8 things you need to know before you purchase a composting toilet

If you’re in the market for a composting toilet there’s going to be a lot of questions floating around in your head, like where do I buy one, how can I install it, do they smell? Well, we’re going to try and cover all the things you need to know before you jump in and purchase a composting toilet.

#1 They don’t smell
If a composting toilet is maintained correctly there should be no smell at all. Fans and vents will move any unwanted smells away from your bathroom, shed, boat or RV (depending on where you have it installed and the type you have) but the only smell that should be coming out of your toilet is an earthy smell similar to the gardening section in a Bunnings or supermarket or a nursery.

#2 They are more maintenance than a normal toilet
It’s true. A composting toilet is going to be more maintenance for you but if you’re looking for a composting toilet our guess is that a little extra work isn’t going to put you off. A composting toilet, whilst a little more work, is about taking personal responsibility for reducing your footprint on the planet.

Composting toilets help you do this by reducing the water you use in the bathroom considerably (about a swimming pool’s worth of drinking water is flushed down the toilet every year by the average family) and eliminating your reliance on treatment plants that use natural resources to treat your waste.

#3 Some people will be weird about it
There’s a pretty good chance that if you have friends that have only ever used a traditional western flush toilet, they’re going to be like “I do what in where?” Keep this in mind for your next dinner party or get together, people will ask you questions and be part fascinated and part weirded out or worst case disgusted.

A simple remedy to this is to ask them if they’ve ever been to the loo in a national park, if they have there’s a good chance they’ve used a composting toilet. If they don’t have a problem going there, what’s the problem going here?

#4 You don’t need to buy special toilet paper
Normal every day toilet paper is fine to put in your composting toilet. You can even throw in the roll when you’re done with it if you like! If you really want a breakdown of the types of toilet paper you can use in a composting toilet, take a look at our article called What toilet paper can you use in a composting toilet?

#5 It’s worth getting some extra chambers/drums or a composting bin
Depending on your level of usage, purchasing some extra chambers for a batch system is always a great idea as they will enable you to swap over the compost chambers easily without having to transfer the compost to a pile in the backyard or another container. If you have a system like the Clivus Multrum CM2 extra chambers you simply remove the full chamber and replace it with an empty one while the full chamber cures in a sunny spot in the garden.

If you’re using a draw type system like the Sun-mar or Ecolet range you can empty the drawers directly into your composting bin.

Note: it’s advisable not to use compost from your composting toilet on plants that you’re going to consume. Around the base of fruit trees is fine.

#6 You will need to get your hands on ‘bulking’ material
It’s a good idea to find yourself a supply of bulking material to add to your toilet after each #2. We sell Humus Starter – Box of 3 x 15 Litre but we also understand that if people can get their hands on bulking material for free, that’s going to win hands down every time.

Here are some common bulking materials our customers regularly use:-

  • Wood shavings or coarse sawdust (avoid cedar, eucalypt and tea tree as these have antibacterial properties and can kill your pile) Avoid to much fine sawdust as it may clog up the system.
  • Popcorn
  • Bread
  • Organic material (straw, hemp stalks, sugar cane mulch)
  • Coconut coir

#7 Always put the lid down
This is particularly important if your toilet is in an outside area as you will want to avoid flies and other bugs from getting into your pile.

#8 They’re very easy to install
If you’re going to be installing your composting toilet yourself, it’s actually a relatively easy process. Take a look at the video below that outlines how to install a composting toilet.

So that’s it, 8 things you need to know before you buy a composting toilet. We hope this article has been helpful and remember if we’ve forgotten something or you have a question, feel free to comment below.

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