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post #45 of Old 10-05-2013
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Re: Composting Toilets vs. Holding Tank

Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
You are absolutely right that living aboard has many unusual requirements compared to living ashore. Most of us would look at my master stateroom, with separate shower and head, a centerline queen-king bed and built in settees on each side and consider it a magnificent suite. Almost every non-boater that's aboard thinks it looks like a sardine can, with the aft cockpit above the mattress and only about 20 sq ft that one can actually fully stand upright.
Wow ... now I'm jealous. Your boat sounds more impressive than my house on shore. Want some more visitors .

Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I'm specifically referring to these non-boater's perspective, not sailors, which one may have as guests aboard. We have a ton of them every season. Knowing that a weeks worth of turds are just below that trap would clearly disturb some of the delicate landlubbing flowers we have visit. Then, what about the toilet paper? Do you require it be bagged or can it go in with the compost? Any skid marks before making it through that trap door that have to be cleaned? Any previous urine to gurgle in that bottle they have to aim for? Presumably, you want them to turn the compost when they're done, which will be a different experience from flushing. Unless both delicate and dumb (good entertainment if they are), they will realize they are just mixing it in. Any chance they just won't follow these rules and pee on your compost?
Again, I'm not trying to convince anyone to go compost over standard. But just in case people are using this thread as research, let me answer that:
  • TP goes into the head. Paper composts just fine.
  • Skid marks? Same as a normal marine head. You skid it, you clean it. However, my experience so far is that it's a lot harder to skid using the NH compared to my old Skippers Head (which will be for sale soon).
  • There is no "aiming" for urine or feces. Sit and go. The design aligns everything perfectly.
  • Yes, a churn is necessary. Seems less yecky than flushing, either manually or electrically.
I can't really comment on your concerns about "delicate" visitors. Seriously Minn ... who are these people? I guess we just move in very different circles. Wouldn't they be equally squeamish knowing their turds were now mixed with urine, floating in a toxic sludge mere feet away?

There are some significant challenges with these composting heads. The main one is crew size. I would not recommend any of the commercial options (NH, AH, CH) for full time use if crew size is more than three. Emptying requires that you get more personal with your effluent compared to a holding tank. And yes, there is the challenge of proper disposal.

On the flip side, the benefits include much greater range between dumps (for a two-person crew anyway), a lot less complicated, much safer (no holes in your boat, no toxic sludge to flow anywhere in the case of tank or hose failures), significant space savings (no holding tank, reduced plumbing), and cheaper in the long run (no more paying for pump outs).

I would not recommend a composting head for people who spend most of their time in marinas, or who sail mostly in dense urban areas. On the other hand, if you like to be on your own hook, especially in out of the way places, then the self-sufficiency of a composter is a major benefit.

Again, both have their plusses and minues. I've used a standard head for over a decade on our boats. They work fine. But for our sailing and cruising style, a composting head is a great boon.

Why go fast, when you can go slow.
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