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Old 08-31-2013, 10:17 AM   #1
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Toilet talk :-/ What are the pros & cons of Composting toilets?

Ewwwwww right, that's what my husband seas. Why do we need a composting toilet. Because Hun when we are not hooked up to a pad rental we want to be off the grid. He seas hmmm okay look into it. SMHHHH Men

So I have and found one make of composting toilet that seems great and under 900$ now to install. I wounded if we purchase an older airstream like max 10 yrs
If it will be difficult to install?

Also what are the pros and cons of having one? Besides off grin luxury

Weigh in please
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:11 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Happydays View Post
Ewwwwww right, that's what my husband seas. Why do we need a composting toilet. Because Hun when we are not hooked up to a pad rental we want to be off the grid. He seas hmmm okay look into it. SMHHHH Men

So I have and found one make of composting toilet that seems great and under 900$ now to install. I wounded if we purchase an older airstream like max 10 yrs
If it will be difficult to install?

Also what are the pros and cons of having one? Besides off grin luxury

Weigh in please
Pros: No black tank to empty. Cons: You still have to do something with the compost. Except that you have to leave it alone long enough for it TO compost. How long does it take human waste to turn into compost, anyway?

Pros: No blackwater plumbing. Cons: (1) You may need electricity for a power vent or for a heater for the composting chamber. (2) You still need plumbing for your graywater system, and not every place you go will allow you to dump graywater on the ground.

Cons: You'l need to remodel the bathroom in order to install a composting toilet. Pros: None to offset this one.
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:27 AM   #3
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Composting toilets are BIGGER than regular RV ones, you could be looking at remodeling the whole bathroom to get one shoehorned in.

Everyone has to sit down to pee.

When you have a regular RV toilet it will take about 5 times as long to fill the black tank as the gray one (unless you have a very large family).

With a regular RV toilet, your black tank IS an auxiliary gray tank allowing you to boondock for longer times. Do dishes in a plastic tub. Empty the tub into the toilet. Put the plug in the shower and take GI showers. Use an old plastic milk jug with the top cut off to bail the majority of the waste water into the toilet. Milk jugs make great bailers because the sides are flat.

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Old 08-31-2013, 11:27 AM   #4
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Thank you.

I guess my next question is, can you go off the grid for say a mth max without a composting toilet? How do airstream owners go off grid wi their normal factory installed toilets.

Toilet talk :-/ lol
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:17 PM   #5
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If you're going off grid for a month, dig an outdoor toilet pit. Go buy this book:

How to **** in the Woods, Second Edition: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art: Amazon.ca: Kathleen Meyer: Books
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:35 PM   #6
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Are you talking about sitting in one remote place for a month without moving the trailer? Or talking about a month-long boondocking trip with a few different stops where you stay a week or two?

The difference is huge. Places like Pilot/Flying J generally have an RV dumpstation. Some highway rest stops do. Lots of RV campgrounds will let you dump your waste tanks for a fee even if you weren't camping there. So, if you're going to be moving around a few times within the month, you don't need a month worth of wastewater capacity.

You definitely won't have a month worth of fresh water capacity.
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Old 08-31-2013, 04:36 PM   #7
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I do not really see any Pros for me. A lot of cons.

But I am not going to Boondock for weeks at a time in one spot either. We stay in the forest service campsites a lot and use the dump station every 5-7 days.
I think FJ has quit providing dump stations.
Thinking about my trip to Winnipeg, maybe there are areas there for extended boondocking? It is just something that we have not done.
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:56 PM   #8
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I have installed a Natures Head composting toilet in our Airstream. We love it. But it, as with anything, has its pros and cons.
PROS- Our fresh water lasts probably twice as long as before, if not more, since it's not being used for flushing. That alone can allow us to stay away from hookups longer. Also we have noticed that many state and national parks have sites with water and electric only, or only a few with full hookups so we have more options. It is no bigger (or not much bigger) than our old thetford we had in there before. It sits in the same spot. There aren't any unpleasant odors, in fact, we find it less stinky than the RV toilet. We don't have to buy the blue-no stink-enzyme bags anymore (but we do use a scoop of peat moss with each use). Airstream in Jackson center said we could turn the black water tank to additional gray water storage, although we haven't done that yet.
CONS- yes, as has been stated, everyone must sit to pee (but I'm a country boy from KY and I usually go outside anyway, unless there are close neighbors). And if you think handling the slinky is being up close and personal with the nasty, try carrying out a tub full of partially composted... well you understand. But that won't really happen unless you're on an extended trip or full timing. We used it for weekend trips for a couple months before it needed emptied and it was just dirt by then. However, the urine tank on ours needs emptied fairly often whenever we have a full house for a trip. The small fan that is used to vent it to the exterior uses so little power it's barely a con. And the installation wasn't that bad, it was just the part about cutting through the exterior of the AS that had me on edge, but I actually just ran it out the belly and haven't had any issues.
Overall we're very pleased, and the PRO's far outweighed the CON's.
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Old 10-21-2013, 08:42 PM   #9
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My parents have a Nature's head composting toilet in their cabin. With the very small fan, there is no odor in their bathroom. Their previous composting toilet had combined storage for #1 and #2 and it was horrible. The Nature's Head is way better. It is really easy to maintain and the worst part is dumping the urine. In an Airstream I wonder if it would make sense to run a tube for the urine to go directly into the grey tank.
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:39 PM   #10
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"I guess my next question is, can you go off the grid for say a mth max without a composting toilet? How do airstream owners go off grid wi their normal factory installed toilets."

These help relieve the situation :-P

Portable Waste Holding Tanks on Sale - PPL Motor Homes
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Old 10-21-2013, 09:57 PM   #11
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I boondock on BLM land at Quartzsite AZ in the winter (along with many others). Whenever my waste tank is full, I hitch up and go to some dump site (lately in Bouse AZ where I can dump and fill my fresh water tank for $5 if I also pay for a propane fill of 30 lbs). So I go there every 10 days. I also keep a couple of 5 gal water tanks in the truck, and anytime I find a spigot somewhere I fill the tanks and drain them into my fresh water tank. I have 3 x 75-watt solar panels to charge my 4 AGM batteries, so power is not an issue.

If you really want to experience a cheap winter camping in Quartzsite, pay the fee for the LTVA (long term visitors area permit) - $180 for Sept 15 to April 15 which is good for 7 months (you wouldn't want to be there in May, June, July & August anyhow when the temperature is 115F in the shade), and that gets you access to a dump site and fresh water without any further charges.

BTW, thank you Cameron for the referral to Kathleen Meyers' book. I got it and am reading it now - most informative!
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Old 10-22-2013, 06:20 AM   #12
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I think DNXman's explanation hits the nail on the head. We'll be ditching the conventional toilet next spring, for a Nature's Head composting model.

We tend to camp in Ontario's Provincial Parks, where spaces are either no hookups at all or just power. Being able to extend our stay to a week without having to worry about dumping tanks, and running out of water, is an intriguing proposition.

All my kids are boys, there are many trees and urine isn't much of a bio-hazard, which will help with making the composting toilet work.

Composters have come a long way from the earlier models.
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Old 10-22-2013, 02:15 PM   #13
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A friend of mine owns an off-grid hunting cabin which has a home built composting toilet and it works quite well, for that application.

This is a decent sized cabin with plenty of storage space in the bathroom for a large bag of wood shavings. You have to put a scoop of those in the potty after every use.

Also being at a cabin, size and weight are of little concern so the holding tank is rather large, built from a plastic laundry/utility sink. Given the infrequent use it gets, it only needs to be emptied once a year, which is no trouble since it is located on 10 wooded acres.

For liquid waste, men are expected to use a tree outside whenever possible. Again no real trouble due to the private location.

Usually with an RV you have access to a dump station. Even if you have to pump out your tank and haul the waste a few miles, I think a conventional RV toilet and holding tank are best in the long run.

If for some reason I was parking my trailer on private land in a remote location, never to move it again, I might consider building an outhouse to contain a composting toilet. Size and potential odor problems are the reasons to get it outside the trailer. Maybe replace the RV toilet with a portapotty.
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Old 10-22-2013, 02:48 PM   #14
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Composting toilets deal with water by evaporating it. They require venting, airflow, and operating temperatures that allow evaporation under the prevailing atmospheric conditions. As such they work best in warm, dry locations. They do not work well in places like Minnesota, where we have humid summers and cold winters.

The solid material requires time to compost. In general a heat source (usually electric) is required to keep the temperature in the optimal range where the solids will break down reasonably quickly. A period of several weeks is still required, and the composting toilet has to be large enough to hold however much material accumulates during this time.

Some states have laws or regulations on the disposal of residual waste ("compost") from composting toilets.

In general, for boondocking, greywater disposal poses more of a problem unless you are in one of the few areas where you can just run it out on the ground.
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