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Composting Toilets

Composting toilets are an increasingly popular “green” choice for those concerned about the environment. They are also convenient for those wishing to have an indoor toilet facility in a place where it is difficult to install water lines and sewer systems, such as remote cabins. Composting toilets break down human waste and toilet paper through a process involving oxygen, moisture, organic material (such as peat moss), microbes (from rich top soil), and heat. The result is a compost that can be periodically deposed of.

If you are thinking of buying a composting toilet, consider the following:

  • In order to avoid unpleasant smells, look for toilets that create a partial vacuum that continuously pulls in air to evaporate excess liquids. Electric models will operate a fan that does this; non-electric types use a vent chimney.
  • It is important to provide the composting mixture with plenty of oxygen. Models that use a rotating drum, which is hand turned by an exterior handle, speed up the composting and help prevent odors caused by lack of sufficient oxygen.
  • It is necessary to add about one cup of peat moss per person per day. Microbe rich material, such as top soil, must also be periodically added.
  • If the toilet is to be installed in a seasonally unheated space, look for units that can survive freezing temperatures without cracking. Fiberglass and marine grade stainless steel are good choices.

To learn more about regular toilets, see our toilet overview article.

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