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Composting toilet, pro and con


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Hi all,  so I am looking at ordering an Oliver and am leaning towards a composting toilet.   My wife is struggling with the ick factor,  but I think dealing with a black tank has a certain ick factor for me as she would most likely be in the tv reading a book while I was out dealing with the clean out.   I don't see any down side other than it's not as attractive a toilet as the standard one.   Not a big concern and a composting toilet allows for boondocking.   Has anyone experienced a con with these toilets? 

John and Debbie, Beaverton, Oregon,  2017 Ford Expedition EL 4x4 with heavy duty tow package. 

Present trailer, 2003 Coleman tent trailer

Oliver Elite II is on my wish list

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How does one handle loose stools or diarrhea?

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

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3 minutes ago, ScubaRx said:

How does one handle loose stools or diarrhea?

Good question.   Hopefully we will get an answer from someone that has a composting toilet.   Very good question though. 

John and Debbie, Beaverton, Oregon,  2017 Ford Expedition EL 4x4 with heavy duty tow package. 

Present trailer, 2003 Coleman tent trailer

Oliver Elite II is on my wish list

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We entertained the idea of the composting toilet.  After reading all about it I just did not feel it was worth the extra cost and effort.  As I recall, you need to collect the urine in a jug that fastens to the front of the toilet.  Obviously when the pee jug is full you need to dump it (while your wife is reading her book).  In a campground you can't just toss it into the bushes.  

I prefer to have the convenience of a flushing toilet and spend the night at a campground with facilities to dump it now and then.  When boon docking you can go several days before you have to dump the black tank.  

When camping at primitive sites, just grab your shovel and some TP and head for the trees.  Be considerate of others and go at least 50 feet into the woods before you do your thing.  We hike a lot and carry a little shovel in case the need comes up.  The National Park Service says to get a minimum of 50 feet off of the trail before you do your thing, so that is the standard that we "go" by.  Ha ha!

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2021 Legacy Elite Hull #820 "The Owls Nest"

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26 minutes ago, ScubaRx said:

How does one handle loose stools or diarrhea?

Along those lines, has anyone been nauseous and had to use the composting toilet for that?

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"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/

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Just now, ScubaRx said:

How does one handle loose stools or diarrhea?

I try not to handle them! 😉 But seriously, though I don't have a ton  of time in yet with the compost toilet we have been out for a few weeks on end with it including some of this sort of fun. We didn't have a long enough bout going into  our toilet to have to add any more composting  medium ( moistened peat moss or coconut coir) which is what the manufacturer recommends if the  hershey's squirts make it overly wet in the compost bin. Any "overspray" that  hits the bowl is pretty easy to clean with a  few spritzes of the water/vinegar solution that's recommended for bowl cleaning and a few wipes with TP  that you can toss down into  the bin. 

Thus far I'm a fan. I did get a squatty potty step which I'm going to scribe and cut to fit against the toilet so I don't have to go on tiptoe to have my feet touch the floor. But we've had no smell other than a little waft of compost smell (earthy - no different  from a yard waste compost bin smell) when opening the toilet to get out the urine bottle or empty the compost bin. I add water periodically while in storage and also spin the agitator when I add the water. We last camped in mid June, and there is about two week's worth of poo and TP from the  two of us. The TP is mostly just gone now, and the volume dropped back down to very close to what  it was right after I added a fresh load of moistened peat moss. Right after the last 9 day camping trip in June the level was maybe two inches above the axle of the agitator and now it's back down to just below the axle. If you let it dry out in storage you'll end up with some brown dust on the floor and in the vent hose. No biggie but also easy to avoid if you are near where  you store the trailer. Otherwise just dump the compost before storing. 

I like saving on water and not having to deal with dumping terribly often - looks like maybe if we did three weeks straight we might want to dump the  compost bin and add fresh peat moss/coir. The pee bottle obviously needs more attention - every 2-3 days regardless of volume I'd say to avoid letting it get kinda gross (which you'd only notice when dumping it but still). But it's easy to dump/rinse/replace. 

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Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II hull #709

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The main selling point for  me was not having to spend fresh water on each  flush. Even when  boondocking in places like the  desert southwest it's better to be taking your poo back with you than to dig catholes and poo in them (there are more and more areas down there where that's now officially a no-no and even in other areas it's just good LNT camping since the soil you  dig that cathole in  tends to be fairly sterile i.e. no bacteria to break your poo down  unlike up here where I live on the wet side of the  Cascades). So having the compost toilet for sure significantly extends the time we can go between being at fill/dump stations.

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Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II hull #709

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We have found the standard toilet uses very little water when you "need" to flush and can go almost two weeks, without needing to dump, if we take advantage or other places to go, when we are out for the day.

Andrew

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Andrew, Carianne and Buffy | San Diego, CA


2019 Legacy Elite II Hull #468 "California Burrito" | 2018 BMW x5 35d 

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As long as the pee bucket is emptied every couple of days and not allowed to "steep" it isn't bad. We do find that if you let it go longer it can be a little ripe when you empty it.  The part that I thought would be nasty, emptying the used coco coir, isn't stinky at all.  If you had the runs for several days you might need to add more coco coir, but a single case hasn't been an issue.  I do think if I needed to vomit I'd choose a bowl rather than hang over the toilet!  Luckily haven't had to test that yet!  We are glad we chose the composting toilet.   Paula

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David Caswell and Paula Saltmarsh


Hull 509 "The Swallow"

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We  had the compost for three years - generally liked it, and had no issues. Were I to choose today - I would have to really think about it. As was mentioned - judicious water use would even out the choice. 

I believe I would go with the normal toilet  - next time.

RB  

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12 hours ago, ScubaRx said:

How does one handle loose stools or diarrhea?

Good question and one we did not really take seriously or even consider when purchasing. When we travel we carry many extra ziplock bags of composting material as well as bricks of new coco coir in case of trouble such as stated above. And it happened to us. And for a long time due to doctors not being able to identify why this diarrhea was happening. What we had to do was constantly change the compost. There really wasn't any other alternative due to our boondocking choices and then eventually being stuck at basecamp with no toilet facilities other than our composting toilet. Not a good situation. But would we change to the conventional toilet? Never. Too much waste of precious clean water, boondocking abilities severely curtailed, and no desire to deal with the stinky black water on a regular basis. Getting sick happens. And no matter what sickness you get a travel trailer is no fun to be sick in. A bed at home or in the hospital would certainly be preferred over being held prisoner in less than a hundred square feet of living space. We never really considered either one of us getting sick and what it would do to ruin our plans and make camping a nightmare. But getting sick is NOT the norm.  We are eager to get back on the road as soon as possible and still glad we have a composting toilet, solar power, and plenty of fresh water.

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For those with a standard toilet do you find the fresh runs out or the black / grey fills first. Would a 100 gallon tank w/pump in the back of the truck help much?

I wished the pee bucket could be replaced with plumbing to the black tank.  Maybe even a valve that would allow the shower to fill part of the black err “yellow” tank?

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ChrisMI,

Fresh runs out way faster than our tanks fill up.  We can go through three tanks of fresh before we need to dump the Grey and Black.  And grey fills faster for us than the black.

We do dump dish water outside of the the trailer.

Andrew

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Andrew, Carianne and Buffy | San Diego, CA


2019 Legacy Elite II Hull #468 "California Burrito" | 2018 BMW x5 35d 

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I'm very happy with the Nature's Head. But, I get that it's not for everyone. I'd imagine a sort of calculus before deciding:

- Will most of my nights (more than 50%) be spent with hookups at more organized campgrounds?

- When moving from site to site, am I confident (more than 90%) that I'll easily be able to find an operating free/cheap dump station?

- Does the brief sight/smell of poo/pee make me uneasy?

- Does the thought of maintenance, including disassembling the head and dumping the compost, as well as pulling out the pee bottle and carrying it outside sound super gross?

- Does the thought of occasionally wiping down poop/pee from the bowl freak you out?

If the answer to these questions is "Yes!" then stick with the standard toilet.

 

 

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3 hours ago, ChrisMI said:

For those with a standard toilet do you find the fresh runs out or the black / grey fills first. Would a 100 gallon tank w/pump in the back of the truck help much?

I wished the pee bucket could be replaced with plumbing to the black tank.  Maybe even a valve that would allow the shower to fill part of the black err “yellow” tank?

The small black tank is our limiting factor if we’re away from any facilities.  Usually you’ll have a vault toilet in most dry campgrounds, but if you’re “out there” then you won’t.  We’re not big on digging holes and squatting so we use our trailer.  I wish Oliver had put in a larger black tank.  We carry our drinking water.  Mike

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

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53 minutes ago, Cameron said:

I'm very happy with the Nature's Head. But, I get that it's not for everyone. I'd imagine a sort of calculus before deciding:

- Will most of my nights (more than 50%) be spent with hookups at more organized campgrounds?

- When moving from site to site, am I confident (more than 90%) that I'll easily be able to find an operating free/cheap dump station?

- Does the brief sight/smell of poo/pee make me uneasy?

- Does the thought of maintenance, including disassembling the head and dumping the compost, as well as pulling out the pee bottle and carrying it outside sound super gross?

- Does the thought of occasionally wiping down poop/pee from the bowl freak you out?

If the answer to these questions is "Yes!" then stick with the standard toilet.

 

 

Very useful checklist.   I am leaning towards the conventional toilet now.   To be brutally honest,  for years we had a toilet in our pop up trailer but used it only for pee.   We usually camp in state campgrounds.   

John and Debbie, Beaverton, Oregon,  2017 Ford Expedition EL 4x4 with heavy duty tow package. 

Present trailer, 2003 Coleman tent trailer

Oliver Elite II is on my wish list

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4 hours ago, ChrisMI said:

For those with a standard toilet do you find the fresh runs out or the black / grey fills first. Would a 100 gallon tank w/pump in the back of the truck help much?

I wished the pee bucket could be replaced with plumbing to the black tank.  Maybe even a valve that would allow the shower to fill part of the black err “yellow” tank?

Bear in mind that a 100 gal. auxiliary water tank will weigh 835 pounds when full.  

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820.png.45d6985802d380947444b4da5835ac4e.pngMike and Yasuko

2021 Legacy Elite Hull #820 "The Owls Nest"

Tow Vehicle: 2020 Toyota Tundra Limited 5.7 V8 TRD Off-Road 4x4 "Tundrasaurus Rex"

 

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5 hours ago, LongStride said:

Bear in mind that a 100 gal. auxiliary water tank will weigh 835 pounds when full.  

With a heavy duty truck I have an almost limitless payload for everything I can stuff into it. The tank might also be handy to have a portable power washing setup for maintaining outside surfaces at home and on the go. 

 

6 hours ago, Mike and Carol said:

The small black tank is our limiting factor if we’re away from any facilities.  Usually you’ll have a vault toilet in most dry campgrounds, but if you’re “out there” then you won’t.  We’re not big on digging holes and squatting so we use our trailer.  I wish Oliver had put in a larger black tank.  We carry our drinking water.  Mike

The black tank is noticeably smaller.  If the two tanks were combined into one large grey tank, the composting toilet was used, and an external water source (in the bed of the pickup) was available to top off the fresh water it could go a long time.  All I would need is another external tank for urine or dump the included unit every couple of days. 

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Just pointing out the added weight of the water.  Looks like you have considered that.

Here's a thought... You could get yourself an old fire truck (pumper) for a TV and boondock all summer without a refill 😆!

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820.png.45d6985802d380947444b4da5835ac4e.pngMike and Yasuko

2021 Legacy Elite Hull #820 "The Owls Nest"

Tow Vehicle: 2020 Toyota Tundra Limited 5.7 V8 TRD Off-Road 4x4 "Tundrasaurus Rex"

 

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10 hours ago, ChrisMI said:

The black tank is noticeably smaller.  If the two tanks were combined into one large grey tank, the composting toilet was used, and an external water source (in the bed of the pickup) was available to top off the fresh water it could go a long time.  All I would need is another external tank for urine or dump the included unit every couple of days. 

I wish someone would figure out how to put in a larger black tank or increase the size of the current one.  There’s not a lot of room in that area and I don’t think a flat tank (like the fresh and gray) would work well as a black tank.

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There’s definitely room to extend it under the dinette seat, and more than double it’s size; but the question then would be how to replace it if ever needed. The current one can be replaced easily by removing the raised part of the floor - perhaps a slightly larger tank could be angled in. 

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People sometimes do not like to change to something new to them, like a composting toilet.

Being somewhat of a nature person, I am glad to have my composting toilet.

1. Saves empting the ugly black water tank contents and using  rubber gloves during that operation.

2. Empting the pee tank is not a problem for me. There is always a CG flush to pour it in or the CG dump station.

3. If you remember In the old days outhouses were the norm and the composting toilet is a outgrowth of that technology.

4. Saving fresh water is important. Look at those folks in the west desert areas. With the drought, they will be running out of water at their homes.

5. Only problem I have is using up the natural resource .... Peat Moss.

I am glad I have the composting toilet. To make the wife happier (and myself), I purchased a wooden squatty potty step (which I modified to get it closer to the toilet) it is easier to have your feet on this instead of farther down on the shower floor. 

 

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2 hours ago, dewdev said:

5. Only problem I have is using up the natural resource .... Peat Moss.

Coconut coir (ground up shells) is renewable and in plentiful supply, I have never used peat moss, the coir works fine.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=cocoanut+coir&ref=nb_sb_noss

John Davies 

Spokane WA

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"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, Safari snorkel.

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Academic though at the moment as Oliver will not allow you to order a composting toilet.

Mine was removed from the order that I have to finalize tomorrow, as they are out of stock per sales rep.

Currently sitting here deciding between AGM vs Lithium.  Fun times.

Lithium to run AC in summer in the PNW or AGM for staying in the RV spots at Mt Bachelor.

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