Composting Toilets Blog

Welcome to the Composting Toilets blog for Composting Toilets USA. This is a forum for questions, ideas, suggestions, product reviews, news or anything else pertaining to composting toilets. Please join the discussion!

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248 thoughts on “Composting Toilets Blog

  • James Richy

    Has anyone had experience with the Thinktank toilet? I like the idea that it ventilated with outside air, rather than heated air from my bathroom. Also can men really stand to pee? I don’t like sitting on the Nature’s Head to pee.

  • Elizabeth Law

    Okay my Nature’s head composting toilet seems to be leaking. I’m not exactly sure where it’s leaking from but I have checked it and have can find no cracks or anything in it if anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate it

    • richardbrunt Post author

      If it leaks then the contents of the bin are too wet. It should be just slightly damp, not wet. Therefore, there should be nothing to leak out. Leakage is a sign of too much liquid in the bin. The quick fix is to absorb liquid with more coco coir. But the source of the problem must be found. In almost every case, it is due to female users that lean forward when sitting. This tilts the pelvis back, and urine goes backwards, rather than forwards or straight down. It is a problem especially for very short women. The solution is to sit more upright on the toilet. Very short people might need a stool.

    • Matt

      It looks as if some condensation is dripping from the exhaust tube where it connects to the toilet. We have a Natures Head and it’s been fine through the summer. Is this a result of colder temperatures and can it be prevented?

      • richardbrunt Post author

        Condensation inside or outside a hose or pipe occurs because of a temperature gradient between the outside and inside of a pipe. It can be reduced with wrap around pipe insulation. If it is on the outside of the hose you can increase ventilation in the structure or add a dehumidifier.

  • Jon

    I just bought a composting toilet that is commonly used on boats and RV’s (this application is on a boat). I have not installed it yet as I am considering how to install the ventilation hose (that draws air through the bucket to keep it oxygenated and promotes drying). The easiest (and most direct) option is to install the ventilation hose up through the roof, nearly directly overhead of the toilet. In this configuration I am concerned about odors as a lot of people congregate about 10 feet away at nose level. If this turns out to be an issue, are there any type of charcoal filters that can be installed in-line on the vent hose for this purpose? Holding tank systems have them for their vent-hoses.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I am not sure which toilet you have. With the Nature’s Head, you should be okay 10′ away. It produces some odor, but not a lot. They vent through boat decks all the time, and odor is never mentioned by my customers. If you have a Nature’s Head, I don’t think you need to worry.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Yes. You can download a detailed guide on using urine as fertilizer here. Much of this is for community usage, but there are sections on single home use. They state no treatment is required for home use, if guidelines are followed. I might dilute it with water.
      Urine as fertilizer

  • Cate

    I am interested in getting the Separett because you use bags to hold the waste. I am not sure I can use it though because I have arthritis and it is hard for me to get up from a seated position unless the chair or whatever is high enough. The separett looks really short. Are there other models of composting toilets that use bags that are taller? Or does Separett have another model that is taller? How high from the ground is the Separett?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The height of the seat is 17.3″. This is pretty standard. What you want is referred to as a “comfort toilet seat”. These are higher – typically 19″ or 20″. The only way to achieve that is to mount the Separett on a wooden block, or something else to raise it up. The seat of the Nature’s Head is 20″.

      • Vicky

        I have had a nature’s head toilet for about 6 weeks. I’ve had some leakage of fluid from the solids bin around the crank shaft and down the side of the toilet. Too full/too wet?
        I’ve been using peat but obviously haven’t perfected the moisture level. Any rules of thumb would be appreciated.

        • richardbrunt Post author

          Your contents are far too wet. There should be nothing to leak out. The contents should be only damp. First, add more coco coir. Then insure urine is not entering the solids bin. Some women find they need to sit a bit more upright, because if they lean forward, the pelvis tilts back, and urine goes down the solids chute.

  • Lucy

    Perplexed at never seeing this issue mentioned: 3 of us taller women (5’8″ to 5’10”) stayed at an Airbnb with a Separett. We all had the same traumatizing experience of solids ending up in the urine receptacle!!! Why???? It made for a horrible stay and we were too embarrassed to ask the owner at the time.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      If your poops land on the forward part of the bowl, then you need to sit further back. I’m surprised all 3 of you had that problem, because it is extremely rare. Some people find that everything works better if you sit a bit more upright.

  • Jingo

    I notice that when someone asked this question I am gonna ask that u did not answer it. I have irritable bowels and often pee and poop happen simultaneously. does this make one of your toilets no good for me? thanks

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Going both pee and poop at the same time is not usually a problem. But if the urine goes down the solids chamber, it will not be good. Chronic watery stools are also a potential problem. But worst case, you’d just need to empty more frequently, and it might be a bit more unpleasant to do so.

  • Jill

    Hi! I have a Separett and it’s been working great for me. I just started to notice the front pee drain is slowing down and I’m not sure how to fix it. Any ideas as to why this could be happening. Before today, there has been no visible pool in the front area after urination. I opened it up, cleaned the hole and don’t know what the next step could be. The grey water through all other outlets is draining without issue.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      It just has to be cleaned out. You have a build up in there. Try a drain cleaner and if that doesn’t work use a snake. It’s easy to fix. Prevent this problem by pouring half a cup of water down the urine drain after every use, and using the bio enzyme blocks. (these are basically the same as urinal deodorizer blocks available online and at janitorial supply stores).

  • Aaron Mcintosh

    We are considering a composting toilet for our guest cabin in the hills as burying a septic is way too expensive due to all the bedrock around us. We are only there about once a month for 2-3 days. And it would only be for 1-3 adults, if any at all. Would leaving the toilet for a month (or sometimes longer) with no use be a problem without any “turning” of the compost material? Or would we have to dump it before leaving each time?

  • fullcirclephysio

    Hello. We love our Separett toilet after almost a year of use! When I empty the bucket (usually at 3 weeks for the 2 of us full time and an occasional brave visitor), I like to fully clean the toilet. What are the best/safest cleaners and methods? with thanks, Joanne

    • richardbrunt Post author

      A small amount of water and vinegar on a paper towel is the first step. If it needs a good cleaning use a non-abrasive cream cleaner like Gel Gloss or Soft Scrub. There are many others. Never use an abrasive cleaner.

  • Jess Knepper

    I bought a Natures head , where do you find coconut core and do you have to re-constitute it with water? Jess
    Moe people would respond if they did not have to give url most people don’t know what that is and I did not

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You can find coconut coir and many hardware stores, gardening stores, Home Depot (in summer), hydroponic stores and online. It’s easy to find. You need to watch my video on adding water. That is on the Nature’s Head page. The url field is optional. You don’t need to fill it out. Some people want to link to their websites, and the url field allows that. It’s part of the software that allows blog comments, and I can’t remove it.

  • Maiana

    Hi folks, this is a lively and helpful thread! We are hoping to install a composting toilet in our converted bus. We do a lot of backcountry camping in the states and Mexico and aren’t often anywhere near a dump station. Wondering if a Natures Head toilet will accommodate a family of four (two adults, two kids under 6). Also, approximately how long in between disposals? I’ve read that you empty the contents into a bag and then need to put it on a compost pile to continue the process for another 12 weeks…is this true? Sounds tricky for full time travelers! Thanks for any wisdom!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The Nature’s Head works well for 2-3 adults full time. You probably will be okay with 2 adults and 2 kids under 6, especially if people can use alternative bathrooms from time to time. Travelers usually through the material in a dumpster if they can’t find an outhouse or other disposal site.

  • Annie

    We just replaced our Sunmar with a separett and are very happy. My only concern is the lasting smell in the bucket after the compost bag and waste has been removed. I’ve washed with soap and water, left in the sun to dry and once dry the smell persists. Any advice on how to get rid of the smell?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      If the bucket is placed inside the toilet there will of course be no smell. If you need to store an empty bucket, you should do that outside. All plastic will absorb some odor, so there is no way around that.

  • Lynn Sciscoe

    What is best way to clean and sanitize the urine bottle? Ours has been used everyday for 3 years. A really good cleaning is mandatory. Thanks.

      • Staci Dickerson

        I’m off grid in Colorado with small solar system and infrequent 2-3x per month, 2 nights tops per visit with2-4 adults.I can’t have the fan running at all times when present and not at all when absent. Can I sprinkle peat moss/wood ash/saw dust on waste to help minimize odor instead of fan. Also, infrequent winter visits will freeze between uses…should I empty with each visit?

        • richardbrunt Post author

          If you turn the fan off, you might get some odor in the bathroom. These toilets contain moist, stinky air. That air belongs outside. A fan is required, and it should run all the time when you are there. You can empty the toilet when you leave, and turn the fan off. A solar fan might be an option, if you can install it where it won’t get buried under snow. Or better yet, a solar panel and a good deep cycle 12 volt battery dedicated to the toilet. You might try adding cover material, but success is uncertain. Freezing is no problem. Beware anyone who says their toilet doesn’t need a fan. There are one or two of these on the market. A fan is very important. If the stinky, moist air does not get outside, that means it’s getting into your home. Burying it under sawdust might work a bit, but you’s have to have a bin of sawdust in your bathroom (ugh!), it would be messy, capacity of the toilet would be reduced – and you’d still get funky smells.

  • David Strop

    I am researching composting toilets, I have questions. I am looking for one that can be used off grid that will accommodate 3 adults full time and a few grandkids here and there. This would be helpful in so many ways. Good for the land and long term financially.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      It is no problem if they come at the same time. Generally, urine still goes forward and poop still falls straight down. Getting some urine in the solids chamber is not a big issue, but you definitely want most of it to be separated. If the contents are too wet with the Nature’s Head you can add additional coconut coir or peat moss. With the Separett you can place a biodegradable diaper in the bottom of the bucket to absorb liquid.

  • Selina Flynn

    We are considering a composting toilet for a garage that we’re converting to a studio and I’m worried about one thing. As I’m getting a little older, #1 and #2 often come at the same time… (sorry to be gross, but I don’t know how else to put it). Will this present a problem for the separation process? sometimes #2 is also rather loose… will this be ok?

  • Cam

    Hi Richard,
    Have seen some great QnA on this thread so thought we’d reach out. We’re considering purchasing a Nature’s Head but some friends who are using one at a cabin they rent say that it has on a number of occasions started leaking a little from where the crank attaches to the body of the toilet.
    Is this normal? Is there a way to avoid this? How might you make sure no guests put liquid in the solid tanks?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      No, that is not normal, and indicates they are not using it correctly. The contents should be just slightly damp – not wet. There should never be anything to leak out. They need add coconut fiber to the contents, to absorb the liquid, and make sure no one is peeing down into the solids chamber (such as guests or kids).

  • Marilyn

    I had a SunMar shipped to my home in Alaska and installed in my cabin before I plugged it in. It is SO noisy! Too late to get the alternative fan because the unit needs to be turned upside down to get at it. Had a small computer fan installed in the vent pipe and unplugged the unit, but the smell permeates my small home. I want to replace this toilet with something smaller, quiet, and simple. It’s just one person and I also have a pee toilet. I’m looking for some recommendations. Thanks!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Did you call Sun-mar? It sounds like something is wrong with the fan. It shouldn’t be that noisy. And if you have a working fan in the vent pipe, there should be no smell in your home. I suspect something is wrong. Start with Sun-mar. They need to help you sort out your installation.

  • Penny Thrussell

    Hello, We have a compost toilet and love it but we have a slow running urine section! I have used bicarb and white vinegar to try and unblock it but it is still slow! Any advice please??

  • Bob

    Hi Richard, i just wanted to sat thank you, got the new fan within 3 days of contacting you. Your customer service is amazing!
    We love the Natures Head that we bought from you, it’s the perfect solution for our off grid cabin, i would highly recommend
    it to anyone looking for an alternative to septic systems and leach fields. Thanks again!
    Bob & Melissa Shaw

  • watsonrg

    Having a tough time with keeping the peat moss from drying out. I have had the unit for two months and it’s been used about on the average four times a week. I also installed the solar venting fan, But I wasn’t even able to turn the crank this morning. Your insights on how I can get better performance with my Nature’s Head would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The peat moss should be easy to keep moist. Add a little water from time to time if you are only using it 4 times per week. Normally the moisture in the human waste would be enough. The stiffness of the handle means the contents are too dry.

  • A Lee

    For Nature’s Head, can pine sawdust be used instead of pete moss or coconut? Also, I assume the flap is to be opened BEFORE going #2, why do some people use a coffee filter?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      No, sawdust of any kind must not be used. It doesn’t work. It gets hard, and you can’t turn the handle. The flap is opened before you go #2, unless you are using a coffee filter. The coffee filter is used by a small number of people because it makes clean up a bit easier – everything just drops down when you open the trap door, and no cleaning of the bowl is required. However, it reduces capacity, and most people don’t bother. There is another type of toilet where the coffee filter is pretty much mandatory because of the design. But with the Nature’s Head you don’t need it.

  • Jen

    Do girls have to aim their pee into the 2 holes that are higher on the Nature’s Head toilet? Or are there 2 holes lower down as well to catch it all? Sorry can’t tell from the pictures. Also is it still lawful to dump urine that is mixed with blood once diluted? (I’m thinking of all the females on their monthly cycle).

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The holes are not higher, they are lower. The urine will naturally go more or less forward, and it will go down the urine drain with no effort required. I have heard of very rare cases where people had to position themselves a bit to ensure the urine goes forward. The law around dumping urine (which is basically sterile, absolutely not any kind of health risk, and over 99% water) and urine mixed with a tiny amount of blood, is not uniform. There are places where it’s fine to mix it with gray water, places where it’s fine to drain it into a shallow pit, and places where they want you to install a $25,000 septic system to deal with a problem that doesn’t even exist. In the end, it’s up to the homeowner, and whether or not you are seeking government approval. One thing to keep in mind is urine has a lot of nitrogen, so you don’t want it leaching continuously into a freshwater creek or lake. As an aside, I was hiking in the Grand Canyon this spring, which has a lot of visitors and a sensitive, fragile ecosystem. They tell you to pee in the river(!) saying urine is, contrary to popular belief, harmless.

  • Nancy

    Hello again, just checked website and found the dimensions, so don’t need them thank you. Question: I noted this purchase would be for a rv, with the way you have to get rid of matter by turning system upside down. The system seems very light, is there a way to fasten it, or will it move around as I drive to my next spot. Again thank you.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I presume you are talking about the Nature’s Head? That is the better choice for an RV. It is very securely fastened to the floor with two stainless steel brackets. It’s not going anywhere! Beware any system using flimsy attachments, rope or string to hold your toilet in place. I’ve seen them.

  • Nancy

    Hi Richard, sent an email, just not sure it went through. I will be living by myself full time in a fifth wheel. Which toilet in your opinion, would be better for a single person 95% of the time? Also could you please send me dimensions for toilets or tell me where to find them? Thank you very much. Nancy

  • Monika

    I recently bought a natures head toilet for my cabin. I’m the only one using it. I followed directions for filling solids bin. I used coconut core and not spagm Pete moss. I agitate after every use and then some. The solids are getting moldy. I add more coco core and it still gets moldy. What I doing wrong? Appreciate any help. Thank you.Monika

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Mold inside the toilet is not a problem. Keep in mind that all of the air in that toilet is being exhausted outside by the fan. Mold in a toilet may be a symptom of too much moisture getting into the solids bin, or not enough ventilation. Check the fan.

  • David

    With the Separette toilet wha happens to the liner when you empty it? If the liner and waste are both dumped into a composting bin will the liner decompose or does the waste have to be dumped into the composting bin leaving you with a dirty liner to dispose off ?

  • Jean

    We have 11 people, 2 bathrooms, and a failed septic system. With a full basement, one bathroom on the second floor, and one on the first, what would be our options for going the composting toilet route?

  • Jack

    If I have multiple Separetts, can I join the exhausts into one pipe? I am concern about warm air leaving the house through these non-stop fans operation.

  • Ryan Frank

    Does the agitation method as with the Natures Head provide a much better composting experience? I like the idea of the bag method as with the Separett so that I don’t have to invert the toilet and a possible much easier cleanup (also the separett looks to have a much more effective bowl mold for separation of urine). But I don’t want to sacrifice a more effective and quicker composting experience with potentially less smell if the agitation method helps significantly. Hmm if only the Separett had some type of agitation. I appreciate your input! Thank you!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Each toilet does have it’s advantages. In the Nature’s Head, composting occurs in the toilet itself. So when you empty it, say a month down the road, much of the solids are fully broken down. However, the most recent additions will not have broken down, so if you are using it frequently the solids still have to go in a secondary container (like a compost bin) to finish the process. I would say the urine separation is equivalent in both toilets – it works very well. The Separett is a bit easier to empty. Neither toilet has any smell, so you don’t have to worry about that.

  • James

    Great info…. Thank you!
    I am seriously looking at a separett for our yurt and family of four in Utah. It would be located in a separate outhouse type structure, and I can do 12v from solar/battery (24/7) or 110v when we are there every six weeks or so. We may have several guests from time to time too, perhaps 8 total for a weekend, a couple of times a year. Is the separett the right choice? should I do 12v cont or 110v int (is there a significant cfm difference?) will the 3 buckets be enough? How far away from the vent outlet would be a safe distance from the deck seating?
    Thanks for all the great support!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Hi Jim. If it’s in an outhouse structure you could even experiment with a non-powered wind turbine. But if you want it 100% odor free, then either model would work for you. The 9210 moves plenty of air, and is easier on the batteries so I suggest that one. I would dump the contents out of the bucket and into a rotating compost bin. It works faster and better. There is no hard and fast rule about the vent, but personally I’d not put it closer than about 20′ from a deck. Farther is better.

  • chris

    family member has chrones disease and it often means MESSY movements! I am just learning about the composting toilet. am i to assume the toilet needs to be ‘wiped out’ every time? I can’t imagine this is the only problem!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      With any composting toilet, there is no water flushing through the bowl. So the bowl is cleaned with a spray bottles and paper towel. You drop the paper towel into the solids bin after cleaning. With Chrones disease, you may prefer a flush toilet if that is possible. Also, if the stools are very watery, you may prefer a non-urine separating toilet, with a powerful heater that can evaporate all the liquid. Bottom line, a composting toilet may not be ideal for someone with Chrone’s disease. But possible, yes, if the situation demands a composting toilet. Call me if you need further help toll free 1 888 361 0014.

  • Ray Low

    November 13, 2014

    My wife and I own a cabin in the bush north of Squamish. The cabin is off the grid. I have a solar system backed up with a generator for electrical power.

    We bought a Villa 9210 via Mr. Brunt about three years ago.

    We are enormously satisfied not only with the toilet but with the back up service Mr. Brunt provides.

    Any time I have phoned or emailed Mr. Brunt t he has returned my calls promptly and provided sound advise or product in jig time.

    My wife and I are in our 60s. Getting up in the middle of the night is a customary requirement and we do not miss having to run to the out house. The Villa looks like an ordinary toilet and works extremely well. Not only does the fan eliminate odour and expedite the composting process as advertized but it also eliminates any odours emitted during use. No more stinky bathroom for the next user.

    The toilet is also very easy to keep clean. It even forces men to use it sitting down which all women I think will concur with my wife when she says this is much more sanitary.

    Finally the toilet is very easy to install. It is also very easy to disassemble for a seasonal cleaning. The few components are easy to access, remove and reinstall. The only tools you need are a philips screwdriver and an allen wrench.

    If I could install one of these composting toilets in my Vancouver condo I would.

    Ray Low

  • CDee

    will the fan continue to operate at such low temperatures? im thinking of getting one for cottage country as well, and it gets to be -30 to -40 during winter…is there a risk the fan might stop operating at such low temperatures?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Yes, temperature should not affect the fan. However, if you are not going to be at the cottage for a few weeks you could just turn it off.

  • George

    Can Separett toilets be used in areas that see -30C plus during winter months at a cabin property? Or is Natures head more appropriate for this environment and will they work? I am suggesting in a cabin with no amenities that is left empty for weeks at a time during winter months.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Very cold temperatures are no problem with either toilet. Of course all composting stops when the temperature cools off. However, the contents can freeze. The composting will start up again when the warm weather return. Personally, I might empty it before I left for the winter, but you don’t absolutely need to do that.

  • David Bybee

    Your site has been very helpful in my decision to try a composting toilet in my RV, specifically the Natures head. Do you sell these, make money off the sale? Would patronize you.

  • Piper

    Hi Richard,
    Not sure if this question was asked or not – Can the urine be piped out through the grey water line in my rv? If so, how would that be done? I’m mainly interested in the Seperett Weekend toilet.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I’ve heard of urine being plumbed as gray water in an RV. If the tank is lower than the toilet, gravity should do the job, but obviously you need a valve or something to make sure there are no odors coming up from the gray water tank. The exact method of plumbing will vary, and this is outside of my area of expertise. If you seriously decide to install one, give me a call and I’ll see if someone else can help you out with that. 888 361 0014.

  • jp

    Hi Richard,

    I am considering either a Nature’s Head or a Separett. Since you sell both, I thought you might be in a great position to answer my questions on the differences. I prefer the “look” of the Separett – lower seat, looks more like a regular toilet. However, I prefer the price of the Nature’s Head! The basic design of these two units is very similar – urine-diverting, solids collection. So I am curious about the differences.

    With Nature’s Head, you need a compost medium (peat moss or coconut COIR), and you need to manually agitate via the handle on the side. Why does the Separett not need this? I like the idea of covering/hiding/diluting the solids with the compost medium, so I’m wondering if you COULD potentially add some to the Separett as well? But then there would be no easy access to “stir” it, I guess.

    With the Separett you need to line the solids collection bin with a compostable bag, but with Nature’s Head you don’t. In fact, Nature’s head says not to even bother rinsing or cleaning the bin after you empty it – any “leftovers” will help the composting process get started again with the next batch. So, wouldn’t the same be true with the Separett? Could you use it WITHOUT the compostable bags?

    We are planning to put a composting toilet in our trailer which is permanently parked on our remote off-grid recreational land. We do already plan to construct a drainage pit for grey water and such, so I like that the Separett’s urine can be piped out directly instead of collected. Could you do this with the Nature’s Head instead of collecting urine in the included bottle? If you have any information or instructions (or just contact info for anyone who has done this) I would love to hear about it.


    • richardbrunt Post author

      You do not need the peat moss with the Separett. There would be no advantage to doing that. With the Separett, the objective is to dehydrate the material, rendering it completely inoffensive. It shrinks drastically, and becomes dry crumbly matter. The real composting takes place elsewhere – after you have emptied it.
      You want to use the bag. There is no reason not to, and it makes emptying easier. You are not getting the next batch ‘started’ as with the Nature’s Head.
      The Nature’s Head can be plumbed exactly the same as the Separett. You would just remove the urine bottle, and run a hose from the urine drain outside. There is nothing to it.
      Does that answer your questions?

      • jp

        Thank you, you’ve been a great help.

        So, which system would you recommend for a permanently parked trailer and seasonal weekend use by a family of four? There would also be guests now and then, and maybe an occasional longer stay of a week or more with full time use. We have an onsite compost bin (the regular garden type sold in hardware stores) that we could empty the toilet into, to continue composting. We don’t garden, but the compost would eventually be spread among the trees when complete.

        Of course I need to measure and make sure there is no size issue. I’m thinking, offhand, that the Nature’s Head may be the only one that will fit in the small trailer bathroom, but I will confirm that. I believe Separett makes a smaller “weekend” version, too, though, is that correct?


        • richardbrunt Post author

          I think both toilets would work, but as you say, space is critical and the Nature’s Head fits in a very small space. If you email me I can send you dimensions for each. When you have a family of four there for a week, plus guests, you might have to empty more frequently. I’d say about 60 solid uses under those conditions and it’s time to empty. There is a Separett Weekender, which is smaller, simpler and cheaper.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Send me a PM and I will forward the measurements. They are not offered in different colors. 1 888 361 0014.

  • Frank

    Would you recommend using is in a RV ? Would it be too big to fit in? Would it drain the battery too fast? Could we simply have the urine fall directly in the black water tank and compost the solid to have an odor-free environment?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The Nature’s Head is installed in RVs all the time. You’ll need to measure to see if it’s too big. The dimensions are on my site, or you can email me personally. It draws 0.08 of an amp. So you need a small solar panel, if not generating electricity some other way. Yes, the urine could drain to the tank, as long as it’s below the drain.

  • petra

    I see in one of the pics a little blue button in the front of toilet seat. why in some pic.s and not in others? what is it for? i.m looking for one that looks as close to a “reg” toilet as possible. thank you

    • richardbrunt Post author

      There is a blue button under the Separett seat. This is a weight sensitive button that opens the solids hatch when you sit down.

  • Olive

    The Separett toilet is sold by Envirolet. Are they just marketing it in addition to their own toilets and/or do they own Separett also?
    From all the complaints about envirolet toilets in this post, why would I want to buy a Separatt toilet if it’s actually an Envirolet toilet? Are they trying to rebrand themselves under a different name because of complaints against them?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      No, that web page is very old. They may be a dealer, but do not sell significant numbers of Separett toilets. They do not own Separett, and have nothing to do with the design or manufacture of Separett toilets.

  • sandy

    Hi. We just bought a fixer up cabin (500+sf) in Michigan which has no plumbing/septic systems, yet, which means we are able to research alternatives that are more environmentally friendly. I’ve been looking at many composting toilets and came across yours. The cabin will have only 1 bathroom, serving 2- 10 people in a week or weekend. Does putting in this toilet eliminate the need for a septic system? We are also looking into grey water systems. I am curious how you actually remove the bin to set aside for composting. Can this toilet be installed by us or do we need a plumber? Thanks for your help.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I’m not sure that 10 people would be able to share one toilet of any kind, anywhere! That is a lot of people for one toilet (and one bathroom).
      Generally, composting toilets eliminate the need for a septic system. But if you are doing this with a permit you have to check.
      The bin just slides out. You can put the lid on it, and let it sit outside. Many people prefer to empty it right away. They close the compostable bag that lines the bin and throw it into a composter. Two people will need to do this every 4-6 weeks.
      Any handy person can install these toilets. There is no water involved, and you don’t need or want a plumber. A carpenter or handyman is better.
      But again, 10 people is very heavy use for one self-contained toilet of any make or model. The toilet will fill up before the material has a chance to shrink or begin breaking down. You’d be emptying the toilet often.
      I think a better idea would be a larger system, where a huge amount of waste is stored underneath the dwelling. Is there a crawl space, or room underneath your cabin? These cost more to buy and install but with 10 people that will be your best option.

  • Pedro

    Also, which model would you suggest and what do you think of the Bio-let? That brand has more positive reviews than the Sun-mar it seems. Thanks again!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I strongly believe that urine separating designs are superior to the Bio-let. The Bio-let combines liquids and solids, and that causes problems in my experience. I think that the Separett and Nature’s Head toilets are the best on the market. I do sell them, and therefore am biased, however – I also sold two other major brands of composting toilets that did not separate liquids from solids. They caused my customers and I many problems.

  • kim

    I don’t seem to be able to find any information on routine cleaning on the composting toilets, except for your comment on the use of vinegar and water for the urine piping. I’ve cleaned plenty of typical toilets, and rely on flushing to remove all of the nastiness. Can you direct me to some reliable information on what this task requires in the various composting options?

    Thanks for all of your information!


    • richardbrunt Post author

      It’s pretty straightforward and easy, but does require more effort than a flush toilet. Most people spray water and maybe vinegar on the inside of the bowl with a small spray bottle. Then wipe it clean with a paper towel, and drop the paper towel into the bowl. You might have to do it twice if it’s very messy. I’ve seen some people keep a toilet brush in water and vinegar beside the toilet and use that first. The small amount of water that enters the toilet this way is not a problem. But you still might need a paper towel to make it perfectly clean. With the Nature’s Head you can also put a large coffee filter basket into the bowl prior to use. The basket contains the solids, and drops down when you open the trap door. With the Separett, the hole is actually very large, so little mess occurs. If it does, you just have to wipe it off.

  • Michelle Woodward

    Do you know anything about C head’s Boon Jon? It looks like a similar setup to Separett and Nature’s Head but about half the cost. Composting toilets are new to me. Is it safe to dump urine if you live near a pond and if so, how many feet away from the pond?


    • richardbrunt Post author

      The Boon Jon is a very basic toilet, without a fan, and much more cheaply made than either the Nature’s Head or the Separett. It uses standard plastic panels somehow attached together – that is not the proper way to make a toilet in my opinion. The Nature’s Head and Separett are one piece roto-molded units. That is the stronger, nicer, 100% leak proof now and forever (and vastly more expensive) way to make a toilet. The Boon Jon is held down with little rope ties, rather than stainless steel L brackets as with the other toilets. In a seaway, or driving down a bumpy country road, I would not want a toilet tied down with rope. A fan is essential to any composting toilet and the Boon Jon does not have a fan. No composting toilet is airtight, so the potential for odor is there, without a fan that takes air in from the toilet area and exhausts it outside. The material (poop) will not dry out rapidly and shrink without that fan. Drying the material is critical, because that reduces odor dramatically and increases capacity of the toilet. Finally, the Boon Jon has to be emptied once a week, as opposed to 4-6 weeks with other small composting toilets like the Nature’s Head and Airhead. In one week, there is no time for the material to break down or begin composting. I do not recommend the Boon Jon. It is definitely NOT a similar set up to the toilets you mentioned.

      I’d not dump the urine near a pond. It is high it nitrogen and could cause an algae bloom. In that case I’d put it in a tank, dilute it 10:1 and use it as fertilizer.

  • morris


    I own a Separett system. Recently, the urine seems to back up (not drain properly – drains very slowly). I do use the blue discs to break down crystals, but might there be another reason for this particular problem?



    • richardbrunt Post author

      The drain is plugged. It is doubtful that a build up of crystals caused this. I suspect debris. You’ll have to clean it out, or put in a new hose.

  • Joe Fagan

    My experience with the Envirolet MS10 Composting Toilet and its Company has been very frustrating. Their advertising claims do not match their products performance. For example they state that the MS10 uses between 3 and 4 kWh of electricity per day when in actuality it uses 12 kWh of electricity. Hardly fits their claim of being a “Green” company. They rate the MS10 as able to handle 6 full time users when the MS10 is able to manage 2 adults as long as one of them doesn’t urinate in the MS10 on a regular basis. Their Customer Service is the worst I have experienced. They won’t even discuss your issues with their product. I am a MS10 owner.
    Your table comparing prices while helpful needs to be augmented with information about the character of the companies making the Composting Toilets.

  • Peter G

    I purchased a Envirolet waterless compost toilet nearly 2 years ago and it’s been hell. I knew that I would need to spend a lot of time to fine tune the mixtures and learning to use the Envirolet to it’s peak and am very willing, even now BUT still no results. The closest we’ve made it to was the front section is quite moist due to urine and the rear is like rock bundles. I know this because I still haven’t used the lower tray for extraction as its generally blocked or you need to continuously rake for an hour to get a minimal amount of waste extraction. I still have to hand empty the system.The 12 volt fans generally last six months and with constant badgering I might receive replacement warranty parts in 2 ½ months if I’m lucky. The rake system also fails and up to my second replacement. After sales service for warranty parts appear to be non existent, as per the constant email Badgering. I can understand why the Australian supplier appears to have pulled out from sales!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Sorry to hear this but you are not alone. The ‘all-in-one’ toilets that combine solids and liquids sound wonderful in theory. But unfortunately they often just don’t work, as you have found out. Envirolet is not the only brand with this problem. A two stage, urine diverting toilet is a far better option. There is nothing to go wrong. The downside is you have to sort out what to do with the urine, and this usually involves some kind of drain pit or barrel. And you have to have a bin (or two) outside to let the solid material removed from the toilet finish composting.

  • Carolyn

    I am new at all of this and I am trying to prepare for when we have no power in my home. I need to know how to install this in my home. I have an older home and the walls are all plaster. Please advise on the installation of this unit. Thank you.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You’ll probably need a handy-person to assess your situation. Plaster is no problem, you just have to cut it with the right tools. Vent it out the wall or roof.

  • richardbrunt Post author

    Yes, that would work, absolutely. Or, even with no fan turned on, as long as the vent on the roof is open you will get air flow. The material would dry out (and not stink), because no new material is being added. You might add a passive vent, a whirlybird rotating vent, or even a solar vent. Please let me know how it works out.

  • Don

    I’m concidering getting a Separett Villa 9200 for an RV that has 30 amp service on property, but I don’t have any running water or septic. My wife and I want to spend 3 – 6 days a month there. I really can’t keep the power hook up connected while I’m not there, so I was thinking about doing this. When we get to the property we will plug in the Villa 9200 in and use it for a few days and before we leave I would empty the contents into a composting barrel to let it finish composting and unplug it before we leave.

  • Ray Low

    Mr. Brunt

    I bought a Separett from you and I am very satisfied with it.

    Do you have any suggestions for controlling the fruit flys that are produced?


    Ray Low

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Fruit flies are not usually a problem. Are you sure the screen is in place? If the fan is working then the toilet should be pulling air from the bathroom area into the toilet and out the exhaust. If there were flies in the toilet, it would be difficult for them to get into the bathroom. And I am not sure where fruit flies would come from because they are not usually attracted to human waste.

      Give me a call please. 1 888 361 0014.

      • David Bower

        Hi Richard………I owned a SunMar NE composting toilet in the mid 80’s and I too had a fruit fly problem. I believe the fruit fly eggs are in the fruit that we eat, Normally we just flush the poo down a conventional toilet that has water in it and never see the poo again, In a composting toilet the fruit fly eggs hatch in the dried poo and then eventually come out of the toilet. You can buy devices that you can set next to the toilet that capture the fruit flies……..hope that helps.

        • richardbrunt Post author

          That is very interesting Dave. However, I did some online research and from what I could see it is very unlikely that fly eggs would survive the harsh, extremely acidic environment in our stomachs. If you know of evidence to the contrary, please send it along.

          The fly problem, when it does occur (and 95% of people never experience any problem whatsoever) is almost always easily solved. However, I have had customers that live in open air style homes in tropical locations, where lots of flies are present in the house at all times – that had trouble solving the fly problem. The final solution is a ‘fly cake’, which is a small cage filled with mothballs. You find a way to attach that in the lower waste chamber – velcro tape has been used, above the waste and in such a way that it will not interfere with the workings of the toilet. Flies will definitely avoid your toilet once this has been installed. You can buy fly cakes at a hardware store.

  • Barbara Benson

    We have a cabin that doesn’t have any power whatsoever as yet. I would like to install a separett toilet but am unsure without any electricity how we would have the fan running. Have you had any experience with a set up such as this? and if so how did it turn out? Thanks very much

    • richardbrunt Post author

      There are options. A small inexpensive solar panel and a 12 volt battery would provide plenty of power to run the 12 volt Separett model. Some people try a “whirly bird” non powered vent, and report these work well if there is a bit of wind in the area. If you are interested in that send me a PM and I will send you pics. You can also buy solar attic vents, and hook it up to that. Those are really nice, but a bit pricey.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You may be faced with a musty odor upon returning to the cottage. If you can’t leave the power on, I would suggest a passive rottaing vent (like a whirly bird) on the roof. This will ensure air keeps moving and the cottage stays fresh smelling.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      These are similar toilets, both very high quality. Marketing aside, there are only a couple of substantial differences. The Airhead toilet costs about $100 more, and there may be a delay before shipping. The Nature’s Head requires about 2″ more space, front to back, to install because it needs to be tilted up when emptying. There are a host of other, small things. The Airhead people say that locating the fan at the end of the hose, as they do, is superior. I asked a ventilation engineer about that and he said no way, same resistance pulling or pushing air. I like the fan built into the body of the toilet as with the Nature’s Head, since you don’t have to string wires or install a fan. The Airhead uses a gasketed seat, which they claim will seal the toilet and reduce the chance of insects getting in. Again, not really true, because air gets into both toilets – that is how they work. They are not airtight anyway. The Nature’s Head seat fits pretty tightly over a lip. You could put a gasket on there for about $3 but there is no point. And then you’s have to clean it, and that is a spot where you might get urine spray. And every once in a while you’d have to replace it…no, gasket is not needed.

      They are both good products that do the job.

  • joe murphy


    • richardbrunt Post author

      The toilet paper just goes into the bowl with the poop. There is no separate place for it. It breaks down and is composted. Special paper is not required.

  • Louise Racy

    Do composting toilets work in a Condo, do you know ? I’m on the second of three floors. Do you know of any regulations if they do work in such a complex ( 24 units) ?

    I sure would like to get one if they do.
    Seattle, WA.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Yes, they can work in a condo, but you need a place for the waste when it is removed from the toilet. The building manager would have to be on side.

  • SS

    We have been going back forth on this topic for a little while now as we are working on our schoolbus conversion which will be our full time home. It is just two adults in the household. I’m really liking the Separett, though I’m not sure how one could make the urine disposal work smoothly, and also what to do about storing full bins of processing compost when we are on a 35 foot bus driving around the country. I’ve seen people saying that they work well on RVs, but not how they make it work.
    Thanks for any and all suggestions / info.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      On a bus, the urine can be stored in a tank, then disposed of in a toilet or sani-dump. Solids will have to be placed in a compost bin somewhere, or as a last resort the garbage. Remember, by the time you empty, 90% of the waste is broken down into a dry, crumbly mass. You could store a bin in the bus, with a bucket and lid, to let it sit until completely broken down. There are many possibilities, none perfect but all easier than carrying around a tank of raw sewage on your bus.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      There may be a slight odor at that location, just like with a regular toilet. A regular toilet has a vent stack. If you put your nose near that, you will smell it. Same for a composting toilet. You don’t want the vent near where people sit.

  • good nature farms

    Have an Envirolet ‘low water’ toilet. It is grizzly, to say the least. Works really great when everything is working, which can add up to a week or two straight. I am now a master of all things Envirolet VF. Have had it for six years now. It’s installed in our B&B. Maybe if installed in a normal home where folks are aware of how different it is, might not be so bad. Gives new meaning to the term ‘brown out’.

    We’ve had baby wipes (lots) and cigarette butts flushed down the Envirolet.

    I should probably call. Might wanna buy two to four Separettes. Long story. Converting a 30X30 space for performances. Might run that to septic and put our homes on Separettes. Septic is currently at max capacity and then some.

    Reading this blog has helped. I’m a little gun shy now of composting toilets but Separette sounds good. I have a lot of questions but I’ll look around a bit before asking. I guess a first question is, what is the daily maintenance? Second would be, can a guy stand up and pee? I mean, is it sort of like target practice?
    You can of course not post this and answer me in private if you want.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Daily maintenance is basically zero. You can stand, but it may splatter a little if your aim is bad. Separetts are very different from Envirolets, and I think the Separett is clearly a far better choice. Google Envirolet reviews – there are so many problems with those.

  • Sam

    Hi Richard, we’re concerned that males standing to pee might experience ‘splashback’ due to the shallow urine diverter. Your advice would be appreciated, thanks.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You can get some splash back, if the aim is off. Then you need to wipe it, or pee sitting down. I stand up, with no problems.

  • Deb

    Hi We have built our own composting toilet which works well, but we want to add a unrine separator as an addition, can you let us know if it is possible just to purchase the separator/seat part? We are in Australia.
    Thanks Deb

  • Jason

    I’m interested in the seperatt, but using a solar vent. I have no power at all at my place, is there a solar vent you can recommend? Are you aware of anyone successfully using it?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      There are a wide variety of solar vents on the market, and many people use them. However they are expensive. First, try using a deep cycle 12 volt battery hooked up to an inexpensive solar panel to trickle charge it. Also, some people use non-electric metal vents that rotate in the wind. Farmers needed to ventilate their barns for generations before they had power. It still works.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Excellent question. The solids dry out and break down, but do not compost in the unit. It’s technically a “dry” toilet. The composting takes place elsewhere, in a secondary container. The ideal way is to use two rotating compost bins. Put the dry material, contained in the compostable plastic bag, into a rotating bin. When this bin is full, move on to the second bin, and let the first bin sit for 6 months.

      This creates perfect compost, without the hassle and mess associated with some of the composting toilets out there, where they attempt to complete the composting process inside the toilet itself. Those often become sewage tanks.

      • Ryan Frank

        In this scenario of the composting bags as with the seperatt and a rotating bin, do you want to add some peat or other soil or even enzymes to the bin or heck even the composting bag while it is still in the seperatt. Also it would seem to me that since the seperatt is just a “dry’ toilet it would have a potential of more smell then the natures head. How do you mitigate that?

        • richardbrunt Post author

          No you don’t want to add anything to the bin. Just human waste and toilet paper. The bin only rotates a tiny bit every time you use it, to distribute the contents. The rotation has nothing to do with composting. It is a dry toilet, with the material shrinking and drying out to a certain extent. Then you complete the process in another container outside (or even in the buckets that are included with the toilet). You don’t have to mitigate the smell with either toilet, because there is no smell at all, with either one. As the solids start to dry, they lose most of the odor. Air is getting pulled in to the toilet from your bathroom area, and exhausting outside. Air is not coming up in to your bathroom from either toilet. That is why you have the fan.

  • Denis Moonan

    I have had a Biolet composting head for 4 years now in a remote island cottage in Maine. It is a purchase that I would not do again, because it does not separate the urine, and requires a warm (65 degrees F) environment to compost properly. Now older and wiser I am considering the replacement of the head on our floating home (sailboat). In the cabin I have been able to meet the temperature requirement by venting our propane refrigerator into the tiolet space. I do not have such an option on the boat and so am concerned about how well a Natures head would work in Northern Climes? The other issue I am concerned with is how effectively the urine separating system works if the the boat is healing (as in ocean passages). The head has to be installed athwortship (right angles to the center line) and will only be level when at anchor. Will the urine go where it is intended with the bowl leaning forward or back, depending which tack we are sailing on?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Cold weather will suspend the composting. It will resume when warmer weather returns. However, the Nature’s Head can still be used in cold climates. They have even gone to Antarctica! Secondary composting has to take place anyway, in another container. The cold weather will just mean you have to compost it in the secondary container a bit longer. No problems.

      The Head works while sailing, even when heeled. This is because the urine drain is a straight, vertical drop. You’d have to be heeled pretty far for it not to drain. Now, in very rough conditions you may get a bit of urine not going down the drain, but that is not critical. Just as long as most of it goes down the drain.

  • Fay

    Hi Richard
    We’re thinking about buying the Separett for a small house in the Yukon that’s lived in full-time by 2 people. We have Alaska weather conditions, i.e. extremely cold winters, and summers that are 3 months long if lucky. I hear that temperature is not a problem for operation? We’ll come up with a creative solution for the solids. Composting bags will never compost here.
    We’ll check with local code and see what’s allowed. I’m concerned it may not allow urine in ground, nor urine in urine tank or grey water tank. Can you give us the Separett dimensions? Pricing and shipping are as advertised? Can you also give us a timeline, and any advice you can offer for our particular situation?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Temperature does not affect the use of a composting toilet, but it will affect the length of time it takes for the material to break down.

      Compost in a pile will naturally heat up if done properly. Our pile is warm inside and steaming even when below freezing. At your extreme temperatures however, I’m not sure. Composting in nature MUST occur, or the detritus from past years would be visible everywhere. So it probably is possible. Perhaps a large bin or pile, with leaves and other matter would get things going. Check with people in your area who are into gardening. They would be able to give you tips on composting.

      Call me for dimensions etc., and to chat about your situation. 1 888 361 0014.

  • Jerry K

    My wife and I are in the process of planning a cabin in an area that makes a septic system unworkable. Composting toilets, sold by Sears, were some of the products that I repaired during my career. The units I serviced has some sort of issue or I would not have been asked to look at them.
    Based on past experience I have been reluctant to consider installing a composting toilet. Newer models seem more reliable. Do you have any suggestions for a reliable, trouble free brand?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Older designs, like the Sun-mar and Envirolet are, in my opinion, prone to problems. Just do a Google search and you will see what I mean. I am very impressed with the Separett and Nature’s Head composting toilets. Plus the people at those companies are good to deal with.

      • mike

        I have an envirolet remote waterless….Envirolet technical support doesn’t know or care to help with my probem..rake bar to empty into compost tray is jammed shut….I’ve tried to empty the toilet, poke the mass with stick etc luck..any ideas?

        • richardbrunt Post author

          Your problem with Envirolet is not uncommon. Their customer service leaves something to be desired. The only thing I could suggest is getting it perfectly clean, and taking it to a machine shop. These guys are usually very good at fixing things. They’ll figure out the problem and suggest a solution.

          Now you see why a much more simple, less expensive urine separating toilet is a better choice.

  • George hein

    Our Natures head works well but I notice when turning the crank it sounds like there are hard clumps inside. Sometimes the crank is very hard to turn. Is this a sign more moisture is needed?

  • Paul Vautaux

    Hi Richard, What do you know about the ” Weekend” model from Separett? We are looking for an toilet that will not be used often.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The weekend model is fine. However, I’d go with the Nature’s Head if you don’t need the full capacity of a Separett 9200 or 9210.

  • Sarah

    What vent configuration do you recommend for a yurt? I don’t want to penetrate the vinyl roof. The yurt sits off the ground about 28″ on a wood platform so I would run the urine tube down to the ground and bury it in the gravel as shown on your website. Just not sure what to do about the vent with the lattice and vinyl walls. We currently use a bucket in a box with a toilet seat and peat moss and it works just fine since we only stay in the yurt a few times a year, but looking for something more convenient when we move into it full time while our permanent house is being built. Thanks.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I can’t really give good advice on this, as I’m not an expert on yurts (in fact I know nothing!). You can go through a wall, but you need to figure out the best way to do that on a yurt. Sorry!

  • gerry g

    Here is strange question, from what I see on the Seperatt toilet, when you sit on the seat, the trap door opens up for the solids. when you sit up to wipe your butt, does the trap door close immediately? So to dispose of the toilet paper do you have to keep weight on the seat? Men can stand up and pee in it providing they aim for the front compartment correct? What stops the smell from coming back from the wet section if it is tied into the regular liquid line to the holding tanks.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You can do it two ways. Just put the paper in the bowl, then gently press the seat with your hand to open the trap door. Or, you can use the paper while sitting down.

      Yes, men can stand to pee. Getting a small amount of liquid in the solids chamber is not a big deal.

      The urine drains away to a pit or tank, outside the dwelling. Odor is not usually a problem. There are little minty things that can be put in that drain should you ever smell anything.

  • Jess

    I am building my own system because it is so easy to do. So as to start right away, I will be using a bucket in the bathroom, and then emptying into a covered outdoor bin. I have seen many people use saw dust as a cover material after each use. Do you know if this has any affect? Do you know anything else about or have resources for the actual breakdown process?

    Thank you.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I have a detailed page on the topic. You may wish to have a look at that.

      Sawdust is the way to go when building a toilet yourself. A layer of sawdust will contain odor and prevent flies. Use a ratio of sawdust to poop of 1:1. I have heard anecdotally that aged sawdust, already starting to rot, works better. The type of sawdust matters. Sawdust from some woods, like cedar or teak, do not rot quickly enough. The Humanure Handbook has a very thorough discussion of homemade compost toilets.

      I strongly suggest you find a way to divert the urine. Combining urine and solids in one bin can create a very smelly toilet! Diverting the urine will make everything much easier for you.

      Sawdust is not usually required in commercial composting toilets, which contain the waste in a sealed, gasketed chamber and exhaust any odor outside with a fan.

  • fran

    Hi we are looking for an alternative to a porta pottie to be used outside a small country gift store that has no facilites …we are located in central Alberta Canada and have extremely cold winters…we are able to run power out there but have no access to water and would require a toilet that utilizes absolutely no water and that would function in extreme weather conditions -both hot and very cold weather…it would probably not get heavy usage…i like the concept of environmentally friendly toilet that are not to expensive ….would you recommend these toilets under these circumstanes

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Yes, a composting toilet would be perfect in your situation. Cold weather is no problem. Composting will be suspended when it gets cold, but will resume in warmer weather. With light usage you can use the Nature’s Head. For more capacity, the Separett would be good.

  • Susan

    We have been using a Sunmar model for 3 years now (approx 80 days a year, once a month visits). I call it my ‘science project’ and it’s worked out to be a steep learning curve.
    It seems that the prevailing wisdom at the moment is to separate urine from the solids, so we are going to give this a try. My only concern is that Sunmar recommends keeping the mixture moist, otherwise it will attract flies (don’t get me started on that topic). Obviously water is more pure than urine, so we’ll try watering the mixture – what do you think?
    Having read through the other entries, I agree that a vent and fan are essential. Also, despite what Sunmar says you DO need a heater even in an off-grid situation. Your comments on the finishing tray are right on – I’ve been emptying the contents into an outdoor metal bin that gets locked up for 2 years after it gets filled.
    Thanks for all the great information, by the way!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The material should be slightly damp for composting. This is easy to achieve since human waste is already something like 80% water by volume. The challenge is almost always too much moisture, not too little. You definitely should not water the mixture in a Nature’s Head or Separett, unless it gets very dry, which would be unusual.

      Sun-mars are completely different, since they combine the urine with the solids. They rely on heaters and evaporation. As I think you may have found out, this makes the whole thing much trickier. You absolutely do not need a heater with a urine separating toilet, since there is nothing really that needs evaporating. Vents and fans are important, although I have seen successful installations with passive, rotating vents instead of a fan.

  • Mike T.

    Hi, and thanks for all the great information.
    I’m very interested in exploring the possibilities of composting toilets. However I do have one delicate concern. One of the members of my family suffers from IBS. This often leads to very wet poops. I’ve been reading about the importance of keeping urine and water out of the dry bin of Separett toilets.(the brand I’m considering).
    Would the Separett be able to handle a user with frequent wet bowel movements?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      There is no easy answerr there. If it’s too wet, it won’t work. Possibly in your case a non-urine separating design would be better. There are several good models out there.

  • GuitarGerber

    My question is about noise. I currently have a SunMar Excel that I plan to sell, as it is noisy, full of fungus gnats, and produces a disgusting “tea” in the evaporation chamber. I have done everything they have suggested to be rid of the gnats, but it is a constant issue over the past 2.5 years.

    Everything about the Separett seems great, the only question I have is about the fan noise. I can hear our SunMar throughout the house. Will I be able to hear the Separett? Thanks so much for this review!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      It depends which toilet you use – the 9200 for AC or the 9210 for DC. The 9200 AC has a two speed fan that produces 41 or 31 decibels. The 9210 DC has a one speed fan that produces less than 30 decibels. 40 decibels is a quiet refrigerator. 30 decibels is a whisper. Conversation is 50-65 Db.

      Sorry to hear about your problems with Sun-mar. I assume you have tried to clean the whole thing out very carefully, then used a very fine mesh insect screen on the vent? But with the fan running continuously, it’s hard for gnats to fly upwind into your toilet. Sadly, with Sun-mars and others, its hard to get every little nook and cranny really well cleaned out. With a Separett, all the poop is in a compostable bag, and the inside of the toilet stays clean. And there is no liquid to produce that disgusting “tea” you mention. It’s a huge improvement, in my opinion.

  • Noonieh.

    My husband and I have a cabin with a compost toilet. It is an older model…pretty much a seat with a holding bin. No fan, no fluid separation. I was hesitant to use it but finally said why not. We don’t go to the cabin very often so the contents will sit for about two weeks to a month. I put the composting material that came with the toilet on the “contents”. Do you think the next time we go to our cabin we will have the “mess” that has been referred to? There is fluid in there…couldn’t help it. Any information is greatly appreciated. The unit simply requires the seat be pulled off and the entire bin can be carried outside. I am hoping for a good result. 🙂

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I don’t know what toilet you are using, so it’s hard to say. A “sawdust” toilet is just a big bin, that you poop and pee into. The trick is to cover everything carefully in a heavy layer of sawdust. People say it can work. It sounds like your system is like that. With infrequent use, you might be fine, especially if the holding bin is large, and you use lots of sawdust.

      • Noonieh.

        Thank you so much. I feel better. I used more sawdust than the bag instructions stated but not too much more. The bin is actually rather large too. Apparently, a family of three lived there for about two years before we purchased the place so I am hopeful this thing will work out fine. I really appreciate your input!

        • richardbrunt Post author

          Good luck. If it starts to smell, you might try a urine diverting seat, that sends the urine to an outside tank or drain pit. Seperating urine from the solids gets rid of most odor problems.

          • Noonieh.

            Well, we are back at the cabin after about two weeks…maybe three…and the compost toilet appears to be working out just fine! No smell at all. Of all the things in this cabin that scared me the most, it turns out to be the only thing that has worked without incident. I am sold on the compost toilet. Of course I haven’t emptied it yet. 🙂 Thanks again for your input!

  • Julie Wulf

    I am thinking about buying one, but wondering how it works to divert urine if your average visiting 8 yr old boy doesn’t know to ‘aim forward’ in the bowl–in other words can it be used by folks not used to them and not get too much urine in the ‘non-diverted’ part?
    Thanks for any info!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      If a small amount of urine goes into the main chamber, that is ok. The toilet can definitely cope with that. One does not need to aim at the small opening – just aiming towards the forward section of the bowl should be fine. There is a little dam there – you can see it in the photos, that ensures liquid in the forward part of the bowl will drain forward. However, you should definitely tell all male users to pee forward. If they are too young to follow instructions, then you need to use the child’s seat, with comes with the toilet.

  • Doug Moore

    Hi Richard,
    So I like the idea of the higher capacity and less frequent dumping of the Separett but am really trying to avoid a battery system. If I ran the vent straight up through the roof with no corners would the solar vent option available on the Natures Head work on the Separett? Also, we live in Port Alberni, BC, Canada, could you give me final price with shipping and taxes all in?
    Thanks Doug

    • Roger Harshaw

      We are considering one of two brands, and you sell both of them; Nature’s Head and Separett. Our first choice would be the Separett, even though currently the unit would be only for one full time person. We like the looks of the Separett, and the idea of the urine drain rather than the urine bottle. However, the location of the unit would be against a concrete wall, so only way to “drain” the urine would be to pump it up about 8 feet to ground level or through a hole in the floor which is over our garage. Do you have any experience with situations as I have described?
      Could there be a water tight drain system to a small tank in the garage, or a small pump as used sometimes for pumping air conditioning condensate? Thanks, Roger

      • richardbrunt Post author

        I know that people install these in basements, and other difficult areas, all the time. If a tank for the urine can sit below the toilet, then it’s a simple matter to pump that tank out to a drain pit. Of course with the Nature’s Head you can just use the urine bottle, which will hold about 3 days of pee for two people full time. I’m not really qualified to advise you on installation details, but someone in the head office might be. Give me a call 888 361 0014.

  • Doug Moore

    We are researching a composting toilet for our float cabin. No running water and no power not even 12 volt so we would need the solar vent adaptor. The Natures Head has caught our eye but we have a few questions before we decide. Our usage would be 2 people almost every weekend year round and almost full time in the summer with occasional weekends with a guest couple. Would the Natures Head have enough capacity for this? What would be the aproximate freqency of required dumps. Also, does the entire unit need to be unbolted from the floor and inverted to be emptied? This seems awkward. One more question is about the height of the seat. At 20″ it seems a bit high to comfortably use without a step. Any advise you can give would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You Doug Moore

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You should be fine with the capacity of the Nature’s Head, as it is designed for up to 2 people full time. Occasional guests are no problem. I suggest emptying it at the beginning of summer. The guideline is 60-80 solid uses between emptying. This means two people using the toilet full time empty it about every 6-8 weeks. Now depending on your guests, you might need to shorten that just slightly.

      The entire unit does not need to be unbolted. The top comes off easily – it’s on slip hinges. The base is attached to the floor on two brackets, and you just turn the knobs by hand to release the base from the bracket. The whole thing is a 30 second operation, and is pretty easy. Then yes – you do need to invert the base, to dump the contents into a green plastic garbage bag (or some other kind of container). The plastic garbage bag is used to carry the material outside for finishing the composting process. As mentioned in the blog, many people use a 5 gallon plastic pail with a lid. They put the opened bag inside the bucket. Punch a few holes in the lid for ventilation and let it sit for 12 weeks or so before putting it on ornamental plants.

      You don’t need a step. It’s only slightly higher than a regular toilet(which is 14-17 inches).

      Doug, let me know if you have any further questions. I am very enthusiastic about the Nature’s Head, because it works exactly as promised and I never have any customer complaints. I’ve been in business selling things for a long time and it’s never been like this before. These are great toilets, made in the USA under fair wage conditions, and backed by a 5 year warranty. Warranty repairs are extremely rare but we have replaced a couple of fans.

      With the solar vent, you can forget about the fan. The Nicro vent is a very nice option. Eventually the rechargeable batteries in the solar vent lose efficiency, but they are cheap at Radio Shack.

  • Charles Fetterman

    What are all the differences in specifications and mechanisms between the Separett Villa and Weekend model toilets?
    I live in California. What are prices for both? Where do I purchase?

  • Richard Stenzel

    What do I have to do to make the compost suitable to use for growing edible plants?
    I need every squate foot of my lot to grow enough edible plants to feed myself.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      There are detailed instructions in the Humanure Handbook, available in most libraries and online. It involves ensuring the compost reaches a certain temperature, and stays there for a long time – I believe it is a year or more. We don’t recommend it, because if it is not properly done you can get very sick.

  • Keith

    Does the agitator in the Nature’s Head make that much of a difference in the reduction of solids when compared to the Separett? It seems like things would break down better in the Nature’s Head.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The initial composting takes place in the lower chamber of the Nature’s Head. Turning the handle speeds up the composting. The Separett is technically a dry toilet – the solids are drying out and shrinking dramatically inside the unit, but the real composting takes place in the removable composting bins, after removal from the toilet.

  • Trace


    After finishing doing your business, you`ve mentioned to throw in some natural material such as peat moss or saw dust into the toilet to speed up the composing process. In your opinion, would ash from wood or charcoal work just as well?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      This has not been tested, so I am reluctant to recommend it. People are experimenting with activated carbon. You want a lot of carbon down there and charcoal would certainly accomplish that. Plus it has the advantage of taking up little space. However, the peat moss or coconut fiber are “fluffy” and that helps keep things aerated, which is also important. Sawdust can work, but it should be sawdust from a wood that readily rots, and the rotting process should have already begun, ideally (not fresh sawdust).
      Why don’t you experiment and let us know?

  • Dmitriy Holsten

    Richard, thanks for all this information!

    I am curious — what about toilet paper? Surely, that would add to the bulk significantly, as paper is not 90% water.

    Another question I have is on using Separett at lower temperatures. I am considering Separett for a cottage I use on weekends. It is currently equipped with an old Incinolet — quite a production to use that one! In wintertime, I keep the cottage around 50 degrees during the week, while I am not there. Winters in Catskill Mountains of NY can be quite cold, so I am just trying to avoid frozen pipes. Will this affect the toilet in any way? In theory, colder drier air this should help the drying of the stuff inside, but I did want to confirm.


    • richardbrunt Post author

      Toilet paper is not a problem. It compresses very well. You gat 60-80 “uses” before you need to empty, and this allows for the toilet paper.

      Cold weather is fine. The main composting takes place later, after the bin is removed. If you store the removed bins in a cold place, composting will be suspended until it warms up.

  • Gwen

    one more question….
    We have an outhouse on the yard, but don’t use it. what could I do to change it to a sawdust toilet or something more palatable for guests? (in addition to the indoor compost toilet)

  • Carlos

    Sorry, I forgot to mention that I need to get or bring this toilet to the Halifax area in NS, Canada. It will be used for one person and ocasional friends and family. I’m willing to pay for a good quality one as long as there is a garanty that works and DOESN’T SMELL (except when being used of course)


  • Carlos

    Never heard about composting toilets until I decided to accept the offer of a good friend to use a piece of his land by the sea to set a travel trailer….the problem, “No sewage system” and no possibility of digging one as the lot is solid granite bed rock. So he advice me to buy a composting toilet. Here are the questions; can I replace the toilet of the travel trailer for a composting one? Which model do you recommend? Does it require too much modification (tear appart) the existing small washroom? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You need to look at the measurements of the composting toilet you are interested in, and carefully check to see if it would fit in your travel trailer. I suggest the Nature’s Head, because it is the smallest. You screw it to the floor, and run a hose or pipe to a vent on the roof. That’s about it. Measure carefully!

  • njoy

    Thanks for your response. I do have a few more questions but perhaps they will be answered on your blog. If not, I’ll be back.

  • njoy

    I have been trying to interest my husband in composting toilets for years but it looks like the cost of a new septic system for our cottage has finally done the trick. He is, of course, most concerned about the job of disposal. I’ve promised to do this but (having known me for 55 years) he suspects he may get stuck with this chore. Can you reassure him about the process?

    Also, we wonder what happens if you (or your Swedish suppliers) go out of business. Is there a substitute for the plastic bags, and any other necessities, you provide? Of course, as seniors, we probably won’t last nearly as long as you do but we are planning to pass the cottage on to our son so he’s also interested.

    Finally, my husband is able (but not all that willing) to build a composting toilet and you do mention there are good plans online. Please tell us why we should buy your product since that’s what we would really prefer to do.


    • richardbrunt Post author

      The disposal is pretty easy. Remove the inner bin, put a shovel full of dirt on it, put the lid on and let it sit. 6 months later put it on plants. This is in sharp contrast to dealing with the waste in the older style, non-urine seperating brands. If something goes wrong with those older types (and that is common) you have an unbelivable mess to deal with. Your husband is rightfully afraid of dealing with those older styles. There can really be no problems with the Separett. The poop dries out, and dried poop does not stink. The toilet can’t leak (no water in there), and there can never be a mechanical failure, a system break down or any sewage to clean up. About the only thing you might need to replace years down the road is the fan, and that is cheap and easy. Many standard fans could be made to work. You could even use a fan built into a solar attic vent, and never worry about electricity again.

      Separett is a well-establised company, but you can use any compostable plastic bags. There are no other real nessesities. Good old water and vinegar shoild keep the urine tubes clear.

      Very nice composting toilets can be built by skilled carpenters. They look fine in woodsy cabins, but might seem out of place in some homes. The Separett however looks more like a toilet (guests are not alarmed) and it has a view screen so you don’t need to gaze down at the solids. It’s gasketed and sealed, so there is less chance of odor escaping. There is a high quality fan built in. If you do build one, you need to set up a urine separating system, or you could have a sewage tank rather than a composting toilet. That’s a lot to sort out on your own but it can be done.

    • Gwen

      We are in the same situation. (Not quite) seniors, but looking at the cost of a line to the septic system over the cost of a compost-able toilet. We like the composting idea much better not only for cost but for the environment. And while it may seem yucky to certain city types, a cottage (guesthouse) with an environmentally friendly toilet, rainwater plumbing and solar heat has an appeal to many people. We want it ready to rent out by next summer!

  • Doug Bennett


    The statement “In 2005, Americans flushed away 123 billion gallons of water, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report,” cannot be right.

    Considering there are about 311 million Americans, that’s just about 1 gallon per person per day. The actual amount is about 15 times greater. Either the USGS report erred or someone misinterpreted the data while deriving the “fact.”

    Research has shown that the average person uses the toilet 8 times per day. Five uses are at home and the other three at the workplace, stores, restaurants, etc. Assuming an average flush volume of 2 gallons (for simplicity), that’s 16 gallons per person per day, or about 5 billion gallons flushed every day.

    The actual amount of water used to flush toilets in the U.S. is probably closer to 1.8 trillion gallons per year!

    Doug Bennett
    Conservation Manager
    Southern Nevada Water Authority

  • Gloria Heazlewood

    We live in NZ and bought a Separett to install in our new house in 2000 and it was working well when we sold in 2009. There were two adults using it full-time. We are planning on purchasing another unit for our next project as we found it excellent. For some men it was a real issue having to sit down to urinate! But the toilet did need emptying fortnightly and toilet paper uses quite a bit of space in the bin. We bought compostable bags made with plant material and lined the bin with these and when it needed emptying it was simply a matter of taking these outside. As we lived on a ten acre block we simply buried our bags and then planted a tree on top. By the time we sold we had a small forest growing – great compost! I could not with all honesty say that our bags didn’t smell when it came time to change them though. In our next venture we intend putting some underfloor heating under the toilet area using solar water heating to help with the ‘drying’ process of the faeces. I think this will lower the smell factor.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I am not sure why you would think men have to sit down to urinate. They most certainly do not. Are you sure it is a Separett? If you have recently used the toilet, there will clearly be odor when changing the bag, for a few moments. We haven’t figured out a way to make poop not stink yet! (LOL). No heater should be required. The fan should dry out the small amount of moisture in the solids tank quickly.

  • Bob Andrews

    I have a home with two bathrooms and was not pleased with the composting system that was in place. Reading about the Separett, I felt it was worth a try. I installed one on a trial basis, but after a year, readily installed another in my second bathroom as well. This unit is simple to install, sturdy, quiet, and completely reliable. Maintaining it is snap. I would recommend this unit without reservation. In case anyone is interested, this is used in our year-round home, not just a summer cabin.

    Bob Andrews
    Craig, Alaska

    • Dmitriy Holsten

      Hi, Bob. Thanks for your post on the Separett! I just have a question about smell — is there any inside? When you use the toilet (so the door opens), is there any smell?

      I am considering this for my cabin. I only get there on weekends, so I am wondering whether I will be coming back to a smelly toilet after a week or two of not opening windows.



      • richardbrunt Post author

        The toilet has a fan that vents the toilet 24/7. The air is pulled into the toilet from the bathroom and exhausted outside, so there is no chance of any odor getting into you cabin while you are away. After a week or two, the contents should be well dried and pretty much odor free anyway. If you have just used the toilet before opening, of course the latest addition will still smell. However, it’s just open for a few seconds while you place the lid on top of the removable bin. It’s no more offensive than using a regular toilet. With the lid on the removable bin there is no odor. You take that bin outside. Briefly open it again and cover the contents with a shovel or two of soil or compost. This gets the composting started and seals in any odors. Put the lid back on (open very slightly to let air in), and forget about it for 6 months, at which time its safe to use on non edible plants.

        Option 2 is to open the toilet, tie a knot in the compostable plastic bag, and take the bag outside to the compost bin. This is becoming my preferred method, as it’s so fast and easy. Remember, this only has to be done once every 4-6 weeks or so.

  • Bob Andrews

    I have a home with two bathrooms and was not pleased with the composting system that was in place. Reading about the Separett, I felt it was worth a try. I installed one on a trial basis, but after a year, readily installed another in my second bathroom as well. This unit is simple to install, sturdy, quiet, and completely reliable. Maintaining it is snap. I would recommend this unit without reservation. In case anyone is interested, this is used in our year-round home, not just a summer cabin.

    Bob Andrews
    Craig, Alaska

  • Linda Fleury

    Just a quick question with regards to the composting. Why do you need peat moss or some sort of material to break down the waste for other environmental toilet systems but it is not required for this system. What breaks the waste down into compost with this system?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Adding organic material such as peat moss helps things stay aerated and it speeds up the composting. Just like a compost bin at home, mixing types of materials is always good. The peat moss is carbon rich, and ideal for the purpose. Rotting sawdust is good, and some use activated charcoal (almost pure carbon).

      However, with the Separett most of the composting takes place outside of the unit, after the bin is removed. The solids still dry out, and break down inside the toilet. When you remove the solids bin you will see most of the solids are well broken down. But the real composting is yet to come. Once the bin is removed, you put a shovel full of soil or other carbon rich organic material on top, then replace the lid. This now sits for 6 months, composting fully.

      There are “all in one” toilets, where the composting is supposed to take place inside the unit. After a specified time you open a drawer and just deal with fully composted material. It’s a nice theory, and if ever perfected this will be wonderful. But right now these all in one systems suffer from a multitude of problems. They are complex mechanical systems, sometimes with motors, heaters and powerful fans. Break downs occur. Repairing a toilet full of half composted material is not pleasant. Some customers complain that material gets caught in the corners. But the real issue is that most of the all in one toilets rely on heaters to evaporate the urine. This simply fails to work in some cases. Then you have big, stinky problems.
      Google composting toilet reviews and you will see what I mean. Also, look up the brand name at and read what customers have to say. You want a simple, strongly made, proven system.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      It’s really a dry toilet – the material dries out and shrinks. It is breaking down, but much of the true composting takes place after the inner bin has been removed. Add a shovel full of dirt, put the lid on, and let nature take over. Experience has shown that by separating liquids and solids, break down is rapid and no peat moss is required.

  • Gwen

    I’ve been surfing the net looking for toilet options for an outbuilding on our yard that we want to turn into a guesthouse. It has electricity, but no water and no septic. We have looked into having it hooked up to our house septic system, but I think it might be rather expensive to do that. We need to have something that is “nice” enough to rent out as a summer vacation rental. I’m impressed with the Separett, but wonder where I could purchase it. We live in British Columbia, Canada. Our nearest big city is Kamloops. Do any big chains carry these toilets? I’m afraid if we have to order online, the shipping is going to do a real number on the price tag….. Thanks for any advice you can give us.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      These toilets are sold direct, to keep the cost down. If they were sold through a big retailer, they’s be at least $500 more. Shipping of the Separett is only $60 in Canada. So it woul be $1359, all in, plus tax.

  • Ron

    I have been looking at the Nature’s Head toilet. Do you have any comments regarding Nature’s Way ( toilet? It is approximately 50% of the price for the Nature’s Head.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Nature’s Way is basically a box with a toilet seat. Calling it a composting toilet is a stretch. That is not really comparable to any of the profesionally designed composting toilets, such as the Nature’s Head.

  • Linda Fleury

    I actually have two questions. How much solar power do I need to keep the fan running at all times? Also how much is it for more containers? I guess I have one more. I live in Saint John, NB, could you tell me how much shipping for this product would be? Perhaps a total price for everything (I would be looking at two more o maybe three of the containers.


    Linda Fleury

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The electrical requirement is 2.5 watts, or 210 mA. Almost nothing. The extra bins are $35 each, but the Separett comes with 3 bins already and that is more than enough for an average familty. The toilet is $1299 Canadian, plus $60 shipping. Please call if you need any further information 1 888 361 0014d

  • Ecoplumber

    Richard, we are looking for a solution for an established homeless camp here in Portland, OR… We have a clean water hook-up and electricity but unfortunately no sewer connection. Other than the obvious issues of transporting away the compost and the urine, do you think two Separett toilets (we are also working with limited space) could service 60-70 camp inhabitants as any kind of long-term solution (one we might even be able to sell to City Hall?) Thanks!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      2 toilets of any kind will probably not be enough for 70 people, especially in the morning. You’d need 4-5 toilets. This is not because of capacity, but rather convenience of the user.
      There are plans online for home made composting toilets that cost very little to make, especially if you could get a volunteer carpenter to build them. You could combine a homemade toilet with a urine diverting seat (available for about $100) for a very nice, odor free solution.
      You can dilute the urine and use on plants. But the solids would likely have to be hauled away, in your situation. This would be much less often (and therefore less expensive) than having traditional portable toilets serviced and emptied. Plus a urine diverting composting toilet would not stink, and I think that is a drastic improvement in people’s quality of life.

  • Mike

    I am looking for a composting toilet for a small cabin. The cabin is in the woods no electricty, with solar and a generator back-up. I hope to rent as a vaction rental. My biggest issue w/ composting toilets that are designed to sit on a slab is that the waste is right there for all to see. Is there a toilet that when you use it, you don’t see the last person’s waste? mike

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You must have seen a home made composting toilet. All modern professionally made composting toilets seal the waste in a chamber. There is never any waste visible.

  • Shawn

    I am interested in buying one for my new camp in stead of the typical outhouse. I have been looking at the sunmar however recently I have found the natures head at half the cost. specs state it is virtually indestructable adn made with stainless hardware and fluid seperator. Soooo Whats the catch why is it half the cost. In theory it seems that is the “same” as Sunmar but I would like to feel secure that I am not waisting my money by not doing it right the first time. Do you have a recomendation?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      There is no catch. Sun-mars are a bit expensive, in my view. They are more complex technology as well. The Nature’s Head will suffice up to 2 people only. The Separett has a bigger capacity, like the Sun-mar. Call me if you want to discuss – 1-888-361-1104.

      • cindy

        I purchased the natures head last year and I am not happy. Twice now the urine part has become clogged with tissue and urine has overflowed in the solids container. Which is nasty to dump! You have to remove the whole unit! The separett looks to be a better model , wish I had seen this last year when first researching. Just spent 900$ not sure I can justify another purchase that I am not 100 percent sure of! Can you convince me , my husband thinks we should go to a propane incinerating toilet . We have a floating cabin , no power or running water . The urine separating sounded good , our friends have a sunmar and also have issues with it , it is also large and they use a porta potti for urine. I find the natures head is too small and needs to be emptied way too often not much better than porta potties. Help

        • richardbrunt Post author

          Hi Cindy,

          Thank you for your comments. I think it is clear that you are running into problems because the drain is blocking. That’s good news, because we can solve that easily.

          First, remember that all composting toilets require a bit more involvement from the user than a regular toilet, and you have to be sure you are doing everything correctly. It’s simple, but it requires a bit of care.

          Keeping the drain open is absolutely vital. This cannot be stressed too much.

          We have to think…how is it getting blocked? Sounds like it’s getting blocked with wet toilet paper. Dry toilet paper would not fit down that tube, so it must be getting wet. Here is your main problem, I think. It is very important to try to get most of the urine forward, and not get the tp wet. This should happen naturally with women and men, but anatomy varies and some people have to aim a bit. The toilet paper in the bowl should be almost completely dry if you are using the toilet correctly.

          So your clogged tube problem should be an easy fix. Make sure that the tp is placed carefully in the main bowl, with the solids. Then all of the tp will fall down into the solids bin when you open it.

          You need to stay on top of it and make sure the urine is always diverting. Looking at the urine bottle should tell you what is happening. Based on your problems with a clogged urine tube, I suggest taking a look every time you use it, to make sure urine is flowing. It needs to be dumped every day or two. If it is not filling up, then you have a problem. It is vital that urine does not enter the main chamber. If urine enters the chamber, big problems result. No urine, no problems.

          If the urine is being separated properly, then two of you should not have to empty the toilet more than every 6 weeks or so. It holds 60-80 solid uses.

          Almost all problems with composting toilets relate to too much urine mixing in with the solids. The drains in all brands of toilets have to be clear and operating correctly. This is basic maintenance. If you do this, I am confident your problems will be solved.

          I don’t like incinerator toilets. They are costly to operate, and make you dependant on fossil fuels. If you run out of propane – no toilet. They have a significant carbon footprint and would not be considered an environmentally friendly choice.

          Thousands of people are using the Nature’s Head successfully, and I’m sure you will be happy if you keep the urine drain clear.

  • Irene Faivre

    What kind of building permit/approvals are generally needed to install a Separett in a city. I’m looking at a small house in Longmont, Colorado, which has an outbuilding that would make a great studio/workshop. I’d like to have a toilet in the studio, but I don’t want to go through the expense of extending the sewer line. The only issue I can see would be the french drain, since everything else is self-contained. Do you know if this is a problem?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Regulations vary widely, and I do not know about Longmont, CO. However, there is usually nothing illegal about putting a composting toilet in a room and using it. Basically it’s a fancy bucket. Now if there was no other plumbing option in the house (ie a regular flush toilet) they might disapprove. People install them in out buildings all the time.

      In my area the officials say “don’t ask, and we won’t say no”. The inspectors realize the rules were made before composting toilets became common. Hopefully, they have the same attitude in your area.

  • Lili

    Several questions: (a) You indicate that the feces will break down on its own. There is no need to add dry organic material at all while the bucket is in use? It’s just a big, ever-aging pile of feces? (b) In the Separett video, it shows a white pad being placed in the liner of the bucket. What is that for? (c) I’m considering this for a cottage in the north, that gets used pretty much only in June-September. The first freeze will come some time in October, usually. What’s the best way to handle the solids – can the last person to use it just put the bucket outside in a non-insulated shed, and not worry about it until spring? (I’m assuming it’s better to have it out of the weather.) (d) How does one clean this after each use?
    Many thanks –

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Feces is almost 90% water. With liquids being diverted (or evaporated, depending on the toilet used) you have fairly dry, crumbly contents. It breaks down and shrinks very quickly, and you do not have a “pile of feces”. In fact, if you can wait a few days after the last use before opening it, you probably will smell nothing.
      The pad is to absorb extra moisture. I’d say that is not necessary.
      Composting will slow down in cold weather. You can remove the bucket and put it in the shed when you leave at the end of summer, or let it sit until spring – no problem either way.

  • Mary G

    We purchased a sun mar mobile composting toilet in 2006 when we were building a house moved it in as we didn’t have a septic tank in yet. Good & bad News It seemed to work well when we purchased their expensive peat moss & deodorisers, we could never urinate in it as there was to much liquid & the overflow did not work, so we bought a port a potty for that. The rotating drum for emptying took to long to empty, it was easier to put on long rubber gloves & dive in the top to empty it (yuck). New problem the other day It’s leaking again & don’ know where it is coming from in the market for a better toilet.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      I would call Sun-mar. They are a good company and stand behind their products. Of all the self contained, all in one toilets available Sun-mar is probably the best. They definitely work when installed and used as directed.
      The clue to your problem may be your comment “the overflow did not work”. This overflow absolutely MUST work. Don’t use the toilet without resolving that problem. The Sun-mar overflow drains usually work fine.
      Bottom line – you probably don’t need a new toilet. (If you had one of the many other brands besides Sun-mar I might not say that).
      Also, I would buy peat moss at Home Depot (or rotting sawdust for free – better!). Forget the expensive stuff. If it is working correctly there is no need for a deodorizer.

      Please let me know the outcome.

  • Marsha Cowan

    I am intriqued by the Separett toilet, but you failed to mention that the composting of the feces is done after the contents are removed from the toilet and taken outside in a bag. How do you accomodate 5 or 6 buckets of feces sitting in your garden at any given time waiting to be composted and emptied onto a garden? Would not a compost bin be better? Neighbors would complain, you know. Seriously wondering. Thanks!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Good questions. You will be relieved to know there would not be “5 or 6 buckets of feces sitting in your garden”. (That would be awful!). The solid material begins drying out and breaking down almost immediately in the Separett. This happens very rapidly. In as little as one week, any solids will be dry and odor free. When you open it, say 2 or 3 months after installing it, the older contents have almost entirely broken down. The very recent additions of solid material will not have broken down, obviously. But it is not like opening a container full of fresh poop – nothing like that. If you can avoid using it for a day or two before opening, you probably won’t smell a thing.

      Then you remove the inner composting bucket (lined with a compostable plastic bag), already containing well dried out, broken down material (mostly), and put the lid on it. You can put a layer of sawdust or other organic material on top. It is important to note that there should be no odor whatsoever at this stage. This has to sit for 6 months, to eliminate the possibility of any remaining pathogens. Then you still only put it on non-edible plants, and do not mix with compost for your vegetables. This is just to be absolutely sure. You can’t be too careful with human waste.

      The beauty of the Separett is the massive capacity. Because no liquids enter the chamber, the solid material shrinks, breaks down and dries out rapidly. Many people report they only empty once every 3 or 4 months. It comes with 3 “bins” that you rotate. So capacity is essentially unlimited.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Good news. You can now purchase the Separett toilet through me. I was so impressed with this design, I became a dealer.