composting toilet report - Page 25 - SailNet Community
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post #241 of 443 Old 12-28-2011
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Agreed on the idea of it being safe to handle. I would not handle it at all, any more than I handle the stuff in a sewer anyway. By "dirt" I meant in consistancy. The holding tank system in my C-30 sent me to the hospital by ambulance twice. Apparently, when I ripped the old system out to throw it away, the black water splashed everywhere. I washed the boat with bleach twice but I had a small bump on my knee that took on a wicked infection. We are talking septic with a high fever. I was kinda scared for my life...that kind of infection. So to me, the idea of EVER putting a wet system in my boat again is quite crazy. 36 year old liquified crap is nothing to play with. The idea of a contained process that does not have sewer lines running throughout my boat is very appealing. In addition, the C-30 actually has a lot of storage space, you just have to find it. The original holding tank area is quite large and I have gained that space. If the composting toliet fits, does not stink and is as simple as described, I can't seem to find an issue with it....

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post #242 of 443 Old 12-28-2011
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Alan-

Among the problems you can have with human feces is clostridium difficile (c. diff.) a very nasty bug that many of us carry in our colons without any problem. But when the balance of bugs in the colon gets disturbed (i.e. by anitibiotics in the hospital) this bug can become a killer, and in fact there's a drug-resistant form that has hospitals quite scared. C.diff. can form spores that survive outside the body and spread infection very nicely from casual contact, and no, even conventional bleach or alcohol won't kill them.
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Hellosailor,

I hope if you don't mind me chiming in with the "Med" part of "Medsailor, with a few corrections.

Yes, C-diff is bad and it's on my short list of things that you don't want to get. However you are HIGHLY UNLIKELY to get c-diff by being exposed to the spores unless you are CURRENTLY ON ANTIBIOTICS.

It's gross to contemplate but many, many, of the sicknesses out there are only contracted from the "oral fecal route". (Yes, it is what it sounds like). Lets face it, people aren't clean, and when you wipe yourself, or change a diaper, there might be poo on your hand, then if you don't wash adequately and you make a sandwich for your friend, voila! oral fecal transmission of whatever it is that you have. Most of the time, you don't have anything to transmit, so no harm done.

So easy to transmit and yet there isn't an epidemic of C-diff EXCEPT in the hospitals. The reason for that is that everyone in the hospital is on antibiotics, so they are more open to the infection. Bottom line, feel free to jump into the pail of poo and roll around with the reckless abandon of a dog without fear of C-diff unless you are currently taking antibiotics. If you are currently taking antibiotics, just to be on the safe side, don't roll in the poo.

Your original premise, that it isn't just dirt, I totally agree with. Unless it's been composed at a high temperature, (which it won't in these units) it should be treated as poo, not dirt, no more or less dangerous. Gloves, and lots of washing afterwards.

Also chlorine DOES kill C-diff and C-diff spores even down to 1:10 concentration of household bleach. You were right about the alcohol hand sanitizer though, it doesn't kill the spores, though I have a personal theory about alcohol killing it in your gut if the moonshine is strong enough. ;-)

MedSailor

P.S. Still love the Nature's Head composting toilet on my boat. Not perfect, but WAY better than marine heads. 2 of us lived aboard with it as our only toilet for 4 years or so. We found that the coconut coir works better for us and is much easier to carry a supply of than peat moss.

I have a sauna on my boat, therefore I win.
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Last edited by MedSailor; 12-28-2011 at 04:12 PM.
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post #243 of 443 Old 12-28-2011
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" If the composting toliet fits, does not stink and is as simple as described, I can't seem to find an issue with it.... "
I fully agree with you. My only beef is that there are no composting toilets for small craft. In order to actually compost the waste, they'd have to hold it with no new deposits for 2-3 months. They aren't compsting toilets, they are "compost starters" and the process has to be finished elsewhere, and the septic waste transported eleswhere for that to happen.
That may be cleaner, neater, easier to contain, but it still ain't compost when you have to transport it. It's sewage. Oddly enough, none of the makers are really up front about that.
Put two on board, alternate between the two for 90 day periods, and then you've got real compost being taken away from the one that was last unused for 90 days. That works, if you've got the room.

When I have to do headwork, it is with a tyvek coverall, gloves, bleach, paper towels, a "clean side" helper, and everything goes in the garbage bag to be disposed of as contaminated. Paranoid overkill, or good sanitation, depending on your point of view.

Put a seat on the foresprit and rig a curtain, perhaps?


Med-
I've been up close and intimate with the c.diff issue with a family member this year. Even from CDC and NIH you will get contradictory information, but the bottom line is that you need a very strong bleach solution for a very long time in order to clean it, and in studies where 'proper' cleaning was done, they still had extensive spreading.
Right now if you want to kill the c.diff. once it has gone to spores, the only effective means is high dose UV-C radiation (illumination). Or one of the chemical agents that is so effective you wouldn't want to use it outside of a biohazard lab.

Now granted, that's not as big a problem as other bugs that are spread in human feces, but it is one that is up and coming. Dump the nightsoil is some dumpster, landfill, and all it takes is a pet rummaging through it at night to "bring it home" the next day. Yes, **** is **** and by and large it is not a problem--but hepatitis and yellow fever and all sorts of nasty killers are NOT gone. Aid workers exposed to sewage contamination after floods and storms still get a long lit of shots to deal with a long list of problems, and I'd just as soon know that "compost" means compost, as in 100% kill of all pathogens, before someone tries to pass it off as safe.

The composting toilets? Aren't anywhere near that. Which should be scary, because they are selling ti to people AS SAFE.

Last edited by hellosailor; 12-28-2011 at 04:20 PM.
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post #244 of 443 Old 01-02-2012
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Has anyone personally had any bad experience with an Airhead or Nature Head "composting toilet"? Do any of you who have installed one of these products regret the experience? If anyone has a yes to either of these questions, please elaborate.
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post #245 of 443 Old 01-03-2012
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We use a dry composting head (composting is really a misnomer, none of them really turn it into compost) that we built ourselves from a seperatt privy kit. Same concepts as both the airhead and the nature head. We prefer this type of head over the "keep a large tank of raw sewerage on board" method. Less hassle, no head smell, uses much less space on board. We live on board full time too. You may also be interested in the C-Head, it's half the price of the other two.
C-Head portable composting toilets

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post #246 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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"Composting" Head problems

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Originally Posted by PhantomJim View Post
Has anyone personally had any bad experience with an Airhead or Nature Head "composting toilet"? Do any of you who have installed one of these products regret the experience? If anyone has a yes to either of these questions, please elaborate.

The only problem I ever had was a fruit fly infestation that occurred when the exhaust fan had a loose connection and wasn't running. A relatively easy thorough cleaning took care of the problem (after fixing the dc connector for the fan).

Other than that, after two full seasons of use, I'm still happy with it and would buy one again without even thinking about it.
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post #247 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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Has anyone personally had any bad experience with an Airhead or Nature Head "composting toilet"? Do any of you who have installed one of these products regret the experience? If anyone has a yes to either of these questions, please elaborate.
Not first hand but second hand.

A friend of mine was delivering a boat from somewhere in Maine down to the Chessie. Four guys and IIRC the owner's wife on board. They had to abandon the delivery somewhere on the way because conditions on board became unbearable due to the composting head. I think they all left the boat and somehow someone completed the voyage several weeks later. I don't really know what happened and my friend did not go into details but he is not squeamish usually.
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post #248 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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definite problem

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Not first hand but second hand.

A friend of mine was delivering a boat from somewhere in Maine down to the Chessie. Four guys and IIRC the owner's wife on board. They had to abandon the delivery somewhere on the way because conditions on board became unbearable due to the composting head. I think they all left the boat and somehow someone completed the voyage several weeks later. I don't really know what happened and my friend did not go into details but he is not squeamish usually.

I can certainly see where 5 people's daily use is too much for one head. I've had 2 guys daily use for two weeks ... and me solo for the rest of the season with no problem. your mileage may vary
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post #249 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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I can certainly see where 5 people's daily use is too much for one head. I've had 2 guys daily use for two weeks ... and me solo for the rest of the season with no problem. your mileage may vary
Yes, I had the same thought, 5 crew may simply have overwhelmed the capacity of the thing. Still, this was a good-sized boat, and the potential of not having enough 'head capacity' (have I created a new word here?) would be a limitation that people may want to take into account when thinking about a conversion.
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post #250 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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I would be very curious to know what forced them to "abandon" (I hate that word) the delivery due to the head...I I am reading things correctly, the Natures Head claims "80 uses" before needing to be serviced. Now...5/80 sounds about like 16 days or so..of once a day. So lets just figure 14 days to be safe. 2 weeks. Half a month. Why didn't they empty it???? Improper use? Not enough coconut? Or...could it be..

I have discussed this with quite a few people around my area. People ranging from modern day hippies to doctors. Somewhere around the 1/4 to 1/2 point up the scale of society, the acceptance level changes from "cool idea, and it sounds green" to "oh my god, that's disgusting!!"

Just playing devils advocate here. I simply wonder if that was the actual reason the delivery was abandoned or simply a factor. I read somewhere in this thread about someone getting a geyser of blackwater in the face and have experienced the same. Now THAT is a reason to abandon a delivery...or at least just walk off the back deck while underway in the middle of the sea...

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