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How to Use a Composting Toilet – Step-by-Step Guide

washing machine in bathroom

In the past decade or so, more people have been trying to find alternative methods and ways of being eco-friendly and lowering the usage of any environmentally harmful waste and products.

One of these methods for green living is the composting toilet. According to research, an average person flushes 2,650 gallons of water every year.

Composting toilet is a system for harvesting human waste and turning it into compost through biological processes and decomposition. It is the most eco-friendly way to deal with human waste since it does not require flushing, does not add to pollution, and is very cheap to make. You can even make it yourself with no skills needed. In the end, you have safe, odorless compost that you can even use in your garden.

This article will show you how to use a composting toilet since many of us doubt the practicality of everyday use of such an invention.

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Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use a Composting Toilet

1. Preparing the toilet before use

Toilet seat
Image Credit: Pixabay

Before using the toilet for the first time, you should line the bottom of the container with a carbon-rich material (about 1 inch layer) such as dried peat moss, straw, or sawdust. Sawdust is the most common solution since it’s excellent for absorbing moisture. The mixture of chemicals helps speed up the process that will later break down the waste material to compost.


2. Separating liquids from solids

Most compost toilets are designed to distribute urine in the right direction in the toilet system once you sit on the toilet. There will be two chambers in the toilet, one for solid and one for liquid waste. Some toilets have a lever that automatically separates the two chambers when you sit. We will want to keep these two separated to minimize any unnecessary odor and ensure that a healthy aerobic bacterium develops and later becomes safe fertilizer. After finishing with the solid deposit and cleaning yourself, you may throw the toilet paper in the bin. Ensure that it is biodegradable.


3. Stirring mechanism and drying

man holding bidet and toilet paper
Image Credit: James-Are-Shutterstock

Some people choose to have an in-built fan in the bathroom. Every time you use the toilet, you can turn on the fan for about 5-10 minutes, and that’s another step to ensuring an odorless bathroom. Some composting toilets also have a stirring mechanism that mixes the waste and sawdust from time to time. For urine, it is relatively important to make the right conditions, dry air and heat make urine evaporate, and the result is a moist content suitable for the compost. Both options are appropriate for drying the waste enough to speed up the process, which will pay off in the long run.


4. Emptying routine

You should empty the waste every 2-3 weeks. As for the liquid waste, you can unload it every second or third day to avoid odor. Since not using any water for this project is crucial, people found other ideas to mask the smell. For a scent that comes from the urine bin, you can use 2 spoons of sugar, and when you want to clean the urine bin thoroughly, the best solution is putting a 3-inch layer of vinegar, 1-inch layer of rocks, and shaking until you clean all the leftover urine. Vinegar also works for solid wastes. You can make it from 2 ounces of vinegar and water and use it from a spray bottle.


5. Disposing of the waste

single flush toilet
Single flush toilet.

The last stage is the most crucial one. You should collect all the waste into one sizable composting pile. You can use a biodegradable bag for this step since it will decay with ease and not contribute to the compost in any way. A plastic bag is undesirable; we don’t want any plastic mixing with our organic material. For the composting pile to be ready and safe for use, it must develop for at least a year. This period will vary due to climate and low temperatures. The temperature must reach at least 122°F for one week to destroy all the pathogens. If you don’t meet these conditions, the compost pile should sit for another year.


How often should you empty a composting toilet?

Many people wonder how often they should empty a composting toilet, so we’re here to provide you with an answer. Emptying the toilet depends on the number of people using it. You can drain the urine bin every second or third day, while the container for solid waste can last up to 90 uses.

Do composting toilets smell bad?

A composting toilet can smell bad, but that doesn’t always happen. If you follow all the steps accordingly and make the right conditions, odors won’t be a concern. The most crucial measure to follow is to ensure the solid and liquid do not combine. The built-in fan will be there for that extra guarantee.

cleaning toilet seat

How can you use the compost waste?

Suppose the compost pile has broken down significantly to look like rich topsoil that resembles soil and mixed in the already established compost with other organic waste. In that case, it is entirely safe to use in your garden and even edible plants. It will be a great fertilizer that will help your plants grow.

Advantages and disadvantages

Composting toilets have many benefits, but it has some disadvantages as well. Look at the list below to find out the most important pros and cons of composting toilets.

Pros
  • Eco-friendly
  • Lower costs
  • Lower energy consumption
Cons
  • Requires more maintenance
  • If the system is not controlled adequately, it can lead to serious health hazards
  • It may have slight odors
  • Impractical

So, it is vital to be fully informed on all the steps and precautions to take. In the end, all the advantages that we’ve mentioned are far more rewarding than using a standard toilet.

divider 5Conclusion

If you’re thinking of changing your habits and if you want to contribute to helping the environment and society grow, composting is a great practice to follow. Compost toilets are a great way to utilize your waste and fertilize your garden in a safe and eco-friendly way. By following these simple tips, you will understand how to use a compost toilet in no time. With a controlled environment, there shouldn’t be any problems or step-backs. If you ever need a reminder, you can return to this article. Hopefully, this will help you be more sustainable and live a greener life.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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