Composting toilet in the house

Composting toilets: what are they and how do they work?

A composting toilet is the highest class of urine-diverting toilet. Unlike a classic dry separation toilet, it is designed for long-term use and a type of composting with substrate and faeces takes place in the solids container. Like all urine-diverting toilets, it works according to the drying principle. The urine is also separated from the solids and collected in two separate containers. The built-in separating insert ensures this. The built-in fan and the connected exhaust air hose ensure constant drying and therefore a long service life. This combination keeps the waste in the solids container dry and odour-free. For this model to function properly, the fan must be in constant operation. For this reason, this model of separating toilet is intended for permanent installation, as a power connection is required.

Composting toilet or classic urine-diverting toilet - what's the difference?

A composting toilet is a separating toilet, but the highest class of separating toilets. Each toilet works according to the drying principle and has a separating insert that separates the urine from the faeces. One difference between the two models is the range for which the dry toilet is designed. A conventional dry separation toilet is intended for short-term use and is only designed for a few days, whereas a toilet with a composting function is designed for long-term use and, depending on the model, has a range of up to 6 weeks. With our Nature's Head, for example, we are talking about 60-80 uses for two people, which corresponds to this range. Another difference is that composting toilets require a fan and an exhaust hose in order to function properly and odour-free. This fan must run continuously while the toilet is in use to ensure that the faeces are constantly dried. A classic separating toilet can also be operated with a fan, but this is not absolutely necessary and is not as useful. Another major difference is that separating toilets have a bag in the solids container. The faeces are collected in this and covered with litter by hand. Composting toilets have a built-in agitator instead of a bag. When activated, this transports the fresh litter upwards and automatically covers the faeces with it. Pre-composting takes place because the faeces remain in the collection container for longer with this type of dry toilet. Both variants can be emptied in the residual waste or in the household composter.

Why switch to a composting toilet?

Switching to a composting toilet in a campervan, motorhome or tiny house has many advantages. Probably the biggest aspect is that it is environmentally friendly and the faeces can be returned to the natural cycle when emptied. A second advantage is that you are self-sufficient with this dry separation toilet, as you are not dependent on a disposal station as with a chemical toilet. Because the toilet works without liquid and chemicals and the end result in the solids container is dry, you can dispose of it in the residual waste without hesitation. If you empty the toilet at home, you can put the substrate in the composter so that you can compost it with other garden waste and obtain valuable humus that can be used as fertiliser. The urine can be disposed of down the drain, in the toilet or at home in the garden - also as fertiliser. Another advantage that goes hand in hand with the above is the long reach of the toilet. Due to the constant drying and separation of urine and solids, a range of up to 6 weeks can be achieved, depending on the model. Only then does the dry toilet with separation insert need to be emptied and refilled with litter. It is also important to mention that the running costs are very low, as no additives other than litter are required for use.

Why are there hardly any composting toilets in this country?

Composting toilets are used when there is no sewer or water connection. In Germany, every house has such a connection as standard, which is why a normal toilet is installed. However, if you want to use a toilet in your garden, garden shed or tiny house and there is no connection for waste water or to the sewage system, this higher-quality separating toilet is ideal.

Are indoor urine-diverting toilets hygienic?

Yes, urine-diverting toilets, dry urine-diverting toilets or composting toilets are just as hygienic as a conventional toilet connected to the sewerage system. As with a conventional toilet, you do not come into contact with the faeces at any time, either when using the toilet or afterwards. The built-in separation insert ensures that the urine is separated from the solids during use and collected in two separate containers. This separation enables the hygienic disposal of urine and faeces. The liquid collected in the urine container can then be disposed of in the drain or in your own garden be disposed of. If the urine is diluted, it is an excellent ecological fertiliser for non-edible plants. The faeces are collected in a solid waste container. Simple urine-diverting toilets usually have a bag in this collection container, while composting toilets have an agitator. After using the toilet, the faeces are covered with substrate in a classic dry separation toilet so that everything remains odour-free. If you have a toilet with an agitator, you have to activate it after using the toilet. When it is activated, fresh litter is transported upwards and the faeces are covered. Once the bag or container is full and has reached its capacity, the used litter can be disposed of in a bin liner in the residual waste. If there is no bag in the canister, the substrate must first be transferred to a bin liner before it can be disposed of in the residual waste. An environmentally friendly alternative is to dispose of the used litter in your own composter. This allows you to compost the faeces and maintain the natural cycle.

Why a composting toilet for a house?

Unlike conventional toilets, composting toilets are environmentally friendly and odourless. Every day, 6-9 litres of clean water with nutrients are flushed down each toilet. Recycling the water into drinking water is costly and energy-intensive, and the nutrients contained in the waste are lost in the process. When using a dry toilet, no water is required and a valuable resource is saved. Pre-composting, which takes place partly in the toilet and later in the composter, produces nutrient-rich fertiliser. This supports the natural cycle of nature and saves money at the same time.

What are the health and safety regulations for composting toilets?

If you want to build a composting toilet in your house, garden shed or tiny house, you do not need to obtain planning permission as this toilet is not connected to the sewage system. When disposing of and reusing it, you must ensure that you only process it on your own property and in your own composter, for example as fertiliser. Faeces and urine must not be discharged into any bodies of water or common areas, otherwise they would seep into the groundwater. If these points are observed, there should be no health and safety concerns.

How much water can you save with a composting toilet?

A conventional toilet in the home uses between 6 and 9 litres of water per flush. If an adult uses the toilet five times a day and uses 6 litres each time, this results in a daily consumption of 30 litres. If there are two people in the household who use the toilet frequently, the consumption increases accordingly to 60 litres per day. In contrast, a separating toilet requires no liquid or chemicals. Extrapolated to a week, two people can save 420 litres.

How often do composting toilets need to be emptied?

Depending on the model and the capacity of the collection container, the toilet must be emptied at different intervals. Composting toilets are specially designed for long-term use, which is why they only need to be emptied infrequently. Our OGO Origin, for example, has a solid waste container with a capacity of 13 litres and can be used continuously by two people for around 2-3 weeks, which corresponds to around 20-30 toilet visits. Only then does the urine-diverting toilet need to be emptied and refilled with new litter. Models with a larger solids container, such as our Nature's Head, which has a 26 litre faeces container, can be expected to last 4-6 weeks or 60-80 uses. Regardless of its capacity, the urine container should be emptied at least every three days to avoid unpleasant odours from the urine.

How does urine-diverting toilet ventilation work in the home?

Ventilation for urine-diverting toilets, especially composting toilets, is very simple, whether in a house or tiny house. A power connection and a connection for the exhaust air hose are required for the fan and the urine-diverting toilet to function properly and odour-free. For the best possible ventilation, the hose for the exhaust air should be routed to the outside. The fan, which is located on the other side of the toilet and is supplied with electricity, works in combination with the exhaust air hose to ensure that the excrement is constantly dried and therefore completely odour-free. If you do not have the option of routing the exhaust air hose outside, for example in a tiny house, there is a special filter. This is attached to the end of the hose to ensure that no odours can escape into the bathroom.

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