A potential customer asks some good questions:
- 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, does it 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 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 you are using and then “enspherates” or “conglobulates” it into a convenient round form (fancy words for rolls it up into balls . . . yuck!). Every time the waste is churned thereafter, more medium clings to the outside as the moisture within the waste leaches through the previous layer of medium to the surface. 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 from mashing it up, 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. For the same reason they recommend coco coir for your medium since its brown color most closely resembles finished compost. Coco coir is a good medium, but it is expensive, hard to find and labor intensive to break down. Other much cheaper mediums work better and are cheaper and easier to find. But the waste is not composted completely by any standard. Mashing the medium may speed up the composting marginally but not enough to really make a difference for most compact composting toilet applications. None of the other composting toilet manufacturers recommend coming into contact with the waste in their 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 for any period of time 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 small 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.
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