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Composting Toilet Composting Toilet

Yes... you read correctly: Composting Toilet

. Sometimes when you are in a fight, you have to fight dirty. Well, here we are fighting against time, pollution, waste...  and if I have to talk about toilets to win this fight, I am willing to do it.

Did you know that 20% of household water is flushed down the toilet???

water wastage

An average four-person family household which uses a 3.5 gallon flush toilet flushes over 70 gallons of water every day? This makes a volume of over 25.000 gallons of water wasted every year.

I know that there are many people out there who actually know about composting toilets, mostly the people who have already started composting in their gardens and are recycling daily.

But unfortunately, many of us  equate a compost toilet to a stinky, smelly outhouse.

Stinky Composting Toilet

Because of this misconception, many people find the thought of having a composting toilet a little distasteful – not to say disgusting.

Well, composting toilets are nothing like outhouses!!

The composting toilet uses nature’s own decomposition process.  It converts human waste into useful nutrient-rich compost by breaking down organic matter into its essential minerals.   Micro and macro organisms, which are naturally present in human waste, do this over a certain period of time – depending on the type of toilet.

There are many different kinds of composting toilets, from single twin chamber designs to advanced systems which have rotation tynes , electronic control systems  and temperature and moisture probes.

Regardless of the complexity of the design, you’ll find that most composting toilets have at least two chambers – one in use and one resting.
twin chamber composting toilet


A normal composting toilet would use one chamber for a year.  You would then switch to the second chamber, giving the first one time to sit and decompose before emptying it.


As mentioned earlier, a compost toilet is a dry or waterless toilet. (No water used to flush it down)

Composting Toilet No Smell

I know that it is a hard concept to grasp (well at least it was for me) that there is no water to send it all away (far far away from me and my nose) and that it doesn’t smell.

Well they don’t!  As long as you have a vent pipe and a drain to get rid of the excess liquid incorporated in your compost toilet design, there IS NO SMELL.


How does it work?

Every time you use the toilet, drop a handful of a soak (straw or sawdust…) into the bowl.  (The reason you need to do this is because the bacteria that is doing all the work for us needs a balanced diet of carbon and nitrogen.

We find a lot of nitrogen in human waste but not enough carboniferous material (sawdust, straw, hay, shredded paper…) so we need to add it ourselves if we don’t want the decomposition process to give off excess nitrogen in the form of ammonia.

Another reason to drop the soak in is that the soak absorbs liquid while letting in oxygen.  This allows for an aerobic decomposition process, which produces nitrates, phosphates and sulphates instead of an anaerobic decomposition, which would produce methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide.

These three gases: methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide are what cause the smells associated with outhouses, septic tanks and sewage treatment plants.




Other than the compost toilet and the primitive outhouse, we will usually find 2 different kinds of waste removal systems.

1.       Sewered systems

2.       On-site septic or mini-treatment systems

Whether it is a septic tank found just outside the house or a treatment plant over 10 km away, both of these systems use water to transfer the waste to the treatment center. 

Here is a quick overview of problems we face because of the present waterborne sewage systems:

1.      Anaerobic decomposition:

At first, raw sewage gets broken down by an aerobic process (using the oxygen found in the water).  After a while, the oxygen gets used up and it is now the microorganisms that use anaerobic (non-oxygen) respiration that feed on the waste.

As mentioned earlier, as well as producing some nutrient-rich effluent, anaerobic decomposition produces flammable methane and other foul smelling gases. 

2.      Destroying the Marine food chain:

In many places around the world, we can find untreated effluent, which flows down the natural streams and rivers into lakes and oceans.  The high nutrient value of this effluent produces algal blooms.  When these algal blooms die, the microbes that decompose them use up the dissolved oxygen found in the water.

Marine animals need this dissolved oxygen to breath.  Because of the lack of oxygen, many marine animals die

3.      Mixing of toxic byproducts with human manure:

In the sewage treatment plants, all kinds of effluents (industrial, agricultural, human) are mixed together.  Human effluent alone could be composted and used as liquid fertilizer and agricultural sludge but the mixing of toxic byproducts from industry renders this questionable.

4.      Waste of Valuable nutrient resources:

We mine fertilizer nutrients from folis and guano reserves and turn them into fertilizers to use on agricultural lands.  A lot of these fertilizers are unfortunately leaked and lost to us for future use. 

There are two main reasons for this leakage:

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Fertilizers that have yet to be used, leak from the fields, run down streams and make their way into lakes and oceans
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Instead of leaving some crops to return back into the soil of the fields, thus nourishing the soil, food crops are all taken off the farm to be sold in cities.  We then eat these nutrients through our food.  Instead of completing the natural cycle and returning those nutrients to the earth, they become sewage wastes and end up causing pollution in our waterways.

This is the main reason why doctors are now urging us to use supplements along with our food.  There are not enough nutrients left in the ground to give us our recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. 

5.      Water wastage:

We need water.  We use water on a daily basis.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like without water in our homes.  For this reason, we spend and spend money and resources building dams, connecting pipe systems for hundreds of km, using all kinds of processes to treat the water and then we turn around and flush about 40% of this beautiful clear, clean water down the toilet to get rid of a little human waste.  Does this make sense to you???

6.      Pollution of Waterways:

I’ve talked about this here and there in the different points but it’s important enough to stand out by itself.

Our present sewage systems introduce pathogens and nutrients into our waterways.  This is increasing the weed growth while at the same time removing dissolved oxygen.

composting toilet frog
I’m not sure about you, but I think that this is enough to convince anybody that our present system of dealing with human waste is expensive and harmful to the environment.

But, just in case you are still skeptical (not to say septic-ha ha), I have a list of the many advantages that we can get once we change to a composting toilet:

  1. Reduction of Water Usage (20-50%)

    No more flushing your good water down the toilet. 

  2. Odor Problems reduced

    Most composting toilets use a fan and the suction of airflow gets rid of odor in the bathroom acting like a constant extraction fan.

  3. Lower Household Maintenance Costs:

    On average, metered sewage and water rates run around $500/year.  Pipes don’t last forever.  They need to be constantly maintained or up-graded.  The cost to keep them in good functioning order will only increase and, since we are dependent on our toilets we will pay whatever is asked.  If we have a composting toilet, we are independent of this system.  (Which leads me to my next point)

  4. Independence:

    If you have a composting toilet in your home, you become independent of all the potential problems that can arise in the waterborne sewage system.  If in the future, heaven-forbid, there should be a water shortage or any kind of complication with the conventional sewage system, you will not be affected.  You’ll still be able to take your copy of Calvin & Hobbes, sit down comfortably and relax.

  5. End Product is Recycled:

    Toilet composting process reduces the volume of the waste by 90%.  The end product of “humanure”, even though small quantities are left, is a valuable humic fertilizer and it can be used around trees and gardens.

  6. Help in Recycling:

    Did you know that you could recycle a lot of your household waste directly in your compost toilet?  You can compost food scraps, lawn clippings, paper and grease directly using your toilet.

  7. Reduced Greywater Loading:

    The removal of “blackwater” when composting toilets are used in lieu of septic and mini-treatment systems reduces the “loading” on the effluent treatment system.

  8. You can use it anywhere:

    Anywhere???  Well, think about it.  It doesn’t have to be hooked up to a water pipe.  There is no electricity needed.  There might be some alterations done to the basic design for specific spots, but all and all, it goes anywhere: High water table, rocky sites, rooms with no water storage, places that are close to running watercourses…

  9. Estate Planning Flexibility:

    Imagine how much simpler it will be to draw the plans for a site when you don’t have to worry anymore about the underground piping and infrastructure required for the sewage system.  We don’t really think about this but, when you are building a site, you have to carefully consider the placement of each building in order to make the underground pipes run straighter.

    When a big site is developed, the costs incurred for the development of the sewage system are vey high.  This usually has to be borne by the community ahead of development meaning that money is wasted if development falls through.  Composting toilet systems are only built when they are needed.

  10. Reduced Marine Pollution:

    As mentioned earlier, the marine food chain is affected because marine animals are suffocating due to lack of oxygen in the water caused by nutrient-rich effluent.  When you use a composting toilet, you don’t dump into the waterways.  This protects the activity of marine life.

  11. Pollution Detected Quickly:

    Without the incessant flushing of waste in the waterways, it would make it easier to identify the sources of toxic waste leakage.

  12. Less Environmental Impact:
Composting Toilet Button No nutrient-rich effluent flowing into the waterways and oceans
Composting Toilet Button No more pipeline installations in the ground.  This prevents disruption to soils systems
Composting Toilet Button No more raw sewage flowing into the groundwater because of pipe deterioration

Whew!!  That was a lot of benefits to write out.  I’ve read and re-read this page and I can’t see how someone could not understand the importance of humanure after this. 

Quick review:

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A composting toilet decomposes waste safely
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There is no odor!  (bye bye pepe le pew)
Composting Toilet Pepe le Pew
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All the work is done by oxygen loving bacteria that are naturally found in human waste
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Composting Toilets convert effectively and naturally human and household waste into useful, nutrient-rich compost and soil.
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They are cost effective
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They save energy
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THEY ARE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY – regenerating the Earth’s precious resources.  (Organic matter goes back to the soil where it belongs)
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They don’t use chemical cleaners or bleaches.
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They save water!!  (No more using one resource – water – to flush out another – fertilizer).

I hope this helps.  I have all kinds of information available on my site and I hope it will give you the spark needed to really think about composting toilets, recycling and THE ENVIRONMENT.

I will do my best to get the highest quality information and to always deliver it in an interesting way. 


How to Make Compost

Types of Composting

Worm Composting

Compost Bins

Home Composting

Garden Composting

Composting Toilet

Compost Manure

Compost Equipment

Mulching Tips

Benefits of Composting


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