Separett FAQ


Separett Composting Toilet Frequently Asked Questions

This detailed post should answer most frequently asked questions regarding Separett composting toilets. Please add your own questions, and I will answer them.


How often should the toilet be emptied?

If four people are using the toilet on a daily basis, then a container will last about 3 weeks, depending on how much toilet paper is being used. The Separett Villa comes with one container. When full the contents are usually disposed of in a compost bin on your property. Please see my page on composting human waste.

How is it possible that the container with solids so rarely has to be emptied?

Separett composting toilet inner compost bin (removable)

Separett inner compost bin (removable)

Urine accounts for about 85% of the waste volume and is routed separately away from the toilet. This increases the storage capacity for solids greatly.


Are there unpleasant odors indoors?

No. If the fan runs continuously the there will be no unpleasant odors in the room. When installing the toilet, make sure that the venting pipe is properly sealed with silicone. The easily accessible fan filter should be cleaned
regularly as well as the insect net at the end of ventilation pipe.

Are there unpleasant odors outdoors?

No. Because the urine and feces are not mixed, there is never any latrine-type odor from a Separett toilet. A certain amount of odor may be present outdoors, however, when and shortly after the toilet is used. If the venting can be routed to the back of the house, it is usually suffice to just route it straight through the wall. If the venting pipe must be routed through the gables or to the front of the house, it should be extended upwards or routed through the roof.

Are there unpleasant odors from the leaching bed/soak-away?

No. It does not smell since the urine is let out under ground where it percolates harmlessly away. The drain rocks in the leaching bed are usually covered with landscape cloth, topsoil and grass. There is no way this can smell if done correctly.

Separett composting toilet urine drain pit

Typical French drain for composting toilet

Are there unpleasant odors from the Separett Ejektortank?

No. The urine odor is drawn into the toilet through the hose and then blown through the toilet ventilation system. By the time it is expelled outdoors, it has been mixed with so much air that the odor is unnoticeable.

Must the urine waste pipe contain a Ubend, water seal (otherwise known as a p- trap)?

Usually not. The faint odor that may come from urine is drawn out through the venting pipe with the aid of the fan.

Is there any odor when I spray the diluted liquid on plants?

Separett composting toilet urine as fertilizer

urine diluted 10:1 with water makes excellent fertilzer

Not usually. There may be a very faint, temporary odor. It depends on the extent to which it is diluted with water. If a Separett Ejektortank is used, 1 liter of urine is mixed with 10 liters of water. This may result in a faint odor, but it will soon disappear. You can speed the process by adding more water or spreading the mixture at night or when it rains. This makes exceptionally good fertilizer!

Are flies a problem with these toilets?

Problems with flies are uncommon with Separett toilets. There is a screen on the vent. Keep the fan switched on at all times just to be sure.


Should the fan operate continually?

Yes. This keeps the housing dry and extends the lifetime of the fan. If the fan has to be switched off, place the lid on the container and remove it.

Which is the best method for routing the venting pipe, through the roof or straight through the wall?

It is always easier to go straight through the wall. When routing the venting pipe through the roof, the work is more difficult, as is ensuring good seals. Remember not to route the venting pipe to the house entrance or other places where people gather.

Separett composting toilet venting options

Separett – venting options

How much airflow does the fan create?

There is no simple answer to this question because the airflow is very dependent on the length of the venting pipe and the number of bends it contains.

Is an additional fan needed if you have a shower in the same room?

No! All ventilation from the bathroom shall go through the toilet fan that runs continually.

Does the venting pipe need insulating?

The Separett Villa toilet has a condensation collector and does not need to be insulated.

Can the ventilation be run through a chimney stack?

No. We advise against it since moisture from the bathroom can destroy the mortar joints. Also, the plastic ventilation pipe can melt if it is run through the chimney stack.

Urine outlet

Where do I lead the urine?

You have three options for the urine outlet:

1) connect the hose to the greywater system.
2) make a simple leaching bed/soakaway.
3) use a tank such as the Separett Ejektortank.


Please check local regulations.

Can I extend the urine outlet?

Yes. If you need to extend the included 2 meter (6,56 feet) hose; a pipe is preferable. With a hose it is difficult to ensure a drop for the entire length. Indoors, we recommend waste water pipes with a diameter of 32-40 mm (1 ¼” -1 ½”) and outdoors pipes with a diameter of 50-75 mm (2″ -3″).

Does the urine waste freeze in the winter?

Not under normal circumstances. Urine freezes at about -5ºC (23ºF). Ensure that the urine waste pipe has a drop along its entire length and use at least 50 mm (2″) pipe outdoors. It may also be a good idea to insulate the piping sections that run outdoors.

How can I make a simple leaching bed/soak-away? (Also called a French Drain)

Dig a small hole in the ground, measuring about 2′ X 2′ X 2′ deep. Fill it with rocks. Before covering the leaching bed with soil, put landscaping cloth over the stones to prevent clogging. The urine outlet can be led through or under the plastic film. Please a check with local authorities if in doubt.

Am I allowed to connect the urine waste hose to the greywater system?

Urine is sterile and does not pose a health risk. However, the regulations vary. Please ask local authorities.

How steep a drop must the urine waste pipe have?

It is important that the urine waste pipe drops along its entire length, so gravity can drain all liquids. A steeper downward drop lessens the risk for deposit build-up of urine salts or ice.

Is it possible to reduce the risk of urine salt deposit build-up in the urine outlet?

Yes. We recommend rinsing the urine basin with a small cup of water after each visit. You can also place the Separett Bio Drain Cleaner in the urine basin. This tablet contains enzymes that prevent urine salt deposits in the urine pipe. However, if you still get blocks in the urine outlet use a liquid drain un-blocker.

Is it possible to lengthen the hose on the Separett Ejektortank?

Separett composting toilet Ejektortank

Separett Ejektortank is handy if you plan to use the urine as fertilizer.

Yes, the included 10 meter (33-feet) emptying hose can be lengthened up to a maximum of 20 meters (66-feet) and only with a ¾” hose. Do not use a normal garden hose adapter as a connector, as it clamps too tightly around the hose. Before you can lengthen the hose, remove the spray nozzle by heating the hose and the handle with, for example, warm water or a hot air gun. Use a piece of pipe and two clamps to make the joint. As a suggestion cut about 5 cm (2″) of the Ejektortank nozzle and use it as the pipe for the joint.

Maintenance and care

Do I ever have to add anything?

In the container inside the toilet, the contents should be left to dry and lose volume. Some people use a Separett Absorb in the bag inside the container, since it keeps the contents dry and thereby odorless.

Does the toilet function well for women?

Yes. The urine bowl has been tried and tested by both older and younger women to ensure that the urine is separated into the right place.

Separett composting toilet urine drain

Separett urine drain forward

Does the toilet function well for small children?

Yes. A smaller urine separating child seat is available as an option with the Separett Villa.

Which type of toilet paper should I use?

You can use normal toilet paper.

Should I throw toilet paper in the container?

Yes, toilet paper helps keeping the contents of the container dry and divided which facilitates the handling after the storage period.

Separett composting toilet child seat

Separett child seat is an option with the 9200 and 9210

Does the toilet function in cold rooms?

Yes. Separett toilets are not room temperature dependent. Cool temperatures may slow down or stop the composting process, but it will resume when things warm up. Much of the composting actually takes place later, when you have removed the inner bin and set it aside as instructed.

Can I use bags in the container?

Yes. All our toilets are supplied with bags in order to simplify cleaning the container.

Can I use compostable waste bags?

Yes. We recommend using Separett Compostable waste bag since it designed to endure the conditions inside the toilet and during the storage period. It will slowly disintegrate in the ground or in a composter.

How long time does it take until the Separett Compostable waste bag disintegrates?

There is no simple answer to this question because the disintegration is depending of the biological activity in the ground or composter and to the exposure of sunlight. Since the bag is designed to endure the conditions inside the container, it will also disintegrate slowly in the ground or in a composter.

Can the toilet tolerate freezing temperatures?

Yes. Composting may be delayed.

What do I do when the container is full?

Put the lid over the container, tilt the container towards you and use the sliding surfaces to remove the container from the toilet. Once removed, open the lid, and put a shovel full of dirt or compost on top. Replace the lid. Leave a slight opening for air circulation. Place the container in a suitable location outdoors.  Let it sit for six months, then put it on non-edible plants.

What happens with the solids inside the container during the 6 month storage period?

Separett composting toilet remove inner bin

Remove inner bin for emptying

The bacteria in the soil “consume” the fecal pathogens, thereby rendering the contents harmless. It is then ready to be placed in a composting bin for use on non-edible plants or buried.

If I use the Separett Ejektortank only in the summer, what should I do in the winter?

Before winter you should empty the Ejektortank, since urine freezes at -5ºC (23ºF) and can cause the container and its pipes to break. If you still use the toilet wintertime one can choose to collect the urine in suitable containers for use in springtime or you can pipe the urine to a leaching bed, soak-away or to the greywater system.


Do I need to obtain permission from the authorities before installing the toilet?

Most areas now approve of and support the use of composting toilets. However, regulations may vary. Please check carefully.

Are flies a problem?

Not usually. Please see my detailed post on preventing flies here.

Can I install the toilet myself?

Yes. There are not usually any problems for the competent handy-person. Its a simple job that could also be done by a professional at low cost.

What tools do I need?

The tools you need depend on the installation choices you make for the urine outlet and the ventilation pipe. This is a list of the most probably tools that may come handy: Screwdriver, hacksaw – to cut the ventilation pipe knife – to cut the urine hose, hole saws for the urine outlet and the ventilation pipe, carpenter’s level, a power drill and tape. Your installation may involve specific challenges, and additional tools. Call us, or check with a local handyman or carpenter if in doubt.

Where can I buy one?

Call 1 888 361 0014 – toll free in North America.


If you have any other Separett FAQ (questions) please let me know.


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39 thoughts on “Separett FAQ

      • Claire Heffernan

        Q: Can you use the existing toilet ring on the floor for the urine diversion. It is currently hooked up to our grey water pit. Q: We can’t place the vent out of the back of our bathroom wall because it backs onto our workshop. Can we connect it to the existing toilet vent inside the wall which travels up two stories and out the roof (this a new house so we know where everything is).

        • Richard Post author

          No you cannot use the drain directly under the toilet. This is because the toilet sits over that spot, and the urine line comes out the back – not the bottom. You might be able to connect to the existing drain line somewhere else, but not directly under the toilet. You can only use the existing vent if it is at least 3 inches in inner diameter (rare), and not connected to any other plumbing fixture, as well as being fairly short and straight with no more than 2 bends.

      • Richard Post author

        The noise is very low – about like a quiet whisper. It can vary, depending on the length of pipe, and if your screens are clean or dirty. You can turn it off when you leave, no problem, but there might be a slight odor when you return. Most people in boats and RVs will turn it off to save power. You can experiment. I was initially concerned about this, because I’m a very light sleeper. But it is not a problem.

  • Brigid Barner

    We purchased a Separett composting toilet and now our regional district wants to know if it is Health Canada Certified. Can you advise by return?

    • admin Post author

      Health Canada does not approve any toilets. It is ETL certified, which is the relevant certification. But this does not guarantee anything. What they need to do is approve the method in which you dispose of the urine. Typically this is a drain pit. In Ontario it is called a class 3 drain pit. There are no regulations that I am aware of regarding composting the solid waste. If you store it in a dry place for 6 months it will be safe to use on plants.
      Getting approval can be an uphill battle if the local authorities are closed minded.

      • Michel Laplante

        Hi Richard, after using the separett for over 6 months starting in december, this fixture works as promised. Easy to care for, no odors or noise from the fan. I have been promoting this since the first time we used it. This being said what is the proper procedure to remove the toilet seat to clean

  • Henry

    I have no power where the toilet is to be installed. What are the power requirements of the fan? Would a fully charged car battery be enough to power the fan for a few weeks between charges?

    • admin Post author

      The 9210 DC model fan uses about 3 watts. A car battery is not the way to go. You need a deep cycle, good quality marine or RV battery. A single battery will need a trickle charge. Most people use a small inexpensive solar panel. You can also try a rotating turbine vent.

    • Richard Post author

      Yes, but there are many things to consider. Space (many boat head compartments will be too small for the Separett), venting, and urine drainage. Most people use the Nature’s Head on a boat. It’s designed for a boat.

  • Dennis

    We are in the process of a DIY tiny house conversion of our existing potting shed. The size of the shed is approx. 180 square feet. We are planning to have a renter (single) use this facility. Thru much reading we believe we would like to purchase a composting toilet from Composting Toilets Canada. The question: Should we be looking at a Nature’s Head Urine Diverting Toilet or a Separett Toilet? We have ample space to drain the urine with the grey water to a pit. We will have regular household electricity.
    Any information or recommendations you may give would be appreciated.

    Thank You, Dennis

    • Richard Post author

      They both would work fine. The NH is smaller and you have a very small space. The Separett is easier to empty. Please give me a call to discuss your specific requirements in more detail.

  • Kathryn Coleman

    Hello –
    We are looking at installing a composting toilet in our bunkhouse at the lake (near Kamloops, BC) This is all new to us, but I am impressed by what I have been reading about composting toilets. A couple of questions:
    1) How does it handle blood (for women with their period – and seriously: this should be addressed routinely).
    2) What if someone pees and poos at the same time and therefore the pee goes down in the solid compartment?
    3) How do you “flush”. Let be real here: the poo doesn’t always land in a tidy way; even in a regular toilet, it can sometimes take several flushes to get rid of all the poo.
    Thanks in advance for your answers.

    • Richard Post author

      Blood is fine. Sanitary products are not. Just toilet paper and anything that came out of your body. Some pee down the solids chute is fine. But pee still normally shoots forward when sitting upright on a toilet. Not usually a problem. If there is a mess, you have to clean it. A spray bottle is included. Spray it with water, and wipe clean. You can drop the paper towel into the bowl.

  • Barbara Griffin

    We plan to use this in our cabin. We have a small solar panel for lights only, but I believe we have plenty of power for the small fan in this unit. However, we turn the power off when we are not there. Will the waste just sit there until our next visit (which could be weeks away)? Won’t it smell then? Or do we have to empty it out every time we leave. We sometimes only go up for a day and it may only get one or two uses. Seems like a waste of these apparently expensive bags to change it every time.
    If we can solve this issue, I’m sold! Sounds like a great product and it will sure be a luxury to “go” indoors!

    • Richard Post author

      There is no harm in leaving it in the toilet. There may be a slight odor in the bathroom when you return, which will quickly vanish. Generic compostable bags are now widely available and very cheap. In Canada, you can buy them at Canadian Tire. They are not as strong as ours but in your situation they will be perfect.

  • Karry

    I am having a problem with odour when the bin gets full. Can I put peat moss in my Separett? Do you think that would help?
    Thank you

    • Richard Post author

      Odor means something is wrong. There should never be any odor. Check the fan, and the screens inside the toilet and outside on the external vent. When the bin gets full, you empty it. You never add peat moss or anything else to the Separett.

    • Richard Post author

      This can happen when a women leans forward when sitting on the toilet. Leaning forward tilts the pelvis back, and urine goes backwards, instead of forwards or straight down. The solution is to sit more upright. Very short women might need a foot stool.

  • Nicole M Levesque

    We love our Separett toilet however it does not seem to dehydrate the fecal matter…everything remains quite wet and heavy so the when a few weeks have passed (and we are only two adults using this toilet) the bag is quite heavy and it has even burst once when we emptied it.
    What is wrong? How can we remedy this problem?

    • Richard Post author

      The solid waste never dries out. The fan evacuates a lot of moisture however. It shrinks (allowing the high capacity of the toilet) and loses odour – but does not dry out. It will weigh about 25lbs when full. You never lift the contents out by the bag. The entire bucket is dumped. Compostable bags are not strong.

  • Susan van Dyk

    We just bought and installed our separett.
    I am still confused about disposing of the solid waste.
    I was under the impression that I would have to buy a composter to put the waste in to compost properly.
    Do I then add the whole bag with waste into the composter and add some soil?
    Will the plastic degrade in the composter? These bags came with the toilet.

    • Richard Post author

      The bags break down in a few months to a year. You put the bags into the composter. Please see my page on how to compost human waste.

  • Braven Rayne

    Can the Separate Toilet be moved once installed. Meaning, can I slide the toilet back out of the way for convenience and slide it forward for use?

    • Richard Post author

      You would need to mount the toilet on plywood that could slide or roll. Then you would need to find very flexible ducting for the vent, to allow movement. The ducting that comes with the toilet is rigid, so that won’t work.

        • Richard Post author

          Only if the stack is 3″ inner diameter, relatively straight (2 bends or less), and not hooked up to any other fixtures. In other words – usually no. Plumbing stacks are passive openings to the outside. These toilets use active ventilation, pushing air though a pipe.

  • art hawes

    Sounds to me you leave the materials in the bin for six months, so what do we do to use the toilet for those six months the bin is separate from the unit?

    • Richard Post author

      Fill up the first bin. This will take a long time. Then stop using it, and start using a second bin. When the second bin is full, the contents of the first bin should be ready for the plants. Personally I let it sit at least a year.

  • Joan roseboom

    Purchased the toilet a couple of years ago.
    Mostly pleased but often have issues with urine mixed in with feces. I instruct everyone to sit.
    Any suggestions?

    • Richard Post author

      Men must sit when using the Separett. This is in the instructions. Men can stand IF they aim for the forward part of the bowl.
      Pee can also get in the solids bin when shorter women lean forward when using. It tilts the pelvis, and pee goes backwards. This is solved bu sitting more upright or using a footstool.
      Both problems are solved with the new Thinktank toilet. As long as the trap door is closed pee cannot enter the solids bin. The trap door stays closed except when going #2. Men can stand