What's the best composting toilet?
I am looking for a composting toilet for a low-use weekend cabin in the woods. It can be chemical or natural, as long as it is not expensive and works. Any suggestions?0
contact Advanced Composting Systems the manufacturer of the Phoenix composting toilet. www.compostingtoilet.com
(This answer was provided by Petter)
The best design out there is called a Treebog, designed by Jay Abrahams. Its simple, doesn't smell, not necessary to clean out, you can pee in it, and it promotes the quick growth of coppice-able wood. Here is a how to guide to build your own. Some more info on it here. You can also find a guide in the Summer 2011 issue of Permaculture magazine. Good luck!
While I haven't used any of the commercial composters, I was amazed at the ease and lack of smell of a very simple system that I replicated in a cabin I have, and it has proven to be a great approach. It's so easy you can give it a shot, and if it doesn't meet your needs, you can upgrade to a multi-hundred-dollar setup. Take one five-gallon bucket. Put toilet seat on top, or better, build a simple box with a hinged lid, on which the toilet seat can be attached, said box sized so the hole in the lid fits closely around the lid of the bucket (the toilet seat will sit atop the lid). Put a few inches of peat moss in the bottom and leave the peat moss bag nearby. Yup, that's it. just cover each bowel movement with a layer of peat moss. It seems to work OK too if you pee in it, though probably ideal if you don't. Still, we've made no real effort to avoid pee and all is still odor-free. We built a little room for it, but it was in a large bathroom in the farmhouse where I first saw it, and there was no smell in the room.
This system does require an outdoor humanure compost pile, separate from other compost, and it's recommended that you let that sit two years before putting on non-food plants (eg trees).
I'll second and expand on Jim's suggestion. It's basically the solution described here: http://humanurehandbook.com . It's very simple, doesn't smell, costs very little, and works well. The difference between the humanure solution and commercial composting toilets is the cover materials; a full humanure bucket is mostly sawdust or peat moss, and the humanure compost bin is mostly straw. The cover materials provide space for air, add nutrients, and act as a filter that prevents odors and keeps out pests.
The commercial systems or self-contained home-built systems I've seen only use extra materials to balance out the nutrients in the compost. These systems are mostly filled with waste, and, in my experience, smell like it.
By the way, in the humanure system, you can pee right into the same bucket; the large amount of additional materials makes the presence of urine a positive thing, rather than a hinderance to the system.
You can build one yourself, but if you want to buy the best, then the Airhead toilet is it. Quite a few of the commercially available products perform horribly. Not the airhead.
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