Every answer to every question we could think of about composting toilets
Often when customers come into our showroom or call us, they have a bunch of questions about composting toilets – how they work, how they can use them, if they’re right for their home, etc. so if you are not yet convinced about the advantages of waterless composting toilets please read on.
The answer to this is they most certainly do. When set up and maintained properly, a composting toilet will reduce your water consumption by 30% as well as generating a usable humus or topsoil-like product at the end of the composting period.
Like anything in life, if a composting toilet isn’t maintained properly or is misused, then it won’t work to its full potential and you will have issues… but you can take it from the thousands of happy customers we’ve had over the decades that composting toilets most certainly do work.
#2 Do composting toilets flush?
Generally if they are true composting toilets, they are waterless. There are microflush toilets on the market from Clivus Multrum and Sun Mar that have micro flush pedestals, similar to traditional toilets you may want to look at.
The answer to this question is a little like “how long is a piece of string” and this will depend on the make, model, accessories and installation costs. Composting toilets can range from approximately $800 right up to $5000+ and pretty much everywhere in between.
Now this maybe more expensive than a water wasting flushing toilet but favourable when compared to a flushing toilet plus the cost of installing a septic tank and its trenching and think about all that water you’ll be saving over the life of the toilet.
#4 Do composting toilets need electricity?
There are many models with a ventilation fan included in the setup, but it’s not a necessity to have a fan if you’re willing to maintain your toilet properly. If you’re looking for the easiest possible setup with the minimum amount of maintenance required then it’s advisable to install a system with ventilation. This will either use electricity or can be hooked up to a solar system.)
All composting toilets have ventilation systems. the most reliable use very low wattage 12 volt fans. low cost solar power can be used to power the fan. wind driven ventilators are often used in stand alone outdoor installations.
#5 Do composting toilets work in cold climates?
There are many ways you can insulate chambers if they are exposed to the outside elements.
The lower the temperature the slower the composting process. to avoid having uncomposted material, discuss with us your situation, and we will recommend either a larger capacity unit or our classic 850 toilet with heater.
The other option of course is to look at a self contained composting toilet. This means the seat and chamber are all-in-one and won’t be subject to outside temperatures.
#6 How do composting toilets help the environment?
First lets look at water usage. Composting toilets will cut your use of perfectly good drinking water by a huge amount every year. a typical family will avoid wasting 35,000 litres per year. that’s two large water tanks
Times that 10+ flushes for a family house per day, that’s around 70 litres a day, 490 litres a week, 1,960 litres a month and 23,520 litres of water a year. That’s about a family sized swimming pool of perfectly good drinking water you’re literally flushing down the toilet each year.)
Ok, so that’s water usage, let’s take a look at water protection. Conventional methods for process raw sewage generate huge amounts of nutrient rich treated water which runs into water systems and oceans. In oceans, rivers, and bays this increases the nutrient levels in the water which in turn increases the BOD levels (Biological Oxygen Demand). This can cause the proliferation of aquatic plant life which seems like a good thing, but as the plant life dies and decays this can cause the removal of oxygen from the water and the destruction of the habitat.
Now let’s look at the end result of using a composting toilet – the compost. By composting your waste you’re removing your footprint on the earth considerably. Breaking down human waste into a valuable fertiliser has always been common practice. It was not until the 20th century and the advent of artificial fertilisers that we have been literally wasting our waste.
Composting toilets reduce waste by around 90% in volume and deliver a material which is chemically, biologically and aesthetically similar to topsoil. Everybody wins!
#7 Can you use normal cleaning products on a composting toilet?
Again, this will depend on the type of cleaning product you’re using. If you’re using products with harsh chemicals, there’s a fair chance these will kill off all the good bacteria and organisms in your compost pile, resulting in your toilet not working to it’s full potential.
If you use natural products with all-natural ingredients then there’s less of a chance of killing off all the good guys working away in your composting pile. Please note that oils like tea tree and eucalyptus have antibacterial properties so can affect your compost pile.
If you’re looking for a natural way to clean your composting toilet, take a look at our Nature Flush Enzyme. It’s a natural product that’s derived from bacterial fermentation. The best thing about this product is that it will clean your toilet but also help accelerate the composting pile!
#8 Can I change the pedestal of a composting toilet?
This will depend on the type of composting toilet system you have. If you have a split system where your chamber and pedestal are separated, then yes… you will be able to change the pedestal down the track if you wish.
If you have an all-in-one system, then the chamber and the pedestal are connected in the one complete unit, and the answer will be no… you won’t be able to change the pedestal. You would need to change the entire unit if you wish to have a system with a different look.
#9 Are composting toilets legal?
This will all depend on your local council and state government regulations. As far as we are aware, if your composting toilet meets state and local government regulations, there’s no reason why you should have any issue installing a composting toilet in your home, but just to make sure it’s worth getting on the phone with your local council to check.
#10 Why are composting toilets so expensive?
When compared to the cost of a water wasting flushing toilet plus the cost of a septic tank and its installation, composting toilets are not expensive. consider also the benefit of not having to purchase a water tank just to harvest enough water for the flushing toilet.
If you’re concerned about the cost, we’re sure there’s a model or type of toilet that can suit your needs and your budget, give us a call on 1300 138 182 to ask more questions about cost.
#11 Aren’t composting toilets gross?
They don’t smell and most composting toilets hide the pile. The frequency of servicing the composter depends on the model and the number of people using it. generally the more expensive the toilet the less often it needs servicing. typically this ranges between a couple of months and a year. In reality the thing which is gross is flushing our waste, albeit treated, into our rivers and oceans.
#12 What happens to the urine in a composting toilet?
Unless you buy a urine diverting toilet, the urine normally evaporates. in case of excessive use or cold weather, a small diameter drain is provided allowing excess urine to be directed into a gravel pit. A urine diverting system ensures the urine does not come in contact with the solids. the urine drains into a pit or is collected, diluted and used as a fertiliser.
#13 Are composting toilets safe?
If you follow instructions and keep your composting toilet in good working order, the composting process will kill off all nasty or potential harmful pathogens and bacteria. After a chamber has been filled and the compost goes through a curing process, you will get a product that is chemically, biologically and aesthetically similar to topsoil.