Installing a composting toilet.

smj

Member
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Interesting. It was Sandy I talked to, about 18 months ago I think.
My friend got this recommendation from Sandy about 6 months ago. In the 7-8 years that we’ve been using the C-Head Sandys recommendation for the medium has changed a few times. Constantly researching!

 

Blue Crab

benthivore
17,583
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Outer Banks
Before we used a mixture of coconut coir and aspen bedding. After a week or so the contents would get pretty damp. The corn cob litter does a much better job keeping the contents dry therefore prolonging the change date.
Gotcha. The peat does fine in that regard but the cobs looked much less dusty, a plus.

Also a clarification, when Sail4 talks about lining with plastic ... he has a homemade job without the CHead churn which would tear up the plastic. To dispose, you just pour the bucket contents into a plastic bag ... a moment of unpleasantness at worse. Add fresh medium in bucket, tho sometimes a wash and rinse is in order. I like the churn better than using a stick to stir or perhaps Sail4 just covers up with no mixing. If a user is sick, it still works but you only get a day or two before the medium is too wet to dissicate.

After this much use, it troubles me to flush away a gallon or so of perfectly fine fresh water in a standard home toilet.

 
Still, not a lotta work. And at your convenience.
True dat!

on a related note,

Anyone else have fond memories of their first, um, err, “event” with a composter?  My memories are/were mildly disconcerting, immediate necessity demanded I get over it but still...It was the first time in my adult life where making boom boom made for a red letter day.

I often wonder if the legit concerns about the strangeness is one reason for a lot of push back.  I try to be gentle with crew or guests when giving instructions for using the thing since it's often obvious they’re concerned.

 

Sail4beer

Starboard!
Back in the late 80’s, one of my many jobs during a college internship at a State Park one summer, I got to ride around with an old guy named Moose. He was about as big and the same look as Popeye, minus the big arms. We rode from one latrine to the next where he would take an old oar and go in and stir things up. He said it would get really messy if he missed even one Fay during the hot summer. He was the only one they could hire to do the job and he took to it like he was meant to swing an oar. 
 

After hearing of the failures that have happened with holding tanks blowing out from people I know, I’d rather stay dry and odor free.

 

Blue Crab

benthivore
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My memorable event was in being too casual with the churn handle. Ya want everything covered. If ya slack, those soldier flies or something else will infest. When you hear complaints about dry heads ... it's this issue. Maybe diatomaceous earth helps but I couldn't make it help. It's not to be taken lightly. But neither is a joker valve or stinky hoses... or a tank full of poop slurry.

I think one key to success with these is when you use TP, stow it in a separate small plastic bag reserved for that purpose. Every crew member will likely want their own.

 

smj

Member
252
195
My memorable event was in being too casual with the churn handle. Ya want everything covered. If ya slack, those soldier flies or something else will infest. When you hear complaints about dry heads ... it's this issue. Maybe diatomaceous earth helps but I couldn't make it help. It's not to be taken lightly. But neither is a joker valve or stinky hoses... or a tank full of poop slurry.

I think one key to success with these is when you use TP, stow it in a separate small plastic bag reserved for that purpose. Every crew member will likely want their own.
We’ve owned an Airhead, Natures-head and also the C-Head. The disadvantage of the C-Head is the solids need to be changed 2-3 times more frequently. The advantage of the C-Head is the solids need to be changed 2-3 times more frequently.....I believe the more frequent changing leads to less moisture buildup and less chance for the gnats to lay eggs.  

 

Blue Crab

benthivore
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We’ve owned an Airhead, Natures-head and also the C-Head. The disadvantage of the C-Head is the solids need to be changed 2-3 times more frequently. The advantage of the C-Head is the solids need to be changed 2-3 times more frequently.....I believe the more frequent changing leads to less moisture buildup and less chance for the gnats to lay eggs.  
No question. All  these heads are just desiccators, composting takes time. 

I get a couple of weeks between medium changes as a single. When I feel resistance to the churn handle, I plan on a medium swap. One infestation cured me. It's a 5 min job every couple of weeks for pennies.

 

hump101

Anarchist
Question for those with composting heads. How do they handle liquid (non-urine) waste, like diarrhea? Can they dry this sufficiently quickly to avoid odour? I am considering an installation but want to cover my bases, so to speak....

 

Kris Cringle

Super Anarchist
3,617
3,368
I can't speak for a composting head, but long ago my crew decided to leave most paper out of the head. We have a convenient easily dumped hamper hanging in a locker next to the head. This was a mercy move for Dad, who had cleared many a stuffed head over the years. 

From what I read and sense, the option for either is there in the composter. It's all a matter of capacity and if the medium will be disposed of in a proper dumpster then it's up to you. Put the paper in at use, or later. 

If you intend to add the medium to a compost pile, you might want to leave it out? 

For a seasonal coastal sailor, compared to a live-aboard, everything (everything), is different. 

 
Question for those with composting heads. How do they handle liquid (non-urine) waste, like diarrhea? Can they dry this sufficiently quickly to avoid odour? I am considering an installation but want to cover my bases, so to speak....
A bout of diarrhea means you have to recharge sooner is all. If its chronic all bets are off. A fuzzy but persistent memory tells me I may even have thrown up in it once. The compost survived, just had to swap it out sooner.

does paper go in the pail or in a waste basket mexico style?
Mexico style.

 

ProaSailor

dreaming my life away...
6,205
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Oregon
It has a raised hub above the bottom of the bucket,  and in theory, liquid shouldn't be much of an issue. The motor and bucket have a simple cog connection. 
An advantage of the OGO system just occurred to me; you can "flush" the toilet (start the stirring process) while still seated, reducing the smelly air exposure  time.

 

thinwater

Super Anarchist
1,097
163
Deale, MD
a. If you use the proper paper it is nearly impossible to clog a head. When wet, it just falls apart. The culprits are typically paper towels, facial tissues and flushable wipes (which aren't, even at home). Do NOT keep facial tissues in the head and keep a stack of zip lock bag for everything else that might need disposed. Don't be shy about this with guests ("If you flush anything other than TP the head will clog and you will have to use a bucket or hold it." That should do the trick.) Better to be dirrect than to have a clog. Test the paper by place a few sheets in a bowl of water, waiting 10 minutes, and swirling with a spoon. if it falls apart it is OK. Charmin, not so much.  The marine label does not matter, only whether it passes this test.

b.  Any paper that passes this test will compost as fast as the other solids and media. I know this from composting experience.

c. The hopper will fill up faster with paper, and the mixer may clog with paper. Non-churn toilets need more media to cover if paper is added. But isn't this small beans for not have to fool with the paper? It is for me.

 

thinwater

Super Anarchist
1,097
163
Deale, MD
And if your guests can't use a marine head correctly, what do you expect to happen with a separating head? This is the reason that the park service has never adopted them--they are not used properly.

 

socalrider

Super Anarchist
1,495
887
San Diego CA
And if your guests can't use a marine head correctly, what do you expect to happen with a separating head? This is the reason that the park service has never adopted them--they are not used properly.
This is a disadvantage of the C-head versus the Airhead we've currently got.  The latter has a flap covering the poo hole.  The former you just have to aim.  I found with kids in particular if I had a crowd at least someone would saturate the coir, which is nasty.  

Still better than someone flushing a tampon down a Jabsco.  

 

Blue Crab

benthivore
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Yes on park service but that's the public. This is very different. And really not for everybody, guests in particular.

Oh well.

As above, Mexico style, even if you are poopaphobic, this small distaste is worth it. And the sick question as above ... that rarely lasts long. The media costs little.

 

Max Rockatansky

DILLIGAF?
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I am surprised to hear that a clumping cat litter would work, but I will give it a try.

My C-Head experience since 2013, two pax full time aboard since 2016, is positive. TL;dr:

No.smell. Except right after one goes, that is to say. But that “boat smell” is gone. It was my wife, so pleased with the dessicator, who ripped out our old head and holding tank. In August. In Mississippi. And smiled while she worked.

Yes, the urine container isn’t large but one becomes attentive with habit. F.ex: we know that on average we excrete about 3/4gal per day. Easy to replace milk jug keeps scent issues to a minimum (plastics absorb scent). Transfer urine to any storage container that is convenient (we use old vinegar jugs) and that goes to shore for dumping. The fecal balls sift out to the trash. Y’know, same as baby diapers go to regular waste. Depending on where we are, the fecal may go under a tree on a lonely cay. We have a transfer bucket for fecal so we have never dumped that overboard, although we do pee thru the nets underway. TP is same as with tank: into a closed wastebasket.

The simplicity makes also for durability. Nothing has broken, but if it should, parts are easily replaced/fabricated.

As to media, we use coir, but do not wet it to break it up, as ambient humidity does most of that work. Usually break up about half a 7-kilo brick into a storage container at a time.

As for gnats, very location dependent. Never had them until this latest long stay in Floriduh. My solution is SEVIN dust (same as for pets’ fleas) in the commode. In summer, will supplement that with a trap: small dish of balsamic vinegar mixed with a bit of soap, left on the counter nearest the head. I also have two litterboxes and those may be the gnat attractors, but I never had gnats until staying here. I did once get flies/maggots, but that was at home when only weekending; had left the used medium in the boat 2weeks. Easily solved by dumping the bucket into the garden and a bleach rinse. Done.

The outer container does a lot to solve guest incidents in that it contains any overages.

There is no way in Hell we would go back to a head and holding tank.

 
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