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composting toilet

Composting Toilet: What is it and Why you need one

We have owned our composting toilet since June 2013, and we think everyone with a boat, an RV or a Tiny House (on second thought pretty much everyone!) should install a composting toilet! Watch this video to get a preview and see our Composting Toilet in action, and answer the all important questions What is it? and Why do need one?

So…what is a composting toilet?  Why should everyone have one? Does it smell? What’s the benefit?  Aside from the wonderful fact that you no longer have to worry about a black (sewage) tank, here is our personal reasoning:

What is it?

A dry composting toilet uses no water, so there is no plumbing involved, no chemicals needed, no flushing, it’s completely natural and organic.  The toilet is like a mini ecosystem that separates the liquids (the pee) and the solids (the poo) so the solids can convert into humus (not hummus, the dip made from chickpeas).  Returning humus to the soil is an ecological benefit no different than adding animal manure purchased from a landscaping store. The toilet has a trap door that leads into the lower tank (aka compost area) and the liquids are directed to the front tank.  This keeps the two from mixing so you don’t get the chemical reaction that creates the sewage smell (ya know that smell that seems to linger in the bathroom for 30 minutes after someone has left their deposit).

The compost dumping schedule depends on how many times you go #2 in a day, how much toilet paper you use after going and how many people are in your home. For us we dump the solids every 3 weeks or so. You can empty the solids tank in a composting bin to be used for fertilizing ornamental plants (some campgrounds have compost piles if you ask), if a compost pile isn’t available you can simply put the solids into a composting bag and throw it into the trash (it will continue to compost in the bag and isn’t considered a bio hazard).  Boaters may empty their solids overboard if they are the proper distance offshore.

The liquids can be diluted and sprinkled on the ground, poured down a sewer or for boaters emptied overboard (again at a legal distance from shore). Typical dump schedule for us (2 people with full-time use) is every 3 days for the liquid tank.

We have the Natures Head composting toilet   We choose this toilet because it’s a reputable company that offers one of the smallest and lightest weight composting toilets on the market (that we could find at least).  There are several other options out there (especially for homes) but for the size of our bathroom and simplicity of use, we liked this composting toilet.  Priced under $900 the Nature’s Head is also the least expensive option that we could find without doing a bucket style DIY project (which is an option for those who are crafty or are on an extreme budget).

composting toilet

Why do you need one?

It saves a lot of water and energy!  This is a really big deal when you are Wild Camping and have limited water.  No more using your fresh water for flushing and that’s good news for everyone!  The American Water Works Association Research Foundation finds that over 30 percent of household water use is just for flushing toilets.  We have all been taught the flush-and-forget system:  We don’t see where it goes and we don’t have to deal with it (you know “out of sight, out of mind”).  Wastewater treatment is extremely energy intensive and the world as a whole shouldn’t continue using perfectly good drinking water to flush away our waste.

It smells LESS than a regular toilet! 

Yes, you read it right, it smells less than a regular toilet and the smell is way less offensive while ‘going’.  When the solids and liquids are separate they don’t create that typical sewage smell that lingers on for hours.  Inside the solids tank is peat moss or coconut COIR (we use coco COIR because it’s more sustainable), it smells like dirt and is reminiscent of walking into your favorite nursery.  There’s also a fan inside the tank that directs the air, along with the smells outside, while keeping the moisture down inside the solid tank.

No black tank!

If you are anything like us, this should be reason enough to switch your toilet!  Having to haul out that long hose, put on your rubber gloves, hold your breath, open the hatch and watch as the giant black snake gurgles and wiggles with sludge then slowly but surely comes to a halt; no thank you!   Emptying a bucket of what looks and smells like dirt is way…way better!  Plus, when living off the cord, you don’t have to worry about your black tank filling up before you are ready to move along (pun intended).  For the crafty you can remove that black tank and replace it with a second fresh tank to store even more fresh water for dry camping, or combine your grey and black tank for more used water storage (this is what we have done).

It’s fantastic plant food! 

We’ve been using animal poo (like cow patties) for a long time as manure for gardens because of the benefits…so why not use ours!?!  There is an entire book dedicated to the subject called The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure.  And let’s not forget the liquids!  Ammonia in pee has tons of great nitrogen (the stuff in fertilizers) and can be used for landscapes, fuel, and fiber.  Its liquid gold, or at least according to this book, Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants. Both of these books make for great bathroom reading material 🙂

It’s simple to install

Because there is no plumbing, only one vent hose to run outside and one tiny fan, there isn’t much to install.  Just make sure you watch Jason’s How Not To Install a Composting Toilet before you get started.

Interested in buying our same composting toilet

The best place to purchase is directly from Nature’s Head.  Larry, the owner of Nature’s Head, has offered up a special discount to everyone that reads our site. If you click this link: Buy From Nature's Head Directly.  When you head to checkout, the discount should show up.

The main advantage of ordering direct, vs Amazon or elsewhere, is to make sure you get the options you need for your specific installation (i.e. do you need the spider handle? Do you need a solar fan? Do you need spare parts?) Buy From Nature's Head Directly, select your configuration (we have the Spider handle with extra Liquids Bottle) and at checkout the discount will be automatically added.

If you’re still in research mode you’ll want to visit our site just before you purchase to click the link above, otherwise the discount may not be automatically applied. If you have questions, the customer support team is extremely helpful and can be reached by email or phone which you’ll find on the Nature’s Head contact page.

So, are you ready to give up your flush toilet yet?  It’s a crazy subject and a big change in how you think about going.  Hey, it took us over two years to make the plunge (again pun intended) so if you aren’t there yet, it’s ok.  There‘s a big movement brewing so it’s something you might want to consider.  Who knows what kind of crazy toilet like contraptions we will have in the future?  As my Grandmother would always say, “you better S#*T or get off the pot”…so we say “OK”!

Disclaimer:  While Natures Head thought we were crazy enough to send us a toilet for review, we were and are not required to say or write anything in exchange, so as usual all of our opinions are not purchased and are our own.

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (170)

  • gen agustsson

    i use charmin wipes so the question is are wipes compostable cause i am slowly transitioning from sewer toilet to compost toilet. i live in a suburban house with my family and they’re so not aware of compost toilets. is it possible to replace sewer toilets with compostable toilets? how often can we dump our waste into the compost bin with lock?

    reply
    • Curious Minion

      Hmmm, the wipe question is a tough one. I’m not sure they would break down all the way, and according to the Wynns FAQ, the more toilet paper (or in this case wipes) that you use, the faster the compost bin will fill up and the more often you’d have to dump it. https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/compost-toilet-big-questions As for replacing your residential toilet with one, that’s certainly an option but you’d need to check with a professional about the best way to close off your regular plumping pipe and make sure there aren’t any local health department regulations about it. If your last question is asking how long it takes waste to compost in the toilet bin, that question is also answered in the FAQ post above. Maybe Nikki or Jason will chime in here but I hope this helps.

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  • Hey guys 🙂 this is Amanda – you met me and my wife April back in 2016 at Dockwildee beach.. I had a quick question – have you guys ever had your fan in your nature’s head stop working? We have had the toilet for about 2 years, it’s not the electrical because we tried ordering one of the plugs that go into an outlet from the site (we still have the battery hookup as well but just unplugfed it from the toilet and plugged the new plug in and then into an outlet in the bathroom while we were hooked up to electric) — even with that, the fan still isn’t working. Any suggestions? Do you guys know anyone who has done a home fix on the fan? Any tips or tricks to get it working would be helpful.. the lack of a working fan is causing us to get fungus gnats.. we have temporarily solved by leaving the solids open and keeping our fantastic roof vent on in the bathroom.. but obviously we would rather get our toilet fan working. Any help would be so greatly appreciated!

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      • Wow! Thanks Jason, great advice. I called and they immediately said they would send me out 2 new fans at no cost! I didn’t even have to send any information to them at all other than give them a shipping address! Totally awesome!! Also they said they just put out a video on how to install the new fans!

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        • Excellent! Super happy to hear they are still rockin’ it at customer service!

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  • brian bainbridge

    where do you buy it???? i have to keep clicking links and still no place to buy. please simplify with one link.

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  • Aaron Tokarz

    we are a family of 5 converting a school bus… 2 adults, 10-year old boy, 8-year old boy, 6-year old girl. any thoughts or additional information after posting this feed a few years ago? are you still using the composting toilet? you dump every three weeks or so, i’m guessing every week with us.

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    • We have moved on to a sailboat and we are still using the composting toilets. We love them. You will most likely need to empty the urine tank every other day and I would guess the solids bin every 2 weeks? It’s super hard to say because everyone is different. If you are out in the world exploring a lot you will be using other toilets too, which means less use on your toilet at home. No matter what if you decide to go a compositing route (natures head or DIY), you will be free of a black tank, use far less water and in the end, be able to boondock or wild camp longer. Also, if you are out wild camping, you can just send those boys to find a nice bush or tree to help with emptying the liquids tank less. 😉 That’s what one of our RVing friends with a family of 6 does.

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  • Donald Buchanan

    I dont see any discount codes. the direct link does not apply a discount.

    reply
    • Curious Minion

      Hmmm, I will see if I can find a direct code for you. In the meantime, if you’re in a hurry you might try calling Nature’s Head to place your order. Stand by!

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  • Debbie

    Does this have to be permanently mounted or can it be portable and used in a seperate privacy tent?

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    • Curious Minion

      There’s a small vent fan that pulls air through the composting bin to help compost and to keep odors down. Don’t know how you’d operate that in a tent but you could probably rig something up.

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  • Bruce Alan Wilson

    On the YouTube channel “Cruising the Cut” he had a discussion of various toilet systems for English canal narrowboats, but the composting toilets were a bit different from yours–and more simple. One thing I noticed was that the one he showed used cedar shavings rather than coconut coir. Comments?

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    • Love Cruising The Cut! The cassette systems that are used on the canal boats are very different and only practical in certain situations, so it all depends on your application. As for the more simple composting toilets, while they are simple, they don’t separate the liquids from the solids. I don’t personally like those systems as any I have seen do have unpleasant smells. As for using cedar shavings in our composting toilet, I can’t say as we use the coco coir because it is eco friendly, takes up very little space in the compressed bricks and is easy to use. Carrying cedar shavings would be a challenge for us.

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  • Shey

    Hey guys,

    Considering buying a Nature’s Head. I have a question regarding mold. How often do you notice mold growing in the compost? I am someone who is extremely allergic so it is a concern for me.

    reply
    • As long as we are keeping our moisture levels right (not over saturating the coco coir), I haven’t seen any issues with mold. That being said, I am also allergic to mold and have a small air purifier with a uv light that kills mold in the air. It helps a ton! This is the air purifier I have: http://amzn.to/2rJ9Cph

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  • Michael

    Hi. Great videos! We’re thinking of replacing one of the toilets on our boat with a composting one, but my wife is still hesitating. The question she has (and I’ll try to phrase this delicately…) how does she make sure that her #1 goes where it’s supposed to go, and her #2 goes where it’s supposed to go? Are there special exercises that she has to do? Stretches? Classes she can take??! Being a bit funny, but serious at the same time. As a guy, she things it’ll be easier for me to ‘aim’ than it will be for her. Your thoughts???

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    • It all works as it is supposed to, no exercises required. 😉 It is designed with the human body in mind. I don’t know what else to say honestly other than I love it and prefer it over a traditional flush toilet. I do understand the hesitation but there isn’t any way to know without using the toilet. It’s one of those things you have to experience (never thought I would be saying that about a toilet).

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  • Kim Brown Jr.

    Do you know if the toilet does ok with dog and cat poop? Mostly for when your on the sailboat and inside the boundaries of where you can’t toss black water overboard. I see yall have cats what do yall do with their waist on the catamaran? Thanks, Love watching.

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  • Christine

    Hi Jason and Nikki,

    First of all, I love your videos. They’re so professional, I’m completely in awe. I’m writing a book about how to live in a van, and if it’s okay with you, I’d love to mention your blog and provide a link back to your site. I realize that you guys are not van dwellers; you’re RVers (and now sailors!) but I’ve found that there’s actually quite a lot of crossover in gear. The specific section where I’d like to mention your blog is regarding composting toilets and it currently reads:

    Nikki and Jason Wynn installed a Nature’s Head composting toilet in their RV and have nothing but wonderful things to say about it. Jason says, “It smells less than a regular toilet! Yes, you read it right, it smells less than a regular toilet and the smell is way less offensive while ‘going.’” This is because fermentation occurs when liquid and solid wastes mix. Nature’s Head toilets have a container in the forward portion of the toilet that catches urine, while the rear portion of the toilet collects solid waste. Jason continues, “So, when the solids and liquids are separate they don’t create that typical sewage smell that lingers on for hours.”

    Please let me know if this is okay with you. Best wishes and safe travels!

    reply
    • Totally OK and thanks for asking and including us! We agree there is a lot of cross over between vans, rv’s, boats, tiny homes… It’s all living small and mobile so we face a lot of similar issues. Good luck with the book and let us know once it’s out!

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  • Tanya

    Its great to hear your review!! I’ve been doing a ton of research on this particular topic! I recently became a full-time RV’er and am thinking about turning my black tank into a composting toilet itself…any thoughts? I feel like all the materials are there if I add a sifting screen and a urine diversion. Does this sound like a possibility to you?

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    • I have no idea. Knowing how unacessable most black tanks are, I would say no…but I am no expert. Not sure how you would go about emptying the compost. We have known of people who diverted the urine to go into the tank but that was still using a natures head toilet.

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    • jim

      I’m doing it NOW!
      It works great but I’m not full time right now.
      I’d like to talk to you more about this. Write me at [email protected] if you want.

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  • Jim and Pam

    Woo Hoo! We just ordered our new Poo! So excited to get our new Nature’s Head toilet. Thanks for the coupon code, Nikki and Jason! We will be leaving our stick house in October to be fulltime RVers in our new 2016 Shasta Phoenix fifth wheel. We plan to boondock almost exclusively. Can’t wait to see this beautiful country. Thanks for all of your advice. You guys are pretty funny, too. Wishing you the best of times on your boat adventures.

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    • Congrats on the new poo and the new 5er! Wild Camping is the best and I hope you find all the best spots.

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  • Kerry

    I watched all your videos and I am 99% convinced that my boyfriend and I will install one on our boat. One question that hasn’t been addressed…. what about blood? I figured you’ve answered all the other yucky questions so this one wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. If I’m on the boat for a month, that time is going to come up. Does the blood go in liquids or solids?? Thanks so much!

    reply
    • It’s not a problem at all. If it is a boldly function, the toilet can handle it. During that time of the month, you use the toilet the same as always and don’t need to make any adjustments.

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  • Got our NH composting toilet yesterday! We’re picking up our new RV at the end of the month and I love knowing the black tank will never be used for sewage! We will now have 208gal of gray water storage with cross leveling! Can’t wait to Boondock!

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    • Whoop whoop, congrats! That is A LOT of gray water storage that will come in handy for longer wild camping stays.

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  • We were so inspired by your posts/videos on composting toilets but we weren’t able to fit one in the RV. We did however try the “bucket” toilet in the RV which failed miserably and you can read all about it here: http://weretherussos.com/composting-toilet-in-a-rv/
    Well at least we tried but we’ve never been so happy to see a regular toilet after that experience!

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  • Shawn

    Hi Nikki & Jason.
    I know you have answered a slew of questions regarding this topic. I would like to buy one, but my finances won’t allow it. But I’m curious as to how long the composting process is?

    Thanks

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  • There is a little Jason in all of us, but don’t worry, many of us have not admitted to it yet! We lived off-grid in a post n beam straw bale house with greenhouse, so we have always been into composting. Now that we had been fulltiming for 8 years, not sure if both parties would agree to going that route. If I ever get a custom RV built, I would surely opt for installing a composting toilet such as the Nature’s Head in the 2nd area with the half bath. That way when we are wild camping we have a choice of potties to extend our stay. Usually our shortage problem was fresh water and of course the compost head really helps extend the FW tank during that back country stay. Thanks! -Dave

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  • Cal Schulz

    Can I assume that a NH composting toilet cannot be used in a small RV that has a wet room? Can any brand of composting toilet be used in a wet room?

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    • It can be used in a wet bath! Give Larry a call at Natures Head and he can give you the scoop on how it works in a wet bath.

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      • Chelsea H.

        I was just searching about composting toilets in a wet bath on google after your video from forever ago convinced me (and moreso convinced my boyfriend!) that composting is the way to go. When your blog matched the search I knew I had to double check! How is it working out in the catamaran?

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  • Kathy Gambino

    Hi again!
    I also serve special needs children and adults. Would this toilet comply with ADA(American Disability Act) laws?
    I think the installation would be the most important factor, such as the size of the room the toilet is installed in. I would also want to install some type of hand cleaning station. What do you recommend for special needs individuals? As far as proper use of trap door etc?

    reply
    • I really don’t know anything about ADA laws and you would be best served by contacting Larry at Natures Head directly as he could answer those questions.

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  • Kathy Gambino

    Hi there! I am intrigued! I have been researching all types of toileting systems for my equine facility. I serve about 30-40 adults and children per week and the business is growing steadily. Not everyone needs a bathroom…most clients are here an 30 minutes to 1 hour. I have 3 employees, who don’t work here at the same time except a couple of mornings or afternoons. I probably get 10 or so requests per week to use my adjacent home bathroom, boys often go behind the barn. Would this toilet or another would serve a business of this size? Would need to build or buy a small room to put it in. Thanks!

    reply
    • It most certainly could if you wanted something very simple to use and easy to install. We are two people that use our toilet exclusively with occasional guests. However if you anticipated a growth and would have more frequent users then you may want to look at a more residential model that is made for frequent and heavy use. There are a lot of different options for residential composting toilets out there, they are just to large to work for an RV.

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  • Deborah Hinter

    Hi There, We thought you might like to know that there is a Canadian couple who follow you everywhere! Online! I had the privilege of having them as my very first couple to be interviewed about living a Full Time life in an RV. In the interview they show and they talk about their composting toilet. They mention you guys, and how much information that have found useful over their time of prepping to go on the road. You can watch the video on our YouTube channel or visit our blog. Their name is Mike & Louise. https://youtu.be/Ic1mk7FS9pI and the blog is here http://www.rvlifecanadianstyle.ca

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  • John

    Coupon code doesn’t work.

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    • Thanks for letting us know, we will check into it. The coupon is for Natures Head website, is that where you tried it? You can also call in, ask for Larry (the owner) and he will take good care of you.

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      • John Kennedy

        Hi Nikki,
        We were at Topsail last year with the Airstreamers and you and Jason were there. We are going back there on Jan 5 2016 for another Airstream event.

        I checked with Larry and the correct code is Wynns2015.

        John

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  • sandy c

    Hi Nikki and Jason,
    I apologize if I missed this in the videos and comments.
    I understand that the solids in the compost are at various stages of breakdown, depending on how long they have been there, right?
    I wonder, then if a recent deposit was made, and the unit needed to be emptied, how can the material smell like dirt and not, well, the recent deposit?
    Thanks for your time.

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    • We always wait a few hours before emptying (never has been a problem) and once its all mixed in with the coco coir, the coco coir absorbs smells and liquids. I know it is all hard to believe but really, it is not offensive and leaps and bounds less offensive than dealing with and emptying the black tank.

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  • Bobbi

    Hi Jason and Nikki
    I just bought a 1989 Toyota Sea Breeze. I would love to put in a composting toilet but…I have so many inside (cosmetic) repairs to make I don’t I’ll be able to afford $925 that a Natures Head costs. I think I could manage to buy a bucket, urine catchment and vent it on the cheap. What is your ideas at least for a temp solution?
    Yes the engine, tranny and truck base is all good. She passed emissions. The roof, seem leaks and window leaks are repaired. There are some interior repairs done already. She has new LPG tank. I could stay in her now but I really want the black tank thing GONE!
    Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated!
    Thanks
    Bobbi

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  • The Rubins

    Hi there! We FINALLY took the plunge and purchased our first RV (a 34ft 5er)! Very excited to start traveling, so far we’ve just parked it in the driveway with a 50 point turn) and have purchased a ton of stuff, INCLUDING an Airhead composting toilet which my husband installed last week. Ok, my question is, what kind of Coco coir do you recommend and where do you get it?

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  • Frances Weeks

    Can I use septic-safe toilet paper rather than compost/RV/marine toilet paper in the composting toilet? I haven’t bought a composting toilet yet and am testing my options cost-wise and environment-wise.

    Thanks

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  • Bob

    Jason,

    Somethig is wrong with the audio in your “Composting Toilet: What is it and Why you need one” Video. When I play the video the background music completely overscores your voice over.

    reply
    • hmm, not sure what is going on but we have not gotten any others alerting us there is an issue. Maybe try listing on another device? So sorry and thanks for letting us know.

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  • Ben Hurst

    Great article. I’ve been into this sort of earth-friendly activity for over 40 years and was pleased to see your mention of Humanure. Great book. Great ideas. The only improvement would be an installation of a bidette. Right now, in our conventional house in a very conventional city, we use conventional toilets, but we have Biffy bidettes on each one, and after you get used to using one (might take a week), you never, never, never go back. You even dread long trips because it means having to sandpaper your butt again. So, when I build my next house, next year, I’ll be trying to combine a bidette and the composting toilet, and if I do, I’ll be rich! Well, happy anyway.

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  • AL Carbone

    How do U keep the bowl clean after use??

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  • Heather

    Hi, I loved your videos and we are now proud owners of a Nature’s Head ourselves. It’s currently chillin in our dining room, making visitors uncomfortable 🙂 We are Going Fulltime with our two kids in July. Can I ask where you found the red plug Jason used in the install video to plug the sewer hole? We’ve looked everywhere but are at a loss. Thank you!

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    • Alice

      I found mine at either Home Depot or Lowes.

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  • Jamaica

    I just placed an order for a Nature’s Head. Your videos were very informative and inspirational. We will be on a grand adventure for a month in July, and I’m looking forward to boondocking without having to pack up every five days and drive 2 hours to a dump station! Thank you, and enjoy Alaska!

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  • Hi! I just wanted to comment and say that your website really helped guide us towards our adventures in RVing, so thank you! After reading such great info on the solar panels and composting toilet, we got them for our RV and have been enjoying the whole experience of full time RVing for about a month now! We just started a blog too-just wanted you to know I’ll probably be directing people your way since your website has been so helpful in this journey, especially when I post about our experience with the composting toilet (love love love it!) Our website is http://www.freenomadderwhat.com if you want to check it out. Thanks again for all your great info! You guys seem like a lot of fun!
    -Tara and Jordon

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  • Kaypee

    I have to say that the idea of a composting toilet was not love at first sight. Plus I live in Alaska and my garden composting ventures have been less than successful. And I never really minded emptying the black tank; though finding a place to dump it is always a major hassle.

    Then I started thinking. If I had a composting toilet, I could camp with a toilet even when the trailer is winterized. And I could just drive home from a trip without having to hunt for a dump station. My fresh water will last longer, and I can recycle it.

    I decided to take the plunge. And since they can’t call me handsome, they can at least call me handy. I didn’t have much trouble installing the head into my Lance travel trailer. I tapped into the existing black tank vent which worked out quite well. And I documented the mod thoroughly and posted it to the Lance Owner’s Mod page. That way, if anyone else wants to install one they’ll have a handy project plan.

    I haven’t tested out on a camping weekend yet, but I will say that it seems very well designed and Nature’s Head customer service is outstanding. So there you go; you can count me as one of your converts.

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  • Laurie

    Does using the toilet while on your monthly period mess with the solids at all? or does it safely just compost with it?

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    • no, it is totally fine. if you have not watched the faq or the tips and tricks composting toilet video yet, they answer a lot of similar questions like these (especially in the comments).

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  • Lori

    Nikki and Jason…..We are in the process of building an expedition vehicle and are considering a compost toliet. Did you consider the Separate Weekender? If so, what were your objections as you went with Natures Head. Thank you for you comments and love your videos.

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  • Allan

    Great videos on the composting toilet and thank you for all the info and answering questions. But of course I have one and it’s about the urine storage bottle and the sharing of your black and gray tanks as one tank. Question could the urine bottle be removed and a hose go from the compost toilet urine dispenser (were it would go into the bottle) down to the black or gray tank? I have heard of users of the Natures Head toilet having problems seeing how full the urine bottle was getting and it overflowed and it’s a big mess, so that’s why I asked.

    Thank you
    Allan in Sin City

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  • J&H OBrien

    I love that you posted the information on the composting toilet. We plan to add one to our RV. I applaud you for posting your video on adding your composting toilet to your RV. I love that you just did it. To many times people won’t just try. Isn’t that how we learn?
    Hope to be traveling soon.
    J&H OBrien

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    • Thanks! We love our composting toilet and now couldn’t imagine not having one. We were skeptical like most everyone else when we were thinking about getting one. Best upgrade ever!

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  • Jennie

    Thanks guys – I’m making a decision about Nature’s Head versus Separett right now – & shared on Facebook to talk over with folks

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  • Tim

    Hey Jason & Nikki – Just discovering RV’ing. Your site makes me excited to begin this adventure. And you are expanding my knowledge by leaps and bounds…

    If I ask something you’ve already blogged on – please direct me to your existing comments. If I ask something not appropriate for public blogs – please email me directly.

    Questions: Is a diesel pusher really worth twice the initial outlay? Are solar panels cost effective, or just quieter when boon docking? How does a composting toilet deal with a lady’s monthly cycle?

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  • 2BarA

    Thanks for all the info and for presenting it factually and without corny jokes. Too many people seem to feel called upon to be silly (like grade-school kids) when discussing these matters. The NH seems to have come up with a good solution for separating solids from liquids, but every time I see a picture of that urine bottle I am put off. I have had two expensive commercial composting toilets and both were disappointing. Maybe it’s because I live in Canada where we have cold winters. I am on my second Thetford Porta Potti and seem to have found these a better solution and much cheaper to buy and maintain. Glad the NH works so well for you. Continue to enjoy your travels.

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  • Pam

    Love, Love, LOVE your blog! We will be picking up our new fifth wheel next month and have plans to install the CT immediately. We had lots of questions and you have answered most of them. However, we still wondered EXACTLY how you empty the contents. We went to the Nature’s Head web site and they have a PDF of the instruction manual that has all of the installation and operating particulars — including emptying. Just FYI for anyone looking into it! 🙂 Oh, and did I say that I LOVE your blog???!!!!

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    • Thanks for the love Pam! We are launching a video on how to prep and dump the toilet next week! So you can see how we do it (which is a little different than the PDF). See ya on the road!

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  • Heather

    I have a question regarding composting, but dealing with food, not waste. Do you have any experience composting food scraps while being on the road or have you encountered anyone else who has? I came across the Bokashi composting system, and it seems do-able, but I would still need to eventually add it to a garden of some sort, and well obviously I’d be a little short on garden space if I was traveling full time. 😉 So my question for you is, in your travels, have you come across any dump sites for food waste and compost? I’m trying to get an idea if many places would have something like this for non-residents, as it would be completely inconvenient to be carrying around food waste for more than a few weeks. I am really looking to reduce as much waste as possible, and this seems like something that is not really addressed anywhere (for obvious reasons).

    Love your videos + info on the composting toilets. Definitely going to be looking into that when we go full time. Any info or suggestions is greatly appreciated, and if you haven’t heard of Bokashi composting, here is a link you can check out. : http://bokashicomposting.com/.

    And as far as smell and sanitation are concerned, I’m pretty sure if you can compost poop in an RV, food shouldn’t be an issue. 🙂

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    • Heather

      Ok, so I just re-read this and saw that you mentioned that some campgrounds have compost piles. Have you come across many, or just a couple here and there?

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    • we have not tried composting food but have thought about it. Without a garden or compost pile to add it to there would be to many times it would have to go into the trash bin anyhow. So for us I don’t think its worth it. We already carry our recyclables around for way too long sometimes and space is always an issue with RV’s. Probably not the answer you wanted and I don’t want to discourage you from trying to find a solution. There just may be a fair amount of work involved…such as calling each city to ask about policy or if they have community garden and such.

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      • Heather

        Thanks for the reply! As I don’t have any experience yet with living on the road full time (planning on leaving later this year), I can only guess with things like this. I’m sure it will take a bit of work, but I’m stubborn, so I will have to find a way. 🙂 When I do find a fool-proof method, I will report back and let you know!

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  • Elizabeth Bookspan

    We just returned home from taking our new Leisure Travel Van Libero out on the road to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl with our Natures Head toilet. There are 4 of us and we LOVED not having to empty a black tank, especially because our new septic hose leaks a little.

    We did empty the urine bucket every morning down the shower drain, and although not the most pleasant experience, its not a big deal and certainly not a deal breaker (I have a potty trained toddler, so I’m used to emptying a toddler potty).

    We left the composting material in the coach until I’m readying to clean the entire rig, but each time I check the bin, its just more dirt like, so I don’t think I need to bother emptying it until after the next trip. Again, I love the fact we don’t have a black tank to empty or those lines to maintain, sanitize, etc. I love that I can remove the Natuers Head from the rig, thoroughly clean it and my coach is truly clean. Thank you Wynns for sharing your experience.

    Now, I’m wondering if I can use cedar, pine & corn clumping cat litter and make the job even easier, by just “scooping” the bin after each trip and topping off the litter. (Yes, we’ve had cats in the past).

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  • James

    I’ve been reading your blog with interest. I was just wondering, do you run into any issues when the temperatures rise – like, when you went to Burning Man, for instance? Also, when you need to clean the toilet what kinds of cleaning products can you use?

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    • we are working on a video that answer’s all those questions! Hang in there a few more days and we will have it up!

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      • James

        Excellent. I’m looing forward to it. Any chance that while you’re at it you could demonstrate how to empty the solids bin? It would be interesting to see how easy/difficult it really is. I should think something that big and heavy could be a PITA in such a small space as an RV bathroom. But maybe I’m wrong. 🙂

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        • James

          “I’m looing forward to it.” – Hmmm. Typo, or Freudian slip?

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  • Brandon I

    Hi, I posted the following question on your composting toilet YouTube video, but in case you are able to check comments here more frequently I figured I’d ask here as well.

    Thank you for the great toilet alternative to consider! With a family of four, it seems like we would be dumping the urine quite often with a composting toilet. Do you know if there would be any issues with urine going into the grey tank? It may reduce the time to dispose of the urine if we could simply dump it down a sink.

    Thank you!

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      • Brandon I

        Great, thank you for your response, Jason. We are going to begin full time RVing later this year and will seriously consider this modification.

        I look forward to your follow-up videos regarding the composting toilet.

        Thanks again!

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  • Mark

    Hi Wynns – since your post is related to hygiene and I’ve never seen this question anywhere (plus I haven’t seen one in any RV) I’m wondering what your thoughts are about installing a bidet in an RV? It would save the water otherwise used in a shower making it extra boondocking friendly and let you save showers for only those extra grimy days.

    And though this is further off-topic I wonder why RV’s don’t include Murphy Beds so you could use the space for other living uses the 16 hrs each day you aren’t sleeping or otherwise engaged in horizontal activities. I also wonder why, in the spirit of saving weight and increasing comfort, RV’s don’t include inflatable beds as standard equipment.

    And finally, do you know of any RV’s that offer configurable furniture so you can rearrange the living space? For instance, I see the dinette as a waste of space other than the hour or so each day that you are having meals but if the dinette booth/seats and even the couch in the living space are movable (maybe sliding along slots in the floor that the furniture is anchored to) you could make a much more user friendly space for living/entertaining.

    Thanks for considering my questions. I LOVE your web site and newsletter and expect it will ease my entry into full-time road trip life, hopefully a couple years from now.

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  • Pre d ndn

    Hi there, I’m new to your site but have been aware of you guys for sometime now. I don’t currently own an RV but have been preparing for the past two and half years and am getting ready to make the leap in about another 6 months! Thus my research!
    Pardon my ignorance on this subject but I am curious if you just set up the composting toilet next to the regular one you have inside your RV? Or is the kind of thing that must be used outdoors? Thank you so much for your fabulous site and sharing insights!

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  • Amy

    Just curious if you guys installed your toilet in Roy, or did you have it done professionally? I am considering doing the install myself, but a little scared. Fortunately, I noticed that Natures Head sells a wall adapter that would eliminate the fuss of running the electrical. Did you run your vent hose down through the wet bay like you did on Windy or some other place? Thanks!

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  • Michelle

    I just read through all the posts and didn’t see another person that also has a composting toilet, so I had to say: We Do! For the same reasons you guys have one. We also have the same brand and have been using it for about 5 months. We support everything you have said. There has been a learning curve that we are still learning. We have put off the changing of #2 a few times and that is not a good idea. We are now on a schedule to change every two weeks and take advantage of other places to ‘deposit.’ As far as women’s special needs, do not deposit products (wrap in TP and put in trash). We had one vomit situation that went into the sink (long story we are not going to talk about). Regarding #1, yes, smelly when emptying, but not any other time. We empty prior to travel. We empty down the shower stall; yes, about every three days sounds about right. The fan does not get to the urine bucket, so I am not sure why it doesn’t smell. I too found that we have to rinse the #1 bucket between fills; solid urine flakes: strange.

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    • Michelle, glad to hear you feel the same way we do and thanks so much for sharing your experience. It’s always helpful to see others perspective (even when we all agree) to reinforce the ideals. We have a few more videos coming soon with all of the maintenance and other FAQ’s.

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  • Elizabeth Bookspan

    Do you have a link to How To Install a Composting Toilet? I can’t seem to find one on YouTube dedicated to installation in an RV. I just love love love the idea of not pumping out a black tank. Thank you!!

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  • steven

    I would love to install a composting toilet in are motorhome and use the black tank for a second gray tank with a wife and 2 daughters age 10 and 12 that don’t like the idea of using a composting toilet.are gray tank is only 65 gallons and they would take 2 shows a day each time they would use 5 gallons of water even with a low flow shower head I would only take 1 shower a day. After a while I started to get tired travel 30 miles to go to a dump station every few days when we boondock for the 14 days we are allow. so I talk to a family of 4 they said they could go 8 days before they had to dump there tanks so something had to change so I gave my family 2 options 1 if you want to keep taking 2 shows a day we can not longer dry camp we will have to go to place that offer water and sewer hookups 2 if you can take one a day we will keep dry camping sadly they couldn’t change we no longer dry camp anymore and we loved to dry camp

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  • Ralph A.

    Jason,

    I’m an old sailboater who lived on a 32′ sailboat my wife and I built in our ill-spent younger days and am now considering chucking it all once again only this time on land. Our motorhome purchase is a ways away yet but I’ve become fascinated (that might be a bit too strong a word) with your composting toilet. I am a bit skeptical about how odor-free the #2 container is but if your wife loves it, it must not be an issue.

    The issue for me would be dealing with the #1 bucket. ..at least the odor problem. I think the little fan’s job is to rid the toilet of errant fumes. If you could eliminate the odors from the #1 bucket that, I think, would be a real benefit. I think I might have just come upon a possible aid for that problem.

    Here in SoCal, I see a growing number of 100% water-less urinals in public places. They have a normal looking porcelain bowl with a largish plastic cover at the bottom. They have absolutely no odor…something that can’t be said for other urinals. Now to the good point. The things work because they have a special trap (haven’t seen it but I imagine it is just an adaptation of the normal J trap) that allows for a layer of some sort of oil to remain on the top of the liquid in the trap. This effectively keeps odors contained in the liquid, the oil layer acting as a seal. It also keeps air from the liquid surface so the nasty odors can’t begin to propagate.

    It occurred to me that the same low-tech idea could serve well in the #1 bucket on the composting toilet. To test my hypothesis, I availed myself of a gallon milk container, poured in maybe 1/3 cup of mineral oil and proceed to use it for #1. After several days, I think I can say it works. The jug is sitting in the bathroom (it is one that the little woman doesn’t use so I don’t have to explain things) and it has no odors emanating. Even gingerly allowing my nose to approach the opening does not notice any odor. We in SoCal are in a real drought condition and I usually don’t flush after every #1…I may not flush every day. If I go that long an odor problem usually becomes evident. Not with the jug with oil. I’d guess there is maybe 1/16-1/8″ of oil on the surface. I don’t know how well it would work in a motorhome underway. Maybe a bit more oil would be necessary.

    I’m actually surprised that the manufacture has not happened upon this idea. Maybe someone needs to tell them.

    Of course, I could be just re-inventing the wheel. Perhaps this is common knowledge amongst some circles and I just don’t know it. If so, just hit the delete key.

    Looking forward to more of your adventures,

    Ralph
    smack in the center of Orange Co., CA

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      • Ralph A.

        As I said in the message, I haven’t tested it in a motorhome underway…just here at home. (Doesn’t every guy pee in a gallon bottle once in a while to see if it smells?) I could see that at least underway it might not work so well due to the jostling and sloshing due to road surface. The rest of the time it should work quite well. Even if there is a bit of odor underway, it would stop as soon as things settle down. That’s what the little fan is for anyway. You might want to experiment with how much oil to add. I don’t know what the surface area of your pee bottle is. Might want 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.

        Basically, I thought it would make the, um, delicate task of dumping a little less unpleasant.
        I just hope it doesn’t become an oily mess.

        In which case…don’t use my name! 😉

        Ralph

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  • db

    Wow. You opened my eyes again. Would love one (two) for the house. If and when I get an RV I’ll definitely use this option.

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    • The composting toilet is great however the natures head toilet we have is best for RV/Boat use. There are better composting toilet options for home use. Check out companies like sun-mar, envirolet… there are lots and lots of options for home use.

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      • notanrver

        I investigated many different manufacturers and eventually chose the Natures Head for my home. I liked it because there is nothing about the long term mainenance that will require contacting the manufacturer. If the fan fails, its just a computer fan. If the seals rot, they are easily replaced. I cannot imagine the stainless steel parts ever giving any problem. It appears that the manufacturer did his homework.

        My home is equiped with a large septic system, but I had a walk in closet with a small basically useless corner. It was the perfect place to install this composting toilet.

        I live in a part of the country where electricity is relatively cheap so I can not make solar pay off until the prices subside. I installed a Belkin 120 volt power supply with an automatic 12 volt battery backup. I should have a four days before the fan dies in a power outage.

        Time will tell, but I have not had any problems so far.

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  • Margo

    For Nikki…how do u handle issues other than normal elimination such as “that time of month” or being sick, such as vomitting or diarrhea with a composter? Seems any of the above would be very difficult to dispose of or ruin the composting function of the toilet. We are looking into a Nature’s Head but needed these issues addressed first! Thanks!

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    • Margo here’s the statement from the Nature’s Head website: Vomiting and diarrhea, if not persistent, are unlikely to affect the head function. If increased wetness of the compost results, the situation may be corrected with the addition of a small amount of dry compost medium.
      We have not had any issues with our toilet.
      Also if you email the company you’ll probably hear back from Larry the owner, he is very friendly and knowledgeable and can answer any specific questions you may have about the composting process.

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  • Wylie

    Hey guys,
    congratulations on the new rig!

    I’m thinking about a composting toilet for the boat. You guys really love yours that much? Does it really work ? it is it odorless? Does the urine slosh out when you’re on a bumpy road? Any good articles or reviews from real sailboats?

    Looking forward to seeing you in Taos.

    Thanks for the info on the composting toilet.

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  • Redds

    Without the black tank can you have another water tank installed to boondock longer?

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    • We totally could, however because this is a short term coach, I don’t think we’ll want to go that route yet. On our future home, that would be a great idea!

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  • Jeanne

    Why don’t you hook into the black tank just for the liquids? You wouldn’t have to empty as often.

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    • Jeanne, that is a possibility for just the liquids, however it would be quite the modification and we didn’t want to make any major modifications to the toilet, Black tank or the RV. And its really not a big deal to empty.

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  • I am very interested in installing a composting toilet in our 5th wheel. My husband & are full time and would like to do more boon docking. How is the system working for you? I was reading the installation instructions and it indicated there might a challenge for full timers in regards to dumping of the solid waste? How to you typically dispose of both solid and liquid? How often do you have to empty the liquids?

    Thanks so much for your great sharing!

    Bettina

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  • Pat

    What if you’re peeing and pooing at the same sitting?

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  • Tamara

    So, I’m considering this option and this toilet, but I have a question- how is it that the bowl does not get poo on it that you’d need to wipe off each time? Also, did you ever get that discount code to give readers? Thanks so much for all the info you have here.

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  • Sam

    OK, I must admit, I was a bit suspicious of this whole ‘composting toilet’ situation. Let’s be honest, it’s all a bit gross when you think about it, and its hard to imagine the toilet smelling anything but awful. Let me tell you guys, I stand corrected. I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Nikki and Jason last night to enjoy delicious food and great drinks (of course). From the home-made beer and whisky concoctions (Jason, what are those called again?) to the local Washington wine to the dessert cocktail, I was feeling great!

    Sure enough, what goes in must come out! Bashfully, I let Jason and Nikki know that I needed to use their restroom. With some solid advice from our favorite couple (“Just Aim For The Hole”) I proceeded on my mission. After walking into the bathroom, I noticed one thing! It smelled great, better than my bathroom at my apartment in downtown Seattle. Let’s get down to business. You have to sit down to use it, but the actual process is really easy (I can only speak for #1). It was weird not flushing but the toilet worked great, no smell, and it felt super clean.

    Some of you might be wondering about #2 in this situation. That compartment (I think they call it black waste) is separate from the liquids compartment and you open a valve/door to use it. I was curious, especially because I’m transitioning from normal city life to full-time RVing in the next few months. Don’t judge me (I’m looking at you Jason and Nikki) but I opened it up just to see what the process would be like and if it smelled at all. You will all be delighted to know that there was literally no smell there either. Once a skeptic, now seriously considering getting one for my future motorhome.

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    • HAHA Sam, your writing is like reading a beautiful poem…about toilets 🙂 The special drink is called a Rum Nutty and combines a brown ale with a dark reserve rum. We were introduced by Pirate John in Lake Havasu (think he sounds like a cool guy? check out this post: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/explosive-thanksgiving )
      Sam you’re welcome back anytime, and I hope your RV search continues with great success, we hope to run across you and Cassie in the near future on the road. Till next time…

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  • Chris

    Hey guys great site. Where do you get the coconut coir?

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  • Stephanie

    I’d love an update my black tank has a crack at the fitting, roadtrek was sent pictures but if it isn’t warrantied I think I’ll get the natures head, how’s it working out these last months?

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  • Kevin

    Doesn’t the bowl have to be cleaned with each use, so it doesn’t smell? Seems like there would still be some poop and urine smell when the valves are opened with each flush, especially if the toilet was used frequently.

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    • Kevin, you would be amazed at how doesn’t smell. You would sure think but it would but doesn’t!
      There is no flush, everything goes directly into the liquids or solids bin and no there is no washing or cleaning. Natures head specifically states not to clean the bin after emptying because it helps with composting and really, there is nothing left anyway (surprisingly).

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  • Claudio

    Hi,
    I’m considering this option for my van, but how about the smell outside the van? I often park in cities and I’m wondering if after I use the toilet, if there will a smell outside the van.

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    • there is no smell inside or out…at all! So far, it is way less stinky than a traditional toilet!

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  • Tim & Dena

    Enjoyed your video. Here’s a Vesta question: There is a hose input to flush the black tank. The manual says that you should use this flush every time you dump or it will clog. Guess what? It was right. We didn’t and it plugged! I was wondering if you saw this tank spray head when you removed your toilet? Perhaps that’s how you get to it to unplug it. Any insight for us?

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  • Kenny

    Where does the toilet paper go?

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  • lorelei

    do they all separate the liquids? I saw an ad for one that had an evaporator and not just a fan, and i thought maybe it didn’t separate the liquids from the solids, I’m not going to be buying one any time soon, just something to keep in mind if some day we get that land we hope to.

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    • You may have been looking at an incinerating toilet. also a great option.

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  • Cathy

    We need these for our homes too.

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  • Annette

    Very interesting and something I want to consider for next year. Keep updating so we know after a year how it has worked long term

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    • I see Annette….make us go through it before you take the ‘plunge’. ha. We’ll keep writing about this toilet and I have my fingers crossed it will work like a champ.

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  • we have looked at composting toilets but there is too many of us in one motorhome!! We have four boys travelling with us, and we couldn’t imagine the toilet holding that much.
    At the moment we are in a caravan park where we have our own Shower and toilet next door to us – which is so very handy.
    When we move on we need to have a toilet set up 🙂

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    • The solids part wouldn’t be a big deal but the liquids would be every day and that would get to be annoying. Maybe someone will come up with a composting toilet for RV/Marine that has a larger liquids holding tank.

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  • kathy miller

    I will never think of hummus quite the same ( the chickpea kind)…sounds like you know your business 🙂

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  • Randy

    I’ll pass on this. Urine dumping does not sound like fun. I will stick with the pull the handle and watch it go in the RV parks aerobic septic system, method.

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  • It looks huge compared to the toilet you replaced. I’ll have to look at the dimensions.

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    • It’s really not that much bigger, just a larger footprint.

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  • Jill

    we looked into it years ago for a water access only cottage as we had no septic system and really no easy and reasonably priced way to get one. It wouldn’t handle toilet paper if I remember correctly. Is that problem solved now?

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    • Dene

      Curious to hear the answer about how you’re managing the toilet paper disposal issue. Are you able to compost this too? Do you have to separate it?

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  • Diane Smith

    I was very interested in the composte and will look into it. Sounds like a great way to protect our environment. Thanks for sharing. Look forward to hearing more ideas. Thank you.

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  • Ok I’ll admit when you guys first started this composting toilet thing I thought you may have been going off the deep end but after reading this all I can say is wow! I don’t think we’d ever put one in our RV with four people but it may be something to consider when we settle down as I would have a garden and we’d love to be more enery independent. Thanks for sharing.

    (Oh yeah loved the puns.)

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    • Thanks Jenn! The house hold versions are way better for larger families and would definitely be worth looking into!

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  • How much do you have to dilute the “liquid” waste? Doesn’t that use up your fresh water? And don’t you end up having to find a dump station for that brew?

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    • Redds

      Maybe use the gray water for that.

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  • I have been on the fence about installing a composting toilet in my bus. All the toilets I researched, the guy has to sit down to use it or bad things happen. I also read a lot of comments about insects.

    When you clean the toilet, for full timers you need a place to store the waste, because you use it every day. It looks like Nature’s Head sells a second base with lid which will work for this, now I need a place to store it.

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  • Jason

    You gotta love composting! Take all that great compost dig a deep hole and them plant a nice tree on it and watch it grow!!

    http://theprepperproject.com/how-to-compost-like-a-boss/

    reply

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