Look Away

Everyone knows that I tinker in homemade devices.  I could spend a lot of money to buy things that are built for the purpose, but it’s not my style. I may be a little redneck. I built an evaporate cooler, solar water heater, and a trailer to move my solar panels to the sun, all from parts at the hardware store. Every project has been fun and all have worked well for their purpose. This post is mainly to document another project that I have been thinking about for a while now. The subject may be too gross for some, and this is warning to turn away if that’s the case. The topic for this post  is a composting toilet. 

My toilet has always had an odor whenever I drive to my next location. I have changed sealing rings and tried vent diverters to stop the smell but it hasn’t helped. I thought once of replacing it, but I’m not sure the smell is coming from the toilet itself and not the tank, so I just deal with it. As long as I’m parked there is no odor. 

Any nomad can tell you that finding water and dumps are a big hassle when you live in a motorhome. That’s what got me to exploring the idea of a composting toilet.   Composting toilets use no water and they can last a month or more before they have to be emptied. The waste mixes with a composting material like peat moss and can be disposed legally in dumpsters or used as fertilizer on non-edible plants. The urine is separate and sterile and can be dumped in the woods or vault toilets. 

YouTube is great for exploring devices and teaching how to build or fix any project, and I have to admit I surfed many videos to learn about composting toilets. The only thing holding me back from buying a new toilet is the price tag. Natures Head the best name in composting toilets is just over $1000. 

Installation is simple and there is no smell once they are in use. They are designed to separate the solid from liquid, and a small fan dries the waste and moves any odor out of the house through a vent tube. The biggest problem with composting toilets is separating the liquid from solids. Too much liquid in the compost waste material will not break down the bacteria and turn it inert. Because men and women are built differently, there has to be build in diverters to separate chambers. 

After studying toilet designs for a while, I realized that the composting chamber is nothing more that a bucket with a vent tube and a rod to stir the composting material. I purchased a 5 gallon plastic pail, cut a hole in the side near the top for a vent hose, and built a padded seat with a computer fan to remove moisture and odor.  All the parts have not arrived yet and I’m still experimenting with the rod to stir the mixture. For now I set the bucket outside until I get the vent hose. It seems to be working well, but like everything else I make, a work in progress. 

This part is a little embarrassing but I want to answer this question- how do I separate my urine from solids? The answer is: part of a man can remain outside the bucket where there is a bottle to collect that part separately.  Anytime number one is required, the bottle is used. I hope I didn’t gross you all out with my potty talk.  I still plan to use my water toilet. This is just a way to extend and experiment other options.

this is where a picture would go of a bucket.

Update to my location. After camping at Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff, I moved to a place near Hutch Mountain on the Lake Mary road. I’m now in the Sitgraves forest near Forest Lakes. There is a lake near here called Willow Springs where I will try to launch my kayak soon. There have been some heavy monsoon thunderstorms in the last couple weeks. We really need the rain.

3 Responses to “Look Away”

  1. Daryl says:

    Nobody wants to comment on this topic!

  2. RV John says:

    The none poplar subject … well, it has got to be dealt with … At least once a day for most of us.
    The best thing about being hooked up!!

  3. Karen says:

    What a great idea Dad!! I think the whole composting toilet thing makes so much sense. We will learn from you and DIY our own once we get traveling full time. 😊

Leave a Reply