Compost Toilet review **** the struggle is real

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Wow, its hard to believe its been a whole year already.  Shortly after taking possession of our new to us class A RV we decided we wanted to equip it so one day we will be able to do some boon docking for more than a couple of days at a time, which will require using less water and eventually getting some kind of solar installed.   Well,  I (Pam) had seen on one of the YouTube channels there is such a thing as a composting toilet which would not use any water.  Hmm, that  definitely got my attention so I did some research, watched many videos, read several reviews on a few different makes and models, and wholly crap I discovered they are awful expensive for something you sit on to do your business.  After debating if we really wanted to spend around $1000.00 for one I discussed it with my husband and he looked at me like I had three heads.  “A what” he asks, “NO” he states abruptly, “it’ll make the RV smell”  he states.  So it was time for me to do a lot more research so I would sound intelligent when I presented the facts to him.   I read to him several of the details, statistics, safety issues, etc.  I showed him in black and white where several owners state there really is no smell, its environmentally safe, saves on water consumption, and there are many options out there that are a little less expensive.  After several attempts to convince him it may be worth looking into, I pulled up a couple of YouTube videos and could see his mind at work as it was emitting a little smoke;  he started asking questions, we re-watched a couple of videos and he gave me the go ahead to figure out which one would best fit our needs.  Yeah me for being so persistent.  He doesn’t know it but I already knew I’d get him to come around but we have to be a team when it comes to these types of decisions, it just makes life easier.

After looking into several different makes and models, we settled on two of the most popular and appeared to be the most user-friendly.  Well, the Natures Head model was highly recommended by former RVrs but that one runs almost $1000.00, then we stumbled across the C-Head box model which caught my attention mostly because it was a lot less expensive and it appears to be easier to empty and clean due to the bucket design.   It runs around $589.00 plus tax and up depending on model and finish, and its made in the USA.  Its manufactured from a composite of plastics, has a modified household toilet seat with heavy-duty plastic hinges and able to support more than a 300 pound person.  After many hours of contemplating, we decided we to give the C-Head composting toilet a go because it would be easier to empty and clean.  You can get more details and information,  watch the video and reviews here

I am gonna give you the whole truth and nothing but the truth in my opinion (Pam), because I believe it is a little more challenging for women to properly use a composting toilet than it is for men.

Ok, let’s get the easy information out there first.  Men, yes you men, pay close attention because this part will be short and sweet.  You MUST sit down to do your business, whether it be number 1 or number 2.  I know what you must be thinking (I really do), you are thinking I will still just stand up and make sure to aim.  NO, no, and no, that will not work because of the design of the urine diverter.  If you stand, you will splash and make a mess that no one wants to clean up and we all know most of you men are not that great at cleaning up those kinds of messes.  So please do us all a favor, put your ego aside and just sit down, relax, read a magazine if you must,  and go.   Same for doing your number 2 business, nothing is new or different for you men just be careful not to sit too far back and lean on the lid as it may wear on the hinges.  Another important bit of helpful advice… must sit upright, which means no leaning forward resting elbows on thighs.  Sitting upright gives a better dropping angle for the solid waste.  This goes for everyone not just you men.

Ok, women, here is the low down.  I’ll be perfectly honest, it can be challenging and frustrating but with a little practice, it does get easier and not near as complicated as it sounds.  As I am still practicing to get it 100% right, there are times of failure.  It sucks, but it happens.  Because of the design of this particular toilet (the C-Head) you must sit slightly forward to do your #1 business, trying to make sure you have expelled as much urine as possible, if you then need to do the #2 business, scoot your hinny back and let her go.  As it happens, sometimes us women will have more #1 to expel than we thought, well, then you will be doing the poop, clinch and scoot dance to assure getting everything exactly where it needs to be to ensure 1 and 2 separation and proper composting which will  keep the smell down.  Now if you do get some urine into the poo bucket it’s not the end of the world so don’t panic, but the less moisture that gets in the bucket the better because once you mix #1 and #2, that is where you start to get the nasty smell and bacteria.  After wiping (cleaning yourself) just throw the toilet paper into a trash can with a lid.  Yes a lid is important, that will also help keep the smell out of your restroom and you can empty the trash at your convenience.   You really do not want to put your TP into the composting toilet because it will add bulk too quickly and it gets wrapped all around the post inside the bucket and then you have to reach your hand way inside to clean and that is just no fun for anyone.  A very important note:  it really does not smell bad.  You will have some initial odor when you first do the #2 but that will dissipate as soon as you churn to mix the cococoir and poo.  If you find there still an odor lingering, then just use Lysol or air freshener.  I like keeping those cinnamon brooms in the bathroom.  They smell good and if you need, you can break some bristles off and churn into the toilet.  Win Win.  But seriously, there really is no smell from the toilet itself.

Now if you have children, there may be a few more challenges and most definitely  a few more clean ups as everyone gets used to the new positioning of your hinny, as I had the pleasure and recent experience with my 4-year-old granddaughter.  Now I am not sure if she has an angle issue or that smaller people sit more forward so you will have to work with that a bit until you get it right.  You may want to keep cleaning supplies handy.  If you have boy children, no worries, easy peasy.

There are several different models to choose from, depending on your available space and lifestyle needs.  They have designs which work great in boats, RVs and cabins.  Their website will walk you through helping you to decide which one will work best for you.  If you have any questions, you may post in comments, or contact directly as they will have all the up to date info and technical information you need.

Just a little bit of important information about why you must keep the solid waste and urine separate.  When solid waste and urine are mixed together it creates a horrible odor that we are all too familiar with when using a porta potty or for the lucky ones… outhouse.   To prevent odor and bacteria, it is critical to keep the urine and solid waste separate.   With this particular bucket/jug model, you can use a basic water gallon jug to catch the urine which makes it easy to dispose of and inexpensive to replace.  We find that we are emptying the gallon jug once a day for 2 people using full-time.  We rinse it well and its good for 2-3 more fills, but after that it gets stained and the plastic and starts to smell.   After 3-4 fill ups, we rinse it with a small amount of bleach before flattening and put into recycle bin; this helps to keep it environmentally safe and cootie free.  When we are staying at a campground of course we won’t need to empty it as often because we will utilize the campground facilities as much as possible, and when not in use we do keep a cap on the urine jug and leave the toilet lid open to help aerate the compost material which seems to help keep the moisture level down.  Since we do not have it vented we try to remember to churn the bucket a few times throughout the day to help keep things mixed well.  The 5 gallon bucket will catch the solid waste, you then will use the churn handle which easily goes into the lid once closed, give it a good 20 turns to assure the solid waste is properly covered.  If you had some spicy, crazy type food the night before, you may want to churn it a few more times for good measure.  We have tried a few different mediums to help with the composting of the solid waste.  We currently use coco coir which we purchase on amazon, and combine it with some pine chips you can get at Wal-Mart. We have tried mixing it with cat litter which just makes it smell like a litter box.  Coco coir seems to work the best for us, we have had issues with bug infestation in the past and we are not sure if it was that particular coco coir or that I may of just gotten a little too much moisture in the bucket from improper angle.  When and if you do get bugs, you need to dump it as soon as you can and clean it real well before any more eggs can hatch.  We add bleach to our cleaning regimen when this happens.  We have even boiled water, added bleach and allow to sit in bucket for a while.   We usually clean the toilet with regular household cleaners and a regular toilet scrub brush.  The more often you empty and clean the toilet, the less likely you are to have bugs.

We use our C-Head daily so we choose to empty once a week with thorough cleaning, where as some have stated they can go several weeks to a month or more but I just do not see how that is possible if they are full-time and using it every day.  Now, don’t get me wrong, if there is access to another toilet when at a campground, or my husband usually can hold it until he gets to work in the morning, then we can go much longer before emptying but for the most part we feel better emptying every 1-2 weeks.  Since we are emptying so often we are not giving the solid waste enough time to properly compost so we empty our bucket into a different 5 gallon bucket with a lid until that is full, then we can properly dispose of it into a regular garbage bag for garbage pick up.  We also live in SW Florida where the humidity is off the charts and that is not composting toilet friendly.  I have noticed in the winter months we can go longer periods of time before emptying.

Now I have a confession to make.  I have caught myself trying to leave a public restroom or friends restroom before flushing the toilet.  I have gotten accustomed to not having to flush so I have to think about it before leaving the restroom.  I just giggle to my self because I am the only one that realizes what I almost did.  At least I catch myself before actually leaving.

Ok, I guess I have to actually give my official review.  We give this toilet a 4 star rating.  As I do not love it, I like it and can definitely live with it.  It is easy to empty and clean, the composting process does not smell, it almost looks like a real toilet, it feels like a real toilet when sitting on it.  I would definitely recommend it to someone contemplating a composting toilet.  So far the only downfall I have found is you may get a little crusty build-up in the urine diverter. Get some disposable gloves, something you can gently scrape with (something disposable or designated just for this task) and cleaning rags. You may want to allow a wet rag to sit on it to help soften the crust, then gently scrape and it should come clean without damaging the finish of the urine diverter.  We are exceptionally pleased with the ease of ordering and we did receive it as promised.  Installation was easy (especially for me since my husband did all the work) and when I had questions they always responded quickly.

Another bit of important information.  There is a viewing window in the front so you can see the urine  level.  Important to check level before sitting down to do your business.  It’s frustrating and awkward if you’ve already started the release sequence and you can tell by the tinkle sound if the jug is full or if someone forgot to put the urine jug back in.  If the jug is too full or missing then you must immediately abort the process.  Look for an empty jug and begin again.  We tend to keep an extra jug nearby just for this reason (learned from experience).  We also try to keep seat up if the jug has been emptied, rinsed and drying outside so the next person is fully  aware and can place a new jug inside before sitting.  We also keep the seat up when we are not home to help keep it aired out, we will cap the urine jug so we don’t get urine odor so don’t forget to remove cap before putting seat back down (another lesson learned).

Again, once you have used it for a while you will just get used to how things work, how often you will need to empty the jug, etc.  We always check jug before bed because no one wants to wrestle with it in the middle of the night (and yet another lesson learned).  So don’t be frightened, it’s easy to use, clean and it saves so much on water consumption so give it a go…..literally,   and let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below.

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