The 6 Best Composting Toilets
What is a Composting Toilet?
Most people see or hear a composting toilet and immediately start covering their noses in anticipation of bad odor. But do composting toilets really smell bad? And what can you do to make sure you buy the best?
Composting toilets are a type of toilet that biologically break down human waste into a humus-like material in a process known as decomposition. They use little or no water at all and are therefore dry toilets.
To speed up and facilitate the decomposition process, a carbon-based substance like sawdust, peat moss or coconut coir are used. These lightweight materials create air pockets inside the toilet which supplies the required oxygen for effective decomposition and also reduce bad odors.
There are 2 types of composting toilets. The first type is the permanent (central units) composting toilets which are built in a bathroom without the intention of moving them around. The second one is the self-contained composting toilets. You can choose to install them permanently but are also portable.
Self-contained composting toilets are sleek and beautifully designed toilets and are the ones I am going to review in this post. These toilets can be used:
- As a camping toilets.
- In a cabin far away from the sewer lines.
- As a boat toilet.
- In the basement bathroom.
- As a back-up toilet in case the pipes go dry.
- In an RV.
The Best Composting Toilets Are:
|Toilet||Toilet Dimensions (LXWXH)||Weight||Electric/Non-Electric|
|1. Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet.||22 X 20.5 X 21.7 inches||28 pounds||Electric|
|2. Separett Villa 9215 AC/DC Composting Toilet||26.46 X 17.95 X 21.3 inches||36 pounds||Electric|
|3. Reliance Luggable Loo Portable Toilet||12.8 X 13.39 X 14.57 inches||3 pounds||Non-electric|
|4. Reliance Hassock Portable Toilet||14.7 X 14.7 X 14 inches||5 pounds||Non-electric|
|5. Basicwise Portable Composting Toilet||16 X 14 X 17 inches||5.5 pounds||Non-electric|
|6. Sun-Mar Excel Composting Toilet||33 X 22.5 X 33.25 inches||60 pounds||Non-electric|
Best Composting Toilet Reviews
1. Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet.
I love this toilet and from what I have also read about it in other forums, it works for other people as well as it has worked for me. It is not the cheapest composting toilet but I can guarantee you that it is worth every penny.
Made in the United States by Nature’s Head, this toilet was originally designed for the marine industry but it quickly proved popular in all the other aspects of life. Whether you a looking for a cabin toilet, RV toilet or even a camping toilet then this one will be worth your while.
Let us see how the toilet works. The toilet has two bins. One big bin for solids and another smaller bin at the front for liquids. The big bin is directly below the bowl where there is a trap door.
This toilet therefore separates the liquids from the solids. The liquid bin should essentially be emptied daily while the solids bin can be used up to 90 times without emptying. It is important that you separate the liquids from the solids which is effective in eliminating odor and better decomposition.
The decomposition process happens really quickly. You will however first need to add peat moss in the solids bin which quickens the decomposition. This unit has a handle on the side that you spin after every use to mix the waste with the peat moss.
Emptying either of the bins is so easy. The bowl is attached to the big bin using 2 side latches. Just unlatch the bowl, put it aside and empty whichever bin you want to empty. The latches are made of stainless steel and will therefore not corrode.
At only 28 pounds when empty, this toilet is easily portable and you can therefore transport it to any location. It is 22 inches in depth, 20.5 inches in width and 21.7 inches in height. This means it is very compact and can easily fit in tight spaces.
Another thing to like is the elongated toilet bowl and seat which is way comfortable than a round one. The toilet seat is also at almost the same height as a flush toilet and you therefore don’t need to squat too low.
With all that it offers it is not hard to see why this is easily the best composting toilet. It comes with a 5-year warranty.
2. Separett Villa 9215 AC/DC Composting Toilet
Villa 9215 AC/DC composting toilet by Separett is the new model of the Villa composting toilets and replaces all the other Villa models. Compared to other older models, this toilet is smaller in size and also lighter. But of course that’s not why you should buy. You want to know why you should spend your money on it.
This toilet is perfect for both on grid and off-grid applications. Its single speed fan can run on either AC or DC (battery or solar). Although these toilets are made in Sweden, they come with power adaptors specifically made for United States’ application.
The one thing I really like about this toilet is the fact that it completely has no odor. The fan which is on 24/7 removes all the odor and can vent up to 20 feet from the toilet. The older models had a switch that would let you turn the fan on and off. For this model, once you plug in the power connection then the fan never stops running.
The Villa 9215 AC/DC has an elongated toilet bowl and seat which are really comfortable. The bowl is designed in such a way that it allows the urine and the solid waste to be separated. I should take this chance to tell the gentlemen that they really need to sit on the toilet, otherwise the urine will flow to the solids container which is not what you want.
At the bottom of the bowl where the solid waste exits there is a sliding door that opens automatically once you sit on the toilet seat. You will really like this because you will not have to see the waste once you stand up because the door will shut the bowl as soon as you stand.
Once the solid waste exits the bowl, it is retained in a plastic bucket underneath the bowl. A compostable liner bag is put in and around the bucket which makes emptying it so easy. You should empty the bucket after about 3 weeks for a family of 4 and dispose it off appropriately.
With this toilet, you do not need to keep emptying the urine. As soon as the urine is diverted from the bowl, it is transported using a pipe (which comes with the toilet) to a grey-water system or holding tank.
Installation of this toilet will take time since you want to do it well but as soon as you install it you will enjoy it. To make sure that it will fit in your space, it has a depth of 26.46 inches, width of 17.95 inches and a height of 21.3 inches. It comes with a 5-year warranty.
3. Reliance Luggable Loo
If you are looking for a cheap way to use a toilet while away from home then this is what you might be looking for. It is a simple 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat that snaps on its rim. It is inexpensive but practical.
So how does the Luggable Loo work? This toilet has basically three components; the bucket, the seat and the lid. What you do is put a compostable bag inside the bucket then put on the seat. It is important that you make sure that the bag is well spread inside the bucket and that it goes under the seat.
The seat helps to prevent the bag from falling inside the bucket by holding it firmly around the bucket rim. In case you are wondering what would happen in the event the bucket falls off or someone knocks it down then you need not to worry.
The seat lid is designed in such a way that it snaps tightly on the bucket rim and would therefore not open and spill the contents even if the bucket falls. The only thing that is a little uncomfortable is the fact that the seat is round and therefore not as comfortable as an elongated one.
To take care of the odor you should always put peat moss inside the bag. Always keep some peat moss by the side of the toilet to add every time you use it. In case you run out of the peat moss and/or the bags, don’t shy away from using double kitchen bags and/or kitty litter. They work just as fine.
If somehow the buckets breaks but the seat is still OK, just rush to the nearest Home Depot or Lowes and grab a 5-gallon bucket. This is why I like this toilet. It is so simple yet so convenient.
For you own safety, make sure that this toilet is resting on a firm surface before using it. When it’s on solid ground this toilet is quite sturdy and can comfortably support persons weighing up to 200 pounds.
The bottom of the toilet measures 12.8 inches, the top 13.39 inches while its height is 14. 57 inches. It weighs only 3 pounds and has a metallic handle. This product is backed by a 5-year guarantee.
4. Reliance Hassock Portable Toilet
This is another great product from Reliance Products that is also both inexpensive and practical. Reliance Products have made their name by manufacturing some of the best portable composting toilets and this one is no exception.
If you are planning a camping trip, you should very much consider this toilet. It is made of plastic and therefore lightweight. While empty, this toilet only weighs 5 pounds and since it is circular it measures 14.7 inches by 14.7 inches and a height of 14 inches.
I often have people asking me to recommend to them whether to buy a flush-type portable toilet or a dry toilet. My answer is always simple. “If you are planning to move around or don’t like emptying a human waste slurry get a dry portable/composting toilet”
Flush-type portable toilets are great but some time there is always the chance that they are going to leak or splash back on you while emptying. I am sure that is not something you want to happen to you while camping by the lake or in the woods.
The Hassock portable toilet is in essence a bucket within a bucket. There is the outer harder bucket which supports your weight and then there is the inner bucket which holds your waste. One thing you will love about this toilet is that it does not stink.
Whether you decide to buy the commercial poo powder or kitty litter, both will work just as fine. Reliance recommends that you use their double doodie toilet waste bags but I have found that even the ordinary double kitchen trash bags works well too.
The toilet seat although round in shape is nicely contoured to make sure your time on the loo is as comfortable as possible. The toilet also comes with an internal lid that has an in-built toilet paper holder. You may opt to have the paper holder by the toilet or hang it up against a wall.
I find this toilet to be a very good option whether it’s for outdoor activities or if you just want to have a back-up dry toilet for your house. It comes with a 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
5. Basicwise Portable Composting Toilet
The Basicwise portable composting toilet is another well-made toilet that you should consider buying. Whether you want to add a small bathroom in your house and put it or you need one for camping, this toilet would be perfect for any use.
It is made from plastic which makes it lightweight and therefore easy to carry around. When it is empty it weighs on 5.5 pounds. It is also a compact toilet and can therefore fit in tight spots. Its measurements are 16 inches depth, 14 inches width and a height of 17 inches.
So how does the Basicwise portable composting toilet work? The toilet has an outer shell, a toilet seat and lid, and a bucket inside the outer shell. The outer shell is hollow at the bottom and is also made thick to support the weight of the user.
When you want to use this toilet, you put a compostable bag inside the bucket and add some peat moss. Insert the bucket inside the outer shell and put the toilet seat down. Proceed to do your business and when you are done cover the bucket with the lid. The airtight lid helps to contain any odors. After putting on the lid bring the seat down. The bucket has a handle to allow you to carry the waste easily during emptying.
While out camping, I have seen some people dig a hole on the ground and then mount the toilet’s outer shell on top of the hole. They then go ahead to use the toilet but this time without the bucket. Since the shell is hollow the waste falls down in the hole. They afterwards bury the waste in the ground. I don’t know if this is allowed in most camping sites but you can always ask.
I like this toilet because it is very sturdy. The support shell is designed in a way that it is wider at the bottom that it is at the top. This helps to evenly distribute your weight and prevent you from falling off. The toilet seat is also designed like your elongated toilet seat at home and hence it is comfortable.
Another amazing feature of this toilet is that it come with an integrated toilet paper holder. The holder fits perfectly on the side of the toilet making it easy for you to reach it. You also don’t need to worry about transporting the toilet with a toilet paper hanging on its side. Once on the move just remove the holder and toss it inside the bucket.
This toilet is however a little shorter that your normal toilet at home so you will need to compromise on that. Other than that I find that the toilet’s exterior is so smooth and without any crevices which makes cleaning it so easy. It also comes with a transport bags which makes it easy to carry and store it while not in use
6. Sun-Mar Excel Composting Toilet
The Sun-Mar composting toilets are manufactured in Canada, and have been in production for over 3 decades with Sun-Mar Excel self-contained toilet being their latest model. It is a non-electric composting toilet, making it a great option for both on grid and off grid applications where there is no running water or power lines.
Let us have a look at how the Sun-Mar toilet works. This toilet has 3 chambers. The biggest one is their patented bio-drum and then the evaporation chamber below the bio-drum. On the front side of the toilet is the finishing drawer where the emptying happens.
A handle is connected to the bio-drum which you use to rotate the bio-drum components. The rotation helps to evenly mix the waste with the peat moss or saw dust and also mix the moisture around. This is an important process because it makes the whole mixture oxygenated which is essential for decomposition.
The bio-drum has a door that is tightly closed during rotation. At the base of the bio-drum is a screen that allows any excess liquid to drain into the evaporation chamber. This is a critical stage to ensure that the material in the bio-drum is not oversaturated.
To remove the waste, just rotate the bio-drum in the opposite direction. In that instance, the bio-drum door will be opened allowing the waste to fall off into the finishing drawer. In the finishing drawer the compost is isolated from the fresh waste, continues drying and composting.
It is correct to say that the designing of this toilet was meticulously thought out. Having said that, I should also add that people have a love-hate relationship with this toilet. The major problem people have with it is leaking urine or urine/feces soup which is as gloss as gloss can possibly be.
The overflow drain is also reported be too high and clogs constantly. Some other people who own it says it works better during summer more than winter, because the evaporation process is better. I don’t own this toilet so I cannot ascertain whether the problem is the installation or the toilet itself.
If you would be interested in the Sun-Mar Excel composting toilet, you will need to make sure that it can fit in the space you have. It has a depth of 33 inches, a width of 22.5 inches and a height of 33.25 inches. It weighs 60 pounds.
Composting Toilets Buying Guide
Prior to buying a composting toilet, you need to do some due diligence to make sure that the product you will end up buying will indeed serve you as you had intended. In order to do that, these are some of the factors that you need to consider:
1. Composting Toilet Dimensions
Whether you are intending to install the toilet in a cabin, tent, RV or even in your house bathroom, you must first measure the space you have and then compare it to the dimensions of the toilet you want to buy.
It would be such a shame to buy a very expensive toilet and only to end being too big for the space you have. If you are buying the toilet online, sometimes you can mistake the real dimensions of the toilet and the shipping dimensions.
Most companies list the shipping dimensions because that determines the shipping charges. Always check the actual dimensions from the real company website. In this review, I have made sure to give you the precise dimensions of all the toilets I have reviewed.
2. Composting Toilet Weight
Not everyone buys a composting toilet with the intention of permanently installing it. Some people want to be able to carry it around especially while camping. The weight and size of the toilet therefore becomes very important.
As we have already seen, a composting toilet can be a sophisticated item or as simple as a 5-gallon bucket. The latter are a very good option for campers where every weight onboard matters.
3. Composting Toilet Capacity.
The capacity of a composting toilet here refers to the time the toilet will need to be used before it is emptied. This is important because it helps you plan your trip in accordance to the number of people you have or if you are buying for your home you are able to buy in accordance to the family size.
One thing to know here is that bucket-type composting toilets generally need to be emptied more often than other composting toilets since they don’t have a proper way of separating the solids and the liquids.
The important thing to do therefore is to check the capacity of the toilet and estimate how long you and your loved ones might need to use it before you are required to empty it.
4. Electric or Non-Electric
The use of electricity in a composting toilet is to run the fan. The fan takes out the gases/odor from the toilet, vents it out and also helps to dry the solid matter for faster decomposition. Not all composting however needs access to electricity.
Some composting toilets like the Nature’s Head composting toilet can either be electric or non-electric. If you are in an area with a good natural flow of air you can opt to have the fan off.
For someone who is looking to buy a composting toilet to be used in off the grid remote areas, they should consider buying a non-electric one. If on the other hand you need a permanent toilet for your house and you have constant supply of electricity you should go ahead and buy an electric one.
I don’t think there is anything that puts people off like an awfully smelling composting toilet. As a matter of fact one of the questions I have been asked plenty of times is “Do composting toilets smell”?
My answer to anyone who asks me that is the same. I always advise people to buy those toilets that I have heard a good reputation of not smelling. A well designed composting toilet should not smell and should also not leak.
A composting toilet should also be designed in such a way that it allows you to empty it without the risk of being in contact with the waste. Although the waste of a composting toilet is a very good fertilizer, not all composting toilets are able to achieve that, especially the bucket-type ones.
6. Ease of Maintenance
The ease of maintaining a composting toilet goes hand in hand with the ease of installation. If a toilet is really hard to install there is a big chance that even maintaining it will be hard as well.
I believe that a composting toilet is one of those things that you should comfortably install on your own. Unlike a flush toilet, composting toilets have few parts and you should also be able to maintain it on your own.
Before buying a composting toilet, make sure that it is easy to find replacement parts if you need to replace anything. The replacement parts also need to be reasonably priced.
7. The Cost
Composting toilets can be as cheap as 30 dollars and can also be as expensive as 1000 dollars or more. I genuinely believe that some composting toilets are just a rip off. A simple plastic container with a toilet seat and you have to pay hundreds of dollars for it.
Some high-end composting toilets are however value for money. They are beautifully designed and work as advertised. In this review I have made sure that I have compared both the high-end and budget composting toilets.
You might be surprised at how well some of these cheaper toilets work. They are especially great if you want to go camping and are on a tight budget.
Advantages of Composting Toilets
1. They require no plumbing
The best thing about composting toilets is that you can install them just about anywhere. Unlike flush toilets, you don’t need to have a drainage system in place or have a connection to the city’s sewer lines.
It therefore means that you can buy a composting toilet and install it the same day. With a flush toilet, you need to tear up your bathroom, install the drainpipe, closet flange, wax ring, water supply line, shut off valve among other accessories. All this take time and are expensive.
2. They are portable
You cannot carry your flush toilet around from one point to another. Composting toilets on the other hand are lightweight and can easily be transported between different locations.
This makes composting toilets multipurpose. Whether you want to install them permanently in your bathroom or you want to be able to move around with them, the decision is entirely yours.
3. They are Environment-friendly
In the United States alone, more than 2 billion gallons of water are used to flush toilets daily. You can therefore imagine how much water is flushed down toilets in the entire world.
The water flushed down toilets somehow ends up in our water bodies which further leads to the deterioration of the environment. Composting toilets on the other hand are dry toilets and do not need water to function.
If you are an environment conscious person you should really consider buying a composting toilet but also be sure to dispose your waste appropriately.
4. Fertilizer For Your Garden
After the waste in the composting toilet has undergone decomposition it becomes a very useful compost which you can use to enrich the soil in your garden. To be honest I have come across a few people who don’t think that throwing human waste in the garden is a very great idea.
Their fear is however unfounded as human waste is an organic substance that is not harmful to you or your plants when it has fully gone through decomposition.
Disadvantages of Composting Toilets.
1. Can’t Serve a Large Group
Unfortunately, you can’t install a composting toilet in an airport terminal or in the bathroom of a busy restaurant. It would simply not work, and needless to say the whole place would smell like a sewage treatment facility.
Composting toilets are ideal for 2-4 people who do not use them all the time. This shows that flush type toilets are not going anywhere any time soon.
2. Can be smelly
Not all composting toilets are odor-free. If the toilet design allows any leakage (liquid or gaseous) you will not have a good time staying at home or camping.
This is why it is a good thing to read as many reviews as possible before deciding on a particular toilet.
Composting toilets have proved to be a worthwhile investment for people living on the grid or off the grid. Whether you are looking for a good composting toilet for your bathroom or one to use while out camping, there are many options to choose from.