Welcome to Composting Toilets Canada, a division of GreenLatrine Composting Toilets Ltd.
Modern composting toilets offer an environmentally friendly and odor-free method of dealing with human waste. There are many models available at different prices, each with advantages and disadvantages.
My first experience with composting toilets goes back about 20 years. After delaying it as long as possible, I had to make a trip to the dreaded outhouse in a Washington State park. However, I immediately noticed there was absolutely no odor. This was unlike every other “outhouse” I had used – where the smell is usually unbearable. A small plaque announced it was a composting toilet – producing natural fertilizer rather than toxic sewage. “Why didn’t someone think of this before?”, I asked myself.
Turns out they had. In Europe, composting toilets have been around for generations. Often called “waterless toilets”, they are installed in homes, offices and government buildings – wherever a toilet is needed. Contrary to a popular misconception, there is no unpleasant smell if installed properly. North Americans have been much slower to adopt this technology. However, fresh water is becoming a scarce resource in many areas. It seems wasteful to flush away gallons of pure drinking water every time we use a toilet. In 2005, Americans flushed away 123 billion gallons of water, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report.
Conventional sewage treatment is sometimes impractical or too expensive. Septic systems have many potential problems, not the least of which is disposal of the contents in an environmentally sound manner.
Composting toilets provide a viable solution in many instances.
A true composting toilet produces a safe, non-toxic final product that can be placed on ornamental plants. No expensive or energy intensive treatment is required, and no toxic sludge is produced. Best of all, once the unit is installed, it costs almost nothing to operate.
The exact process varies depending on the composting toilet. Generally you have a traditional looking toilet seat and bowl, which sits above a storage tank. This tank may be built-in as part of the toilet, or it could be installed below the bathroom in a basement or crawlspace.
In a “urine separating composting toilet”, the liquid can be diverted to a small gravel pit (or “French drain), where it percolates safely away
Some of the newer composting toilets separate urine from solids. This is a big step forward. The relative lack of fluids in the storage tank helps eliminate odor. Complete and rapid composting occurs easily. Further dehydration over time allows the solid material to shrink dramatically (just like a compost pile). A small self-contained composting toilet can hold a surprising number of “uses”, meaning you do not have to empty it frequently.
Most of the older composting toilet designs hold the urine and solids in one tank. Water evaporates with the aid of electric heat, with the same odor free results – at least theoretically. In practice, you must be very, very careful not to introduce more liquid than the composting toilet can evaporate. Peat moss, coconut fiber, biological compost starter or other organic material is often added to the composting toilet to initiate and aid the composting process. In some toilets the solids are rotated, to speed up composting. With some simple home-made units you just cover fresh material with a layer of sawdust.
Ventilation is required with all composting toilets. Commercially available composting toilets use fans to dry out the contents and prevent odor. These fans are usually very quiet – 30 db to 40 db (which is between a whisper and a refrigerator in volume). They run all the time, 24/7. The fans pull air from the bathroom area, through the toilet and out a pipe to the outside. You never smell anything, even when sitting on the open toilet, because the fan is pulling air away from you. Any odor is exhausted, and it cannot waft up into the room.
When the solids bin fills up – and this can take between a few weeks and years depending on the composting toilet and how many people use it – you empty the already well-composted material into a suitable bin or container so it can “mature”. There should be little or no odor at this stage, other than a slight “earthy” smell.
How long it must sit is a matter of some debate. It depends on the temperature. Below about 12 degrees Celsius or 55 degrees Fahrenheit composting will slow or stop. Many experts believe letting the compost sit for 12 weeks at room temperature should render pathogens harmless. Others recommend a more cautious 6 months. It is then safe to use the finished compost on flowers or other non-edible plants. If absolutely necessary, as a last resort, you can bag and seal the fully composted material and dispose in the trash.
Composting toilets require almost no maintenance and are impossible to plug. They are hygienic, inexpensive in the long run and environmentally benign. As fresh water becomes ever more scarce we are sure to see wide spread acceptance of this technology.
Please join in the discussion on my blog page! I hope you find what you are looking for on Composting Toilets Canada.
An excellent video on composting toilets can be seen here:
Composting Toilets Canada is a division of GreenLatrine Composting Toilets Ltd.
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We have been SO pleased with our Nature's Head toilet at our island cottage. We empty the urine bucket twice a week (just to be safe because overflow is not pleasant) and the fecal section about once a month or so. It is an easy system, and we are pleased to get rid of our septic, about which we were not sure and was going to cost a lot of money to have pumped out ($2500 per time). Fortunately, the other waste water goes into a grey well. It is just the two of us here, so we dump the urine down our old, but functioning, outhouse, and dump the feces plus peat moss into the compost. SO easy!! And the advice/assistance from Composting Toilets Canada has been absolutely wonderful. They really look after their customers and are SO patient with us and our stupid questions.
Richard is a star! Consumer service beyond what I am used to. On top on any questions we had and always polite. Thank you!
We are so pleased with our Nature's Head toilet purchase and especially with the service we received from Richard personally. He answered the phone himself every time as promised. We were on a tight time budget and Richard came through with shipping us our order the next day! We would highly recommend Richard and Composting Toilets Canada!
My initial experience was a pleasant surprise. I called late at night to inquire about the nature’s head toilet and was shocked when Richard answered the phone! He answered all of my questions and helped me out, despite my interrupting his rest. I am still awaiting the toilet, as it was on backorder, but am excited to update this review once it is received. Thanks again Richard! Looking forward to receiving our order.
We received our toilet within a week, later when we went to install it, we were missing a part, I called Richard and we received the part within two days.
Wow, I am so glad we decided to buy our toilet here and not at the big box store. The service is awesome and Richard knows his stuff. Thanks Richard
Richard answered all my questions patiently. Then I called back with more questions, and he answered those as well. It's wonderful to deal with someone like this. The toilet is also great!
We recently purchased a Separett. We have a small cabin and have had a Sunmar for about 20+ years. It has served its purpose. I love the Separett. The fan is quiet and there is absolutely no odor. I wish we would have gotten a Separett years ago.
I thought customer service like this was long gone. So many promise customer service. So few deliver. This guy walks the talk. Great toilet, btw.
Our cabin had a first generation composting toilet when we bought it. I absolutely detested it. I was completely ready to spend thousands of dollars to install a septic system. Before pulling the trigger I stumbled upon the Nature's Head on the internet. Did my research, and changed my mind. Being the biggest skeptic in the world, I wasn't totally convinced until I spoke to Richard. Bought and installed the Nature's Head, and haven't looked back since. Magnificent product does exactly what it should and ABSOLUTELY NO SMELLS. Richard has always been available to answer my questions, and alleviate my concerns. Whether by phone, or email, his level of customer service is unprecedented in today's world. I couldn't be happier with the Nature's Head, or with Richard. Honestly, if you're on the fence, pull the trigger and invest in this toilet. You will not be disappointed. Richard remains there for you long after the purchase has been made. I can't thank him enough!
I thought my order was complete. Richard was fantastic enough to call and gave me some very valuable advice which saved me money and will result in a far better system. It is easy to spend hours online being unsure as to how particular options will work in your situation. Easier still to contact Richard. Much appreciated