How Does A Composting Toilet Work In A Tiny House in 2021

How does a composting toilet work in a tiny house is the question many have been asking. Imagine using fully functional toilet without pipes and smells, sound farfetched? well, you are in to find out how a composting toilet works.

Sure, living your tiny home dream looks exciting, but have you stopped for a minute to consider your tiny home toilet options? Oh yes, like every other requirement in your tiny home, you must consider your toilet options, especially if you want to keep your home smelling fresh all the time.

While today’s post will give you some great toilet options for your tiny home, we will focus more on composting toilets, which are fast becoming the favorite options for many tiny homeowners. But before we delve into the nitty-gritty of how composting toilets work for tiny homes, let’s bring you up to speed on what this toilet option is.

What is a Composting toilet

A composting toilet is a brilliant waste system that doesn’t use any type of water. Instead, this toilet converts your waste into useful byproducts. While this toilet collects waste almost like the regular flush toilet, the difference is that composting toilets store waste and require someone to turn or spin it to kick off the composting process. Just like you’d do with a regular garden composter, you’ll need to turn the waste to allow it to break down faster.

While the composting process has kicked off, you’ll need to add extra materials to the compost contain area to manage the smell. This can range from sawdust to peat moss to popcorn.

How do composting toilets work?

One question the majority of our tiny home readers ask is how do composting toilets work? And today, we will take a minute to set the record straight. Top-quality composting toilets are relatively great at managing odor. And good enough, most of the toilets we have come across have some kind of fan that works around the clock to dispose of any type of odor that would emit from the toilet.

Composting toilets are designed to separate liquid and solid waste into different compartments. While solid waste will move into a separate chamber where it mixes with peat moss to kick off the composting process and subsequently break down the waste, liquid waste is handled in a different chamber.

Even if you live in an area where composting isn’t allowed, you can still make use of a composting toilet. The only difference is that you have to bag solid waste using a biodegradable plastic bag and dispose of it just like you’d typically do with a baby’s diaper. On the flip side, you can also use solid waste as compost.

Just like you dispose of solid waste, you also need to dispose of liquid waste once the tank is filled. Good enough, this isn’t so hard as you can easily dispose of liquid waste in toilets, on the ground if you live in remote areas or RV dump stations.

To make sure your home smells fresh every day, we recommend disposing of liquid waste every 3-7 days. You can dispose of solid waste every 2-4 weeks.

Pros and cons of composting toilets

After answering some of your questions, including- how do composting toilets work in RVs? It’s time we run you through the benefits and not-so-cool aspects of using composting toilets for tiny homes. Here check them out:

Pros

  • We love composting toilets because they are environmentally friendly. Not just that, they also reduce water waste, creates useful compost, and limits power usage.
  • It is perfect for off-grid living.
  • Installing a composting toilet will prove cheaper in the long run, especially if you compare it to installing a septic tank.
  • Manages odor superbly. Provided it is installed correctly and well maintained, you shouldn’t have to worry about dealing with unpleasant odors in your home.

Cons

  • Difficult to maintain: When it comes to maintenance, you have to be on your toes or risk having the unpleasant odor take over your home.
  • You must use extra materials like peat moss or sawdust to hasten the composting process.
  • Some areas aren’t friendly to this type of toilet, so you have to check if it’s legal before including one in your home.

What to do with composting toilet waste

Do you have a composting toilet in your tiny home and wondering what to do with composting toilet waste that has filled the chamber? Well, we have you covered as we will run you through how you can handle it and what you can do with the humanure. Below, we have highlighted some general ground rules on how you can handle the byproducts of your toilets safely as well as what you can’t use it on.

When handling your composting toilet waste, there are a few things you have to consider, the most important one being your personal safety, especially as it concerns safely handling of the humanure. Here are some essential things you should keep at the back of your mind when disposing of your compost:

  • Always wear a long-sleeved t-shirt.
  • Never handle compost waste with your bare hands. It’s always a brilliant idea to use rubber or latex gloves.
  • To manage the smell, you should always wear a mask.
  • Always put on gumboots or closed-in shoes.
  • After handling your compost waste, ensure you wash your hands thoroughly
  • Make sure to wash your clothes after handling them.

Note: This may sound a bit stressful, but then again, it isn’t too much of a sacrifice to keep your home smelling fresh all day long.

After using your composting toilet for a while (2-4 weeks), you should get a byproduct that looks almost like topsoil. You can use this waste in various ways, including:

  • Spreading it around nut or fruit trees
  • Spreading it in your gardens (non-edible gardens)
  • Add the byproduct to the existing composite pile
  • Spread it over your lawns.

While disposing of your compost waste, keep in mind that there are some plants you shouldn’t add humanure on, and they include:

  • Do not use your compost waste on herbs
  • Never use it on veggies
  • Avoid using it on edible flowers or plants used for seeds, for instance, sesame, sunflower, pumpkins, and chia.

Even though there are a few things you need to do while installing a composting toilet in your tiny home, it is like anything in life at the end of the day. You should get the hang of the process once you have done it a few times. And subsequently, things will be easy.

One of the most crucial changes most tiny homeowners experience when using a composting toilet is the sense of responsibility that comes with handling their own waste and its impact on the environment. Once you decide to live off the grid, especially closer to nature, you’ll understand just how important it is to be kind to our planet.

Where do you empty your composting waste?

When it comes to disposing of solid waste from your composting toilet, you have many options, and we will run you through each one in a bit:

  • Bag the content: One easy way to handle solid waste from your composting toilet is to bag the content in a biodegradable trash bag. Once that’s done, you can just toss it in the dumpster. We like the idea of a biodegradable bag because it will decompose faster than a diaper.
  • Dispose of the waste in a compost tumbler: Another great way to dispose of solid waste from a composting toilet is to empty the waste in a compost tumbler.

As per liquid waste, you can either dilute it and pour it on your vegetation or flush it down the toilet at a campground or rest stop. If you’re worried that it isn’t great for your vegetation, you actually have nothing to worry about, as diluted liquid waste is great for your lawn.

Tiny house toilet options

Now that you know a thing or two about composting toilets for tiny homes and how it works, it’s time to take you through other tiny house toilet options just in case you want some type of alternatives to composting toilets.

Chemical toilet

Chemical toilets are very popular with caravans. So if you have been to a caravan before, you most likely have used this type of toilet without even knowing it. What we love about chemical toilets is that they are pretty convenient and cheap to maintain. Our only issue with this type of tiny home toilet is that they aren’t very friendly to the environment. More so, emptying this toilet could be super problematic, especially if your plan is to stay in one place for a long time. On the flip side, if you travel or move around often and have to stop at caravan parks, you should be able to find a waste take for your chemical toilet waste easily.

Unfortunately, if you live on your own property or rent land for your tiny home, you’ll need to figure out how to dispose of your waste every week. Also, you have to ensure the waste doesn’t pollute the environment.

Pros

  • Cheap and handles your waste superbly
  • Great for odor control

Cons

  • It isn’t so environmentally friendly as composting toilets
  • You may find it hard to empty your waste safely

Plumbed flushing toilet

Many have been asking if you can have a regular flushing toilet and the simple answer is yes, If you plan to buy land or rent one and wish to stay there for a very long time, you’ll not be disappointed to include regular flushing toilets in your tiny home. Nevertheless, you must ensure you install the toilet close to waste pipes. In terms of cost, plumbed flushed toilets are an expensive option as you may have to dig up the land and install pipes underground to channel waste to the right place.

But not to worry, there are now tons of environmentally friendly plumbed flush toilets that require less water to flush. And sure enough, you don’t have to worry about emptying your compartment, which isn’t something you’ll enjoy with other toilet options highlighted above.

Pros

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • No odor to worry about
  • Handles waste without your help

Cons

  • It can be pretty expensive, and a lot of work to install
  • You need to have access to regular water to flush the waste down the drain.

Incinerating toilet

This is one of the most exciting toilets in the tiny home industry currently. Imagine installing a toilet that actually incinerates your waste? How cool can that be?

While it is pretty new to the market and some people may think it is wasteful, especially considering that a composting toilet already does a brilliant job of converting your waste to valuable byproducts, keep in mind that an incinerating toilet also does a brilliant job with your waste.

Just like its name, an incinerating toilet converts your waste to ash, making it easy to dispose of. More so, with this toilet in your home, you can kiss goodbye to odor or mess. And since the ash is rich in phosphorus and potassium, you can use it as a fertilizer for your garden.

Pros

  • It makes cleaning easy.
  • No odor to worry about.
  • Byproducts can be used as fertilizer for the garden.

Cons

  • It doesn’t come cheap.

Frequently asked questions

What should I do if my compost waste is too wet to churn?

If you discover that your compost is too wet to churn, maybe because of excessive condensation or diarrhea, you can simply add extra composting materials like sawdust or peat moss to make it solid a bit. This should do the trick.

When using a composting toilet, can you pee standing up?

Of course, you can urinate while standing using the urine compartment, but we do not recommend doing this, and that’s because liquid could end up in the solid compartment. On the flip side, if you have a composting toilet where all waste goes into a single compartment, you can use it as your regular toilet.

When should I empty the content of my composting toilet?

While some people think that cleaning a composting toilet can be complex and messy, it isn’t as difficult as you think. Once you get the hang of it, the process becomes even easier. In terms of frequency, you can dispose of liquid waste every 3-7 days, while solid waste can be removed after 2-4 weeks.

Conclusion

Composting toilets for tiny homes comes with a lot of perks. While it can be expensive at first, things can become cheaper later, especially when you compare it to toilet options like septic tanks.