The most common questions we get about the Nature's Head composting toilet (other than “Does it smell?”) are How do you use the toilet? and How do you empty a composting toilet?
After purchasing the Nature's Head composting toilet, your next big decision is choosing what to use as your compost material. We learned the most readily available material is Sphagnum Peat Moss, available at most Garden Centers or Hardware stores. Downside though, is the peat moss bags are huge! and not the most eco-friendly option available.
Peat moss is extracted from peat bogs that take thousands of years to form and years to recover and therefore is not a readily renewable resource. The solution is to use Coco Fiber, a more eco-friendly and sustainable option for composting than Peat Moss.
Tip: Do not install your composting toilet until you have the composting material, otherwise you will not be able to go #2 in your Tiny House!
Prepping the toilet is very easy, sanitary and relatively quick. This 10 – 15 minute process is best done outside, unless it's raining. You’ll want 2 liters of water, a bucket, gardening gloves and a shovel.
The liquid container of the Nature's Head composting toilet holds 2.2 gallons, and trust me you don’t want to wait till it’s full to empty it! The liquid tank is somewhat translucent and you can see the pee line when it’s about 2/3 full, this alerts us it’s time to empty! We typically empty the urine tank every 3-4 days (full-time use with 2 Adults) depending on how much we use the toilet in our Tiny House. This process can be a little smelly, especially if you’ve eaten Spicy Indian Curry or anything with a large dose of Garlic since you’ve last emptied, so use caution on where you decide to empty it (see below). I would recommend purchasing an extra liquid tank, you never know when you might need it (especially if you accidentally leave it behind at the campground!).
When it comes time to empty the toilet we typically judge by the handle on the base. When the handle becomes difficult to turn it’s time to empty and change the compost, if you want to visually measure it’s time to empty when the base is ¾ full (it will look and smell like dirt inside other than the pieces of white toilet paper). This process is clean, it does NOT smell and takes about 5 minutes. For the two of us using the toilet full-time, it takes around 3-4 weeks for the compost bin to “fill up”. Nature’s Head recommends emptying the toilet after 60-80 uses depending on how much toilet paper you like to use.
If you are using the toilet full-time you want to wait at least 8 hours after your last deposit before emptying the composting toilet. If you want to give your waste more time to compost you can purchase a second base (it comes with a bungee lid) to store the compost and allow it to decompose even further before emptying. Here’s the process I use to empty the solids out of our composting toilet:
It may sound like a lot of steps but once you’ve done it a few times you’ll see its really much better than dealing with the standard RV black water tanks and their emptying and cleaning and finding emptying stations.
Have more questions about how to prepare and empty the Nature's Head composting toilet? Want to share your favorite emptying techniques? Let it all out in the comments below.