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SailingLazy 12-09-2011 01:14 PM

Any C-Head Users?
Okay, I've read through all the composting head threads I could find here and elsewhere. The SO and I are seriously considering this option. We are intrigued by the C-Head, but I haven't been able to find reviews by any actual users. One thing we're especially concerned about is the potential for odors and general "yuckiness" since it doesn't have a trap door like the more expensive models.

Any C-Head users out there? What have your experiences with this product been?

amelia 05-26-2012 10:58 AM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
Our new C-head arrived recently, and now occupies the space of honor in our home-made houseboat. It's shorter than either of its main competitors, thus more comfortable to sit on, especially if the overhead is low. At $500, it's also half the price, with shipping included. It seems to be sturdily built, and was exquisitely packaged. The installation was quick and easy, and even before the ventilation hoses were installed, it was ready for immediate use. The liquid waste container is a simple gallon jug of the sort water and milk come in, thus easily disposable when it becomes discolored or stinky.
Downsides: Both the solid waste bucket and the liquid waste jug are smaller than either competitor's, and thus need to be emptied more often. We don't find that a problem; the urine is less stinky if the jug is emptied every day, (in an, ahem, ecologically-sensitive fashion, that is, in an onshore toilet, on remote shrubbery, or -- look over both shoulders on a dark night-- you know...) and the solid waste, a week's worth, is simply dumped into a larger 5-gallon bucket with a ventilated lid, to dry further. When that 5-gallon bucket is full, it's time to dispose of the contents in a dumpster or on its own dedicated compost pile in the back 40, and start over.
It seems to have been well thought out. I think I wish I had gone with the regular round seat rather than the elongated one... the round seat would have fit the containers beneath with less gap. So far, we are pleased-- not to have spent the extra $500 to $700. We shall see how long that pleasure lasts.

amelia 01-10-2013 01:55 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
I regret that I am not qualified to reply to PMs on this august forum, due to insufficient numbers of posts. Please know then, Ms. T, that I am not ignoring you. The answer to your question is YES! We are still pleased with the thing, very much so, after 9 months of light, cool-season use. There is no smell. None. Care could hardly be easier.

I suspect that user-noncompliance accounts for a substantial percentage of all disappointment. If the males of your acquaintance cannot bring themselves to suffer the indignity of sitting to pee, there will be problems as the stuff that is supposed to dry the poop gets soaked with mis-aimed pee. Yuck. All users must sit for each use. That's all there is to it.

We weren't too happy with the fit of the elongated seat, so next time they were on sale at the local hardware store, we replaced it with a wooden round one, drilled a hole for the crank to fit through, and vi-ola! Much better, and for us, just as comfortable.

One surprise was to discover that TP doesn't get drawn down into the peat mixture, rather floats on top, where it quickly dries. We then, from time to time, pick it out, stuff it in a plastic grocery bag, tie a knot, and chuck it. Not a problem, as it turns out.

I may be talking out of ignorance, but I wonder if the gnats some have complained of are due to eggs hiding in garden center peat. We have not encountered any beasties at all in reconstituted coconut fiber. when we are using it more often, we will be emptying it more often, before, in theory, the bugs have a chance to hatch. We shall see.

But for the investment, this seems a very sturdy, simple, well-thought-out, affordable contraption, which would seem to be a perfect size for a small sailboat head. With great storage space where the icky holding tank used to be.

Minnewaska 01-11-2013 05:11 AM

Re: Any C-Head Users?

Originally Posted by amelia (Post 973539)
.....icky holding tank.....

You call the holding tank icky, but you pick used toilet paper out of your head? :)

amelia 01-11-2013 08:44 AM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
With chopsticks dedicated to the purpose of course. By the time I get around to doing that, it is entirely dry and odorless, and if I didn't bother, it wouldn't matter at all. The bucket would just fill a bit faster. No problem.
Part of the reason we went with this option is that we didn't want to have to use precious fresh drinking water for our "just like home experience." Or, for that matter, look at our dark tannin-stained swamp water pumped at some expense so we can pretend we are not going to have to face the results eventually. Nor must we keep a freaking NC-required pump out log, nor must we take the whole apparatus apart to repair it, nor must we scour the Internet looking for obscure spare parts and wait for them to arrive. Nor must we arrive at our next pump out station, many miles from the next one after that, with a full holding tank, only to find it placarded OTS. We needn't store bottles of antistinkum liquid, or salt for the treat & dumper.
I am absolutely not saying this thing is the only way to go, but we did investigated a LOT of alternatives, smelled a lot of stinky boats. We call the nice Raritan rep our friend, he has even been to visit from time to time, and somehow we ended up with this C-Head anyway. We cant say we weren't warned. Peggie Hall was steadfastly agin composting heads, but I would love to have her evaluate this one. I believe they have devolved, if you will, a long way, toward simplicity.
Who knows? We haven't lived aboard yet, have not spent a humid Southern summer dealing with its minimal requirements. We may eventually end up with an expensive, heavy, complicated traditional flushing head, delicate macerator, holding tank to monitor, and all the complexity that entails. If so, we aren't out much money! Frankly, it was a personal decision based on a fair amount of reading and listening, ( we had originally planned on a hold-n-treat-n-dump, until NC outllawed them) and so far, this cheap, simple thing is working nicely for us. I don't think I would recommend it to someone such as yourself, whose mind is already firmly made up, though.

Minnewaska 01-11-2013 02:03 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
I don't know where you get the idea that my mind is firmly made up. I find all solutions to have their pros and cons. Picking used TP out of a head with chopsticks is a clear con in my book. You've detailed some pros too and I agree with them.

However, a holding tank does not have to stink. Period. They only do when managed incorrectly, such as ever adding anything like an antistinkum liquid. Just like a C-head will stink, if managed incorrectly.

As far as I'm concerned, they are both viable options. I chose the holding tank because I believe the significant number of non-sailor guests we have aboard find it more comfortable.

If you've ever noticed me push back on this subject before, its usually focused on those that say there is absolutely, positively, hands down, no odor or anything objectionable about a c-head. That's nonsense, but you didn't say that. I was only referencing the irony between calling a holding tank icky (which it is), in the same paragraph where the user must reach in and handle used TP.

For me, and perhaps only me, its like finding dried up used TP on the sidewalk and picking it up with chopsticks. Icky.

arf145 01-11-2013 02:28 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
I'm a composting head advocate and admirer--don't have one because we don't have the space. I find the idea of waste composting in a dry bin much less icky than waste soup floating around in a tank. However, even I would put the idea of picking out TP bits with chopsticks in the icky column. I don't think you'll find that suggestion in any of the sales materials of the composting head companies, even if it is a good volume reducer.

amelia 01-11-2013 03:13 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
Actually, if anybody had suggested to me that toilet paper would have to be handled in any form, post-use, I would have recoiled in disgust, too. It only occurred to me one day that that dried paper had been there for ages, floating on top,lightly dusted with coconut fiber,that I might remove it without undue revulsion. So I did. Took all of ten nonupsetting seconds, and I suspect most people wouldn't bother. I surely won't bother either once we are living aboard or on the long-anticipated longer cruise, and emptying the lumpy peatish mixture into its secondary composting bucket once every week or two, rather than once in six months. As it is, the head goes mostly unused for weeks on end as we tend to construction chores within twenty paces of home. Some people, I understand, carefully put freshly used paper in a wastepaper basket beside their head, both for traditional heads and for composting ones. I am happy this hasn't proved necessary for us.

I shook my head firmly NO when the idea of a composting head was first proposed. I love my Birkenstocks, but that is a little too close to Mother Gaia for this southern belle, thank you very much. I pictured immense Clivus Multrum rigs, and heads that incinerated the deposits, and I imagined 33-gallon garbage cans full of loose peat required for others.... Uh-uh. Not me. Then NC solons in their overweening wisdom, said no treat-and-dump in our pristine (or not) waters. And keep a log of pumpouts. That put things in a whole new light. Who do y'all think you're shoving around? We had not gotten too far down the plumbing path to change our minds, so back to the literature. As it turned out, C-Head had just been introduced, and offered what seemed to be significant improvements in the state of the art, at half the price of other 'composters'. We decided to give it a try... What did we have to lose?
As I said, so far, we are content. Nobody has fouled up the works with, um, feminine contraband, probably because there is precious little machinery to jam. So far, the only males to use the thing have been cooperative. The thing, so far, looks nice, takes no extra space, requires no platform to step up up on, is easy to operate and maintain, is lightweight and has absolutely no odor, not even the earthy peaty smell some have described.
so. Will this blissful honeymoon last? Breathless readers,stay tuned to see how our heroine feels about it a year from now, after, she dearly hopes, some serious use. We shall see how it goes from here.

arf145 01-11-2013 04:19 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
I definitely appreciate reading about your real-life experience with the C-Head, Amelia. A lot of us have opinions on the composters, but there is no substitute for the experiences of real users--especially realistic ones like you. I hope you'll report back on how it's going from time to time.

amelia 01-11-2013 05:11 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
One more thought, to speak to the Original Poster's initial question, I haven't tried the Nature's Head or AirHead with trap doors, but this design, using the same basic concept, seems to work fine without one. No need for coffee filters, and an additional layer of mechanical complexity. With our very light usage on overnight trips, all-day picnic cruises, and in full use as a Christmastime guest house for overflow grandsons for a couple of weeks this year, we have been relieved to find the arrangement to be unyucky. All my embarrassingly detailed questions to the manufacturer were answered matter-of-factly and reassuringly, and he- and his wife- seem to know whereof they speak. We have a squirt bottle of cleaner just in case, but have not needed it except for routine maintenance.

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