Composting Toilets Buyers Guide: What to Know Before Buying (2024)

composting-toilet-in-house-bathroom

Are you exploring sustainable bathroom solutions? Composting toilets offer a unique, eco-friendly alternative to traditional systems.

This composting toilets buyers guide outlines composting toilets, explaining how they work, their environmental impact, and the various models available. It’s also a resource for understanding the benefits of water conservation and waste reduction.

Imagine having a toilet system that not only saves water but also turns waste into compost. This guide helps you visualize a greener lifestyle while maintaining hygiene and convenience.

Whether you’re new to eco-friendly living or looking to upgrade, this comprehensive guide provides all the information you need. It’s a resource for making an informed decision about the best composting toilet for your home and much more.

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Understanding Composting Toilets

composting-toilets-buyers-guide-understanding-composting-toilets

Composting toilets operate on the basic principles of natural decomposition and aerobic digestion to effectively manage human waste while minimizing environmental impact. 

Here’s an explanation of how they work and the environmental benefits they offer:

Separation of Urine and Solid Waste

Composting toilets typically separate urine from solid waste. This separation helps prevent odor issues and allows for more efficient processing of the waste.

Decomposition and Composting Process

Solid waste, often mixed with organic bulking agents like sawdust or coconut coir, is deposited into a composting chamber or bin. Microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, naturally present in the waste and organic material, break down the waste through a process called decomposition. This process is facilitated by oxygen supply, moisture control, and proper temperature regulation.

Aerobic Digestion

Composting toilets maintain an aerobic environment (rich in oxygen) to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria that thrive in oxygenated conditions. These bacteria aid in the breakdown of organic matter, converting it into stable compost.

Evaporation of Moisture 

The composting process generates heat, which helps evaporate excess moisture present in the waste, reducing its volume and minimizing the risk of odor and the growth of pathogens.

Mature Compost Production

Over time, the solid waste is transformed into mature compost, which is safe, odorless, and rich in nutrients. This compost can be used as a soil amendment in gardening and agricultural practices.

Environmental Benefits that Composting Toilets Offer

Water Conservation

Composting toilets significantly reduce water usage compared to traditional flush toilets, which require several gallons of water per flush. By using little to no water for waste disposal, composting toilets help conserve this precious resource, particularly in areas facing water scarcity.

Nutrient Recycling

The compost produced by composting toilets is a valuable resource that can be used to enrich soil. By recycling nutrients from human waste back into the ecosystem, composting toilets contribute to sustainable agriculture, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Pollution Reduction

Composting toilets mitigate the pollution associated with traditional wastewater treatment. They eliminate the need for centralized sewage systems and reduce the release of pollutants into water bodies, such as untreated wastewater or excess nutrients that contribute to water pollution and eutrophication.

Off-Grid Capability 

Composting toilets offer a sustainable sanitation solution in areas without access to centralized sewage systems or septic tanks. They are particularly useful in remote locations, eco-friendly dwellings, recreational vehicles (RVs), and off-grid homes.

Energy Savings 

Composting toilets do not require energy-intensive infrastructure, such as pumps or wastewater treatment plants, resulting in energy savings compared to conventional flush toilets.

Factors to Consider: Composting Toilets Buyers Guide

Space requirements and installation considerations are crucial factors when choosing a composting toilet. 

Here’s some guidance on these aspects: 

Space Requirements 

Composting toilets come in various sizes and designs, so it’s important to assess the available space where the toilet will be installed. Consider the dimensions of the unit, including height, width, and depth. Take into account any clearance requirements specified by the manufacturer for proper ventilation, maintenance access, and ease of use.

Plumbing 

One of the advantages of composting toilets is that they don’t require plumbing connections like traditional flush toilets. Composting toilets operate without water or sewage pipes, eliminating the need for costly plumbing installations. This makes them suitable for areas where plumbing infrastructure is not available or feasible.

Ventilation

Proper ventilation is essential for composting toilets to facilitate odor control and moisture regulation. Ensure that the chosen toilet has adequate ventilation provisions, such as a vent pipe or fan system, to promote airflow and prevent unpleasant odors. Ventilation requirements may vary depending on the type and model of the composting toilet, so consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation guidelines.

Electrical Connections 

Some composting toilets, particularly those with built-in fans or electric heating elements, may require electrical connections. Ensure that the installation area has access to a power source if the chosen model requires electricity. However, it’s worth noting that there are also non-electric composting toilets available that operate solely on natural processes.

Compliance with Local Regulations

Check local regulations, codes, and permits related to composting toilets before making a selection. 

It’s crucial to note that rules and regulations regarding composting toilets can differ depending on the state, county, or city you reside in. However, finding this information may not always be straightforward. To help you in your search, here are some useful tips to keep in mind.

The following states allow the use of composting toilets if they are NSF approved:

Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Colorado, Tennessee, and Hawaii.

The following states permit the use of composting toilets, even if they are not NSF-approved:

Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Oregon stands out as one of the most composting toilet-friendly states, as it not only permits composting toilets as alternatives to septic or sewer systems but also allows individuals to build their own on-site composting toilets (also known as DIY setups).

Types of Composting Toilets

Composting toilets can be categorized into two types: self-contained and central composting toilets.

Self-Contained Composting Toilets

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Self-contained composting toilets are a popular type of composting toilet system that offers several features and advantages. 

All-in-One Design

Self-contained composting toilets are compact units that integrate all necessary components within a single structure. They typically include a toilet bowl, composting chamber, ventilation system, and sometimes a built-in fan for odor control.

Separation of Waste

These systems often incorporate a mechanism to separate urine from solid waste. This separation helps in controlling moisture levels and enhancing the composting process.

Ventilation and Odor Control

Self-contained composting toilets have ventilation systems, such as fans or vents, that ensure proper airflow. This helps eliminate odors, promote aerobic decomposition, and maintain a fresh environment.

Composting Chamber

The composting chamber in self-contained systems is designed to facilitate the breakdown of solid waste through natural decomposition. It provides the ideal conditions for beneficial bacteria and microorganisms to transform waste into compost.

Self-contained composting toilets offer versatile and eco-friendly solutions for a wide range of environments, including the comfort of your own home, cozy cabins, adventurous RV journeys, unforgettable events, bustling construction sites, tranquil boat getaways, and the charm of tiny homes.

Central-Composting Toilets

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Central composting toilets are also known by several other names, including:

  • Centralized composting toilets
  • Large-scale composting toilets
  • Cluster composting toilets
  • Community composting toilets
  • Multi-family composting toilets
  • Group composting toilets
  • Shared composting toilets

These types of toilets are specifically designed for accommodating a larger group of people. Unlike self-contained units, the central holding tank in these toilets is installed separately from the toilet itself and is situated in a larger composting tank located away from the toilet area

Central composting toilets possess distinct features and offer numerous benefits. Here’s an overview of their uses, characteristics, and advantages.

Separation of Components 

Central composting toilets separate the toilet fixture area from the larger composting tank, allowing for more efficient waste management and maintenance.

Remote Composting Tank

The central holding tank, where composting takes place, is situated away from the toilet area. This arrangement enables easy access to the composting system without disrupting the toilet facilities.

Larger Capacity 

Central composting toilets are designed to accommodate a higher volume of waste generated by larger groups of people, making them suitable for public facilities or community spaces.

Ventilation System

These toilets typically incorporate ventilation systems, such as fans or vents, to promote proper airflow, minimize odors, and facilitate aerobic decomposition within the composting tank.

Central composting toilets have versatile uses across different settings, including public facilities, remote and off-grid locations, campgrounds, outdoor events, green building projects, and temporary relief efforts for disaster-stricken areas.

Maintenance and Operation 

maintenance-and-operation-of-composting-toilet

Maintenance requirements for composting toilets involve various aspects, including waste management, compost turning, and cleaning procedures. Adhering to manufacturer guidelines and best practices is crucial for ensuring optimal performance. 

Based on my personal experience, it is advisable to avoid using harsh chemicals in composting toilets and instead opt for eco-friendly alternatives like peat moss and biodegradable toilet paper.

Here’s an overview: 

Waste Management

Proper waste management is essential for composting toilets. This involves depositing only appropriate materials, such as human waste, toilet paper, and organic matter. Non-biodegradable items, chemicals, or excessive water should be avoided, as they can hinder the composting process and potentially damage the system.

Compost Turning

Some composting toilets require periodic turning or mixing of the composting material to enhance aeration and decomposition. This process helps maintain favorable conditions for the breakdown of organic matter and the production of nutrient-rich compost. Manufacturer instructions should be followed regarding the frequency and method of compost turning.

Cleaning Procedures

Regular cleaning and maintenance are necessary to ensure hygienic conditions. This includes emptying the composting chamber as needed, removing finished compost, and cleaning the toilet fixtures and surfaces. The use of environmentally friendly cleaning agents is recommended to avoid disrupting the composting process and contaminating the compost.

Manufacturer Guidelines and Best Practices

Each composting toilet model may have specific maintenance requirements outlined by the manufacturer. It is important to carefully read and follow these guidelines for optimal performance and longevity of the system. Manufacturer instructions may cover aspects such as compost moisture levels, temperature ranges, ventilation, and specific maintenance schedules.

Monitoring and Troubleshooting 

Regular monitoring of the composting process is important to identify any issues or deviations from the desired conditions. This may include monitoring compost moisture, temperature, and odor levels. If any problems arise, troubleshooting steps provided by the manufacturer should be followed to address the issue promptly. 

Which Composting Toilets Are Best – Top Brands and Manufacturers

When it comes to the best composting toilets, several top brands and manufacturers offer reliable and innovative options. 

Nature’s Head composting toilet is widely regarded for its durable construction, ease of use, and efficient composting process.

Boxio Composting Toilet is another notable choice, known for its compact design and odor-free operation. 

Laveo Dry Flush Toilet stands out for its user-friendly operation and convenience, as it utilizes a patented cartridge system for waste containment.

Centrex 3000 non-electric waterless central composting toilet is highly regarded for its large capacity, efficient decomposition, and suitability for central composting systems.

These brands and models have established themselves as leaders in the field, providing eco-friendly and effective solutions for sustainable waste management.

Making an Informed Decision – Selecting the Perfect Eco-Friendly Option

When it comes to selecting the perfect eco-friendly composting toilet, making an informed decision is key. Considerations such as performance, durability, convenience, and environmental impact should guide your choice.

My #1 Pick
Nature's-head-composting-toilet

Nature’s Head Toilet

Nature’s Head is a versatile and reliable choice suitable for various settings, including homes, cabins, RVs, and boats.

Its durable construction, ease of use, and efficient composting process make it the best decision for buyers seeking a long-lasting and effective composting toilet

2nd Choice
Laveo-dry-flush-composting-toilet

Laveo Dry Flush Toilet

Laveo offers a user-friendly and waterless toilet option perfect for cabins, remote locations, or off-grid living. Its simple cartridge system, hygienic operation, and minimal maintenance needs make it the best decision for buyers seeking a clean and convenient composting toilet without the need for water or electricity.

3rd Choice
OGO-composting-toilet

OGO Composting Toilet

OGO composting toilet is a cutting-edge option designed for various applications, including RVs, tiny houses, vans, and boats. It features electric mixing, ensuring efficient decomposition and odor control. With its urine separating feature and urine level sensor, it offers a hygienic and convenient waste management system.

The OGO composting toilet eliminates the need for black tanks and eliminates the hassle of dump stations, making it a top choice for those seeking a self-contained and eco-friendly composting toilet solution.

My 4th Pick
Boxio-portable-composting-toilet

Boxio Composting Toilet

Boxio is a compact and portable composting toilet ideal for camping trips, outdoor events, or tiny homes. Its odor-free operation, easy setup, and convenient waste disposal system make it the best decision for buyers looking for a portable and hassle-free composting toilet solution.

Best Central Composting Toilet

Best #1 Central Composting Toilet
Centrex-3000-non-electric-waterless-central-composting-toilet

Centrex 3000 Non-Electric Waterless Central Composting Toilet

Centrex 3000 is an ideal choice for larger installations such as shared facilities or community spaces. Its non-electric and waterless design, along with its large capacity and efficient decomposition, make it the best decision for buyers looking for a reliable and sustainable central composting toilet system.

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Conclusion

The Ultimate Composting Toilets Buyers Guide equips you with the knowledge and insights needed to make an informed decision when selecting the perfect eco-friendly option. 

By considering factors such as functionality, suitability for different settings, maintenance requirements, and user experiences, you can confidently choose a composting toilet that aligns with your needs and values. 

Whether you’re looking to embrace off-grid living, reduce your environmental footprint, or simply enhance sustainability in your daily life, a composting toilet offers a practical and eco-conscious solution. 

For more off-grid tips and eco-friendly solutions, don’t forget to visit my blog.

FAQs on Composting Toilets

Are composting toilets odorless?

Yes, composting toilets are designed to minimize or eliminate odors through proper ventilation and the decomposition process. While they are generally odorless, occasional maintenance and proper usage are essential to maintain odor control. 

How often do I need to empty the composting chamber?

The frequency of emptying the composting chamber depends on factors such as usage, capacity, and design of the composting toilet. Typically, it can range from several weeks to a few months before emptying is required.

Based on current research, it is generally recommended that two individuals using a self-contained composting toilet full-time should empty the compost chamber every 2-4 weeks. The composting chamber of a central composting toilet is typically emptied approximately 4-5 times a year 

Can I use regular toilet paper in a composting toilet?

Yes, most composting toilets can accommodate regular toilet paper. However, it is recommended to use biodegradable and septic-safe toilet paper to ensure easier decomposition and reduce the strain on the composting system.

What should and shouldn’t be deposited in a composting toilet?

Items that can be deposited in a composting toilet include human waste, toilet paper (preferably biodegradable), and organic materials like sawdust or peat moss. 

Items to avoid are Disposable wipes and sanitary products

  • Plastics, including wrappers and packaging materials
  • Non-biodegradable materials, such as glass, metal, or Styrofoam
  • Medications or pharmaceuticals
  • Grease, oils, or fats
  • Harsh chemicals or cleaning agents
  • Large amounts of food waste or kitchen scraps (small amounts of organic kitchen waste can be composted in some models, but excessive amounts can disrupt the composting process)
  • Non-organic materials, such as synthetic fibers or synthetic clothing

Are composting toilets suitable for all climates?

Composting toilets can be suitable for various climates. However, extremely cold temperatures may affect decomposition rates, requiring additional insulation or heat sources to maintain optimal performance.

Do composting toilets require electricity or water?

Composting toilets can be designed to operate without electricity or water. Non-electric models rely on natural processes and manual intervention for composting. Some models may require a minimal amount of electricity for ventilation or additional features, but water is generally not needed for the composting process.

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