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Old 01-31-2019, 08:39 PM   #1
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Composting Toilet

Well, we're both tired of dealing with the black water tank....and we're considering a composting toilet.

I've found conflicting reports....some love them and others complain about the smell (sometimes "stench").

I'm looking at the Nature's Head, but will go with whatever works and doesn't stink.

Any suggestions?

Thank you,
Lara
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:57 PM   #2
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Hi - here should be a link to many threads about this subject. I’m not a user myself but I’ve seen tons of discussion here about them. Good luck!

https://www.google.com/search?q=airf...&bih=628&dpr=2
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:22 PM   #3
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Thank you, and yes....there are an overwhelming number of threads and posts....and I haven't been able to find the information I'm looking for...probably due to user error on my part. Sigh...
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Old 02-01-2019, 04:24 AM   #4
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My opinion. Why go back years and put an outhouse inside your trailer?
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Old 02-01-2019, 05:55 AM   #5
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The Nature's Head or similar Air Head won't smell at all as long as the fan is working. It certainly helps to maintain it properly. You will smell the toilet if you go put your face right next to the fan exhaust on the outside of your trailer.

When changing a properly maintained solids tank, it smells mildly peat-y. Emptying two day old urine is the smelliest part.
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:56 AM   #6
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You will smell the toilet if you go put your face right next to the fan exhaust on the outside of your trailer.

When changing a properly maintained solids tank, it smells mildly peat-y. Emptying two day old urine is the smelliest part.
How would this work if you’re staying at a crowded campground for a few weeks or a month? Might have some unhappy neighbors.

They might ask you to “move along”.

Not an issue if boondocking I guess.
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:04 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Lara_From_NC View Post
Thank you, and yes....there are an overwhelming number of threads and posts....and I haven't been able to find the information I'm looking for...probably due to user error on my part. Sigh...
The search results posted by SteveSueMac contain many threads, as you recognize. Have you clicked on all the threads in at least the first page of results, and read each and every post thoroughly?

What "information I'm looking for" exactly? You have not asked very specific questions here.

Doing the research homework sometimes results in an overwhelming amount of information, it is true, but that is part of owning a trailer IMO. The information will not be spoon-fed to you.

Peter

PS -- More results for "composting toilet urine smell" -- https://www.google.com/search?q=comp...=airforums.com
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:28 AM   #8
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How would this work if you’re staying at a crowded campground for a few weeks or a month? Might have some unhappy neighbors.

They might ask you to “move along”.

Not an issue if boondocking I guess.
Maybe suggest they not put their face so close to the bottom rear of my rig? You have to be pretty darn close to notice it, a distance I would consider to be inside of my "personal space."
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:31 AM   #9
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The search results posted by SteveSueMac contain many threads, as you recognize. Have you clicked on all the threads in at least the first page of results, and read each and every post thoroughly?

What "information I'm looking for" exactly? You have not asked very specific questions here.

Doing the research homework sometimes results in an overwhelming amount of information, it is true, but that is part of owning a trailer IMO. The information will not be spoon-fed to you.

Peter

PS -- More results for "composting toilet urine smell" -- https://www.google.com/search?q=comp...=airforums.com
We have friends with a CT on their Sailing Cruiser... it works pretty well, with limits...it's easy to throw the pee overboard when on water. 🤫
On the AS would it go in the grey tank?

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Old 02-01-2019, 10:47 AM   #10
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Urine in the grey tank has its own problems, and most CT folks seem to want to avoid that. Lots of details in the many earlier threads.
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Old 02-03-2019, 07:25 AM   #11
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Hi Lara_From_NC - to address your specific question(s) about the composting toilet...we, too did not like dealing with the black water tank! Dumping and maintaining the tank did not suit our AS lifestyle. I found the black water tank offensive. I do not find the composting toilet offensive. I tend toward the “crunchy momma” side of life, so that is my POV about the Nature’s Head toilet conversion in our 2019 GT. And no, it does not stink! Like the Greatleys said, it faintly smells like peat. NO sewage odors with the Nature’s Head toilet.

Our Nature’s Head toilet was installed by Airstream in Jackson Center. They completely sealed off the black water tank after thoroughly cleaning the tank. We can now combine our tanks to double our gray water capacity.

Since we have a new Globetrotter, many folks want a “tour” of our rig. They have no idea we have a composting toilet onboard unless we tell them, or they ask about the toilet when they see it. Again, no smells.

As far as emptying the contents of the toilet, my husband empties the urine tank every evening into the sewer hookup at our crowed RV park campsite. We are wintering over in Florida with neighbors all around us. No privacy. We have not been asked to leave, and we have emptied the solids tank three times with all the neighbors outside and around us. NO smells! The Nature’s Head toilet *dumping* can be discreet even in a *asphalt and air conditioning* situation.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:03 AM   #12
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Not sure why some folks feel so threatened by the idea of a composting toilet but it sure seems so. I think there are a lot of ideas of what it must be like based on assumptions that are wrong.

The OP was asking if a CT smelled bad. It does not. In fact I believe our CT has less odor than our original RV toilet. What really makes sewage stink is the mixture of liquids and solids. That is what you have in a regular RV black water tank. Some of that odor comes up when you flush, along with the smell of the chemicals you might put in the tank.

I agree that an outhouse or port-a-john stinks. A composting toilet is nothing like that so please get that idea out of your head. As I said what really makes sewage stink is the mixture of liquids and solids. Our composting toilet separates the liquids from the solids. The holding tank of our toilet is not a container of stinky poo which is what some folks seem to think. The solids are mixed with coconut coir and the smell is like peat. If you don't believe that, find someone that has a CT toilet and check it out. We don't need to add any deodorizers, chemicals, or digesters, just coconut coir and water. There is no offensive odor.

I do believe there is a lot of conflicting information for these toilets on the web regarding how much of what to put in them and how long you can go before you empty them. There is definitely a learning curve to determine how it works best for you depending on your situation.

Steve
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:17 AM   #13
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We have the NH composting toilet. There is NO "stench" - in fact, if you open the trap door and smell the contents, it has an earthy odour. We had ours installed by Brian in Dorchester ON (he used to be the head tech at CanAm). He also plumbed the urine to go into the former black tank, added a Valterra waste valve to the end of the waste outlet (thereby merging the black & gray tanks). Prior to doing this, I experienced leaking Thetford valves, the pyramid from hell and associated issues with the black tank - now just a memory of past bad experiences.

The fresh water lasts longer, since no flushing, and the total gray is now 65 gallons.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:25 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by blkmagikca View Post
We have the NH composting toilet. There is NO "stench" - in fact, if you open the trap door and smell the contents, it has an earthy odour. We had ours installed by Brian in Dorchester ON (he used to be the head tech at CanAm). He also plumbed the urine to go into the former black tank, added a Valterra waste valve to the end of the waste outlet (thereby merging the black & gray tanks). Prior to doing this, I experienced leaking Thetford valves, the pyramid from hell and associated issues with the black tank - now just a memory of past bad experiences.

The fresh water lasts longer, since no flushing, and the total gray is now 65 gallons.


Not disagreeing with your review and experience in any way - jus a legitimate question because I honestly don’t know- if urine is going to the gray tank - is that technically still gray?
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:35 AM   #15
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I'd have to see one for myself.
There's so much passion, like with electric cars, that the reality is lost in the desire.
Quote:
...what really makes sewage stink is the mixture of liquids and solids.
I always said my * didn't stink! Now there's scientific evidence.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:40 AM   #16
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I'm uneducated. School me.
I assume at some point, you need to flush the composting toilet. What happens? If solids and liquids are kept separate, how does that occur? What do you do with toilet paper? How do you clean the bowl?

Decades ago, I tried a "recirculating toilet" on a small boat. Looked good on paper, grossest thing in reality.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:56 AM   #17
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I'm uneducated. School me.
I assume at some point, you need to flush the composting toilet. What happens? If solids and liquids are kept separate, how does that occur? What do you do with toilet paper? How do you clean the bowl?

Decades ago, I tried a "recirculating toilet" on a small boat. Looked good on paper, grossest thing in reality.
There is no flushing. Solids drop directly in the solids tank, where they're mixed with peat or coco coir. Liquids run separately into the liquids tank. The Nature's Head and Air Head have an auger for mixing the solids tank. Other models may function differently.

Separation of solids and liquids is accomplished by the placement of the tank openings. The back end of a seated passenger is lined up with the solids tank opening. The front end of the passenger is forward of the solids tank opening, which allows liquids to run forward to the liquids tank. The Nature's Head and Air Head also have a door that covers the solids tank, but separation will occur just fine even when the door is open.

Preferences vary, but typically TP for #2 goes in the solids tank, and TP for #1 goes in the trash can. You could put all the TP in the solids tank if you wanted to, you'd just have to empty it more frequently.

I clean my toilet periodically with a small brush and a spray bottle of cleaning solution. Any cleaning solution running off the toilet bowl ends up in the liquids tank.
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Old 02-03-2019, 09:34 AM   #18
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To follow on to what the Greatleys describe, we *flush* our Nature’s Head toilet when going #1 using a spray bottle mixture of water and white vinegar. This washes down any remaining urine that might be in left the front of the toilet. Again, no odors. For us girls, #1 TP goes into a trash can. No odors because we frequently empty this can.

I clean the NH toilet with an eco-friendly cleaner (remember I’m a *crunchy momma*). I use BranchBasics.com for all my cleaning/laundry needs. This cleaner will not interfere with the composting of the solids tank.

Sidebar: We spent time in Central America where you cannot flush TP. They do not have the infrastructure due to their lack of proper sewer systems. This practice does not bother us, but you might find not *flushing* your TP offensive. BTW, our Airstream dealer cautioned us against ever putting TP into the black water tank. We took his advice and never flushed TP. To each his/her own...
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Old 02-03-2019, 09:43 AM   #19
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Now under consideration?

'Dumping' has never been an issue for us, so we don't think about it much. I guess when it does we will.
Good info in either case.👍
No TP in the black tank...thats a pretty crappy idea. 🤢
We do and never had a problem. Just use the TP that breaks down.

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Old 02-03-2019, 10:08 AM   #20
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I'd have to see one for myself.
There's so much passion, like with electric cars, that the reality is lost in the desire.
With either approach there are pros and cons. It all depends on how you want to roll.

If you're a weekend warrior or an occasional camper it is probably not worth it. If you tend to spend your time in RV parks with full hook ups it is probably not worth it. If you have a bunch of little kids who will be using the toilet it may not be a good idea (that pee bottle will fill up fast!). If you want to entertain a bunch in your rig and will have guests you may not want one since you'll have to explain how to use it and some may find it weird. If you're a guy that insists on standing up to pee, then don't get one (you have to pee sitting down).

But if your trailer use is boon docking or camping without full hook ups (like a State or National Park) it is something to consider. Who wants to leave a nice camping spot so you can find a dump station because your tank is full? With a CT you can go a least a couple of weeks before you dump the solids and you don't have to leave your spot to do that. Since you are not flushing, your fresh water lasts longer. Since you can now tie your gray and black water tanks together with a $20 Valterra valve, you double your gray water capacity.

But there is a small price to pay for this. As some have done, we did not plumb our pee bottle to the black water tank (which is now gray water). So one of my daily chores is to dump the pee. Not a big deal. I put a bit of white vinegar in the bottom of the bottle which takes care of any pee odor. Some report going days without dumping the pee. To me it is just easier to make it a daily chore then you never worry about it. When it is time to dump the solids I disconnect the toilet and carry it outside to dump it. Some may find carrying their toilet full of composting poo through their trailer a bit distasteful. But in all honesty it is not bad at all. Just don't trip...

Yes, with a composting toilet you still have to dump your gray water but it is different from sewage and less messy.

It's all how you want to roll.

Steve
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