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What is a Composting Toilet

If you spend any time looking at what it takes to live off the grid or what you need to enjoy a tiny house lifestyle you will see a lot of discussion about composting toilets. But, what is a composting toilet?

Composting Toilets

Toilets Without a Sewer or Septic System

The flush toilet hasn’t changed much since it was invented in the 1700’s. Water flushes the waste out of the toilet bowl and carries the waste somewhere else. For most people, the water takes the waste into the municipal sewer system and to a waste treatment facility. For those living in rural or remote locations, the water from the flush toilet carries the waste to a septic tank that must be pumped out every few years.

But, if you are planning on living somewhere with no sewer and no septic system, you need to find another way to deal with the waste. One solution is an outhouse. But, outhouses are inconvenient, smell awful, and long-term pose a significant health hazard.

Finished Compost From Composting Toilet

Composting toilets are the modern alternative to the outhouse. A composting toilet is a waterless toilet in your home that turns the waste into safe and usable compost. After the composting process is complete you can use the compost in your landscaping to feed your plants and trees.

Types of Composting Toilets

There are two main types of composting toilets. A self-contained toilet performs the composting process in the actual toilet unit. A central composting toilet takes all the waste from one or more toilets into a central composting unit located elsewhere, often in the basement or outside.

A self-contained composting toilet is easy to install and use. They are cheaper than central units. However, self-contained units are not high capacity. Most of them are only good for one or two people, and should only be used seasonally.

self contained compost toilet

A central composting toilet is more expensive to install. However, it works for year-round use and has a higher capacity. A central unit may be more work to maintain, but they are the best solution if you are unable or unwilling to get a septic system.

central compost toilet system

Using a Composting Toilet

A composting toilet requires the owner to do more work than a flush toilet. The basic use is the same. However, the chamber where the waste is stored requires someone to regularly turn or spin it. This works much like an ordinary garden composter. The turning helps the waste break down faster. You will also have to add something to the tank or chamber to keep the smell of the waste manageable and to help the composting process to work properly. Depending on the type of composting toilet you have, you can add anything from peat to sawdust or even popcorn. The organic material also helps eliminate the harmful bacteria that can grow in untreated human waste.

Composting toilets allow you live the life you want, without risking your health or living with the inconvenience of an outhouse.