What is the consistency of solid waste after a week? When “dumping” the solid wastes before it has composted (into a bag or over the side), is there spillage? Is it messy?
Many people, women and children mostly, cannot choose to urinate or defecate independently, how effective is the waste separation for liquid and solids if these processes happen simultaneously? How often does liquid get into solids accidentally?
If solid waste is left for weeks without churning, do they compost? Or does the solid waste need to be cleared out if the toilet will not be used for weeks? Months?
To answer these questions a basic understanding of the process is needed. When you churn the waste after using the C-Head, a single vane located at the bottom of the toilet creates a wave-like action with the medium, causing the solid waste to tumble end over end. This quickly coats the outside of the waste with the drying medium and then enspherates or conglobulates it into a convenient form (fancy words for rolls it up into balls . . . yuck!). Every time the waste is churned (after each use) more medium clings to the outside as the moisture within leaches through the previous layer of medium. The medium and the waste will begin to clump up. This has several really good effects. It covers the entire surface of the waste with a thick layer of medium, it forms it for easy removal when you tip the bucket, it minimizes the build-up of condensation by not increasing the surface area of the waste, and it doesn’t pack the waste into the bottom of the bucket as do the other toilets that use a dough mixer type bar to mash the waste into the medium.
So basically the waste is covered and stored in the medium until it can be emptied. It does not compost enough to cause it to break down into soil or lose its original form. Using a dough mixer type device does give the appearance of the waste having been composted and that is the main reason that type of system is used. It is not composted completely by any standard and it has no real advantages. It may speed up the composting marginally but not enough to really make a difference. None of the other composting toilet manufacturers recommend coming into contact with the waste in the toilet which tells you a lot. Compact composting toilets only initiate composting. Their size makes them impractical for complete composting. The waste must be composted further outside the toilet and letting it sit inside the toilet only invites insect infestations and solidification of the waste, making it harder to remove. The toilet would need to be out of service for months for the waste to compost to a safe state.
With the C-Head, dumping the solid waste is easy and relatively clean. Some dusting of medium and areas of residual waste may remain behind on the inside of the bucket but it is usually minimal and can be hosed off easily, especially if the bucket is filled with water and allowed to sit for a short time before taking a garden hose to it. When the bucket is full, the waste is normally damp looking but not “wet,” at least it shouldn’t be. If it is wet then excess urine is finding its way into the solid waste bucket during use. It will smell like sewage long before it gets wet. The best solution if that happens is to empty the bucket into a plastic bag or compost tower and rinse and refill the bucket with dry medium. If the medium is very wet then add more medium and churn it until it dries out enough to pour it out. The best practice is to empty the toilet as soon as you detect a sewage smell.
It is imperative that the pee and poop stay separated to keep the toilet odor free. That being said, everybody’s physiology is different and some women find it more difficult than others to get everything in the right spot. Men get a pass. Children are usually not a problem because they are usually fascinated by going to the bathroom and pay special attention to what they are doing. Just instruct them to get everything where it is supposed to go.
The Lady’s Maid is a good solution if the user is having difficulty keeping urine out of the solid waste. It is very effective, simple to use and inexpensive. To use it you hold it against the urine diverter or your body and it will catch and direct the urine. Positioning is learned and it usually is managed with the first use. These ladels are found at Walmart for 97 cents. Simply drill a 1 inch hole or several smaller holes in the center of the bottom of the ladle.
Solid waste should not be left in the toilet if it is not going to be used. Empty the toilet every week regardless of how full it is and leave it clean if you are not going to be using it for some time. There is no advantage to being able to store large amounts of waste in the toilet. It only means a more difficult process when emptying becomes inevitable. Compost the waste outside in a compost tower or discard it.
Please feel free to make constructive comments or ask questions below.
Copyright 2019 – C-Head LLC – All rights reserved.
Several people have written to me wanting me to write an article about installing a BEX kit in their C-Head for use at home, RV, travel trailer or houseboat. Here is a step by step plan for doing that. Keep in mind that all installations tend to have special issues that must be overcome on a case by case basis. If you do have an issue that you cannot resolve, please contact us for help.
In addition to being able to have a customized fit, there is no other composting toilet on the market that comes close to being as beautiful as the C-Head. Choices in both the outside finish and the toilet seat size and color makes all the difference and make no mistake people want their bathrooms to look inviting, even as uninviting as the tasks may be. It’s called the “throne” for a reason. Today’s composting toilets have a range of looks that goes from resembling a washing machine (and the same size) to a plastic water cooler; from looking like they belong on the space shuttle or else in a local laundromat. Why is that? Well, expediency in manufacturing is probably the most basic reason. Ease of cleaning sure isn’t. The outsides can be deceiving as far as cleaning the inside goes.
It is May in Florida and we are starting to get rain about once a week. Winter tends to be our dry season. In the spring, it rains hard when it rains but it doesn’t last long so we are getting about 2-3 inches a week. That is important because, you want to keep your compost moist but not wet. Too wet could cause it to smell and can wash out the nutrients and too dry will impede the composting process. There is a happy medium. Because you need to control the moisture content of the compost, the wishing well tower is designed not to be waterproof, but allows you to control how much rainwater gets inside the tower. The roof is made of slats that allow water to drop between the boards, and the same goes for the hinged lid over the tower. If you find yourself in a period of high precipitation, that is heavy, frequent rainfall like we get here in Florida occasionally, then you want to cover the slats with water proof material like canvas or corrugated tin or plastic material to shed the water away from the tower.
Meet Kristina Monroe. Some time back, she purchased a C-Head (which at that time was for land based purposes called a BoonJon) and incorporated it into her incredible home design. She has even written a book about how her new home came into existence, including the dream, the design and the final outcome. The name of the book is “Twisted Oak” and in it she devotes almost a complete chapter to the advantages of my toilet design and how it has worked with respect to her permaculture lifestyle. In her book she lays out in story form why she and her family decided to take the plunge and build the house of their dreams. She describes how they take maximum advantage of the property and its assets and construction techniques to create an environmentally friendly, beautiful, warm and cozy home with results that are fantastic.
With a bucket and chuck it system, you can simply pour the mixed pee and poop waste contents of your toilet onto a pile of compostable material and then cover it with more material and let nature do its thing. This is a common method of composting your waste in a permaculture way. Joe Jenkins has a nice system for doing just that. It is, however, impractical for use on a 1/4 acre residential lot, simply because of the size and the amount of compostable material needed to create thermophilic composting in the winter time. It also doesn’t have a means to sort out and manage any waste that may be suspected of being unhealthy, that is to say, waste that comes from a person who is demonstrably ill or suspected of being so. You need a processor that allows you to separate and process unhealthy waste more aggressively and cleanly as well as one that allows you to take advantage of the useful properties of your poop and pee separately.
I wish I might, I wish I may, I wish my poop would go away!
I finally finished one of my pet projects that has been in the making for a couple of years. People have asked me again and again, what do you do with the poop once you empty it out the toilet. For most travelers who use my toilet (boaters and recreational vehicles owners), the waste winds up in the trash. That has created a lot of discussion on whether it is legal or proper to do that. Actually it is both if the user uses minimal common sense. I foresee an issue in the future for boaters if emptying the contents into a marina dumpster becomes a common practice. If the waste is sealed in a 5-gallon plastic bucket as I advocate, then it shouldn’t be a problem, but some people can be more careless and create issues for everybody. So I have always thought; why not have a nice compost tower at home or on the facility where you can dump your waste and let nature do what nature does best. Put it to its intended use as fertilizer.