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!

 

Separett composting toilet as discussed on the composting toilets blog

Separett

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234 thoughts on “Composting Toilets Blog

  • 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″.

  • 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?
    Cheers!

    • 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.