Jump to content

Gross Experiment with Useful Results: For Holding Tanks and Composting Toilets


Spike
 Share

Recommended Posts

We are glad that we decided upon the Nature’s Head Composting toilet when ordering our Ollie. While our composting seems to have been going well (there ARE things to learn from experience and from paying attention to instructions on doing it well), I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to help with the process.

 

I ordered the Sun-Mar product, which is advertised as an additive to speed up the composting process. I didn’t notice much of any improvement after using Sun-Mar for a month or so. However, our local RV repair shop recommended the TankTechsRx product for our grey water tank, and it worked MUCH better than the product we had been using to control odor coming from the sink and shower drains: Camco TST Lemon Scent RV Grey Water Odor Control.

 

So, I decided to mix some of the TankTechsRX with water in a spray bottle and spray some periodically into the composting toilet. (One of the important things to learn about composting toilets is to keep the mixture at a certain moisture level—not too wet, not too dry. Adding coffee grounds, which helps with odor control, as well, is something we do frequently here in the dry Southwest.) TankTechsRX DID seem to speed along the composting process and help illuminate any occasional odor we experienced.

 

I decided, however, to see if--by using a more objective measurement—this product actually did do what it seemed to be doing better than Sun-Mar (both TankTechsRX and Sun-Mar are advertised as containing a blend of microbes) and better than nothing by performing this experiment:

 

1. I placed a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of my dog’s poop, gathered from the backyard, into three 8 oz bottles: a) one with water and about a teaspoon of Sun-Mar; b) one with water and about a teaspoon of TankTechsRX; c) one with nothing but water. I capped and shook the bottles briefly and set them outside.

 

2. After about 24 hours, I opened the bottles. I made the big mistake of getting my nose too close to the opened bottle containing nothing but poop and water. (My wife could hear me gagging outside as she sat inside the house.) The bottle with water, poop, and Sun-Mar was a bit better but still had quite a disagreeable odor. However, the bottle of water with TankTechsRX just smelled like TankTechsRX--which does not impart an unpleasant odor at all. Also, the “solid matter” in the TankTechsRX appeared to be more dissolved than that in the bottle containing Sun-Mar.

 

I can now, with confidence, recommend TankTechsRX as an extremely useful addition to black and gray water tanks, but also as an addition to composting toilets.

 

What we do is to make a solution of about 5 parts water to 1 part TankTechsRX in a small spray bottle that is kept in the bathroom cabinet and spray a bit of the mixture into the solid-waste part of the toilet each time we use it, and of course, give the spider handle a few good turns as usual. You should just follow label directions when using TankTechsRx in black and grey water tanks.

 

I hope that my gross experiment might be useful for folks who use—or are thinking of using—a composting toilet, and for all folks with grey and black water tanks.

 

 

IMG_7126.thumb.jpg.8d80397d67f7bc88d48f63f2d8686ee6.jpg

  • Thanks 8

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you, I have been using the Camco stuff in the grey tank, it works but is pretty expensive per treatment. Nice bottle though!

 

Is this the best price?

 

https://www.amazon.com/TankTechsRx-Holding-Tank-Treatment-Cleaner/dp/B00JFUJBTW

 

John Davies

 

Spokne WA

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this the best price?

 

This is what I found by searching my past Amazon orders:

<p style="text-align: center;">https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CD4BK4U/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1</p>

It seems to be the smaller bottle: "32 treatments." You don't have to use much. The instructions advise you, once you have completed the first treatment--to never completely empty your holding tanks--to allow the "culture" to remain and do its work.

 

By the way, there is a video out there in cyberspace with a guy experimenting with it--with reportedly good results--in a septic system.

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought some more about Spike's experiment.

 

I capped and shook the bottles

That will keep air out and thus only allow anaerobic bacteria to grow. Since air can get in to the composting toilet, a better test might be to leave the bottles uncapped and allow growth of aerobic bacteria.

 

I  have the regular toilet, not the composting version, so we use both grey and black tanks. We use a black tank treatment after every dump, but we have not been treating the grey tank. On our last trip my brother-in-law mentioned grey tank treatments, and your experiment prompted me to research this. The Camco product has good reviews. Does anyone on the forum have experience with grey tank treatments?

 

I do not know a lot about plumbing, and maybe someone more knowledgable can chime in. I think the black and grey tanks are connected to a stack vent that goes out the roof, which would allow air into the tanks, even during storage. Is that correct?

David Stillman, Salt Lake City, Utah

2016 Oliver Elite II  Hull 164    |    2017 Audi Q7 tow vehicle. 

Travel and Photography Blog: http://davidstravels.net

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

Does anyone on the forum have experience with grey tank treatments?

 

I do not know a lot about plumbing, and maybe someone more knowledgable can chime in. I think the black and grey tanks are connected to a stack vent that goes out the roof, which would allow air into the tanks, even during storage. Is that correct?

 

Both tanks vent through a singe vent on the roof that is over the bathroom. When we camp we don’t use any treatment in the gray tank. When we get home I add some Happy Campers and a little water to the gray. We have not had any odor issues. In the black, when camping we add some water softener and a detergent pod (Geo Method) after each dump. When we get home I add some Happy Campers to the black along with the softener and detergent. No odors there either. Mike

  • Thanks 1

Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

ALAZARCACOFLGAIDILKSKYLAMDMSMOMTNENVNMNYNCNDOHOKSCSDTNTXUTVAWVWYsm.jpgALAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being a newbie RV owner, I researched this subject extensively prior to picking up our trailer.  The results were that Happy Campers and TankTechsRX seemed to be the best options.  I decided on Happy Campers and so far have been happy with it; no odors at all.  After dumping and flushing the tanks I'll add a gallon or two of water to each tank along with the HC powder.  I leave that in the tanks to slosh around while we drive.  When removing from storage for a trip I'll flush and drain the grey tank for maximum capacity.   While camping I'll add a little HC to the grey tank but the black tank is already treated.

 

I decided not to do TankTechsRX because I like to flush the black and grey tanks, and I thought that this would eliminate the benefit of that product since not much gets left behind for the bacteria to work on.  For those of you who use TTRX (T-rex?) do you find that it remains effective if you flush the tanks?  Or do you never flush anymore to keep it going?

2018 OLEII #344   |   2018 Ford Expedition

 

AZCACOGAKSMONMTNWYsm.jpg

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I normally don't bother treating the gray tank. However, after towing on very steep and twisty roads in Colorado, we opened up "Mouse" and it was very stinky inside. I suspect the motion emptied the water out of the galley sink trap and allowed smells to come up through the drain.

 

I started adding the Camco treatment just in case,and the odor went away quickly with some fresh air. I think you could keep the drain screen hard down on the opening to seal it off, but I do not like that.

 

John Davies

Spokane WA

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you could keep the drain screen hard down on the opening to seal it off, but I do not like that.

 

Yes you can, as I found out the hard way and much to my chagrin.  The grey tank won't drain properly if both the bathroom drain valve and the kitchen sink stopper are closed.  I think having either one open will allow air to enter and the full contents of the tank to drain.

  • Thanks 1

2018 OLEII #344   |   2018 Ford Expedition

 

AZCACOGAKSMONMTNWYsm.jpg

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have only used Happy Campers in the ‘Clever Beast’.  I am not familiar with combining  the Geo method with the Happy Campers treatment so I will be looking into that.  We currently treat our black tank with Happy Campers each time we dump and only treat our gray water tank with Happy Campers after our final dump before returning home from a trip. We haven’t noticed any gray water odor so far and haven’t had any problems with our black water tank or sticking valves, etc......Kathy

Clair & Kathy Reed - plus our travel companion: Emma


2017 Legacy Elite II - Hull# 245


2014 Ram 1500 3.0 V6 Eco-diesel 4x4


ALFLGAILINIAKYMIMONCOHPATNVAWVWIsm.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators
Yes you can, as I found out the hard way and much to my chagrin. The grey tank won’t drain properly if both the bathroom drain valve and the kitchen sink stopper are closed. I think having either one open will allow air to enter and the full contents of the tank to drain.

 

You may have run across what I call the Great Grey Tank Mystery.  With our trailer level, I can fill the grey tank from the kitchen sink and when the tank is at 80%, the kitchen sink will start to back up.  But the shower will not, and in fact I can still pour water into the shower drain without it backing up.  Somehow, with all of the drains open, I can have a sink full of water backed up in the kitchen and nothing will flow out the shower drain.  To solve the problem, we have to 'burp' the grey tank by tilting the trailer a bit to one side.  Once we do that, the kitchen sink will drain and we can keep filling the grey tank to 100%.  The problem has to have something to do with air getting trapped in some corner of the L-shaped tank, but I've stared at the plumbing diagram until my eyes go crossed trying to figure it out.  Even so, I can't see how that would prevent water from backing up into the shower, unless there's a secret check valve on the shower.

 

Anyway, suffice to say that in an Oliver, water doesn't always flow downhill.

  • Thanks 2

❄️

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That will keep air out and thus only allow anaerobic bacteria to grow. Since air can get in to the composting toilet, a better test might be to leave the bottles uncapped and allow growth of aerobic bacteria.

 

I appreciate your thinking on this, David.

 

I thought a little more about your thoughts: Perhaps because the bottles still retained air to about 1/4 of their capacity, and because I shook the bottles and and only capped them for about 24 hours, the aerobic bacteria was not deprived of enough oxygen to impede their growth.

 

Perhaps some aerobic-anaerobic expert on the forum could weigh in on this question.

 

As for me, I'll pass on more dog-poop experiments. Combining this experiment's outcome with my own subject observations on TankTechsRX's efficiency on the grey tank and composting toilet, I will revert to dealing with my dog's yard poop in a less intimate fashion.

  • Thanks 1

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those of you who use TTRX (T-rex?) do you find that it remains effective if you flush the tanks?  Or do you never flush anymore to keep it going?

 

I have flushed the grey tank (having an empty black tank due to the composting toilet) once since using TankTechRX. I figured that it would not be hard to re-establish the needed "culture" by re-introducing the product via the three drains after flushing. One thing that I DID check when draining the grey tank was the odor. (I don't use the big "stinky slinky" hose but have used the VALTERRA T1020-1 RV SEWER HOSE TERMINATION CAP WITH GARDEN HOSE CONNECTION to attach a grey garden hose to drain the grey tank.) After using the TankTechsRx for a number of days before draining, there was a noticeable reduction in the odor.

  • Thanks 1

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought a little more about your thoughts: Perhaps because the bottles still retained air to about 1/4 of their capacity, and because I shook the bottles and and only capped them for about 24 hours, the aerobic bacteria was not deprived of enough oxygen to impede their growth. Perhaps some aerobic-anaerobic expert on the forum could weigh in on this question.

 

While I am not an aerobic-anaerobic expert concerning bacteria, I have long studied the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in my lab. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used to make bread, beer, and wine. When making bread, yeast primarily grows aerobically. However, when the oxygen is depleted the yeast switches its metabolism from respiration (using oxygen) to fermentation (anaerobic). Of course a byproduct of yeast fermentation is the production of alcohol, which many of us appreciate.

 

The colon itself is anaerobic, and thus the microorganisms in feces must be able to tolerate the absence of oxygen. The most common colonic bacteria, Bacteroides, Bifidiobacterium, and Lactobacillus, are obligate anaerobes, meaning they do not grow in the presence of oxygen. In contrast, the Escherichia coli gut bacteria is a facultative aerobe, meaning it can grow under either aerobic or anaerobic conditions.

 

I know yeast will grow aerobically, initially, and then transition to fermentation when the oxygen is depleted. The timing of the transition will depend on how much oxygen is available, and how many yeast were placed into the container (the inoculum size).

 

There are a number of variables in Spike’s experiment: How much air was in the bottles, the size of the bacterial inoculum, and the relative ratio of obligate anaerobes to facultative aerobes in the dog poop.

 

both TankTechsRX and Sun-Mar are advertised as containing a blend of microbes

 

I looked at their web sites, and they did not provide any information as to what bacteria these products contain. I suppose it would be possible to analyze samples and figure out what they contain.

 

As for me, I’ll pass on more dog-poop experiments.

I agree that additional more dog poop experiments are not warranted. Spike’s experiment did show that TankTechsRX sharply reduced the unpleasant odor from the bottled poop. Of course, a compound in TankTechsRX that inhibits bacterial growth could have the same effect. The best experiment would be two composting toilets, with only one using the TankTechsRX product. After a week, observers would be invited to give sniff tests to the two toilets. The observers would have to be blinded, meaning that the observers do not know which toilet was the experimental and which was the control.

 

Probably more information than anyone wanted….

 

 

  • Thanks 6

David Stillman, Salt Lake City, Utah

2016 Oliver Elite II  Hull 164    |    2017 Audi Q7 tow vehicle. 

Travel and Photography Blog: http://davidstravels.net

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

have used the VALTERRA T1020-1 RV SEWER HOSE TERMINATION CAP WITH GARDEN HOSE CONNECTION to attach a grey garden hose to drain the grey tank.

Just a heads up - that is a poor adapter because it has just two "ears" and the plastic is brittle. it will eventually break and leak. The Camco version with four ears is way better. I speak from experience.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Camco-Durable-Connection-Connection-39463/dp/B000BQKBP2

 

They are cheap, buy an extra for a spare.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

  • Thanks 1

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...