Sunday, April 11, 2010

Setting Up & Using My Composting TOiLeT

The Nature's Head Composting toilet comes mostly together in it's box when ya buy it - but there were a few things to put together, experience and learn to really understand how this thing works (good and bad!). It's not something that takes alot of thought or requires heavy installation skills - but at the same time a composting toilet does require you to be aware of where your "solids and liquids" will end up... there will come a time when it needs to be emptied and realistically it takes more care & effort then a flush away toilet.

The style of Nature's Head composting potty is much in the light of a simple humanure system, except you got all the fancy look of a regular toilet, a built in system for venting, fan and ease of separating pee from poop. The first step to beginning to use it is to fill the "solid" catch container with peat moss (they say you can use other organic materials such as crushed leaves etc also) ---> So I went ahead and filled it up a few inches with the slightly moist peat moss.This will start the composting process, and according to the company when you empty it you leave behind some of that stuff cause it continues the process from then on. Now, as terrible as it might seem, I went ahead and start pooping in it BEFORE i even vented it... since I live alone and was (mainly) the only one using it I had the luxury of testing it's basic capacity to hold back stink ---> having used a humanure toilet in Big Sandy Mush I wasn't too afraid since I knew regardless that composting process does start and generally it doesn't smell any worse then a typical bathroom.

And honestly, there was virtually no smell coming from this thing... until you lifted the lid, and it still wasn't as rank as say an outhouse or a public bathroom. Pretty mild.For Venting ::: A fairly large hole the size of the tube opening had to be drilled into the wall so that the vent tubing could be attached to an outside vent contraption called a "mushroom vent". I was told the higher up you go with your vent the better smell will be held down, so I gave that thing a good stretch!
This silver thing (in the pic below) on the outside of the house is the "mushroom vent", i think named after it's shape and not because anything freaky will be growing on it. My good friend Noelle helped me install that part cause at first it baffled me.
OK, so all was going well and cool, until something REALLLLLLLY horrible disgusting happened!!!!!!!!!

The lil' urine container is kinda opaque and my bathroom for the time being in kinda dark. You can see slightly into the tank to measure when it's getting full but in the dark corner I had no idea it was topping over. When I finally at a glance saw that it looked 'almost' full I went ahead to dump it out.......

NOT realizing it was more then full & had just hit it's capacity at the top, filling up into the draining part of the toilet - when i took the toilet apart to open the lid and casually pull out the little urine holder the URINE EXPLODED, SPiLLeD out like a waterfall into the bucket that holds the container!!!!! THEN onto the floor! and on my hands!!

BLECh blech bleCh......

If the smell and experience wasn't bad enough....
When i started undoing the bolts to take the secondary container out to for washing off, the freaking bolts would fall off RIGHT into the overspill puddle of urine!! Gawd and Babee Jezuz!!!!
I do not like what Dr. Ruth's Encyclopedia Of Sex calls "water sports", AKA I know with 100% certainty now I have no fetish for my friends or my own urine - and in fact I became the most not tough, grossed out, girl of all time. There was alot of screaming, closing my eyes, and wishing for a coma to hit me during these moments... I mean hey - I was splashed with, washing up, and hands dabbed in mixed bag urine. (See below my most psychotic 'get me outta here' face eva'!)
Anywho, what i did was wash the bajezzus out of the floor and container with apple cider vinegar and baking soda and hot water. That way everything would be clean before it was put back together, cause otherwise there may be the start of a permanent stink anytime moisture would touch it.

I learned my first big lesson for composting toilets ---> MAKE SuRe the urine level doesn't overflow!!! As for the solids in the back container, they are not stinking and doing just rad. There is a cool little handle to turn them around and around (stirring up the contents for better composting) - I do this pretty often and after each time I use it since I have yet to even hook up the inner fan in da' potty! OI!

Would I have my eco toilet choice any other way?




Gratuitous said...

I'm feeling a bit queasy right now, but I did want to caution you to not use your humanure compost for edible gardening, especially if you're not the only one who will use the potty, because of the potential for parasites.

By the way, I, like many men, prefer not to be reminded that our lovely ladies poop at all, much less play with it!

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Gratu --->

That is a good reminder which I should be putting on each of these posts about composting toilets but always forget to re-mention.

I am pretty sure human waste compost can not be safely used for at least a few YEARS - i will not be putting this 'shit' on my edible gardens at all. I will be containing it with some hay bales and letting it go ahead and compost for years.

I think for a household with more people (i am the only one living here) that a special composting toilet that helps take care of composting the load should be bought instead...
unless a soul is utterly brave and doesnt mind hauling out buckets of poop regularly.

I would like to see systems that take care of more then one or two people, with ease. I am sure they are out there and if anyone has links to them, please share.
(Other then an outhouse)!

Sorry, i do poop. I can't help it.
But for the record, the poop doesnt gross me out like the pee did. I did one time fall down though carrying a bucket with fresh humanure remenents in it, and almost cried when it splashed on me.

Gratuitous said...

The Hostel in the Forest has been using humanure potties for many years, even though there can be 100 people on the property sometimes. They use sawdust from nearby mills, and people are encouraged to pee in the woods. They're simple; 5gal buckets and a toilet seat, but the outhouses that contain them are beautifully decorated. Yes, it's work to empty them daily (there are about eight on the property), and typically someone is assigned to them weekly. They are referred to as the "poop tech."

Wild Canary said...

Leslie...your pics and creativity are wonderful! The well-rounded view of life au natural is refreshing.
LOL...just realized what topic I am posting this on...but it is. My parents took us primitive camping...Crap happens. And someone has to deal with it.
My mother in law always said 'who do you think you are, 'LOrd Muck of Turd Hall." (She is proper British most of the time:)
Well, here at our place they dont' call them muck boots for nothing.
Best wishes...I enjoy all your posts...I must have missed the one about your new is great!

Carol said...

I laughed all the way thru it!!!
Always wanted a composting toilet..even after all your adventures. I found your blog by accident..looking for Tiger Swallowtails...think I'll keep track of your building, sewing and composting skills.

rxmex said...

It is indeed great to see your mind working, the pictures are really nice.

Jewelbaby1224 said...

OMG, I can't believe I'm reading about someone doing something as crazy as we did! How is the composter working now? And have you had tiny flies????

Luckily you bought the one that separates the contents.

We live in a revamped lake cabin in SE Texas. With the alternative to our old failing septic being an aerobic system that we don't have enough lot space for - we put in 2 S-- M--s in the largest sizes. "The Company" does not like to see their name in blogs. After many horrible mis-steps such as your situation we've been using them about 4 years.

The major problem with these is that they mix the contents together!!! Bad idea! So bad that we learned to designate one unit for each separate use.