilets which re-circulate the liquids in the flushing process so can store much more waste by volume than is typically found in an XX gallon black water tank. Electro-Magic is the name of the one with an electric pump but Thetford used to make one with a manual pump. I had an Electro-Magic in a Travco motorhome I owned and really liked it. You charged it up with a couple of gallons of clean water and it re-circulated it until the toilet was full of waste and was then dumped into the black water tank.

Here's a manually operated re-circulating toilet desgined for locomotives. Anyone have any experience with one?

http://www.dayton-phoenix.com/productCategoryDetail.php?categoryId=76

grizzlyj
04-23-2011, 04:46 PM
We have a 70 litre black tank, and around the UK, France, Spain and Morocco its mostly a pain. Even with bagging the paper, and bottling the pee, its full in about a week. We do have a container that it can be decanted into, but thats not fun. Once the outlet valve froze which I eventually freed with a tent peg, smashing! Many campsites cassette facilities are too far uphill from the camper, so more 4" pipe is not the answer :)

A macerator may be better, but since most facilities are either a toilet or somewhere designed for a cassette to be tipped (so 20-25l then flushed) that may be more complication and little gain.

A cassette is what pretty much everyone uses, but needs emptying more often of course.

So a composting toilet is definitely under consideration, and thank you for this thread. The fact that it hasn't finished composting is a moot point. You end up with a smaller problem to deal with which has to be a good thing.

Except;

How much volume is there when its full?

If a toilet, perhaps in a filling station, was the only option at the time, is it flushable?

Do the two seperate containers have sealed lids? If not what happens on a washboard type surface?!

Does it need "special" moss, or anything at all if you only partially emptied it to keep some bugs in there for instance? So is it suitable for a round the world trip without taking a trailer to carry supplies!? ;)

As much user info as you think is polite would be cool :)

Cheers

:)

FellowTraveler
04-24-2011, 01:14 PM
We have a 70 litre black tank, and around the UK, France, Spain and Morocco its mostly a pain. Even with bagging the paper, and bottling the pee, its full in about a week. We do have a container that it can be decanted into, but thats not fun. Once the outlet valve froze which I eventually freed with a tent peg, smashing! Many campsites cassette facilities are too far uphill from the camper, so more 4" pipe is not the answer :)

A macerator may be better, but since most facilities are either a toilet or somewhere designed for a cassette to be tipped (so 20-25l then flushed) that may be more complication and little gain.

A cassette is what pretty much everyone uses, but needs emptying more often of course.

So a composting toilet is definitely under consideration, and thank you for this thread. The fact that it hasn't finished composting is a moot point. You end up with a smaller problem to deal with which has to be a good thing.

Except;

How much volume is there when its full?

If a toilet, perhaps in a filling station, was the only option at the time, is it flushable?

Do the two seperate containers have sealed lids? If not what happens on a washboard type surface?!

Does it need "special" moss, or anything at all if you only partially emptied it to keep some bugs in there for instance? So is it suitable for a round the world trip without taking a trailer to carry supplies!? ;)

As much user info as you think is polite would be cool :)

Cheers

:)

Your points are interesting indeed, and more user input is a great idea!

JRhetts
05-02-2011, 05:55 AM
..

How much volume is there when its full?

If a toilet, perhaps in a filling station, was the only option at the time, is it flushable?

Do the two seperate containers have sealed lids? If not what happens on a washboard type surface?!

Does it need "special" moss, or anything at all if you only partially emptied it to keep some bugs in there for instance? So is it suitable for a round the world trip without taking a trailer to carry supplies!?

Volume: Pee bottle is ~2 gal.
Solids =~ 2.53 gal in volume when full; fits easily in a standard
trash (under sink) liner bag; the solids mix and begin
'melding' with the peat moss, so the final volume of
solids seems virtually equal to the initial charge of peat
moss

Flushable: the pee certainly is; the solids are NOT

Sealed Lids: the pee bottle has a sealed cap when carried out for disposal; when riding along neither technically has a sealed top; the pee is gasketed to the underside of the toilet bowl and the solids have a closed flapper lid and seat cover. We have rock and rolled over VERY rough terrain far in excess of washboard roads with pretty full levels of both, and have NEVER had a spill. The solids simply do not flow, and the pee does not splash out through the bottle's entrance in our experience.

Special Moss: the solids are charged each time after emptying with ordinary peat moss (obtainable virtually everywhere in the world as far as I can tell); when one empties you inevitably leave some residue which contributes to jump-starting the new batch; we generally carry a 6-month supply in 6 x 2.5 gal zipperlock bags in a back locker - not very much room at all [perhaps 2-3*cuft] certainly not a 'trailer's' worth!!

kerry
08-24-2011, 02:52 PM
Comprehensive review of the Air Head composting toilet in the September/October issue of Good Old Boat. Users are happy with it installed in a 34' sailaboat.

Dirtytires
08-29-2011, 04:16 AM
sounds look a bunch of **** to me. Good write up.

kleaver641
09-12-2011, 06:07 PM
I guess its time for a report on our use of the NaturesHead composting toilet.

As a part of our remodel of our Darrin Fink-built FusoFM260-based expedition vehicle, we elected to install a composting toilet in lieu of the Thetford (http://www.jcwhitney.com/thetford/b1101j1s9.jcwx) cassette. We have been living in the rig full-time for 8 months.

We primarily wanted

longer between-dump times,
less water usage, and
more flexibility in dump strategies,
without incurring any increased 'messiness' in the process.

OVERALL EVALUATION: BINGO!!! This has been a winner!

The unit is very well made, simple to install, and the company provides excellent customer service.

As a baseline with the Thetford cassette, two of us living aboard full-time had to dump every other day. And despite the fact that we both preferred to dump a cassette rather than deal with a hose and a big blackwater tank, with a cassette it is still a smelly and at least mildly messy business.

NOTE: With this kind of composting toilet the physical apparatus separates urine and feces. So you have two separate vessels to empty. While this may sound like more work, we DEFINITELY found IT IS NOT. The nasty smell comes from combining the two; neither alone is particularly bad [ esp. not the feces.]

With the composting unit, in warm weather we got up to one month between dumpings of solids, and in cold weather [averaging low 40s to low 20s F] it averaged 10-14 days between dumps of solids. The liquid bottle had to be dumped regularly every other day, but this was MUCH easier than the same frequency with the cassette combined output. Simply put, we could dump sterile pee lots more places with less splashing and odor than the combined output from the cassette. The solids are remarkably easily dumped into an ordinary plastic 13 gal garbage bag, and then either spread around as fertilizer or placed for landfill collection. And since the solids are not in liquid form, there is NO SPLASHING or other objectionable side-effects from doing the dumping.

Interior smell from the toilet was virtually non-existent until we had reached the limit of the peat moss volume, and then it was more like a gentle nudge to "do the job."

We used a small spray bottle with water to "assist" the last of one's pee to fully vacate the front part of the bowl, so water usage was less than one liter per dump i.e., VERY low.

We find this an optimal way to deal with the inevitable problem, and are very glad we went this direction.

SO, after 8 months of full-time 'living', these are our observations.

John

very nice post! indeed detailed information! good job!

thumbs up!

regards,

kurt

dzzz
09-20-2011, 06:10 PM
A macerator may be better, but since most facilities are either a toilet or somewhere designed for a cassette to be tipped (so 20-25l then flushed) that may be more complication and little gain.
A cassette is what pretty much everyone uses, but needs emptying more often of course.
:)

One issue in the U.S. is that no waste stations are designed for cassette. This is O.K. except when the pipe is in a shallow bowl below grade. Unfortunently it takes practice to dump a cassette successfully in this scenario :(
I have 100+ nights now using a cassette. I do like it better than a tank system (for how I travel). I think for two or more persons it would be on the small side. I would seriously consider a composting toilet for two people multi week travel.
But of course it depends on many factors.
For overnights (say a state park) I hook up nothing even if connections are available, which is nice. I find the whole RV hookup thing an annoyance. That gives a big plus to the composting toilet IMO. Waste needs to be managed in all scenarios. I would only consider a black tank if traveling with kids.

DiploStrat
10-01-2011, 09:39 PM
C-Head: http://c-head.com/index.html Smaller, less expensive, less capacity, but some interesting ideas. Like the use of common containers. (I didn't want to say disposable.)

Some churn on this subject on a sailing forum: http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-maintenance/58601-composting-toilet-report.html

Like a lot of subjects, there are a lot of phanbois and an equal number who insist that it simply cannot work. :Wow1:

762X39
10-01-2011, 10:15 PM
C-Head: http://c-head.com/index.html Smaller, less expensive, less capacity, but some interesting ideas. Like the use of common containers. (I didn't want to say disposable.)

Some churn on this subject on a sailing forum: http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-maintenance/58601-composting-toilet-report.html


Nice find. Thanks for this link. I have experience with composting toilets and have a cassette toilet in my trailer. I have found the cassette to be good for 2 days with 2 of us and it is fairly easy to empty in a regular toilet or pit toilet but I have never tried to empty it at a dump station (of course we typically camp on crown land so there are no dump stations) .I may replace our cassette with this composting toilet.:coffee:

dwh
10-02-2011, 12:28 AM
Like a lot of subjects, there are a lot of phanbois and an equal number who insist that it simply cannot work. :Wow1:

<raises hand>

That's me.

I never said "it cannot work". What I said was, "It's not compost."

My gripe is that they really shouldn't call these things "composting" toilets, since they don't actually COMPOST the waste. It's grossly misleading because the solid waste that is being dumped is NOT harmless compost.


"Waste separating"; True. "Easy disposal"; By all accounts, certainly. "Damned handy"; No doubt.

"Composting"; Not even close.


It has nothing to do with being a phanboi or not, it has to do with the process of composting - which these small units DO NOT DO.


And, unlike a lot of hotly debated subjects - there is no mystery here; Composting human waste is a well known process.







There are composting toilets that actually do compost the waste. The basic design generally looks something like this:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/Remote_compost_toilet.jpg

Note the hatch near the top for adding organics like sawdust or peat moss, the crank handle for stirring the heap, and the pull out tray at the bottom for removing whatever has worked its way from one end of the bin to the other, becoming compost as it goes.

Note also the electric wiring for the exhaust fan and/or the heating element.



The "Humanure" guys build small toilets that use a 5 gallon bucket and sawdust, or they show you how to build your own.:

http://humanurehandbook.com/humanure_toilet.html



BUT...they don't claim that what comes out of the toilet is compost.

BECAUSE...

The waste then has to be put in to an actual compost heap before it becomes compost. They take a year to fill a compost bin, then let it sit and compost for ANOTHER YEAR before it's fully composted and ready for use:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BWc-RjuWbs&feature=player_embedded

DiploStrat
10-02-2011, 01:30 AM
<raises hand>

That's me.



Actually, no, I was refering to folks on the sailing forum. :)

(They were mostly claiming that it would leak/smell/etc. Sailors don't care about whether it is finished compost, whatever it is, it is going over the side once they pass the three mile limit.)

Shall we call it a desiccating toilet? Your point about not producing finished compost, even in a month, is exactly right.

But that brings up an interesting question - what DO you do with the desiccated waste? For a one month trip that brings you home, you dump in your own compost pile. In the third world, you dig a hole. But in the world of dump stations, can you dump peat moss and waste at an RV dump station? You can dump it in an outhouse, but clearly it is too dry and absorbent to go in a conventional toilet.

And were do you get peat moss in the third world? Oh, the thinks you can think!

762X39
10-02-2011, 07:54 PM
Ok, I know what a composting toilet is and as previously stated, have experience with them.The solids that come out of this unit would then go into my compost heap and in a year or so it will feed the flowers.Makes it a compost starter toilet then.Whatever it is, sh$t goes in, something a bit more pleasant comes out.I'm good with that.:coffee:

Entropy
10-03-2011, 08:41 PM
Since I've got three kids and I'm planning to do a year in Europe and would like to avoid hookups whenever possible, I'd be interested in any opinions for this kind of high-use situation. So far it seems like a large tank and dumping every couple of days can't really be avoided. I like the idea of cassettes, but the capacity seems too small - same for composting. I haven't really looked at incinerating toilets yet.

dwh
10-03-2011, 10:54 PM
Ok, I know what a composting toilet is and as previously stated, have experience with them.The solids that come out of this unit would then go into my compost heap and in a year or so it will feed the flowers.Makes it a compost starter toilet then.Whatever it is, sh$t goes in, something a bit more pleasant comes out.I'm good with that.:coffee:

In one of the vids from the Lovable Loo guys, the fellow narrating says that the Lovable Loo is a collection device for a composting system. He then states that if the user is not equipped to compost the waste themselves, that there are composting companies which run collection services.

What Nature's Head, AirHead, C-Head, etc. sell is the same thing - a "collection device" for a "composting system". They just don't include the rest of the system. :D


(Fine for boats. As Diplo said, "over the side". What the hell, the oceans that cover 70% of this rock are quickly becoming corrosively acidic - an acid bath will break down the waste for sure.)

dwh
10-03-2011, 11:18 PM
Since I've got three kids and I'm planning to do a year in Europe and would like to avoid hookups whenever possible, I'd be interested in any opinions for this kind of high-use situation. So far it seems like a large tank and dumping every couple of days can't really be avoided. I like the idea of cassettes, but the capacity seems too small - same for composting. I haven't really looked at incinerating toilets yet.


Jay, with the Eco Roamer vehicle, used one of these waste seperating toilets, and travels with a wife and kids. I seem to recall he did something like run the urine line to the exhaust somehow to burn off the liquid.

No idea how he handles the solid waste. Probably just tosses a bag of it in a handy dumpster.

Incinerating toilets have been discussed here - there is a thread somewhere I think.

Basically, they come in electric, propane or diesel fired.

The electric ones use about a kilowatt per cycle. Good luck powering that sucker without running a generator.

The propane unit I've seen is designed for full-time use for a family of 4, and costs I think around 3 grand.

The diesel fired...there is one that is for installation in a trucker's sleeping berth - it has a 1/2 gallon chamber and takes 40 minutes for an incineration cycle - and then another half-hour to cool down from 1200 degrees F before you can sit on it again. [EDIT: Now that I think about it...that one might be 24v electric...probably is...oh, lament the failing memory...]

The only other diesel fired I've seen, is designed to handle a job site crew of 20, weighs 200 lbs. and costs around 5 grand.

Both the propane fired and the larger diesel fired come from the same company, and they can both have an optional catalytic converter (with forced flow fan) fitted into the 8" chimney to trap the odor of incinerating waste. That option I think runs another grand or so. (But the neighbors will thank you. Or at least not kill you, which they would do if they had to deal with the smell.)


And then, there was the Thermasan system installed as an option on the old GMC motorhomes. It used a single grey/black water tank, and used a pump to inject the waste into the exhaust pipe just aft of the engine, where it would get incinerated by the heat of the engine exhaust.

It used both speed and vacuum sensors, so the pump wouldn't come on unless the vehicle was moving at 35 mph or more AND the exhaust gas was over 900 degrees.

Developed with the co-operation of the EPA, it was fully approved for use in the U.S. Too bad they don't make it anymore...

http://www.gmcgreatlakers.org/GMCGreatLakers/Technical/Livingarea/Thermasan-System/Pages795-800%20from%20X7425.pdf

DiploStrat
10-04-2011, 04:04 AM
That is simply brilliant! (And not all that different from diesel particulate filters!)

Couple it with a macerator pump and you are in business. Do you know what the disposal rate was? Liter per minute? Per hour?

grizzlyj
10-04-2011, 12:34 PM
Since I've got three kids and I'm planning to do a year in Europe and would like to avoid hookups whenever possible, I'd be interested in any opinions for this kind of high-use situation. So far it seems like a large tank and dumping every couple of days can't really be avoided. I like the idea of cassettes, but the capacity seems too small - same for composting. I haven't really looked at incinerating toilets yet.

Hi

Europe is mainly set up for casettes though. Most of the emptying points cannot be used by draining from a black tank via gravity. A macerator would be a good idea, although we have managed with a 70l tank and a 2m drain hose for the two of us.

I wouldn't set off on a long trip without being sure a composting toilet was really suitable having trialled it. Personally I think I would stick with cassettes and a SOG, but carry two extra reservoirs as many campers do.

:)

Edited to say thank you to DWH, nice extra info :)

kerry
10-04-2011, 03:50 PM
Hi

Europe is mainly set up for casettes though. Most of the emptying points cannot be used by draining from a black tank via gravity.


That was my experience in European campgrounds also. No hookups for a hose directly from the black tank to the sewer at campsite and no means of draining a black tank. Everyone I saw was using a cassette or a porta potti. You could be in a ****load of trouble (literally) if you planned to empty a US black tank system in Europe.

Entropy
10-04-2011, 05:22 PM
That's great information, thanks all!

762X39
10-05-2011, 12:35 AM
We have decided to install a C-Head in our trailer in the spring. We compost both at the cottage and at home so it won't be a problem to finish the cycle. The Thetford cassette we currently use only lasts 3 days max in the bush and I am totally unhappy with it but it is way better than the old system with black and grey-water tanks.
At some point we will be installing a composting toilet at the cottage to reduce the load on our septic bed. I had a Sanmar composting toilet at the old studio 25 years ago and it worked great and the clients never had a problem with it. Once the toilet has been in use for a year I'll post comments on how happy we are with it and after that, how the compost turned out.:coffee:
I just emptied the cassette from our last trip, it's funny that Katherine didn't offer to do it....

User113
04-04-2012, 02:23 AM
As asked by DiploStrat:


Do you know what the disposal rate was? Liter per minute? Per hour?

See page 1 (i.e., 24M-1):

94745

Also, for the dessication, do you think you could use kitty litter in lieu of peat moss?

RonaldPottol
04-22-2012, 11:18 PM
To get good compost, you need the right mix of carbon and nitrogen, the point of the wood chips or moss is to add more carbon to balance out the nitrogen in urine.

chromisdesigns
05-03-2012, 09:03 PM
**edited** somehow the quote didn't show up. Original post was that people had to empty a cassette unit every other day with only 2 people using it.


Every other day seems excessive for two people. When we rented in Australia and New Zealand, we were able to go several days before emptying the cassette unit. Definitely less often than every other day. And emptying is quick into any dump facility or toilet. The only problem with a cassette, it seems to me, would be if you were dry camping for a long period of time away from a place to dump it. Blackwater holding tanks obviously have the same issue.

Now we were not using the cassette exclusively; where there was a toilet we used that during the day, or in remote areas I don't worry about peeing in the woods, but we used it a lot. We are looking hard at a Bengal Tiger, and will go with a cassette unit on that if we do order one.

magentawave
02-22-2013, 03:37 AM
Since this toilet isn't composting the poop anyway, why not just build a simple sawdust toilet like the "Humanure" guy talks about that you can build for $50.00? Thats what I'm going to build for my rig.

NEPolarbear
03-27-2013, 04:06 PM
Thoughts on the link below?
Looking to build out an ambulance as a traveling office / rv with a shower.
This might make a good toilet.

http://www.dry-flush.com/[/URL]

Sagestone
03-28-2013, 01:20 PM
I have just read this entire thread and would like to add my humble opinion...I have studied all of the above mentioned alternatives to human waste accumulation and disposal methods. I can only conclude that for RV's, your choice should address your needs based upon your rig's space, power and water requirements, number of travelers, your intended travel path, time off the grid, and the disposal customs of those areas you intend to frequent. From Europe's cassette friendly dump environment to the 'dump stations' of the U.S. Southwest region to anything else in-between, dumping the final product varies greatly. For example, two of us, planning to frequent the U.S. southwest full-time in what is termed an 'expedition rv' obviously intend to camp in a dispersed fashion as much as possible. Our objective target comfort time in one area is at least 2 weeks and up to 1 month (with thoughtful rationing of supplies). One must then break camp and seek out a re-supply location (diesel, food, water, process laundry etc) before once again venturing off the asphalt. Our extensive conventional rv travel in our intended zone proved to us that there are plenty of dump stations as well as State Parks, National Parks, private campgrounds in which to accomplish safe disposal and plenty of opportunities for re-supply. Couple that with suv type 4x4 desert travel and primitive camping which proved to us that their are alternatives like pit toilets. Therefore, for our expedition rig we intend to incorporate (or purchase) the system that ATW uses for their brand new Global Warrior. China toilet comfort, low water flush, macerator pump to a black tank of moderate size (22 gal.), and no messy gravity dump as a second macerator pump delivers waste to a leak proof cam-lock fitting. You connect a 35' flat hose that is housed on a simple reel (on which I intend to install) a ball-valve type hose end control so that we can dump at dump stations with ease, and at pit toilets as well. Should we choose to attempt to dump at places set up for cassette style dumping, we can pull out our own wheeled dump container and fill it in a controlled fashion from our system and wheel it just like a cassette into those places. I hope that our planned solution and methodology is a help for other traveler's. Regards, Dean

dlh62c
03-28-2013, 01:59 PM
Therefore, for our expedition rig we intend to incorporate (or purchase) the system that ATW uses for their brand new Global Warrior. China toilet comfort, low water flush, macerator pump to a black tank of moderate size (22 gal.), and no messy gravity dump as a second macerator pump delivers waste to a leak proof cam-lock fitting. You connect a 35' flat hose that is housed on a simple reel (on which I intend to install) a ball-valve type hose end control so that we can dump at dump stations with ease, and at pit toilets as well. Should we choose to attempt to dump at places set up for cassette style dumping, we can pull out our own wheeled dump container and fill it in a controlled fashion from our system and wheel it just like a cassette into those places. I hope that our planned solution and methodology is a help for other traveler's.

Dean

You've been talking up your future purchase of a ATW Global Warrior lately.

Are you really certain Sportsmobile is going to use the EXACT same components as ATW?

Sagestone
03-28-2013, 02:31 PM
Dean

You've been talking up your future purchase of a ATW Global Warrior lately.

Are you really certain Sportsmobile is going to use the EXACT same components as ATW?
No, I am not certain, however, the All Terrain Warriors U.S. website http://allterrainwarriors.com/products.html defines the Sportsmobile ATW approach as offering an 'Alpha' rig, which pictures the new GW, as well as their own design intended body, the 'bravo' edition. ATW Oz said that they are mirroring the internal molds for LH drive but time will tell as far as internal detailed component choices. Regards, Dean

angler
05-18-2013, 05:45 PM
Great thread. Bookmarked.

graynomad
10-20-2013, 10:00 AM
Old thread I know but fascinating reading :)

I have a question for anyone with a Nature's head. How big is the hole through into the base unit? I ask because I do not plan to put the paper into a separate container and I know for a fact that it never goes down the hole in a Thetford without some help from the flushing water.

As flushing water is not really in the spirit of things (and I don't want to use a stick) the size if the whole is of paramount importance to my decision.

alan
10-20-2013, 10:41 AM
what's wrong with a stick?:)

graynomad
10-21-2013, 01:52 AM
I might be on a beach with none around, and then I'd have to use my bread knife :)

Haf-E
10-21-2013, 06:43 AM
Since this toilet isn't composting the poop anyway, why not just build a simple sawdust toilet like the "Humanure" guy talks about that you can build for $50.00? Thats what I'm going to build for my rig.

I've used sawdust toilet and a variety of composting (really should be called "collection") type toilets for many years and there is a difference. The key is the urine diversion - with the normal sawdust / bucket toilet approach you need to add a lot of sawdust to absorb the liquids - with the air-head/natures-head/c-head urine diverting toilets the amount of sawdust or peatmoss used is much lower and there is a stirring device which is used to mix the solids with it to help with covering it - a crank handle is used.

Keeping the liquid and solids separate lets them sit around for a surprising long time without any odors or flies - with the combined waste of a sawdust bucket method you really need to empty it much more often or it can get stinky.

The biggest issue I see with the sawdust bucket approach is storing enough sawdust in a vehicle. Peat moss is compacted so that is an option - but still would need more volume than with the urine diverting system.

There isn't much involved with these types of toilets - check out the "c-head" type which can be fairly easily self made to fit into the available space of a vehicle.

One additional option I've considered is plumbing the urine diverting into a gray water tank to allow longer intervals between having to dump it - the sink water also would dilute the urine to reduce potential problems with dumping it in natural areas (when reasonable to do so...)

4x4BNB
10-21-2013, 04:43 PM
When it comes to dumping the solids....I believe it's been asked but, I don't think it's been addressed yet....
Why is dumping the solids from these separating, "composting", toilets any different than digging a hole a burying it???
Or dumping the solids into a "vault" style toilet found at many state and natl camps?

graynomad
10-21-2013, 04:56 PM
any different than digging a hole a burying it
I don't think it is any different from an environmental point of view, just less frequent and less onerous.

madmax718
10-21-2013, 05:23 PM
I would believe that if you actually allowed it to compost before burrying it, your breaking down the fecal waste into something that is more "digestable" in a shorter amount of time.

4x4BNB
10-21-2013, 06:13 PM
I don't think it is any different from an environmental point of view, just less frequent and less onerous.

And ... I believe that is the "accepted" practice anyhow...but...like you said...less frequent :)

graynomad
10-21-2013, 10:35 PM
I'm currently deciding on weather to use a composting toilet or not for our new design, I've been using cassettes for years, they are smaller and I don't have to store any extra material (ie the peat moss), in a small rig that's important.

In the bush the emptying is no problem, just dig a hole, like I say I've been doing it every few days for years (we live full time in a truck), but when you want to stay with friends in their driveway for two weeks it becomes an issue.

Sagestone
11-21-2013, 03:22 PM
It appears that no system of mobile human waste handling is perfect but has anyone else considered the pros & cons of using an incinerating toilet in their larger rigs? All human waste is converted to sterile ash. Think about it, no more dumping, no water usage, only ash to handle, and smoke signals...how cool is that? Incinolet http://www.incinolet.com/aboutus.htm provides an interesting 'incinerating toilet vs. composting toilet' comparison chart. Their 'RV' model uses electricity to power the burn but requires 120 volts @ 15 amps. Another supplier of these types of toilets, Ecojohn http://ecojohn.com/ecojohn_sr.html has an SR5 model which uses only 12V DC: 1.5 Amps to power the auger and optional fan and uses propane to power the 'burn cycle'. Any 'chimney' odor is eliminated with the optional catalytic converter. Their much larger and heavier SR 12 model can burn with propane, natural gas or diesel.

graynomad
11-21-2013, 09:15 PM
I have heard of people using them, don't know how good they are though. For my new build I won't have propane so the Ecojohn is out. The Incinolet, hmmm that's a lot of power, for how long I wonder.

Just found it


Uses about 1 kilowatt hour of electricity per cycle.

Yikes, that's a lot.

dwh
11-21-2013, 10:19 PM
Why is dumping the solids from these separating, "composting", toilets any different than digging a hole a burying it???

Well...for one thing, I think when it comes out of the "composting" toilet - it's usually in a plastic bag. So burying that is quite a bit different than burying the raw waste from a point of view of natural breakdown. And, of course, dropping a plastic bag full of crap into a vault that's designed to be regularly pumped out by a truck would be a hanging offense if the pumper posse ever caught you.

I guess you _could_ just empty the bag out if you wanted to and then...uh...I dunno...re-use it?!


(I think it's worth mentioning, that most people don't bury raw solids properly anyway...they tend to dig too deep, which slows the natural breakdown greatly, and also helps to contribute to polluting ground water. Solids should be buried in topsoil, but not deeper. Of course, when you've got a million touristas doing that, it doesn't much matter how deep or shallow you bury it, it's a problem that needs a septic system to solve.)

dwh
11-21-2013, 10:48 PM
I have heard of people using them, don't know how good they are though. For my new build I won't have propane so the Ecojohn is out. The Incinolet, hmmm that's a lot of power, for how long I wonder.

Just found it



Yikes, that's a lot.

Well...it's a lot for batteries and solar, but it sure ain't much for a small generator (or decent alternator) and you could probably get by with running one full (usually 40 minute) cycle per day if there are only two people using it.

I think one issue with the Incolet (and probably any straight drop incinerator design) is that once it's fired up - you can't use it again until it cools off. No matter how desperate the situation.

The other big issue, is from what I hear, the neighbors will be lynching you once they get a whiff. So, if you fire it up when you hit the road instead of every time you make a deposit, you can probably overcome the worst issues.



FYI: the big 250 lb. (!!!) EcoJohn "M1 Abrahms" model (The SR12) can had with a diesel burner:

http://ecojohn.com/ecojohn_sr.html


197491

(to give an idea of the scale of this monster; I believe that chimney pipe is 8 inches outside diameter)



You know you want it! :Wow1:

4x4BNB
11-21-2013, 10:54 PM
I agree but...the "composting" toilets that I have seen do not have plastic bags? So...I guess my point is....if it is "acceptable" to dig a hole 6 inches into the ground and "deposit" ur waist directly into it, how can it be different to collect it, for a month? And, it's already mixed with composting material and it's in different stages of decay? :)

dwh
11-21-2013, 11:18 PM
I agree but...the "composting" toilets that I have seen do not have plastic bags? So...I guess my point is....if it is "acceptable" to dig a hole 6 inches into the ground and "deposit" ur waist directly into it, how can it be different to collect it, for a month? And, it's already mixed with composting material and it's in different stages of decay? :)

Yea...at that point I guess it just becomes a question of what is acceptable for the area and the number of tourists.

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56878032-78/backcountry-canyonlands-desert-destinations.html.csp

magentawave
11-22-2013, 12:52 AM
If you go to www.sailfar.net and type "$10 to $20 compost toilet" into the search box you'll see a thread about a guy that built one for $20 with a pee diverter made out of a funnel. Its not a true "compost" toilet though but it doesn't stink, its super cheap to build and uses no energy. :-)

4x4BNB
11-22-2013, 02:02 PM
O I C. Great article, thank you. But, it should be acceptable to dump your "composting toilet", organic cache into a vault toilet ?

Sagestone
11-22-2013, 02:45 PM
Well...it's a lot for batteries and solar, but it sure ain't much for a small generator (or decent alternator) and you could probably get by with running one full (usually 40 minute) cycle per day if there are only two people using it.

I think one issue with the Incolet (and probably any straight drop incinerator design) is that once it's fired up - you can't use it again until it cools off. No matter how desperate the situation.

The other big issue, is from what I hear, the neighbors will be lynching you once they get a whiff. So, if you fire it up when you hit the road instead of every time you make a deposit, you can probably overcome the worst issues.



FYI: the big 250 lb. (!!!) EcoJohn "M1 Abrahms" model (The SR12) can had with a diesel burner:

http://ecojohn.com/ecojohn_sr.html


197491

(to give an idea of the scale of this monster; I believe that chimney pipe is 8 inches outside diameter)



You know you want it! :Wow1:
LOL...The Echojohn, with it's 'auger moving waste design' allows repetitive use since the 'oven' is behind you but not under you. The optional catalytic converter is a must for the neighbors. Thank you for the generator input info. 'Quiet hours' would be the only problem with running it but then again, when my neighbors are that close, I will be in a civilized park with the ability to plug in and use their juice for burning our waste. The Sr5 has most of my interest at this point...kinda like the jeep of incinerators :ylsmoke:btw Does anybody know what Jay Shapiro utilized in their ECO-ROAMER?...I thought I read that they were intending to use a diesel fired unit.

magentawave
11-22-2013, 08:33 PM
What is a vault toilet?


O I C. Great article, thank you. But, it should be acceptable to dump your "composting toilet", organic cache into a vault toilet ?

graynomad
11-22-2013, 08:44 PM
the scale of this monster
Yikes, I'll keep it in mind if I ever build a tank :)

I have to say that I would not be a fan of anything that requires mechanisms and power to work, I can see the advantage of not having sewage to deal with but there's too much to go wrong and when it does you are stuffed and a week's drive (or more) from a service agent. A porta potti or one of those pee-diverting johns have (almost) nothing to to fail.

In our new build we won't have a generator so that's not an option for us either.

magentawave
11-22-2013, 09:10 PM
I agree 100%. The last thing I want to deal with in my rig while traveling is expensive and complicated energy sucking clap-trap so I'm building the $20 "compost" toilet with a pee diverter.


Yikes, I'll keep it in mind if I ever build a tank :)

I have to say that I would not be a fan of anything that requires mechanisms and power to work, I can see the advantage of not having sewage to deal with but there's too much to go wrong and when it does you are stuffed and a week's drive (or more) from a service agent. A porta potti or one of those pee-diverting johns have (almost) nothing to to fail.

In our new build we won't have a generator so that's not an option for us either.

4x4BNB
11-23-2013, 02:06 AM
Vault toilet is really just an outhouse. A toilet seat built over a big hole. You find them at state and national campgrounds

graynomad
11-23-2013, 02:55 AM
Oh AKA "long drop".

Haf-E
11-23-2013, 07:29 AM
Does anybody know what Jay Shapiro utilized in their ECO-ROAMER?...I thought I read that they were intending to use a diesel fired unit.

Not sure - but there was another guy who used a macerater pump and then injected the liquids into his diesel engine's exhaust while the rig was going down the highway...

Sagestone
11-23-2013, 12:42 PM
Not sure - but there was another guy who used a macerater pump and then injected the liquids into his diesel engine's exhaust while the rig was going down the highway...
dwh covered this well and included a link to an obsolete but interesting Thermasan set-up on page 6, post #52 for 'exhaust' disposal.

Sagestone
11-23-2013, 01:15 PM
Yikes, I'll keep it in mind if I ever build a tank :)

I have to say that I would not be a fan of anything that requires mechanisms and power to work, I can see the advantage of not having sewage to deal with but there's too much to go wrong and when it does you are stuffed and a week's drive (or more) from a service agent. A porta potti or one of those pee-diverting johns have (almost) nothing to to fail.

In our new build we won't have a generator so that's not an option for us either.
I generally agree with the 'keep it simple' methodology but then again, that would mean abandoning your truck and heading out with hiking boots and a backpack. Laces have been known to fail as well. :) Personal preference and inherent skills have to be weighed per each individual. With my mechanical skills and aversion to literally handling my waste, I see a distinct advantage to either burning it or macerating and pump dumping and/or exhaust dripping. I hope the electronics in my PC hold out so I can catch your reply;):beer: Cheers, keep the good info coming, Dean

daniel ruops
06-16-2014, 01:24 AM
I wish to thank Rhetts and the other participants for sharing their opinions, perspectives and experiences on all matters "toilett". Several months ago we replaced our Thetford Cassette with a Nature's Head composting toilett. We are very happy for having made the change. Rhetts adaquately addressed the positive aspects of the Nature's Head toilett therefore I will simply state that we concur most positively with his review. We do not miss the odors, leakage on studder bump roads and the potental for Robin Williams comedy RV black holding tank and fecal matter mishaps.

DiploStrat
06-21-2014, 08:38 PM
based on two months full time usage. You can dump a composting toilet at a conventional RV dump station IF it has running water. (Which most do.) And you will still use less water than the folks who are cleaning out their black tanks. Takes a moment, but the process has none of the odor common to dumping a conventional black tank.

dumpnpump
07-11-2014, 06:47 PM
Hey everybody. Anybody know anything about those incinerating toilets or those incinerators that replace a septic system? Im looking to build on 10 acres I bought in Wyoming and its pretty remote. Gonna cost a fortune to put in a septic tank plus paying for the pump outs. Ther are a few different brands but I was looking at Ecojohn. They are the most expensive at almost $4k but each flush only costs about 15 cents because it uses propane, and the other ones draw so much electricity, its probably gonna cost $1 per flush.
I just learned that these things even existed and I want to know more before I spend that kind of money. Can somebody weigh in here? I would appreciate it.

Haf-E
07-11-2014, 06:54 PM
Is there a specific reason the septic is going to cost a lot? i.e. high water table, rocky ground etc.? One thing people often overlook when the get excited about composting toilets etc. is that you will still need to dispose of the graywater as well - so that will require a system as well - which, depending on your local requirements, may require a full septic system anyways...

I haven't used one of the propane toilets but think the composting systems are a good alternative - cheaper and less on going expense. You also get compost from it.

Check with your local building department about the graywater requirements...