Nature’s Head Frequently Asked Questions

Nature’s Head composting toilet with spider handle

Nature’s Head with spider handle

Official National Distributor of the Nature’s Head

Does it smell bad?
No. Because you never mix the liquid wastes with the solid wastes it does not have the odors associated with sewage or holding tank systems. When working properly it will have a slight earthy smell.

Where do I empty the Nature’s Head?
The proper place to empty the solids tank is in a composting bin where it can be used to fertilize ornamental plants. Boaters may empty theirs overboard if they are the proper distance offshore. Many campgrounds now have composting bins as composting is becoming more popular. The liquid tank can be emptied into a toilet or overboard if offshore.

How does the Nature’s Head separate the liquids and the solids?

The toilet has a gate or door that when closed directs the liquid waste into the front tank. When the door is open the solids pass through to the lower main tank. When seated on the toilet (male or female) the liquids naturally are aimed towards the front collection area and the solids are directed straight down into the main tank.

Why is the toilet seat molded into the unit?
Because we designed this toilet for the “mobile” market, this became a safety issue. I have spoken with boaters who have had a toilet seat break off in rough conditions. I have heard of other boaters lifting the seat and sitting on the base of the toilet to avoid this problem. (That can’t be comfortable). While this isn’t as likely with an RV, it would not be out of the question.

Can I use the Nature’s Head standing up?
Yes, although the recommended use is sitting down. Especially when underway in a moving vehicle or vessel.

Do I need to run the fan all of the time?
While the unit can be operated without the fan it is best if it runs all of the time. This will prevent any musty odors and the fan helps with the composting process. If battery drain is a concern then you might consider attaching the unit to a solar vent instead of using the built in fan, or using a small solar panel to offset the battery drain. Note the fan only uses about 3 watts.

What are the dimensions of the Nature’s Head?
The dimensions are: 20 inches tall, 17 3/4 inches front to rear, and 13 inches wide at the base. The toilet is 16 1/4 inches wide at the seat.

Will freezing temperatures damage the Nature’s Head toilet?
Other than emptying the urine bottle nothing needs to be done and it will not affect the toilet.

Does composting work in cold conditions?

Composting works from 55 degrees and warmer. The warmer it is the faster it compost. When there is freezing temps the compost will be dormant until heat is introduced into the area.

Can the Nature’s Head be used in a basement?
Yes it will work fine in a basement and any room or closet where a toilet is required.

How do I prevent fruit flies and gnats.
Add 4-5 cups of Diatomaceous Earth to the compost section. This can be purchased from a swimming pool supply store, or from big box hardware such as Home Depot or Lowes.

The agitator handle turns with difficulty. What to do?
If the compost gets dry, the handle may not turn easily. Adding used coffee grounds results in added moisture and keeps the compost loose so that it mixes better.

What kind of toilet paper must be used?
Any kind of toilet paper will work, however single ply paper breaks down quicker. Many single ply papers are approved for septic tanks.

How do we remove buildup in the liquids bottle.
Rinse the bottle, add vinegar and some pea gravel. Shake well and the buildup will break loose.

Here is an overview of composting toilets from architect Bruce Faris

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31 thoughts on “Nature’s Head Frequently Asked Questions

  • Dan

    I have a sailboat and it had a marine toilet and planning on going to a composting toilet. The old toilet had a vent going to the other side of the boat it is about 1 inch maybe 8-10 feet long . Will this work for the fan to circulate air?

  • David Johnston

    I am installing a NH toilet in a VERY airtight cabin. I am planning make up air for a woodstove and the toilet. How much does the fan exhaust in CFM? Wanting to get this right so as not to backdraft the woodstove. thanks

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The actual CFM rating should be available from the manufacturer. However, the CFM rating of the fan is only one consideration. CFMs are under optimal conditions, with no vent pipe or bends. If you have vent pipe, and a couple of bends, the CFMs you actually move will be drastically lower than the rating on the fan. There is no precise way to calculate it. Suffice to say you will need significantly less air than indicated by the CFM rating of the fan.

  • Vicky

    A question about the venting of the Nature’s Head toilet…I have mine running the supplied flexible tube into a 20′ long piece of 4″ diameter corrugated black tubing then back to a 2″PVC piece about 6″ long to the outside. I need to do this to go out the bathroom, through the crawlspace and out an existing hole in the house wall. Is this too much for the little fan? I get some odor from the toilet about 6 days after changing the peat. Two people use it full time and at this time, the handle is still easy to turn.

  • Vicky

    I’ve been using my Nature’s Head toilet for about 6 months. Overall, I love it but I can’t figure out how to get the inside of the top section clean. Some peat has been flipped up in there and despite shaking it and wiping what I can reach, there’s still some up in there. Does this mean my peat is too dry or, maybe, I’m turning the handle too vigorously? I’d spray it out with a hose but would have to take off the fan.

  • Chelle G.

    I’d like to know what kind of solar vent is recommended. Can you provide a link to one so I know what to look for? I’m really new to this. Thanks!

  • Fred Gordon

    The Environmental Health Department in Santa Cruz County, Calif. doesn’t recognize composting toilets as a substitute for an in ground septic system at this point. Is there any information available I could go to the Department with to justify a substitution like that?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      You will likely need special approval (it’s not in the code books). Please see my page on “are composting toilets legal”. The regulatory authorities have not really caught up on this issue, but many people are working hard on it.

  • CF

    Sorry, more details…..I wish someone fro Natures Head would answer my emails with questions regarding battery connection. I’ve called and emailed and they will not provide written instructions to connect the battery to the fan. Anyone have a diagram that includes the fuse?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Good question. Recently there has been some confusion about this. Usually the negative wire is black, and the positive wire is red. However, the positive wire on Nature’s Head fans is now black with gray stripes. Confusing! The negative wire is still plain black. So when you hook it up to a 12 volt power supply (like a battery) black goes to negative and black with gray stripes goes to positive. The fuse always goes in the positive connection, wherever it is convenient.

  • Tom Matthews

    I’ve read that coir, peat moss, shavings, sawdust, etc. are all possibilities to be used in a compost toilet. Which is best at speedy and healthy composting? And eliminating any smell…

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The Nature’s Head has been tested with many composting materials. None were satisfactory other than coconut fibre (preferred) or peat moss. Sawdust will make the handle impossible to turn. Shavings are worse, as they take a very long time to rot.

      There is no odor whatsoever. Changing the compost material therefore has no effect of odor.

  • Terri Milburn

    How much does the base weigh when you are trying to empty it? I am worried that it may be bulky or too heavy for me. My back is not in the best of shape.

  • Kathy L

    How much does the Nature’s Head toilet weigh? I’m a slightly built 60 year old woman and want to make sure I can empty the base.

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The Nature’s Head is 0.07 amps, or less than 1 watt. It will require 1.7 amp hours of battery capacity daily. The Separett 9210 is 0.2 amps, or 2.5 watts. You will need 4.8 amp hours of battery capacity daily.

  • Alicia Deller

    Hello, I’m thinking of buying one for my camper which already has a toilet I’ll be removing. I really don’t want another fan going to listen to. What is the solar xx? you mentioned to ventilate? What are my choices here if I don’t want any noise? Also, is the crank handle easier to turn?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The vent is 100% essential, and if you definitely want a 100% odor free installation you need the fan hooked up to blow the stinky moist air outside. You have options. The solar vent would place the fan on the roof, where you probably would not hear it. Or you could use the fan that comes with the Nature’s Head, and put a switch in the wire. This is easy and cheap. Turn it off at night. The good news is the fan is very quiet. It’s a small computer fan. If you close the door to the toilet area you would not hear it.
      Whatever you do, don’t believe those who say you don’t need at least a vent on a composting toilet. That is 100% incorrect. There is stinky air in a toilet. You can bury it the material, as with a very primitive composting toilet, but that means you’d drastically lose capacity, and still, that moist air is being released into your living space. Do it right, and in the end you will be happier. That means at least a vent, and hopefully also a fan.