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Pros and cons of compost toilets
Toilets seem to be a topic that most boaters seem to come back to and obviously an important one!!!
Sunday,3 January, 2016
9:09 pm
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Colin Ashby
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We are planning to move onto a boat in about six months time and have discussed with quite a few people about having a compost toilet when we do. 

We are really undecided because we have heard so many conflicting stories, but most of them have been from people who have heard that other people have not been happy with them and not from people who have had experience with them themselves.

Our main concern is the space needed to store the containers (probably 2) until the contents are ready to be disposed of, which is nearly 6 months? We have even discussed carrying them in the boot of our car!! If you are living on a marina you cannot dispose of it in the alsam. I hope that I have spelt that correctly!!!

£1000 is quite a lot to spend if you find that it is not what you expected it to be, although it is well worth it if it makes life a lot easier. 

We would appreciate some good practical advice to point us in the right direction.

Sunday,3 January, 2016
10:45 pm
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Southam, Warwickshire
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Six months after installing our Airhead composting toilet and we’re still loving it. I have to say though that they are not ideal if you are going to be living full time in a marina. The solids are the same consistency as soil so they won’t go down an Elsan point (I know, I’ve tried!). The solution if you’re in a marina is to bag and bin the waste. I certainly wouldn’t want to bother carrying additional solid containers on board.

The downside I suppose is the time and effort needed to empty the solids container. I only do it about once a month but the whole process takes me an hour. I take so long because all of the toilet gets a thorough scrubbing every time the solids container is emptied. Another possible negative aspect is that you have to get far closer to your own waste than you do with either a cassette or a pump out toilet.

The advantages are that you can empty your toilet free of charge, it’s environmentally friendly, almost odourless and you can stay for days or weeks on a remote mooring without having to worry about finding somewhere to dump the contents of your toilet.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Friday,8 January, 2016
4:34 pm
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Colin Ashby
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Thanks Paul for the advice.

It seems like a good option and I would imagine a lot lighter than carting the cassette.

Saturday,9 January, 2016
9:03 am
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The liquids container is much lighter than a cassette but the solids container is possibly slightly heavier. The upside is that you only have to empty the solids container once a month.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Saturday,9 January, 2016
10:11 am
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We are planning to buy a narrrowboat and become liveaboards at the end of this year when we retire (5 yrs of planning!). After much research we too have decided to change whatever loo we end up with for a composter.

I was talking to someone last year who has 3 solid waste containers. When one is full he puts it, with a lid one, into the engine bay. There is room for 2 containers. By the time the 3rd one is full, the first one is so dry that it empties out easily. I’m hoping we will be able to do something similar.

Saturday,9 January, 2016
5:51 pm
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Living the life
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grannykins said
We are planning to buy a narrrowboat and become liveaboards at the end of this year when we retire (5 yrs of planning!). After much research we too have decided to change whatever loo we end up with for a composter.

I was talking to someone last year who has 3 solid waste containers. When one is full he puts it, with a lid one, into the engine bay. There is room for 2 containers. By the time the 3rd one is full, the first one is so dry that it empties out easily. I’m hoping we will be able to do something similar.

You don’t need three containers! We have just the one. We only empty it every 8 weeks with two of us full time live aboards. We could go longer but this suits us. The rule of thumb is empty it after 7 hours of last use, so planning is key. We empty into a large bin bag, then transfer the bin bag into a rubble sack, tie up and put in the normal waste bin. It does not smell, and we do not cleanse our solid waste bin each time we empty, as it has natural bacteria in it to aid decomposition of the waste. We use fullers earth cheap cat litter to mix with the coir compost we use, which stops flies hatching. We have not been able to source cocoa shell as advised as the UK market doesn’t like the stuff! You empty the urine container every two days living on board full time. So a second one may be useful but not necessary. But you can empty the urine into drains, Elsan’s, toilets or the back of hedgerows and into fast flowing water if on the river, but check local guidelines. We put a sugar lump in the urine canister to stop smells and rinse out with white vinegar and hot water once a week to stop scale building up. We will NEVER go back to a Thetford cassette!!! We have a Natures head Toilet, but they are in demand now so make sure you order well in advance as they come from Canada. Good Luck. Smile

Saturday,9 January, 2016
7:33 pm
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I agree with the last comment about not needing three containers (or really having room to store them). I also add sugar to the liquids container after each emptying, and rinse it out with hot water and white vinegar. I wouldn’t go back to a cassette toilet either.

Click here to get a FREE copy of “Living On A Narrowboat:101 Essential Narrowboat Articles”

Saturday,9 January, 2016
9:20 pm
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For those on Facebook, there’s a good FB group for compost toilet fans!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/compostingloos/

 

The guy that runs it also wrote an article in the current Towpath Talk magazine.

http://edition.pagesuite-profe…..bce501da9a

 

Lots of useful chat and ideas, covering commercial and DIY.

Pete

Sunday,10 January, 2016
7:31 pm
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Living the life said

grannykins said
We are planning to buy a narrrowboat and become liveaboards at the end of this year when we retire (5 yrs of planning!). After much research we too have decided to change whatever loo we end up with for a composter.

I was talking to someone last year who has 3 solid waste containers. When one is full he puts it, with a lid one, into the engine bay. There is room for 2 containers. By the time the 3rd one is full, the first one is so dry that it empties out easily. I’m hoping we will be able to do something similar.

You don’t need three containers! We have just the one. We only empty it every 8 weeks with two of us full time live aboards. We could go longer but this suits us. The rule of thumb is empty it after 7 hours of last use, so planning is key. We empty into a large bin bag, then transfer the bin bag into a rubble sack, tie up and put in the normal waste bin. It does not smell, and we do not cleanse our solid waste bin each time we empty, as it has natural bacteria in it to aid decomposition of the waste. We use fullers earth cheap cat litter to mix with the coir compost we use, which stops flies hatching. We have not been able to source cocoa shell as advised as the UK market doesn’t like the stuff! You empty the urine container every two days living on board full time. So a second one may be useful but not necessary. But you can empty the urine into drains, Elsan’s, toilets or the back of hedgerows and into fast flowing water if on the river, but check local guidelines. We put a sugar lump in the urine canister to stop smells and rinse out with white vinegar and hot water once a week to stop scale building up. We will NEVER go back to a Thetford cassette!!! We have a Natures head Toilet, but they are in demand now so make sure you order well in advance as they come from Canada. Good Luck. Smile

Really? 8 weeks? That’s brilliant. Will have a look at the Natures Head loos.

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