Why Get A Waterless Or Portable Composting Toilet? Learn How To DIY

Table Of Contents

What are waterless toilets?

These are toilets that do not use water for flushing.

They are also referred to as dry sanitation systems or flushless toilets.

Waterless toilets come in a variety of designs and sizes and can be used in any modern bathroom.

The dry toilet design was invented long before the flushing toilet when it was commonly known as the compost pit latrine.

Ideally these toilets principally use the aerobic system to treat human excrement by composting. They require no water and can be used in place of flush toilets.

Many roadside establishments, national parks and people on road trips use them. People with holiday homes and cabins also use waterless toilets for cabins.

Sawdust is commonly used for absorption of liquid, prevention of odor and to aid the aerobic process.

The compost produced can be used for agricultural soil enrichment if local laws allow.

However, treatment of the compost is necessary before adding to the soil to help reduce phytotoxins.

What are the benefits of using waterless toilets?

Dry toilet system has several benefits which include:

  • Creating a lower environmental impact
  • Conserving water
  • Keeping pollutants out of waterways
  • Decreasing the water bill

Where can they be used?

Waterless toilets are usually preferred in areas with water scarcity.

However, with an increase in environmental awareness, more people are opting for the waterless toilet because of its sustainability in the long run.

They do not smell if maintained correctly and they can be added to any modern bathroom.

Types of composting Toilets

Composting toilets come in numerous designs which can be off the shelf units that can be easily assembled or custom built systems built from available materials.

They can be classified into three main types.

Continuous composting toilets

These are toilets with single containers that receive excrement.

The excrement decomposes as it slowly moves in the container until it reaches the end product container where it is then removed as compost.

Continuous composting toilet designs can be bought at your local stores where prefabricated models can be assembled and installed.

You can also DIY at home.

Advantage: The receiving container is fitted permanently under the toilet and does not require to be fully emptied.

The compost is removed gradually when it arrives at the end product chamber.

Disadvantage: If pathogens are deposited on the top pile they can contaminate the previously successfully decomposed end product which is at the bottom of the pile.

Also, if a problem with the system occurs the toilet will out of order until the problem is fixed.

System problems sometimes occur when the pile is unable to move down the slope. It instead becomes compacted and hard to remove.

Batch composting toilets

This system utilizes two or more containers which alternate ensuring the active container is in use while the excrement in the fallow container has time to compost.

This ensures that the pile has time to compost without any addition of fresh excrement which can contaminate the compost.

Wheelie batch:

The ‘wheelie batch’ is one example of batch composting toilets. A false door which is perforated is used to sort and separate the pile while draining off the liquid.

Fixed chamber batch:

Another example is the fixed chamber batch.

It involves using two containers which are permanently fixed.

When it is time to change the containers, the toilet seat is moved and the full container is replaced with an empty one.

Some batch composting toilet models have a turntable under the toilet for collecting the waste.

Removable containers are mounted on the turntable for easy changing of the containers.

Disadvantage: Batch composting toilets require more space under the house and in the bathroom.

Self-contained composting toilets

These are used if a composting chamber cannot be installed under the floor such as when there is a ground concrete slab.

A small fan and heater are fitted in to aid in the decomposition of the waste.

Self-contained composting toilets can serve household with a maximum of 4 people.

Reviews Of The Best Products

Below are some product reviews on several waterless toilets.

5 Gallon 20L Portable Toilet Flush Travel Camping Outdoor/Indoor Potty commode

Portable Toilet

This portable toilet has a 10-liter holding capacity and is ideal for outdoor camping and traveling.

Waste holding tank should be carried to a permanent toilet facility.

Click here to view price.

TOTO UT104E#01 Commercial Washout Urinal With Top Spud, Cotton White

This commercial compact urinal can be mounted on the wall easily.

Its design has features such as the 2 inch I.P.S. outlet and ¾ inch top spud inlet.

It’s flush valves work together to achieve ultimate flushing performance and water conservation.

Waterless 2104 Baja Urinal

This urinal is wall mounted.

Its compact design provides maximum performance with ¾ inch top spud inlet and 2-inch outlet.

This urinal is engineered to conserve water and has the ultimate flushing performance.

American Standard 6150100.020 Flowise Flush-Free Waterless Urinal

This urinal requires no water at all.

It is efficiently designed to reduce odors and splashing.

This will drastically lower your utility and maintenance costs and creates a positive impact on the environment.

Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet with Close Quarters Spider Handle Design

This urine-separating dry toilet can be used indoors on water or on the road making it ideal all round.

This toilet includes a low volume air circulation fan to prevent bad odors.

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet with Spider Handle

This composting toilet is ideal for guest rooms and small cottages.

It eliminates the need for expensive and space consuming septic tanks.

This product comes with a 5-year warranty and is easy to install and maintain.

Sun-Mar Compact Self-Contained Composting Toilet, Model# Compact

This self-contained composting toilet converts human waste into fertilizer that is safe and natural.

This model is ideal for 3-4 people at a cabin for a weekend or for one person in a residential setting.

It is electric and comes with a detachable footrest.

Biolet toilets BTS3312V 33 Electric Waterless Toilet with 12-Volt FanBiolet toilets Electric Waterless

This toilet is biological dry toilet system.

It is ideal for places where installing a conventional toilet is impractical.

It utilizes evaporation and aerobic decomposition to convert human waste to safe natural humus that can be recycled into nature.

Biolet toilets are environmentally safe. They are designed with a 12V fan for extra air flow. Ideal for cottages, basements, barns and garages.

Click here to get latest prices and read reviews.

Biolet Toilet Systems BTS33NE Biolet 33 Non-Electric Waterless Toilet

The BTS 33 Non-Electric Waterless Composting Toilet is ideal for anywhere that a toilet is needed without the need to install conventional plumbing.

This nonelectric waterless toilet is easy to install and utilizes aerobic decomposition as well as evaporation to decompose human waste reducing unit by 90%.

The system requires no electricity and has a drain system for excess liquid. A modern toilet seat that softly closes ensures comfort.

How the composting Toilet (composting toilet) works

A composting toilet system requires the construction of a pit under the toilet floor.

This means that there has to be space under the toilet. They work best when located on the warmer side of the house.

If adequate time is allowed composting toilets can produce fertilizer; correct treatment conditions have to be maintained.

Natural organisms, moisture, oxygen, and temperature are utilized to transform excrement into compost.

Decomposition in the composting toilet occurs through a combination of complex biochemical reactions.

Factors such as pH, temperature, digestion by invertebrates and desiccation which occur over a long period play a pivotal role.

A mix of wood shavings and peat moss or other carbon-based medium is added to the toilet after each use to fasten composting.

Composting toilets can be powered or non-powered.

Electric models have fans and heaters which accelerate the composting process.

In non-powered models, the composting process is much slower.

Temperature plays a crucial role in the time it takes for the excrement to convert into safe fertilizer.

Low-temperature toilets process the feces at a slow rate and it can take months before the usable compost is achieved.

High-temperature toilets decompose feces within hours and destroy pathogens as fast.

Odor and moisture move through the ventilation system installed and into the atmosphere.

The bacteria in the waste breaks down the feces into compost.

The compost waste is removed by emptying the receiving container which is usually located at the bottom of the toilet.

The compost can then be used as natural fertilizer or disposed of.

Compost with too much moisture becomes anaerobic and produces bad odors.

Because of this dry toilet systems are designed to separate urine from the feces. 85% of the excrement humans produce is urine.

The urine, when separated from the feces, is bacteria free and can be leached safely into the ground or used as fertilizer.

When urine is separated from the feces the solid matter reduces in size.

Composting toilet designs that separate the urine and feces later produce compost that has to be treated and sterilized before use as a fertilizer.

Composting toilets are also known as eco toilet systems because they are environment-friendly and provide a sustainable solution to conserve water as well as reduce global warming.

Care and maintenance of composting toilets

Composting toilets are technically simple but require more care than flush toilets.

Proper care and maintenance ensure that the toilet does not smell.

It is important to note that composting toilets do not deal with waste water from other areas of the house such as the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.

A separate system is required for this.

Preventing bad odors

Carbon based materials or bulking agents such as softwood shavings or dry leaves should be added to the container daily.

This ensures the proper nitrogen-carbon mix which prevents the pile from compacting as well as aerating it.

Bad odors are an indication that something is amiss. Frequent addition of bulking agents should remove the smell.

Proper drainage

Proper drainage of the pile is crucial and urine should be diverted away from the compost pile.

This reduces the level of moisture and prevents bad odors.

The liquid runoff should be treated in a solar evaporating tray or an evapotranspiration trench that is sealed.

Liquids that come into contact with faeces must be evaporated and then treated before recycling as fertilizer.

Ventilation

Vent pipes should be fitted to aerate the pile. Fans can also be used and are sold with most off the shelf models.

Regular checks of the vents and pipes should be carried out to ensure there is no clogging or dust build up.

Removal of receiving containers

The compost needs to be emptied from the container after sufficiently decomposing.

How often this should be done varies depending on how often the toilet is used, the size of the container and climatic conditions.

The minimum period is 6 months. Depending on the container size, emptying should be done every 6 months to 3 years.

Once the compost is removed it can be used as fertilizer or disposed of according to local regulations.

Safety precautions

Residual pathogens that can cause diseases are present in the Compost end product.

Therefore it is important to take some safety precautions which include:

Use of protective gear such as masks and gloves when handling the compost pile.

Bury the compost pile not less that 10cm under the soil.

Do not use the compost on a vegetable farm.

Choosing a composting toilet

Several suppliers have composting toilets available as of the shelf units.

Inform them about the location of the toilet, the building, if the toilet will be used occasionally or regularly and how many people will be using it.

This will enable them to recommend the most suitable system for your specific needs.

The composting toilet cost should also be a factor so that it fits within your budget.

Quotes from several suppliers can be compared to get a system that meets both your needs and budget.

The composting system cost can vary due to the features.

Confirm if the supplier offers after installation and after-sales services and with your local council to check if the composting toilet design is approved for use within your locality.

Avoid complex designs and opt for simple one with few moving parts because they are easier to maintain.

Complex designs may require little maintenance but can be difficult to fix if there is a problem with the system.

Check online for waterless toilets reviews to see what different consumers have bought and the advantages or disadvantages of different Ct designs and systems.

Portable composting toilets

Portable composting toilets are ideal for caravans, boats, motorhomes, workshops or shed without plumbing.

They can also be used where the expense of plumbing is not required.

Portable composting toilets have a compact system, are odorless, do not require water and they are easy to install.

Most Portable composting toilets can be used a maximum of 80 times before emptying while they remain odorless.

They are comfortable, easy to clean and environmentally friendly.

How the portable composting toilet works

Once installed, the system is ready for use. Solid waste is received in a collection container which inside the toilet housing.

Sawdust or other carbon-based medium is used to create ideal composting conditions.

Churn systems are sometimes used to roll the waste into the medium to make it easy for the pile to roll out.

The bad odor is eliminated when the moisture is removed by the medium.

The collection container requires emptying after an average of 10-15 uses.

When it is time for emptying the container, it is easily done by removing the container from the toilet housing and pouring the contents into a disposable bucket.

This is then treated sealed and disposed of. The contents can be later transferred to a composting system for additional composting.

The collection container is then replaced with the housing unit and the medium refilled.

Operating costs for portable composting toilets include carbon-based medium and disposable containers.

Waterless Urinals

Waterless urinals are similar in appearance to conventional urinals in terms of design.

However, as the name suggests they do not need water for flushing.

Urine is usually sterile and does not need more water to flush.

Waterless urinals eliminate the need for water as well as expensive plumbing.

Also, because it is a hands-free system it reduces the transmission of communicable diseases.

The odor is prevented using microbial control, sealant liquid and valves fitted to the urinals.

It is important to check with suppliers about the models available and select a waterless urinal that meets your needs.

Waterless urinals reviews can also assist in making a decision as prices, designs and functionality are compared.

Advantages of using waterless urinals

  • Conservation of resources such as water and electricity
  • Increase the efficiency of waste water treatment plants
  • Reduce pollution of water bodies
  • Reduce the cost of plumbing
  • Use of urine as fertilizer in agriculture
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Recycle hydrogen to produce fuel and energy

How the waterless urinal works

The odor is the most common deterrence to using urinals.

Water is used to flush the urine to prevent bad odors in conventional urinals while waterless urinals use odor control methods.

Urine contains urease enzyme which hydrolyzes into ammonia and carbonate.

Waterless urinals need to be cared for and maintained regularly.

This depends on the number of users and how frequently the urinal is used.

Odor control mechanisms

Waterless urinals utilize a mechanism that control odor son that any odor developed does not enter the restroom.

Sealant liquid

Sealant liquid is made of aliphatic alcohols or vegetable oils.

They are fitted into the bowls of the urinals to prevent bad smells from reaching the restrooms.

Sealant liquid has a lower gravity as compared to urine and this allows the passage of urine while preventing the odor to permeate for the drainage lines.

A waterless urinal cartridge is used to hold the sealant liquid. The urinal cartridge may be built in or replaceable.

Waterless urinal cartridges require cleaning or replacement when urine precipitates and foreign matter deposits onto the trap.

The sealant liquid also needs to be refilled when it gets washed away or evaporates.

Membrane/curtain valve

These use silicone or rubber shaped like tubes to control odor. The membrane/curtain acts as a one-way valve.

This allows the urine to flow while blocking odor.

The top part of the valve is kept open by a holder while the bottom part is flexible and deforms into a flat tube to control order when the urinal is not in use.

Urine precipitates and foreign matter deposit on the membranes over time.

Cleaning should be done regularly depending on the number of users and the frequency of use.

The membranes require replacement every 3-6 moths.

Microbial control

This biological blocking mechanism utilizes surfactants and microbial spores.

The locks are placed in the urinal pan or in a dome which is inserted into the urinal’s water outlet to ensure contact with the urine.

When the urine interacts with the block, the spores are activated into ‘good bacteria’.

They feed on the urine breaking it down into the component.

It prevents sludge and crystal buildup which is the major cause of urinal blockages.

Microbial spores create a hostile environment to dour effectively preventing it.

Other types of odor traps

Hydrostatic float barrier: This trap uses a hydrostatic float as a barrier which is activated magnetically to allow urine to pass through.

Air enclosing trap: This uses a membrane sheath and a tray with a spring control to allow urine passage and adsorbs it.

Can I fit my restroom with a waterless urinal?

Installing a waterless urinal in your existing restroom is simple and straightforward.

Waterless urinals do not require a connection to existing water lines and this eliminates the need/expense of an installer.

The existing gravity drain is the only plumbing connection used when fitting a waterless urinal.

Before fitting your restroom with a waterless urinal you should clean the existing piping with a power snake and adequately slope the drain pipe.

Factors to consider when fitting a waterless urinal

Adequately slope the drain pipe and avoid sharp bends to prevent deposits from accumulating

Pipes should be not less than 2 inches in diameter; apart from the connector pipes

Suitable pipes should be used for carrying urine such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE)

Short pipes should be used to avoid clogging

Loose connections should be sealed to avoid the release of bad smells.