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Old 06-01-2010, 12:43 PM   #1
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Your questions about our Composting Toilet

Throughout our travels and from our website and blog, one of the most frequently asked questions is “How is your composting toilet working?” So by popular demand here is an update on the toilet!

It seems like the very thought of a composting toilet is both intriguing and intimidating to most people. All of us are used to the flush and go toilets (or is it go and flush?) we have used all of our lives and really don’t think that much about it. However with the increasing awareness that the availability of clean water (already an issue in many parts of the world), is going to become a global issue, and that the wisdom of using fresh clean drinking water to flush our waste seems doubtful, more and more people are becoming open to the idea of composting toilets.

For us and for all self-contained mobile travelers, there is also the issue of disposing of the nasty mixture that spews forth from the infamous “black tank”. As any one who has lived in RV or trailer will tell you, this is certainly one of the least enjoyable parts of the experience. While the Nature’s Head composting toilet is not without maintenance, it does a pretty nice job of separating the liquid and solid wastes, thereby making the job of maintenance and disposal much less disagreeable. Combined with the fact that you can feel good about conserving precious water resources, the upside of using a composting toilet far outweighs any discomfort you might have about dealing with your waste in a little more hands-on manner!

The first question most people ask is “does it smell?” The answer is definitely “No” Not only does it not smell (there is a slight but not unpleasant earthy odor when we add new peat moss), but there is a complete lack of the usual chemical odors associated with the conventional RV toilet much like you would find in an airplane toilet.

People also want to know what we do with the waste. First of all, there are several different types of composting toilets. Some use heat to remove the liquid waste from the solid waste. This requires not only additional electrical energy, but also a larger tank as well as longer composting times. The Nature’s Head toilet cleverly separates the liquids from the solids, making the disposal of liquid waste as easy as emptying the tank, and the overall size of the toilet much more suitable for smaller living spaces like an RV or cabin. Both types of toilets have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the application. If you are considering a composting toilet for your home as opposed to an RV, boat, or cabin, I would look into some of the units designed for that application as the Nature’s Head is best suited to those other situations.

As for what we do with the waste, this depends on how much we are using it, and where we are. While traveling and using the toilet full time, the liquid waste needs to be emptied every three to four days. This is usually done in a pit toilet if we are at a campground. If we are boondocking, I do not have a problem with emptying the liquid waste directly into the woods. Just like the wildlife that lives there does, the liquid waste is natural and biodegradable. It is only when it is mixed with solid waste as in a conventional RV toilet that it becomes toxic. To insure that it is filtered by nature, we do not empty it near any bodies of water. If we are camped in the city, it goes down a conventional toilet, but this requires only one flush for three or four days of liquid waste giving the old adage “if it’s yellow let it mellow” a whole new time frame!

The solid waste is a little more complicated, but still way less annoying and toxic than having to empty the foul mixture that comes out of the conventional RV black tank. The Nature’s Head toilet works by composting the solid waste in a small tank containing peat moss. The peat moss acts as a medium to begin and maintain the composting action. There is a small handle that is used to stir the tank after each use. This stirring aerates the mixture, accelerates the composting and keeps it from becoming too dense. In addition there is a small fan that operates on the 12V system of the RV (ours is solar powered), and helps keep the mixture dry and odor free. When it is time to empty the toilet and renew the peat moss, it is a simple matter of removing the tank, dumping the compost, and adding new peat moss to start the process over again. As with the liquid waste if we are camping, the compost is easily disposed of down a pit toilet where it will rapidly finish decaying. In the woods, digging a small hole away from any water and covering it with dirt will do the job. And in the city, unless you are staying at a place where you can add it to someone’s non-vegetable compost pile, it usually ends up in the landfill where it will quickly and safely finish the process of decay.

Becoming a little bit more involved with our waste is not something everyone may be comfortable with, but when you think about it, we should be! Just like everything else we do, from our electrical use, our water consumption, and our use of petrochemical products, all these things have an impact on our planet, and the more we understand, evaluate and reduce that impact, the better off we will all be.

For more info on the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet, visit their website at:

Nature's Head Composting Toilets - The Ideal Waterless Toilet for Your Boat, RV, Cabin, Big Rig or Yurt!

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Old 06-01-2010, 01:52 PM   #2
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What about toilet paper? Does it compost?
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:15 PM   #3
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Thanks Flyncld, I have been researching every type of compost system for over a month now, and I have come to the conclusion that Nature's Head is the best investment on the market, although there are many who like the Air Head as well. They are basically the same type of system and, the owners were once partners. I believe either would be a good investment for the money; however, Air Head is around $150 dollors more. I was amazed at how poorly several of the more expensive composting toilets reviewed. Thanks for the additional information. A couple of questions before I go: Is there a vent behind the wall you can attach to from the black water tank, and how did you vent your unit? Pictures would be great if you have any. Sincerely, Eric
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:29 PM   #4
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Tp

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Originally Posted by pienjim View Post
What about toilet paper? Does it compost?
We use single ply paper and very little of it. It's amazing how little you can use when you try! It composts quite readily although you will see little bits of it in the compost.
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Old 06-01-2010, 08:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Further99 View Post
Thanks Flyncld, I have been researching every type of compost system for over a month now, and I have come to the conclusion that Nature's Head is the best investment on the market, although there are many who like the Air Head as well. They are basically the same type of system and, the owners were once partners. I believe either would be a good investment for the money; however, Air Head is around $150 dollors more. I was amazed at how poorly several of the more expensive composting toilets reviewed. Thanks for the additional information. A couple of questions before I go: Is there a vent behind the wall you can attach to from the black water tank, and how did you vent your unit? Pictures would be great if you have any. Sincerely, Eric
We looked at the Air Head as well, and we think that Nature's Head improved dramatically on the design and the price! As far as the vent goes, we do not have a black tank at all, so the Nature's head is vented directly out the roof using the same route that was previously used by the black water tank vent. There is a flexible hose that comes off the fan housing on the toilet and hooks to the pipe. Seems like every Airstream is different so you will just have t see what you've got! I have some pictures but will have to dig them up!

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Old 06-02-2010, 04:14 AM   #6
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Thank You

Thank you for all of your help. Happy Camping! Eric
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:04 PM   #7
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Question what about cleaning the bowl itself for solid waste?

Hello,

I'm new to this forum, and am considering buying a 1976 26' Argosy. I am a grad student who plans to live in the trailer for about a year on a friend's property. I am doing lots of research on the costs and how things will work being on the friend's land. I am having the trailer towed to the property and don't expect to try and tow it any time soon. So, I thought that a composting toilet like this Natures head would be better than dumping the sewage into a portable tank and then taking it to a local RV dumping station.

I have a question that I was wondering. How to speak about it...hmm...well the solid waste goes down one hole and the liquid into the other holes. However, I assume since there is no water in this equation that the solid waste will always stick or 'mark up' the bowl after each use, if you get my notion? So, would one just use more toilet paper to clean the bowl, and put it down the solid waste hole; or use toilet disposable wipes to put in there or in a garbage bag; or pour some water on it and swish to the solid waste hole? I would think keeping that clean would be important for the smell and appearance too. I would also think that dry toilet paper wouldn't do the job with the smell and marks as well.
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:09 PM   #8
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Question

Three more questions if I can put them in one post:

Do you have a link to where you bought the solar panel for this? I'm assuming that it is a small thing just for this fan that might not cost an arm and a leg or are you using one of these huge ones I've seen elsewhere?

Also, where is this vent hole you hooked the hose to that the black water tank used normally? I've only looked into two Airstreams' bathrooms. Is there a hole in the bathroom's wall or the floor?

AND another question, is it easy to remove the existing toilet? I saw a YouTube video where they changed out a modern rv toilet with another toilet. It seemed pretty simple. I'm assuming it might be the same and you just some how cover up the hole and put the Nature's head on top, and then this vent tube somewhere else?
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Old 06-03-2010, 10:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
I have a question that I was wondering. How to speak about it...hmm...well the solid waste goes down one hole and the liquid into the other holes. However, I assume since there is no water in this equation that the solid waste will always stick or 'mark up' the bowl after each use, if you get my notion? So, would one just use more toilet paper to clean the bowl, and put it down the solid waste hole; or use toilet disposable wipes to put in there or in a garbage bag; or pour some water on it and swish to the solid waste hole? I would think keeping that clean would be important for the smell and appearance too. I would also think that dry toilet paper wouldn't do the job with the smell and marks as well.
Check out the installation and user's guide for the answers.

- Bart
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Old 06-03-2010, 10:44 PM   #10
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Question room enough for this in Argosy?

Thanks Barts for that link.

Now I'm wondering if this would fit in the '76 Argosy where this installation guide says:

"When locating your new Nature's Head be sure to allow enough room for the lid to open fully. Also, you must be sure the Bowl has enough room to tilt rearward to allow for its removal and for the removal of the liquid tank. Remember that you have to allow enough room for the hose connection and for the handle for the composting agitator. Both of these can be re-located to either side of the unit for ease of installation."

Any thoughts? It gives the width and height but not for the other things like the agitator or how far back the whole bowl needs to move rearward.
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Old 06-03-2010, 11:26 PM   #11
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Thank you so much for this review! I have definitely been considering this for a while and knowing that it really does work as advertised I will definitely skip the black tank in my renovation and just use this instead
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:02 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by BrianD. View Post
Thanks Barts for that link.

Now I'm wondering if this would fit in the '76 Argosy where this installation guide says:

"When locating your new Nature's Head be sure to allow enough room for the lid to open fully. Also, you must be sure the Bowl has enough room to tilt rearward to allow for its removal and for the removal of the liquid tank. Remember that you have to allow enough room for the hose connection and for the handle for the composting agitator. Both of these can be re-located to either side of the unit for ease of installation."

Any thoughts? It gives the width and height but not for the other things like the agitator or how far back the whole bowl needs to move rearward.
Well, here's the drawing on the site.

If space is tight to the rear of the unit in it's desired position, why not mount the unit to a horizontal sliding plate? There's no plumbing (other than a flexible vent hose), so arranging it to mount to a piece of 1/4" aluminum w/ slots to allow it to move forward as needed once a clamping knob was loosened would be simple enough.

- Bart
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:06 AM   #13
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The Nature's Head users guide is full of good info and makes the installation pretty painless. Just follow the directions. Our fan is hooked up to our solar system that powers the entire trailer, however Nature's Head sells a small unit that fits on the top of the vent pipe.

Nicro Day/Night Plus - 3 Day/Night Vent w/ Stainless Cover [N20703S] - $169.00 : Nature's Head, Inc.

As for the vent pipe, it seems that no two Airstreams are the same, but all of them have some kind of vent somewhere!
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:35 AM   #14
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Question is this a store bought thing or jury rigged?

Quote:
Originally Posted by barts View Post
Well, here's the drawing on the site.

If space is tight to the rear of the unit in it's desired position, why not mount the unit to a horizontal sliding plate? There's no plumbing (other than a flexible vent hose), so arranging it to mount to a piece of 1/4" aluminum w/ slots to allow it to move forward as needed once a clamping knob was loosened would be simple enough.

- Bart
That's a good idea Bart. I tried to do a Google image search on the phrases you mentioned other imagining how one would put together such a thing doesn't come to mind. Here is an image link. I guess this would raise the whole thing up:
http://www.expeditionportal.com/equi...ent_under1.jpg

I'm wondering if you are thinking of this or just a piece of aluminum that I could cut slots with a dremel too and then have a washer underneath the bolt and it would slide that way? Any links to something?
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