Composting Toilet

Hello and welcome back!  Happy happy Monday! Hope you all had a great weekend! Mine was great and a good mix of fun, activity, football, and a little bit of work mixed in there. =)

As the title implies in this post, I’m going to be discussing my composting toilet.  No disgusting stuff (and don’t worry no gross pictures!) but what it’s truly like after using it for a year. If you don’t want to hear about this topic then please don’t continue reading.  That is my disclaimer. =)

After much thought, debate, and google “research” I decided I would go with a composting toilet even though the cost was crazy expensive ($1500) compared to a normal toilet ($150-$200) or an RV toilet ($125).  My whole goal was to be off grid and not have to worry about black water.  I also really liked the water saving of a compost toilet.

Sunmar toilet
Sunmar toilet

After reading numerous blog posts, reviews, etc. I decided on the SunMar brand because they got the best reviews for no smell and I like the system they use.  The toilet is designed with a barrel that you do your business into.  The liquids are evaporated (which is suppose to be the part the smells) because there is a heating element and a 12 volt fan on the bottom of this unit.  Every other day you rotate the barrel by turning a knob on the outside.  There is a box/drawer at the bottom of the barrel that sits right on top of the heating element and fan to promote composting.  The drawer holds compost for a month.  After the month, Sunmar claims that the compost is good to go and safe at that point.  however, I take mine out and further compost it in my composting box.  I have two – one for food scraps only and one for food & waste so there’s no “contamination”.  I decided on the compact system from Sunmar because it is designed for 1 person for full time use.  That’s me, right?!

So what’s it like after 1 year of full time use?  To use it is fine. Any time you go #1 you just do your thing and your done.  You use normal TP too. When you #2 you put a scoop of peat moss (it looks like bark) into the barrel.  Then, every other day you turn the knob 5 times.  Once a month you empty the bottom compost drawer.  Seems easy enough, right?  Well, in all honesty it’s a lot of work.  A) you have to remember to turn the knob every other day. B) you have to remember to take the compost drawer out and further compost it.  Which is more than once a month.  On top of the maintenance there is sometimes a smell.  It’s not an outhouse disgusting smell but more of a composting bark smell from the peat moss.  Which is ok and I can deal with but it’s kinda weird and unexpected since I went with an electric model that has a fan to prevent such a thing.  So I paid more for the electric fan AND am paying the electric bill to use the darn thing every day.  (it’s hooked up to solar so that’s not a big deal but still an item to consider)

One more thing that kinda does gross me out is that I noticed when I returned after being gone for 3 months in the summer – and I “summer-ized” the compost before leaving according to the owner directions for such things – that upon my return there were TONS of big black dead bugs all over my house.  I’m talking hundreds of dead black bugs.  I didn’t think much of it at the time as I was gone for 3 months and anything could’ve gotten in and hatched, etc.  I noticed though that they kept coming back!!!  So a google search later I discovered this is a common occurrence with composting toilets.  ARG!  A green way to get rid of them is by using diatomaceous Earth (DE for short).


This is a natural product that is mined and while it’s not harmful when swallowed (human or pets) if inhaled can cause some harm.  But it basically kills insects on contact.  Farmers often use it to kill worms in their livestock and it’s often used in natural cosmetics.  I had some because I use it to make my homemade deodorant (yup, that’s right) so I gave it a whirl into the toilet.  While it killed the bugs it’s another ongoing maintenance item that I need to do on a daily/every other day basis.  Also, DE doesn’t work if it’s wet only in powder form meaning I have to wait to toss it into the barrel.

So what does this mean for me…..check back tomorrow and I’ll go into further details. =)

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