The Ins and Outs of Composting Toilets

Another Eco-Friendly Movement

By Angela Tipton

Does the idea of an outhouse on your property have you down in the dumps? Consider a composting toilet. There are so many positives to a composting toilet. One pro is that it is an earth-friendly alternative, and reduces the transport of wastes to treatment centers. A con is that it takes more time and effort than a flush toilet to maintain, and that means a commitment by the owners.

Why would someone want to use a composting toilet?

Sun-MarCompostingToiletThere are many reasons. Did you know that the average, nuclear American family uses 400 gallons of water each day? The majority of that is used indoors, with the bathroom being the biggest user. The toilet uses 27 percent of the indoor usage. For every flush, 1.6 to 4 gallons are used. A composting toilet saves our precious natural resources. Besides being earth conscious, composting toilets are a great alternative where there is no suitable water supply or sewer system is available. A lot of tiny homes, cabins and alternative dwellings use them. You’ll find them in state parks or national parks, too.

Compost Toilet DiagramHow it works

A composting toilet is waterless and uses the natural process of decomposition and evaporation for human waste. Evaporation? Doesn’t that smell? Not if used properly. It eliminates chemicals and flushing. By separating the liquids from the solids, there is actually no smell. Most of the waste is water, so when it evaporates, the toilet is left with a little amount of solid material.

The waste becomes humus (not to be confused with hummus), which can be used as fertilizer on nonedible plants. Aerobic bacteria break down the waste, so there are no pathogens or viruses. The waste is usually mixed with sawdust, coconut coir or peat moss.

Are all composting toilets the same?

No, different types of composting toilets process the waste either using an active or a passive process to break down the waste. You can either get a manufactured composting toilet or a site-built toilet. Compost toilets can be used inside or outside. There are many different designs and companies to choose from. Here is a link to a YouTube video explaining one single type of composting toilet, but it will give you an idea of how one works.

We hope you enjoyed this not-so-crappy (pun intended) article on an alternative option for dumping your waste.

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