Nature’s Head User’s Guide

This is the Nature’s Head User’s Guide


Before use it is necessary to add compost material to the base of the unit. Gallon size “ZIPLOC®” type bags are an inexpensive manner for storing the medium. To fill your toilet or refill it after emptying, pour two one-gallon bags of pre-moistened coconut fiber or sphagnum peat moss or  into the base of the toilet. The material should rise to the level of the agitator bar in a horizontal position or the centerline of the agitator crank. Peat moss works fine, but I am told that it takes a very, very long time to grow, and is not really considered an environmentally friendly product. Therefore, coconut fiber is a better choice. Coconut fiber is inexpensive and can be purchased at hydroponic stores. It is renewable, and provides a use for what would otherwise be waste.

The material should be damp and crumbly, never wet or soupy. If your coconut fiber is dry, add a small amount of water. When not in use, the lid of the toilet should be in the closed position, preventing the entry of insects and allowing proper ventilation. If using peat moss. the peat moss should be regular sphagnum peat, no additives. DO NOT use MIRACLE-GRO peat moss.

This is a great video on prepping your Nature’s Head.

The primary concept of our composting toilet is the separation of liquids and solid wastes!! Be sure to inform your guests as to the proper use of your head. This will allow proper composting action and assist your guests in feeling comfortable with a new piece of equipment.

Allowing the entry of urine into the composting chamber will cause unpleasant odor and prevent proper compost action.

Seated usage is recommended. While seated the unit may be used with the trap door in the open or closed position. Male or female, the user’s liquids and solids will be directed to the correct locations from this position. With any bowel movement, the trap door must be open. Guys can stand up, but splatter may result. In the event that the unit is used in a standing position, the trapdoor must remain closed in order to prevent mingling of liquid and solid wastes.

Toilet paper is typically placed in the toilet. Since paper products do not decompose as quickly as solid wastes, they will be visible long after the solid matter has broken down. Any type of toilet paper is acceptable; less substantial brands (such as marine or RV paper) will compost the quickest.

Most users keep a small spray bottle filled with a mixture of water and vinegar nearby to spray off the bowl in the event that some solid waste adheres to the bowl. Spritzing of the bowl also assists in cleansing the urine passages.

All urine has an odor. It will not be noticed with normal use. It will be present when the storage container is open to the air for emptying. For persistent urine odors to the container, the addition of 1 tablespoon of raw sugar or a few ounces of vinegar to the tank will reduce this odor.

After solid waste addition, the peat moss or coconut fiber must be agitated 2-3 revolutions in order to mix the waste into the compost and promote the composting process. Contents of the solid waste container must be kept moist, not wet, and remain separated from the liquid waste. When the toilet is functioning correctly, the composted matter will have a musty or soil-like odor and the visual appearance will be very similar to that of the original peat moss. If the compost is staying wet and you have odor problems, the solids tank is becoming contaminated with urine and steps must be taken to prevent this. This is not normal for the toilet. If this problem persists, and you are unable to determine how it is becoming contaminated, please contact us for help.

Vomiting and diarrhea, if not persistent, are unlikely to affect the head function. If increased wetness of the compost results, the situation may be corrected with the addition of a small amount of dry compost medium.


The liquid waste vessel will contain approximately 2.2 US gallons of urine. The translucent material of the container allows easy visualization of the liquid level.

To empty the liquid waste container: 1) Release the latches located at both front sides of the unit which secure the bowl to the base. 2) Raise the bowl to an angle of approximately 45 degrees, install the cap, and remove the bottle. 3) Dispose of the contents in an appropriate manner. The urine bottle maybe emptied into a conventional toilet or other appropriate facility. Many books and articles have been written on the benefits of using diluted urine as a fertilizer. This may also be part of your environmental plan for disposing of wastes in a cabin situation.

Should overflow of the liquid waste container occur, the liquid will remain confined to the container base so long as the overflow is not excessive. The liquid tank should be emptied frequently and rinsed with clear water. Allowing urine to remain in the storage container for extended periods is unwise as this will result in increased odor production. If the toilet is used in combined bathroom/shower, you may wish to drill a drain hole in the urine tank holder if water accumulation becomes a problem.

Solid wastes should be removed from the storage base when the tank appears to be 3/4 full. One of the benefits of a composting toilet (unlike other toilet systems) is that the longer you wait before emptying the more pleasant the job will be. The solid wastes will be fully decomposed and will look and smell like dirt. There may still be some paper remnants, depending on the amount of time that was allowed for composting. Paper products take considerably more time to decompose than the solid wastes.

remove the top Nature's Head

remove the top

With the bottle assembly removed, lift the seat unit several inches and slide it to the left to disengage the slip hinge. (You may need to unhook your vent hose and power supply if it is necessary to move the bowl to the side.) Remove the knobs from the mounting brackets at each side of the base and the base is now ready to empty. One of the simplest methods of emptying is to place a 13 gallon kitchen bag over the opening of the base (NOTE: the bag does NOT go in the base.) Figure 9. The bag should fit tightly over the rim and allow you to invert the base and empty the contents into the bag without spillage. This is especially useful when the toilet is used for boats and other mobile units, as removing the toilet is unnecessary.

It is unnecessary to clean the interior of the solid waste container as composting will continue from the residual matter clinging to the sides. Cleaning the base unit, especially with any chemicals, may inhibit its ability to generate the good bacteria that is breaking down the solid wastes. Simply empty, put in more peat moss, and re-assemble your toilet.

The recommended procedure for disposing of the contents of the solid waste tank is placing it in a proper composting bin to allow it to fully decompose. When traveling in a boat or RV, this may not be practical. The contents of the solid waste tank may be safely placed into a conventional dumpster if it has been allowed to compost fully and is bagged and sealed. When fully composted, the solid wastes may be used to fertilize non-ingestible plantings. Placing human waste compost on edible plants or vegetables is not recommended.

Full time users have some special circumstances to deal with. Full time use does not allow enough time for the solid wastes to compost. The most recent waste, although mixed with the already composted material, will not be decomposed. This also means that the fecal bacteria (present in fresh human wastes) may still be present. We recommend taking precautions such as the use of gloves if you may come into contact with waste material. It is advisable that you delay emptying the solid waste for 6-8 hours after the last use.

Another method for dealing with non-composted wastes (if space allows) is to purchase the “extra base” option and swap out the bases. The extra base comes complete with all the necessary hardware, agitator, and bottle holder. It also comes with a vented lid so the contents can be set aside and allowed to compost. A storage bin utilizing the trash bag method of
emptying, placing the bag into a small plastic bucket, ventilating the lid, then allow it to finish composting may be constructed. In a cabin setting, contents could be emptied into a traditional compost bin and allowed to finish there. IF PLACED IN A COMPOST BIN, THAT COMPOST IS NO LONGER SUITABLE FOR USE ON INGESTIBLE PLANTS!! This is because of the possibility that dangerous bacteria will still be present. Human poop is NOT like animal poop (not sure why). Human waste can make you very sick. Don’t take chances. A little common sense and caution will prevent this. Just don’t put the compost on food plants, and you’ll be fine.

Cleansing & Maintenance

A quick spray of water from a squirt bottle is all that is needed to keep your NATURE’S HEAD® fresh between uses. If necessary, a moistened paper towel (no synthetics) is excellent for cleansing the interior (as well as the exterior) of the head.

For more intensive cleansing or dried-on matter, a paper towel moistened with a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water may be used, and disposed of, in the same manner, after cleaning. Bleach, ammonia, and other commercial cleaning compounds should never be added to your composting head as they will interfere with the composting process and may lead to unpleasant odors. These cleaners maybe used to clean the exterior surfaces.

Maintenance requirements for the head are very minimal. All metal parts (bolts, hinges, latches, knobs, agitator, and trapdoor components) are either stainless steel or brass. Filters on each side of the base should be removed and cleansed yearly or when emptying the solid wastes. Each filter is secured to the housing with 2 Phillips-head bolts. Remove the bolts, clean and replace. Caution should be taken so that the fan is reinstalled with the airflow exiting the unit.

The full-size molded-in seat of the head is designed for safety and comfort and requires no special care.


Fan not working
If using 12 volt battery, check for voltage. Make sure the positive wire marked positive is attached to the positive from the battery. Check the fuse. Check to see if the single pin hookup is making contact. If using the power transformer ( 110 to 12v), check voltage at the outlet. Verify the single pin connection. Try unplugging and reconnecting. When the fan is running, make sure the fan is blowing outward. If the fan is still not working, contact Nature’s Head, Inc. or your distributor for a free replacement.

Compost too wet
If too wet due to prolonged diarrhea, add a small amount of peat moss. If wet due to excessive condensation, also add a little peat moss.

Make sure excessive wetness is not due to somone urinating directly into the compost section. This can also contribute to an unpleasant odor. The compost area should have only a musty smell. If a sewage odor is present, please contact Nature’s Head for consultation.

If the compost is dry or hard, add some water and turn the agitator after the peat moss has absorbed the moisture.

Gnats or flies
If your toilet incurs flies or gnats, add two cups of natural Diatomaceous Earth to the compost. This will kill and deter any future infestation. The Diatomaceous Earth can be purchased at swimming pool supply stores, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

Handle difficult to turn
If the crank handle is hard to turn due to dry and hard compost, add a little water, or add some morning coffee grounds. If it is too wet add some coconut fiber or peat moss. Use only standard peat moss with no additives, or better still – coconut fiber. DO NOT use MIRACLE-GRO peat moss.

Composting Human Waste

For general information on composting the waste that is removed from your toilet, see my page on the topic: How to Compost Human Waste.

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13 thoughts on “Nature’s Head User’s Guide

  • Duffield

    I will say, for anyone contemplating buying one, we have been using this toilet for 2 years with no issues whatsoever! We have been very happy with our purchase.

  • Joe

    Love our Natures Head composting toilet!! We have been using it now for 14 months and cannot be more satisfied!!
    However it is now time to exchange the small fan and I cannot seem to find it on your site!
    Please help!
    We will always have this kind of composting toilet in every camper we own from here on out!!

    • richardbrunt Post author

      We don’t sell the fan to original purchasers at this point – it’s just sent out for free. I’m not sure how long the manufacturer will keep doing this, but it’s pretty great. You can get the fan (and the complete fan housing) by calling Nature’s Head directly.

  • lucille beevet

    Hi. How do I get inside the urine passages to clean after 3 plus years of full time use there is a build up of slimy crud way up under the opening. Thank you Lucille Beever

  • tom connor

    I’m having trouble with vent condensation during cold temps. I ran PVC pipe thru the ceiling of my enclosed cabin porch, connected the flex hose to it and the NH toilet. Condensation runs down into the fan and onto the floor. Any suggestions?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Here is an explanation of why this is happening, in case some readers don’t know why condensation sometimes occurs. You have warm air being drawn in to the toilet from the bathroom area. Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. In your situation, the fan in the toilet is sending that warm air through a cold vent pipe. As the air in the pipe cools, it can hold less moisture, and condensation forms on the inside of the pipe. This will only happen when 1) there is a fairly long, vertical vent pipe through a cold area, and 2) the toilet is in a heated area. With a shorter vertical vent it’s not usually a problem. With a horizontal vent, you can angle the pipe down very slightly, so any condensation runs outside, rather than back towards the toilet.
      The same problem can occur with a regular bathroom vent fan and duct. Usually pipe insulation will solve the problem. That is cheap and easy. In very, very cold climates, insulation might not be enough. In that case, you might need a dehumidifier in the bathroom, so the air moving through the toilet is not as humid.

  • Ally

    I’m adding a bathroom to my home that is on a septic tank. The tank is not sized to receive more water, so I’m going to opt for a composting toilet in my old Cape Cod home. Any ideas on what toilet will work best inside a normal home, not that it’s different from a Tiny Home. Just asking. Also, is it a learned art to only release water separate from releasing solids? I find, as a woman, I do both at the same time most frequently. Is there a learning curve to this? I see videos where children are using these successfully so it can’t be too hard to get right?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      Either the Nature’s Head or Separett will be fine in a “normal” home. Call me to discuss the differences and to determine the right choice for your situation.
      You can definitely pee and poop at the same time. No problem. No learning curve. Occasionally (rarely) a women will report getting too much urine in the solids bin. This can be solved by sitting more upright. When some people lean far forward, the pelvis tilts back and pee may go rearward.

  • Erynne

    When the handle is hard to turn, how can I tell if my compost is too wet or too dry? Our main problem is the agitator handle is hard to turn but we’ve tried adding more peat moss and also tried more moisture. Neither seems to work. We’re just guessing though. Also could too much TP be causing it not to turn easily?

    • richardbrunt Post author

      The handle should be easy to turn. When the handle it hard to turn that means the contents are too dry. You need to add moisture. TP will not usually be the problem. Please watch the videos on my Nature’s Head page.

  • Bill Gellert

    I had an outhouse built and was thinking of putting one of these in it. I had it built for a compostable tolitet. I live in Minnesota. Am I going to have trouble with freezing temperatures? Can I power the fan with a 12 volt marine battery?