Composting Toilets – Decisions, Decisions

Composting toilets and latrine systems are an environmentally compatible alternative to flush toilets and centralized sewage treatment centers. The following is an outline of the decisions required during the selection or design process.

Your initial decision is whether to purchase a pre-manufactured system or to custom build your own design. If you decide to purchase, then:

  • There are many brands to choose from including: Clovis Multrum, PhoenixCTS, Envirolet, Sun-Mar, Nature-Loo, Rota-Loo, EcoTech, and Biolet. Typically, these can be purchased either directly from the manufacturer or from a local dealer.
  • The second decision is whether to have a self-contained unit or one which is centralized. The self-contained unit is easily portable and is generally used when there is no basement and use is seasonal or sporadic. A centralized system features a permanently mounted stool with the composting unit remotely placed in the basement or floor below.

If you choose to design and build your own system, then:

  • The first decision is whether the composting toilet will have a single vault with removable bins or two chambers for alternating use. If the unit is to be used continuously, especially by a family, the latter model may be necessary.
  • The next major design decision is whether to separate out urine or not. There are several advantages to separation including: reduction of moisture levels, improved nitrogen to carbon levels, reduced odor, and flies are not attracted.
  • Finally, elements of a composting toilet system must be designed to either passively or actively manage oxygen levels, temperature, moisture, carbon to nitrogen ratios, and pathogen levels.

Upcoming articles will explore various composting toilet and latrine designs.

© 2017 Steven Herbert

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