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What is a composting toilet?

What is a composting toilet?

A composting toilet can be defined as "...a system that provides an environment within a container for predominantly aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) decomposition and stabilization of waste." 

There are two basic types of compost toilet, those that complete the composting process 'in situ' and those that are emptied to a separate compost pile remote from the toilet itself.

The latter arrangement is sometimes referred to colloquially as a ‘bucket and chuck it’ system, such as a Humanure Bucket System. This means that faeces is deposited into a plastic container with material such as straw, sawdust and dry grass. These are added in order to absorb excess liquid, cover human waste materials, exclude flies, reduce smells and balance Carbon:Nitrogen ratios.

 When full, the bucket is removed and emptied onto a composting pile that is kept separate from other composting materials such as kitchen or garden waste. 

Continuous systems will use one chamber, this where all the waste is received and stored until composting has been completed. The compost, once it is completed, is removed and buried.

The continuous system will need an underfloor space, each pan should have its own separate chamber.

They may require:

  • A positive air pressure in the toilet room to avoid smells
  • An air inlet and exhaust which may be driven by convection, electric fan or solar heat (generally power consumption is low)
  • A means of draining excess liquid access to a hatch for removal of finished compost 
  • The addition (by the users) of organic bulking agents such as sawdust to aid the decomposition process.

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