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Hello All:

We are refitting the interior of our recently-purchased C&C 36R. The 36R was produced as a "stripped down" racing model with a basic head that discharges straight to the sea--no holding tank. As I have been evaluating the cost of a waste management system (holding tank, pump, hoses, vents, etc.), the composting toilet option compares well from a cost perspective.

Though I have read many testimonials holding such heads in high regard, I am still not convinced that a "waterless" head such as this is the most sanitary option and is truly void of odors. I am hoping those who have experience with the Air Head composting toilet or one of similar manufacture could offer some specifics as to their use. It appears that they use some sort of a filter? How long can they go, reasonably, before needing to be emptied? Are they really sanitary given that there is no water utilized to rinse the bowl?

All thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Thanks! Kermit
 

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Search the sailnet topics and you'll find a few LONG threads on composting toilets. I think it's all been said already. I have a Nature's Head and I can tell you that it works just as advertised, there is ZERO odor and I get about 60 to 80 uses before I empty it. Urine I empty every night just after dark. It's one of the best upgrades I did on my boat and I wouldn't even consider going back to a regular marine head. All in all, you'll find that people who have a composting head sing their praise, those that don't have one speculate on odors, inconveniences etc. Before you install one, go and visit a boat that has one and ask a lot of questions. If you have a specific question, just fire away.
 

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most composting heads, will use a liquid diverter to keep that from the solids...solids are often collected in cheap coffee filters....which keep the mess to a minimum..and still allows decomposition..

again most will have some turning widget or agitation mechanism to shake things up...with a good peat moss, no liquids and good vents they can go a month or two of casual use even for two people...

venting is mandatory both in and around the "hold" as well as keeping the smell down.

It is all in what you are used to...better than an outhouse, but not labor free or odor free as the manufacturer would have you believe....and you still have to deal with the liquid collection...as it is illegal to simply dump it overboard, after collection
 

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Do you have a composting toilet kd3pc? Note that ALL composting toilets for boats separate the liquids from the solids. Only the Air Head uses a coffee filter, which you don't actually have to use. There is no odor if you use it correctly... ZERO odor. Disposing of liquids is an inconvenience. Urine is sterile- I just dump it in the sea every night. I suggest you visit a boat that has one installed to get the straight poop on it.
 

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Do you have a composting toilet kd3pc? Note that ALL composting toilets for boats separate the liquids from the solids. Only the Air Head uses a coffee filter, which you don't actually have to use. There is no odor if you use it correctly... ZERO odor. Disposing of liquids is an inconvenience. Urine is sterile- I just dump it in the sea every night. I suggest you visit a boat that has one installed to get the straight poop on it.
I have two in a self sustained cabin, one airhead branded and one before airhead name and it is as you describe. Totally odor free. Months of service for the two of us. Early units did not separate liquids and solids, and every one of them, if not minded well and often...did have issues...odors, and messes. They have come a long way.

In the US, sterile or not, it is illegal to dump the urine...overboard

I have been aboard several boats where the installation was not done as well as it should and the venting, or lack there of, causes odors...or the owner has modified the vent with fans and bends and traps...several others where they just let the liquids go in to the dry stuff....which destroys the process and causes odors, bad ones.

If installed correctly and maintained correctly, they can be an option...
 

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I agree. The trick is to operate them correctly to be odor free. Keeping liquids out of the solids chamber is essential. The fan not so much.

Dumping the urine is a daily chore and not everyone likes to carry a jug of piss around, especially if you have to lug it to a public bathroom to dispose of. This is why I suggest the OP visits a boat with a composting toilet installed so he/she can get a real notion of what's involved exactly. I can only speak from my experience that I'm 100% happy with mine (but then I don't find dumping the urine bottle over the side a big deal or emptying the solids chamber once in a while).
 

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Calling Chris&Kate...
 

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In the US, sterile or not, it is illegal to dump the urine...overboard
Only in a NDZ. However you can take a whizz over the side of a boat in a NDZ
& that's legal. Go figure???
 

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Captainmeme, you can't line it as it would interfere with the agitator inside. When you have to dump it, you just turn it over into a plastic bag and then tie the bag and toss it in the garbage or carry it home to put on your plants. You don't have to clean the solids chamber after you dump it out; just add more coconut fiber and you're good to go again. It's not a big deal- it looks like dirt. I personally carry mine into the jungle and dump it where no one will step on it. It finishes decomposing quickly in the tropics.
 

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Only in a NDZ. However you can take a whizz over the side of a boat in a NDZ
& that's legal. Go figure???
I think you will find, and will for sure if you ask...it is NOT legal to dump urine over the side anywhere...it is "untreated sewage" as far as the EPA is concerned.

I agree that you can do either over the side legally, it is when you contain it...it becomes a problem.
 

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Only in a NDZ. However you can take a whizz over the side of a boat in a NDZ
& that's legal. Go figure???
I think you will find, and will for sure if you ask...it is NOT legal to dump urine over the side anywhere...it is "untreated sewage" as far as the EPA is concerned.

I agree that you can do either over the side legally, it is when you contain it...it becomes a problem.
Well urinating and defecating in public are not legal. You can be cited for at the very least public indecency. :eek::eek:
 

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I have been using mine for several years now, and there is no way I'd consider going back to the traditional head. No more pumps, thru hulls , valves, hoses, clogging, breakdowns, etc, etc. I built my own for under $25 worth of materials. They are quite simple to build, but C-head has one for around $400. As others come on line , expect the price to continue dropping, until China or India starts making them for under $50.
I dump my 5 litre liquids jug every two days, but have gone 6 weeks, before dumping the solids container, usually back in the bush. In hot weather, dumping is far less frequent. In winter, ading Pooh powder absorbs any liquids in the solids, and helps a lot. Google Pooh powder.
As dumping liquids overboard is environmentally harmless, doing so is no ones business but your own. Some use a cockpit drain for privacy, and to keep it from those to whom it is non of their business.
 

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And again, no one that owns and uses one mentions the little problem of the tinny flies.
 

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Simon, I've never had a problem with tiny flies and only know of a few rare cases where this has happened. I don't think it's common enough to worry about. What you have to do is read all the posts by users of composting heads and you'll see that pretty much everyone who has converted to a composting toilet is happy with it. I know of only 3 cases where people uninstalled their composting toilets (C&C being one of them). Then search threads on regular marine toilets to read all the tales of woe! All I can suggest to potential users is visit a boat with a composting toilet installed, speak to the owners about what is involved and try not to take advice from people who don't have one (but have strong opinions in spite of this).
 

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Based only on what I've read, I think I'd be inclined to go with a composting unit if I were faced with installing a head system from scratch. It would be much cheaper and easier to install since it avoids much of the plumbing hassle. In my experience holding tank systems are far from odor free as well, so I somewhat see it as a "pays yo' money and takes yo' chances" proposition. There are unplesantries with either system. Pumping out is not exactly a fun hobby, but neither is carrying out bottles of piss and bags of crap.

If you weren't happy with a composting system, it would also be less hassle to uninstall and replace with a traditional holding tank system than the other way 'round.
 

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It would be nice to have less holes in my boat.

If ever I was to start from scratch I would have a composting head and my sink would drain above the water line like my bilge pump.

Raw water intake for cooling the engine and prop shaft would be the only through hulls.

Maybe someone will invent a shaft log that does double duty as a stuffing box and a sea water intake for the engine (Mainesail...here is your get rich quick scheme :) )

My depth transducer would shoot through the hull and I would skip the silly paddle wheel for speed through the water and just use speed over ground via GPS.

Just sayin....
 

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I've had a Nature's Head for three seasons now. I would not go back to a regular marine toilet.

I had a fruit fly "mishap" last year - solved by putting a bit of screen over my head's vent and using coconut coir instead of peat moss. (You can buy this at Petco or similar large pet store that has reptile bedding: Zilla Coconut Husk Brick Reptile Bedding at PETCO

Absolutely no smell.
 

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Because Chrisncate did not reply to this thread, here is what he (they) said in another thread about the composting head;
Oh, and we hate the composting head. Totally hate it. Everything else seems to be alright, except for filthy marina heads which we hate almost as much as the composting head. I can't wait to re install a head and illegally pump out overboard each and every time I go to the bathroom. What a joy that'll be..
and...

Can you give an assessment of the composting head? Strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats?
My opinion is that they are moderately unsanitary but probably doable on a medium to large boat with hot water on tap - gross and way too "up close" on a small boat with no hot water on tap.

The hot water is easy to live without, a composting head 1.5 feet from where you sleep and lay your head is .. bad. Keep in mind we are on a SMALL small boat, an A 30 isn't like a Catalina 30, it's real personal and up close in here.

Example: I am sleeping in the V, and suppose the Admiral has to pee (or god forbid, pinch a coil) - well, she's right there, hi! Some things are just things you need to do more than three feet from another human. And the coffee filters... oh the coffee filters..

We have a small boat.

EDIT: I should note the difference in space that the Natures Head takes up as compared to her old traditional head. The N/H is tall, very tall and it makes a huge difference in our small head area. It takes up a lot of area and it's way high. It makes a difference. The old head enabled the bathroom area to be closed off and private when in use, the N/H does not allow this on our boat due to the logistics of the thing from the perspective of the V berth. It still closes off from the salon, just not the V.
and ...

I think they might be ok to good on a bigger boat, a small boat not so much. I guess the truth about heads is nothing can compare to a house toilet. I have yet to encounter a marine head I find acceptable. You either hold it all in a gross smelly holding tank, or you try to ferment it in a composting head, or you pump overboard illegally for the least amount of fuss and hope you don't get caught.
THESE ARE NOT NECESSARILY MY VIEWS. Chrisncate lived with a composting head on their boat, so I defer to their experience.
 
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