New Developments in Composting Toilets

Although most composting toilets work fine when properly installed and operated, I do frequently hear complaints from people who say their toilets “are not working” or that they simply smell bad. The main problem is usually too much liquid from urine. If the contents is too wet, you will not get compost. You will get a sodden, stinking mass of toxic sewage.

Odor problems abound. In theory the liquid should be evaporated by the built in heater and/or fan. But in practice, the volume of liquid may simply be too great for this to be accomplished. Emptying a toilet full of un-composted material is hard to even think about.

To try and solve this problem, Water Heater Installations Rockville Centre many composting toilets have overflow drains to handle excess liquid. The overflow drain must be led somewhere below the toilet itself so gravity can cause it to flow away. That may be difficult, especially if you are already at ground level or don’t want to cut holes in your floor. Also, you need a sump, container or pit where this excess urine can be stored. The overflow will be urine mixed with feces, and will not be pleasant to deal with.

A better mousetrap

A far superior solution is a urine separating toilet. These have only recently become more widely known. You use the toilet normally, but most of the urine is diverted automatically into a separate container. This means the solid contents remain only slightly moist – perfect for composting. Separating the urine solves the excess liquid problem common to most conventional composting toilets.

Other advantages

Another advantage of the urine separating toilet is that no heater is necessary. Some older generation composting toilets by Envirolet, Biolet and Sun-Mar use electric heaters of up to 550 watts. That could be a significant cost, with our soaring energy rates. And what is the point of installing a “green” toilet if you use lots of electricity to run it? The heaters may eventually fail, necessitating a costly repair.

Urine separating toilets need only a small, inexpensive, easy-to-replace fan that uses very little electricity. Or they can be hooked up to a solar vent and you can forget about the fan and power use entirely. Compost is approximately 85% water by volume. This means that a urine diverting toilet will have far more capacity for its size. And finally… urine separating toilets do not have any problems whatsoever with odor – unlike some conventional composting toilets.

Still not perfect

However, even with a urine separating toilet you still need a way to dispose of the urine. Fortunately, this is easy. Urine is sterile and does not pose a health risk. You should always check with local authorities, but generally a “French drain” will solve the problem. This is a small pit, about 2′ wide and 2′ deep, filled with small rocks. You cover the rocks with landscape fabric and place soil and grass seed on the top. A tube should run from the surface down 2′ into the drain. The urine can be dumped into this drain as needed, with no worries about odor.

The ultimate solution

Some people run a tube from the toilet, through the wall or floor and directly into a French drain adjacent to the building. This means they never have to worry about the urine, as it is getting disposed of constantly. Many people install the smaller urine diverting toilets on boats and in RVs. In this case, the urine can be dumped in any conventional toilet or outhouse as needed.

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