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post #51 of 165 Old 12-15-2012
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

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Originally Posted by copacabana View Post
There is a lot of misinformation about composting toilets, spread by people who have never had one. Here I go again ...
You certainly seem to be well experienced so I have a couple of questions I have not seen addressed before.

1. What happens you use the boat for a weekend then leave during the week and you get a hard frost? The pee jug can be emptied before you leave of course but what happens to the solid tank? Will it freeze solid and their for can't be used.

2. What happens if you have some severe diaria for a while or for example have to take the prep for a colonoscopy that means you have diaria for at least 24 hours.

I'm not knocking the product and if the above questions don't have fun answers the scenarios they represent may be so rare as to not matter but I was wondering what you have found out.

3. Do men have to sit to get the urine to go in the correct place?

Last edited by davidpm; 12-15-2012 at 11:03 PM.
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post #52 of 165 Old 12-16-2012
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

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I believe the laws refer to "raw" sewage, I would check into the legality of dumping composted sewage, but it should be legal.
The Coast Guard regulations cover three types of MSDs.[4] Large vessels use either Type II or Type III MSDs. In Type II MSDs, the waste is either chemically or biologically treated prior to discharge and must meet limits of no more than 200 fecal coliforms per 100 milliliters and no more than 150 milligrams per liter of suspended solids. Type III MSDs store wastes and do not treat them; the waste is pumped out later
Section 312 of the Clean Water Act, which is also known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1956, requires a certified operable MSD on every vessel with an installed toilet to prevent the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated sewage into U.S. waters.
A properly functioning composting head would fall under the catagory of a Type II MSD. Though it is not being "discarded" because it does not go through a through hull.

The problem is that the unit needs to be coastguard certified as a type II MSD. I asked about this with the designer of the Nature's head. Both the Nature's head and Airhead are type III, which is the same as a portapotty as far as the USCG is concerned. You can't (legally) dump the contents of a type III overboard within US waters.

Also, the Nature's head and Airhead don't compost the fecal matter to a safer level than fresh fecal matter. Mostly they store and dry it. In order to safely compost human manure it must be composted at high temperature. See also: "thermophilic composting". For further reading I HIGHLY recommend "The Humanure Handbook."

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post #53 of 165 Old 12-16-2012
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

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You certainly seem to be well experienced so I have a couple of questions I have not seen addressed before.

1. What happens you use the boat for a weekend then leave during the week and you get a hard frost? The pee jug can be emptied before you leave of course but what happens to the solid tank? Will it freeze solid and their for can't be used.

2. What happens if you have some severe diaria for a while or for example have to take the prep for a colonoscopy that means you have diaria for at least 24 hours.

I'm not knocking the product and if the above questions don't have fun answers the scenarios they represent may be so rare as to not matter but I was wondering what you have found out.

3. Do men have to sit to get the urine to go in the correct place?
David, others here have more experience with composting toilets. As I mentioned, I've had mine for over 2 years and am 100% happy with the choice. To answer your questions:

1) A hard frost (say just below freezing) I believe would be no problem. Solid water freezes and expands, breaking the walls of pipes. In the case of the composting chamber, we are dealing with a light, fluffy pile of coconut fibre which I can't see causing any problem even if were to freeze. I live in Brazil so freezing never enters my thoughts!! . Perhaps someone from more northern states or Canada will chime in with their experience or you can contact Nature's Head or Air Head directly.

2) Severe diarrhea will be a messy problem with ANY toilet David! The bowl of the composting toilet can be cleaned with a paper towel and the cleaner of your choice. You can put the paper in the composting chamber, although it will fill it quicker and will require much more time to compost. I routinely clean the bowl with a paper towel and a misting of vinegar and water (although as I mentioned above, never has anyone "missed" the hole to the solids chamber). Unless you have a medical condition that gives you frequent diarrhea, I wouldn't worry about it.

3) Yes, you have to sit to pee, at least with the Nature's Head (others I can't speak of). I think standing to pee is the main cause of urine finding its way into the composting chamber as it flows up over the lip with the pressure of the delivery. Most boat guys sit to pee anyway, don't they?

I hope this helps.
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post #54 of 165 Old 12-16-2012
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

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3) Yes, you have to sit to pee, at least with the Nature's Head (others I can't speak of). I think standing to pee is the main cause of urine finding its way into the composting chamber as it flows up over the lip with the pressure of the delivery. Most boat guys sit to pee anyway, don't they?

I hope this helps.
Agreed on the first 2 points.

No, unless I'm sailing on someone else's boat and it's dictated by the captain or I'm in a serious seaway I stand to pee. I'm just stubborn that way. It DOES cause liquid to enter the solids chamber and has caused me tome toilet problems such as having to add more fiber or empty the toilet sooner than I otherwise would have.

I plan to install a small urinal in the separate shower area and build up the lip that separates the diverter in the Nature's Head. I could solve the problem instantly by sitting to pee, but I'm stubborn....

As for number 2 (your second point, not THAT number 2, well, actually yes that kind of.... oh never mind!) diarrhea will add more liquid to the solids chamber but not usually enough to cause problems. I've often wondered what I would do if I drank too much rum, or got a stomach bug or seasick and had to barf? That seems like too much liquid to compost! Luckily for me I keep the rum consumption in enough moderation, haven't got a stomach flu aboard yet and haven't gotten seasick. I guess I'd go for the kitchen sink...



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post #55 of 165 Old 12-17-2012
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

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And why waste the opportunity to generate electricity with it?

I find it interesting how alarming it is to read that one can get fined for dumping urine overboard. I even found myself thinking, "Gosh, I need to spend money to install a holding tank of some sort," etc. Driving over the speed limit is also a punishable offense, and people actually get injured and killed doing that one. I see people do it all the time. So I think I'll take my chances with the urine over the side thing.
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post #56 of 165 Old 12-17-2012
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

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The problem is that the unit needs to be coastguard certified as a type II MSD. I asked about this with the designer of the Nature's head. Both the Nature's head and Airhead are type III, which is the same as a portapotty as far as the USCG is concerned. You can't (legally) dump the contents of a type III overboard within US waters.

Also, the Nature's head and Airhead don't compost the fecal matter to a safer level than fresh fecal matter. Mostly they store and dry it. In order to safely compost human manure it must be composted at high temperature. See also: "thermophilic composting". For further reading I HIGHLY recommend "The Humanure Handbook."

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Anything which doesn't discharge overboard is legal, as it is none of the coast guard's business, if it doesn't enter the ocean..

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post #57 of 165 Old 12-17-2012
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

At the beginning I was very anti composting toilet - the idea just creeped me out. Then when we got our 31' Seafarer it had one already on board. Have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. No odor at all!

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post #58 of 165 Old 04-07-2013
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

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The C head is a very different concept, that looks similar, so be careful there. For starters, the C head holds only 10-15 solid uses. The Nature's Head and Airhead hold 40-60. So the c-head has to be emptied far more often, which is a huge disadvantage. Empty the c-head once a week, and the Nature's Head or Airhead every 4-6 weeks.

After 4-6 weeks, much of the earlier material is dried out and composted. However after a week, the c-head will simply be a bucket full of fresh poop mixed with peat moss. The Nature's Head and Airhead, with the composting process going on strong inside, quickly break down new additions of solid matter. Emptying the NH and Airhead will be far more pleasant and far less frequent.

The c-head uses disposable milk jugs to hold urine. They won't last long, and will need to be replaced. That might be ok if you are near civilizatiopn and drink milk. The others use a sturdy plastic bottle that will last forever.

The c-head in my view is pretty much a 'bucket with a seat' system. You remove fresh turds, not compost. It also looks cheaper, in my view. The c-head is not the same thing for less money. It's another concept entirely. For another $300 or $400, I'd get a better looking, more convenient proven toilet like the NH or AH.
I installed a C-Head in my motor home about four months ago, as a test run to see if it would be suitable for the boat I'm building. And it seems to me you're passing on some misinformation....

For starters, I empty my C-Head about once a month, not once a week. I get a lot more than 10 or 15 uses each time. And it most definitely isn't 'a bucket of fresh poop' I pull out. The C-Head is a desiccating toilet, which means the solids dry out rapidly. As you churn the contents after each use, you wind up with balls of material up to the size of a baseball, that mostly look and smell like plain old peat moss.

The C_Head is easy to empty, too. I just open the unit's lid, grab the bin's handle and pull it out. Then I take it outside, pop the lid off my accumulation bucket, and pour the stuff out of the container. Set it back in the toilet, add peat moss, and I'm good to go for about another month. It takes me less than five minutes, and there's none of this stuff about slipping plastic bags over the bin, then turning it upside down to empty it -- which sounds like a guaranteed recipe for a spill sooner or later, to me.


The gallon jugs work just fine. They're easier to handle than the two-gallon custom units used in the Air Head and Nature's Head -- and a whole lot cheaper. I replace them regularly anyway, so I'm not worried about how durable they are. And since I buy milk and water anyway, I have a never-ending supply of them....

If by 'looking cheap' you mean the C-Head doesn't look as fancy as the others, I suppose you're right. But it looks fine to me with its clean, simple lines. It also cost me a whole lot less; it takes up less room; it weighs less; it works fine; and I bought it so I could sit on it -- not so I could leave the door open and admire it between uses.

The hard part is going to be deciding whether to install this C-Head in my boat as planned when my build is complete, and reinstall the original toilet in my motor home, or keep this one where it is and spring for another one to install in the boat. Decisions, decisions.....

add: those 'sturdy plastic bottles' the others use last forever? Don't you believe it. I've read a couple of posts on other forums from people who said theirs started leaking, and they aren't cheap if you have to replace them -- or if you simply want a couple of spares for convenience.

Last edited by troy2000; 04-07-2013 at 08:09 PM.
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post #59 of 165 Old 04-07-2013
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

Here's a shot of my C-Head installed in my beat-up, ancient motor home. The only problem is that when someone rewired and re-plumbed the old beast years ago, they ran a wiring and plumbing chase across the back of the toilet stall, that holds the unit out from the wall. So the toilet seat lid doesn't lean back on its hinges far enough to touch the wall. Eventually I'll install a small shelf on the wall at a convenient height to act as a lid stop; meanwhile it hasn't been a problem. I don't normally lean back like I'm in an easy chair anyway, when I'm on the pot.\.

By the way, keep in mind that this toilet only gets used by one person. And even when I move it to the boat, it shouldn't get more than occasional weekend use by a couple. If I were plumbing for a crowd, I might go with something bigger and fancier...
...
...
Well, ratz. Apparently I don't have permission to post images yet, because I haven't made the required minimum ten posts.

Last edited by troy2000; 04-08-2013 at 01:26 AM.
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post #60 of 165 Old 04-07-2013
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Re: Air Head Composting Toilet or Similar Mfg.

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Agreed on the first 2 points.

As for number 2 (your second point, not THAT number 2, well, actually yes that kind of.... oh never mind!) diarrhea will add more liquid to the solids chamber but not usually enough to cause problems. I've often wondered what I would do if I drank too much rum, or got a stomach bug or seasick and had to barf? That seems like too much liquid to compost! Luckily for me I keep the rum consumption in enough moderation, haven't got a stomach flu aboard yet and haven't gotten seasick. I guess I'd go for the kitchen sink...


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I like the idea of the composting toilets.. that but that is my question. I have Crohnes disease so watery deposits are a way of life for me. Not to get gross.. but it varies from day to day from almost normal to the worst case of the runs you can imagine.

So you can understand my wondering if a composting toilet can handle that?

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