composting toilet report - Page 26 - SailNet Community
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post #251 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanr77 View Post
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...
I don't know much about these 'composting' toilets (looks like you have put it in quotation marks) but I would imagine that it not only the total number of 'uses' is a limitation but also the number of 'uses' per day. Do the companies that sell them give guidelines on that?
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post #252 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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Sheesh, It's not like it's rocket science. Even our pet cats know how to do it.
Take a dump and cover it up till it doesn't stink. When it gets full, empty it or change buckets.

The idea of having to abandon a delivery because of a malfunctioning composting toilet is absolutely inane and could only be the result of complete ignorance or laziness.
Anyone that couldn't find a way to work around a problem like that shouldn't be allowed to operate a boat in the first place. Much less reproduce.
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post #253 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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maybe they didn't have any replacement peat moss ..

Quote:
Originally Posted by knothead View Post
Sheesh, It's not like it's rocket science. Even our pet cats know how to do it.
Take a dump and cover it up till it doesn't stink. When it gets full, empty it or change buckets.

The idea of having to abandon a delivery because of a malfunctioning composting toilet is absolutely inane and could only be the result of complete ignorance or laziness.
Anyone that couldn't find a way to work around a problem like that shouldn't be allowed to operate a boat in the first place. Much less reproduce.
or coconut coir ?????
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post #254 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonRelyea View Post
or coconut coir ?????
What would you do if you ran out of cover material? Abandon the trip and run for the nearest harbor?
How about just switching to the old cedar bucket method and tossing the sh!t overboard.
Sorry, I have little patience for helplessness.
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post #255 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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Those were exactly my points. I simply think that a plumbed wet system has a much higher chance of malfunctioning than a glorified cedar bucket...for the sake of discussion, I know sailors who will not leave the dock if their GPS chartplotter malfunctions...I have charts on board for that reason...and can use them. A malfunctioning composting toilet stopping a delivery?....how exactly would it malfunction? Did the operator malfunction? Mistake the sink for the head in the middle of the night and find themselves being awoken in the morning by the Captain who tried to shave in the dark using the sink? I am curious.

On another note, I have noticed that there is not a lot of information regarding these heads posted on forums. Now, we all know that most people will not post things unless they have a problem. Functioning equipment warrants little discussion...it just functions so people don't think about it..could this be a good thing regarding these heads? Both major companies that make them are obviously selling them as they are still in business. I am seriously considering one of these things and will be done with the restoration of the main cabin soon. The head is next...I will document the process and post on the results.

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post #256 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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We have a composting toilet in our shop on land. There's no septic system or sewer where our business is.

We have had it for over 10 yrs and have yet to do anything to it. I'm assuming that land based systems have a much larger capacity. It doesn't get used much since our home is only 1/3 mile away and we hardly have anyone besides the family at our shop. Ours doesn't separate the liquid from solids either. They all go in the same place.

Our only advice would be to make 100% sure you never allow the fan to stop. I can tell you that we have a large exhaust fan in our powder spray booth that will from time to time over power the little fan in the toilet. When this happens the smell from the toilet will fill the shop, Although not crazy bad the smell is different enough (plus knowing where it came from) that you don't want to smell it long.

For us, after owning a land based system for so long I'm not sure we'd be up for a composing toilet on our boat. They are or seem to be dirtier. A step down in class or how ever you'd want to say it.

Like one poster said flush it and forget it is a better way. Even if once every few yrs you have to suck it up and do some maintenance. We had to change the holding tank in our Carver in 2008. It was leaking into the aft cabin. Smelled like hell or some other 4 letter word. Changed it on the 4th of July weekend, hot as hell. Yes it was a very bad exp. but I still don't think I'd put in a composting toilet.

Another thing to consider is resale value. Will ppl looking at your boat think the same as you? Surveyors might not be familiar enough with them to give sound advice to buyers????

I always figured when the time comes for us to sell our business we will not be able to count the composting toilet as a bath room.
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post #257 of 443 Old 01-04-2012
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Quote:
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.
Bad experiences? Yeah, sure we've had those. Now that we're more experienced with the Nature's Head they're few and far between. My wife and I don't regret installing it at all, and believe you me, the experiences we had weren't half as bad as "experiences" with the old systems.

Bad experiences:

1: We had a larva infestation in the toilet. This nearly put the wife off the whole process and she's normally happy to be the one to empty it! Turned out that the peat moss we bought had hitch-hikers of the 6 legged kind in it. We used premethrin spray and killed them and dumped the "compost". Yet another reason to use coconut coir. No possibility of bugs!

2: Got lazy with checking to make sure the urine bottle was full one too many times. The nature's head is designed to that if the urine bottle is full, excess urine goes into the composing part. A good design considering the alternatives, but we ended up with a soupy mess. We added quite a bit more coconut coir which soaked up the moisture and emptied the stuff once it was more like dirt again.

3: Pee bottle smells. If we don't rinse the pee bottle out with vinegar every few weeks/months depending on usage there can be a urine odor. Not a huge hassle though.

4: A non issue: We've had the fan stop many times and it was never a problem. It's quite amazing that the unit won't smell at all even with the fan off. Once the media is saturated with poo it will start to smell a little "earthy" but nothing like poo, or farm, or anything very unpleasant.

--------------------------
Hellosailor,

Sorry, I just can't leave the medical issue alone. There is so much bad medical information abounding on the internet that I feel compelled to comment, even though it's a bit off topic by now.

I AGREE that these units don't compost in any meaningful way. With particular attention to medical issues, they absolutely do NOT render any pathogens safe through "composing." Therefore I agree that some care needs to be taken with the nighsoil especially if you suspect sick people are pooping in it.

What I take issue with is C-diff. C-diff is NOT like hepatitis and many other fecal-oral diseases because C-DIFF REQUIRES A SENSITIVE HOST. Thus the dog rummaging through the trash analogy is not a very good one. Remember, to get C-diff you not only need to ingest C-diff spores orally, but you must CURRENTLY/RECENTLY BE ON ANTIBIOTICS in order to be at any risk of the infection. If you're not on antibiotics, you could eat a nightsoil sandwich that is loaded with C-diff spores and even live C-diff bacteriea and have nothing to worry about, except perhaps really bad breath.


C-diff is making the round of the media and it's common enough now that people know people who've had it, but it's like MRSA in a lot of ways. The more you know about the epidemiology of it, the less worried about it you should be. I track C-diff spores (and MRSA) home every day from work and I don't worry one bit about it.

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post #258 of 443 Old 01-05-2012
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Med, I agree with you that the typical c.diff. spores or bacteria itself can be handled by the typical human. The problem being, there are drug-resistant strains, no easy way to test for them, and there are many susceptible users. Look at all the antibiotics taken routinely by so many people, need 'em or not.

Given that there is currently NO recognized and approved way to clear up a c.diff. infection, no cure and no way recognized to fix someone who is suffering from it, in a way that puts c.diff right up there next to Ebola: No known cure, and a significant death rate. OK, Ebola has a higher death rate--but drug resistant c.diff. is showing up more and more and if it doesn't kill now, it kills two years later from chronic diarrhea. Or makes the rest of your life a miserable run for the pot. Even the diagnostic tests for c.diff. and the toxins from it are so heavily riddled with false positives and negatives, that they can be repeated multiple times with no definite results.

"No way recognized" and "no cure" despite the fecal transplants, which are still considered as experimental even though there's a lot of support for them in a very small community.

Is a bucket of nightsoil any better than a small septic tank onboard? I don't know, perhaps if you threw quicklime in the bucket the way any turkish toilet does. My sole greivance with these things is that they are NOT "compost" toilets, and the makers really need to let the purchasers know, excrement is still excrement and adequate precautions need to be taken.

If you believe the CDC "Ten years ago, a team of CDC scientists put together the best enduring estimate of how many Americans get food poisoning each year: 76 million illnesses, which resulted in 325,000 ho$pitalization$ and 5,000 deaths." Basics are still worth being aware of, and the public generally is simply unaware of them. Even without deceptive names.

In the US we are still somewhat in the golden age when there are no plagues, no rampant disease [sic]...but epidemics and sanitation really still need to be remembered. Like HIV and syphilis, it is just much simpler to take some basic steps and not catch them. Whether they are curable or not, better still just to not have that problem.

Although, having had "explosive diarrhea" (which has to be experienced to be truly understood) I have to wonder about having a head that isn't flushed with water. There are times when that flushing and washing might be a good thing. Or, the bag of quicklime.

Last edited by hellosailor; 01-05-2012 at 01:31 PM.
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post #259 of 443 Old 01-05-2012
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I'm on the fence.

Traditional marine toilets and holding tanks are hard to maintain, they can smell, and if they fail.... Holy crap!

As for "composting" toilets, I agree that they do not produce "compost. However, I think it's how one deals with the waste. So it's not safe near food, pets, children etc.

However, if one is far enough off shore it can be legally and ethically dumped. If one is near shore it can be disposed of properly. I would take it home and bury it. Two or three times a season is not a big deal. It beats the hell out of maintaining an old Jabsco.

However, if one is living aboard or cruising no-discharge zones how can it be disposed of?

edit: I suppose it could be taken ashore to marina rest rooms and flushed in small quantities? Not sure what coconut husks or peat moss due to indoor plumbing or septic systems.
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post #260 of 443 Old 01-05-2012
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compost without adding new material for two months??

Natures Head has extra "bottoms" available with lids. Would letting an extra bottom with lid compost for a couple of months without adding new material take care of the bad crap like c-diff ??? (pun intended)
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