The Straight Poop on our Composting Toilet


We’ve had a composting (dry) toilet in our Class B RV, Lance, for over a year now.  Folks have been asking us for a review on it since practically day one.  Finally.  FINALLY… we got serious about it and made this video.  Well, we got as serious as we could and tried really hard not to laugh our way through it.  We failed miserably at that, but we did cover everything we could think of in this epic video.  Have a look:

 

What’s our real opinion? Well, our experience with the composting toilet has included fewer unicorns and rainbows than almost every other review or video about them that we’ve seen.  So just be prepared for that.  After more than a year, we’re confident that there are no usage issues (we know how to poop, thanks).  We’re also confident that we’ve tried about everything possible to make it work well.  And our conclusion after all this time is that it honestly does what we got it for – but it’s far from a perfect solution.

You’ll need to watch the video for the complete explanation of these, but really quickly, the main advantages we were seeking from the composting toilet were:

  • Smarter water usage to extend our time afield
  • Improved winter camping ability

The good news is that our composting toilet has really delivered on those points.  But it’s not without some challenges in use – particularly in a camper van.  In no particular order, those are:

  • Venting peculiarities
  • Insect invasions
  • Moisture Management issues
  • Cleaning challenges
  • Liquid capacity limitations
  • Solid capacity limitations
  • Dumping awkwardness

 

Like I said, you’ll need to watch the video for all the details on those.  But after a year, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

So – go ahead and sound off in the comments below.  I’m sure some of you will tell us we’re pooping wrong.    I’m sure some of you will tell us we’re eating wrong.  And I’m sure some of you will tell us we’re nuts for having tried this in the first place.  Maybe you’re all right?  Perhaps.  But in the final analysis – we’re keeping the toilet.

Enjoy!



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    156 thoughts on “The Straight Poop on our Composting Toilet

    1. Sam

      I absolutely love my airhead composting toilet, I have been using it full time for 6 years and my only complaint is having to clean the bowl often, otherwize it stains. I have zero issues with smell, I wish the urine container was a bit bigger. I have no problems with smell. I have had portapottys and holding tanks and there is always lots of issues with them

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Glad you’re happy with yours. We don’t really have smell issues either, unless something goes wrong or we “over-use” it.

        Reply
    2. Stephen Traines

      Hello….my wife and I are in the market for a B Type rv, found your blog and enjoy it very much. Thanks for your informative topics. Re: composting heads. We have used an Airhead in our sailboat for the last three years with much success. No smell, easy emptying of the solids tank every three weeks, liquid tank every couple of days. We are able to empty and recharge the solids tank easily inside the boats head using a 2 mil bag track bag following a procedure described in a previous comment. A few additional comments: TP is used sparingly and depositing in the solids tank ( no separate trash bag req.d), it’s important to saturate with water prior to mixing with the crank. We keep a spray bottle handy for that use. Satuating the TP helps maintain proper moisture content. In addition we keep a spray bottle of 50:50 white vinegar to mist the urine area after each used. As a result there is no smell and keeps the toilet bowl clean. The urine container has no smell accept when emptying, adding a table spoon of sugar can help…

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks for chiming in!
        We would never dream of adding water to our solids tank. We have the opposite problem. We’ve installed a more powerful fan we got from Airhead to combat moisture. But if we could add moisture, I think it would help break down the TP.
        And we can only be envious of your capacity. We could never get three weeks of continuous use.

        Reply
        1. Stephen Traines

          James, I should have included in my comments that we use an entire brick of coconut coir when recharging. We prepare the coir in a 2 gallon zip lock bag, adding sufficient water in order to break apart the coir and create two gallons of lightly moistened material. To your point moisting the TP does help it break down and not wind around the crank. That’s all the water we ever add to the solids tank.

        2. James - Post author

          Yeah, I can see how moistening the TP might keep it from winding around the crank. But I still can’t bring myself to add ANY moisture to the tank. We’re all about removing moisture!

    3. Sharon Reams

      It’s cool for outdoor trip like rv trip or boat trip. But I don’t like it at my home. Thanks for pointing all the positiveness about composting toilets but I don’t like it yet for my home. I never smell bad from my toilet. Its depend on how you clean your bathroom. I clean it on a regular basis and keep a air fresher always into my bathroom….

      Reply
    4. George Moomaw

      This has got to be the most informative, entertaining video video by two of the most likable people on YouTube.
      I now have a lot more thinking to do before swapping out my RV pooper.
      Thank You

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        WOW! I’m flattered AND flabbergasted, LOL! Thanks for the kind words, George! But now I’m wondering…is our one minute of fame going to be from our graphic toilet talk?!?! Lordy don’t let us become “that poop couple”…. 😉 xoxo

        Reply
      2. Jeff

        I agree. It is a good video.

        Good Lord, I’m not wanting one of these. Especially in a case where more than one person is living in the steel box. I can see the idea having merit as an emergency setup for van dwellers.

        I’m still wondering what happens with the bag o’ magic generated at the casino parking lot. Is it left as a kind of organic WMD for the trash guy?

        Reply
    5. MARYANN

      Thank you for this immensely enjoyable video! I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.

      Perhaps you may wish to consider the genius invention called the PETT [Portable Environmental Toilet] as a supplemental unit.

      When closed, it is the size of a briefcase. It is lightweight, yet it can bear the weight of a 500 lb person.

      It uses no water and produces no smell. When used with WAG bags & poo powder, you can go days without replacing the bag.

      When the bag is full, it looks like a kitchen garbage bag and can be placed in any trash receptacle with no awkward stares or biohazard.

      You can get it on Amazon. It will change your life. It will unchain you from your waste receptacle and simplify your life.

      Reply
    6. Mark Kennedy

      Hey guys, thank you so much for the personal, and insightful take on the composting toilet. I’ve watched other reviews but was not really satisfied with the down and dirty. Pardon my pun. I think you did a very good job with a very touchy subject for Americans. And I think it’s just great, that you would do that. You had me in tears when you showed yourself pouring out the supposed urine behind a picnicking couple and their children. That was funny. I think I’d still like to get one but, I’m going to shop around and see if I can find something a little different. Or maybe not. Thank you so much you guys are great.

      Reply
    7. Brad Ramsden

      Well presented guys. I have never been inclined to switch to a composting toilet but then I have 65 gal tanks for all three. I have found that liquid management is the key. I keep a clear 2 /12 sprayer in the bathroom which serves as a bidet and also cleans smears both functions can be done with about a cup of water. Those sprayers also work well for showers when you are in strict conservation mode. I can go for 3 or more weeks without ever having to dump the tanks. Yes most often it is only me and yes I do try to try to collect pee and dump it separately. But mostly I am avoiding the frequent hands on process necessitated by a composting toilet. I also make sure I get enough liquid in the black tank to assure a good flush during dumps. Thanks again for the info. You did point out several things I had yet to deduce about composting toilets.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Glad you liked the video, Brad!
        So many of the composting toilet videos gloss over some of this stuff – so we thought we’d go “all in”!

        Reply
    8. Lou Johnson

      Wonderful video-so funny…I own two Air Heads!! I related to it all!! 🙂 I have a BIG suggestion for your Air Head!! I, too, had very troublesome wet solids tank issues and I fixed it!! Just change out the caulk seal under the seat! Remove the small short bead of caulk and re-caulk that piece like you mean it!! Our solids tank is much better now and two people, full time, can “go” at least two weeks before emptying (not the 30 days as advertised). It was a subtle leak through the caulk and we would have a wet tank only a few days after changing out. Did it to both toilets and they both stay dryer. Keep having fun!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        That seal is one of the first things Airhead had us check. Right now, we’ve actually sent the upper part of the toilet back to Airhead for inspection. There may have been an issue with it. I sort of hope there is. It would be wonderful to fix something mechanical and have the toilet work that much better!

        (I’m with you though, I doubt we’ll ever get 30 days. 2 weeks is a dream right now, so I’d be happy with that.)

        Reply
        1. Lou Johnson

          I tested the seal by placing paper towels in the solids tank (a clean solids tank :-)), poured water in and voila – wet towels! By inspection the seal looked fine! But, wow…the towels were plenty wet! My beefy caulk job has been doing the trick so far.

          I’m new to your site and like it a lot…my son raced as a junior and in collage…those were the days! I can’t tell you how many trips to bike races we made. I’m sure you relate! Would have been real nice to have an RV and personal toilet!!!

          Now, my husband and I are living off grid and have only our Airhead toilets. We keep one clean-ready for when company comes and the other does it “all” for just the two of us. We chose Airhead so we could easily divert the urine directly into our grey water. Works wonderfully!

    9. Bruce Badger

      Hi,

      Great video. You answer the questions that are glossed over on the various manufacturer’s sites.

      Have you considered connecting the inlet air vent to the outside? It seems that would be a source of moisture ingress when using the shower. It would also eliminate the problem with the ceiling fan sucking air back through the “composting” tank.

      Thanks for the informative video.

      Bruce

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We’ve considered moving the vent – but in the end, it’s just more work, more parts, and more holes in the RV.
        We just decided it was easier to deal with it.

        Reply
    10. Lisa Cantrell

      I may be one of the only dissenters here but after living with our Nature’s Head composting toilet for 2 1/2 years we still love it. Now, we do have two urine buckets because, hey, we are 2 over 60 year olds and that means we need t change it every 2 days. We dump one and fill it with a very weak clorox solution (1:50) and let that sit in the basement while using the other. (Since January of 2017 we have been traveling with our 21 year old son who drinks gallons of water a day and change it every day-no biggie.) As for the other stuff-when it was just the 2 of us we were changing every 4-6 weeks. I use it pretty exclusively as I can’t stand the idea of flushing gallons of water to flush. My husband uses it unless we are (1) in a campground and (2) the bathroom is near.
      Changing? Has to be the easiest thing i the world. I put a white plastic garbage bag over the top (fits perfectly and turn the bucket over, bang the bottom a few times to make sure all the stuff is out and then take the bag off. If we are at a friend’s or family and they have a place in the woods or scruff we dump it openly there. There is NO smell. If there is you are doing something wrong.The first few times we used it I cleaned out the bucket and then realized what a waste of time that is (I mean what will we doing but adding more?) With gloves on and using one paper towel I swipe the blades to get off anything that is big and stuck and then dump the new coco coir in and we’re good to go. It’s a 10 minute routine.
      My brother has a solar powered house in WV and is so impressed he’s getting his own.
      And the big secondary benefit? When we have been dry camping for over a week and our 43 gal grey tank is full, we turn the diverter valve to the (former) black tank and double our storage capacity. Frankly, I’d far rather change the composting toilet than deal with one of those blue boys.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, we’re certainly glad you’re happy with your toilet. But for us, 4-6 weeks is somewhere in fantasy-land.
        If you’re traveling with three people, I’m guessing you’ve got more space in your rig than we do. We absolutely don’t have room to change out or empty the toilet in our rig; and believe me, emptying your composting toilet at a campground will certainly get you some odd looks and (if you’re really unlucky) a visit from the campground host.
        Though we do use the toilet regularly for liquids, for solids, we’re now basically down to only using it when there are no other options available.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Cantrell

          I wouldn’t even think of changing it out inside even though we are in a 33′ class A. In our 2+ years fulltiming I have changed it in campgrounds all over the country and have never had a single stare or remark. We don’t use private CG most of the time but since I have seen people in all of them throwing out stinking trash, including diapers, I don’t think twice about the fact that what I am throwing in will break down woth far less danger to the environment.
          I am personally more shocked by the amount of recyclables and waste going into the containers.

    11. Sandra Thornberry

      Hands down, funniest video ever, also very informative! The couple from the Gone With the Wynn’s site did 2 videos on Nature’s Head. They made it look oh so easy, once everything was installed. In fact, they love it so much, that they added 2 to their Catamaran, since they’ve traded rving for sailing. I think that this was a little more realistic. I have thought of putting one in my house, in case of more water problems in California. I still think that I’d rather dump the Airhead than a black tank.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        2 Composting Toilets? That might actually work if we had two. Then we’d only be using each one every other day!

        Reply
    12. Robert

      I always thought the idea of emptying a black water tank was truly disgusting — until today. And you say there is only ONE toilet on the market for wet-baths?!? It sure sounds like a money maker for a clever engineer — especially with the popularity of tiny houses on the rise. Maybe it could be part of a KickFarter campaign?? =]

      Reply
    13. Alex

      Thank you for creating this “One Year In” (Urine?) video! I’ve been considering this type of toilet since we have a permanently placed RV that we use on the weekends. We have to drain the septic tank into a portable “honey wagon” that we then take into town and empty into the campground dump site. Unloading waste from a giant tupperware container with wheels can also be socially awkward and there have been mishaps that, suffice to say, made us the least popular people at the dump station that day. Much to think about.

      Reply
    14. Marilyn

      Hands down the best video on this subject bar none!! Another RV blogging couple did one that was totally useless. Unless we go totally off-grid on s homestead in the future we will skip getting a composting toilet.
      We will happily (well he will) use our black water tank while remembering your great review. You answered so many questions. Thank you!!

      Reply
    15. thomas foster

      I was thinking a vinyl toilet cozy with weighted bottom to help with the shower moisture problem. The run and dump video was a hoot! Thanks.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Usually, we find it in the bathroom. Sometimes, it tries to run away, but it never gets very far. :-p

        Seriously, we got it directly from the manufacturer. Just google “Airhead Toilet”.

        Reply
    16. Susan Osborn

      I don’t know if you’ve thought of this to help with the smelly pee pour. Why not add a little of the port-a-potti liquid to the container prior to using it. We use a porta potti at our cabin, which is used only for peeing in at night. I use the liquid additive and am the one who has to dump it in the outhouse when it’s full. It makes a huge difference. Just a suggestion! Love your videos!! Learnt lots about composting toilets and am still contemplating the idea of switching over.

      Reply
      1. Bill Bly

        Thanks for the video. I was going to put 6 of them in some glamping tents I’ll build a bath house instead. Can’t imagine guest trying to use a composting toilet after watching your video. THANK YOU

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          Probably a good idea. You wouldn’t think there’s a learning curve on how to go to the bathroom… but with a composting toilet, there is!

    17. Pam Pumphrey

      We have the C head bucket model which uses a gallon water jug to hold the urine. We have only had it a month and have come across all the same issues you have described (except no flow for me (thank goodness). The best feature of ours is the crank handle fits into the lid on top which makes it easier to mix. We have not started traveling yet so we have not had that awkward public humiliation. We do have a class A and have plenty of room inside to dump our bucket into a garbage bag but have not tried that yet. I loved your video because it was honest and truthful, thank you. Maybe after our first year I will post a video on the C Head. Take care, happy travels. Pam and Terry

      Reply
    18. Alison Dawson

      I realise it was not your intention to put people off composting toilets however – you put me off composting toilets !!! It’s ok though, whatever method you look at is something I’d rather not talk about and certainly one that I don’t ever want to handle, but the situation needs handling.

      How about this ? I will have amtoilet installed in my Rv however I won’t use it ! What I intend doing (?) is using Double Doodie Toilet Waste Bags ? These are not cheap $13.95 – $16.95 depending on you need for large or small – utmthat proce is only for $6.00 ! * Box of six portable toilet waste bags for easy clean-
      up
      * Inner waste bag and leak-proof outer carry bag
      * Double zip locking for a secure seal
      * Designed for easy no mess waste disposal
      * Can be used with most Reliance and other portable
      toilets

      Then, I’ve seen heaps of people use ordinary garbage bags, you know, two plastic bags on a bucket. I’m not doing that !

      Surely if I used these in my camper I can close them up and throw into a rubbish bin ? Maybe ?

      See I could do that ok, toilet pap, numbers one and two — finish up – store in toilet/bathroom and dispose of at next stop ? Plus, it will keep my toilet in pristine condition if I plan to sell ! It’s only myself and dog, who doesn’t usually use a toilet, so I reckon it should be fine. The h, I’d have lots of air freshener too ?

      I trust you advice, you have been more honest than most, I am from Australia and I can use Amazon for this, as they will deliver to Queensland, where I live !

      Good luck guys, you are a terrific couple, somehow how I pictured my husband and I before he passed away years ago – but I’m only 54 – he would have been 64 but he was a fit fellow. Safe travels, catch you on the roundabout, happy trails, Alison xoxox

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        It’s an interesting world we live in.
        Funny to think that what happens in our little camper has an impact on the toilet habits of someone literally on the other side of the world!
        We’re glad you found our video valuable. Your toilet solution would certainly work, and if you’re comfortable with it – that’s all that matters.
        Do give us a shout if you make it over to the States!

        Reply
    19. Wendy

      I totally loved that you, James, turned into an 8 year old boy at moments in your video and that Steph was Director of Operations as is normal in most relationships. What would you guys do without the women right?
      I was previously sold on the composting toilet before and perhaps I am still but with a few more reservations. But since you are still sticking with it I may still be there. However on a video I saw at some time the inventor (?) of the Natures Head toilet said that he vents his CT in his RV through the black tank and I wondered if that would take care of some of the problem. What are your feelings on this? Also how about a nice bland bag to carry the urine receptacle in on the trips to dump it? Also if you are boon docking without facilities around where do you dump the daily load?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hi Wendy.
        I don’t think that venting through the black tank would really solve any problem except perhaps an installation issue. If anything, venting through the black tank (instead of straight outside) would give you increased back pressure on the vent fan and I don’t think it would work as well.
        Someone else recommended a “Urine Cozy” or something less industrial looking to carry the jug in. My worry with something like that would be spilling onto it, or having to put it on the floor in a pit toilet or something. Then, being fabric, it would get icky quickly.
        As far as what to do with the urine while camping in the woods alone? Well, we just disperse it onto the ground.

        Reply
        1. Wendy

          Would it be frowned on to do that anyway just out in the forest or so? Obviously not in the same spot for days at a time. Why do you need to make the trip to the public loos? I am not sure of the health regulations but it doesn’t seem to stop many men ducking behind a nearby tree when nature calls so not a lot of difference? Or am I missing something? There is even a “Go Girl” for ladies available to be able to do the same thing.

    20. John Harrison

      After watching the video it seems like this is not a composting toilet but a dump container that needs disposal every day . I think I have the answer for you , what you need is a “PROPANE TOILET” . They are very sanitary and it disposes of the waste material by “INCINERATION” .

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        OMG, I love the idea! It sounds fun and terrifying at the same time!
        I wonder if we’d start disposing of regular trash in the toilet??

        Reply
    21. Tumbleweed

      I’ve had a Nature’s Head composting toilet for 5 years and don’t have the problems you have with your toilet. I can’t compare it size-wise with your toilet because I’d never heard of your brand and thus have seen it only in your video, but mine must be larger because I need to empty the solids tank only once every two months and I’m definitely not constipated. It really does become compost and NEVER smells. I place ALL toilet paper into a plastic bag, so that’s partly why I needn’t dump often. I throw the toilet paper bag into a trash can whenever one is available. I boondock, so when it’s time to empty the tank, I put the solid waste into a plastic bag and dump it out under a bush or tree, knowing that it will do the plant life some good and won’t attract varmints. Every four days I need to dump the liquid, and dispose of that under a tree or bush also.

      However, your solids tank looks like it’s easier to empty than mine. I’ve found an easier way to do it than the one suggested in the Nature’s Head manual, but it’s still a hassle. I’ve concluded that a composting toilet is very handy if you boondock, but a regular toilet would probably be better if you stay in campgrounds.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Sounds like you’ve got a balanced view of things.
        All I can say on your capacity is: We envy you (and you should probably drink more water). 🙂
        There is no way we could use the liquids tank for four days. For us, it really is every day, sadly.
        As for the solids – like we said in the video: know your poo. The plate of potatoes in the video is pretty representative of a day’s use for us. But clearly – not for you.
        Anyway, thanks for commenting!

        Reply
    22. John Lock

      Thanks or such an informative (and thorough) video! My wife and I do not have our RV yet, but we’re researching all aspects of RV living and as confirmed “greenies” we were convinced that a composting head was the way to go. But you covered a number of real world (practical) issues that we had not thought of. AND from both a male and female perspective! Huzzah! We’ve now swung the other direction and think a black tank is a better choice for our projected usage. Subscribed and looking forward to more reviews and good research data.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Glad you liked the video.
        You’re right – it all comes down to your projected usage.
        If a composting toilet works for you, then go for it. If not, you’ve got lots of company there too!
        There’s no one right way to RV.

        Reply
    23. Hanson

      Thanks for finally doing the toilet video, I see why it has taken so long.

      We are in the process of having a van fitted out for us and chose the churnless BoonJon from C-Head fitted with a EUD to pipe the urine into an 18 gallon black tank. I hope to post our own update once we’ve had experience with it.

      One suggestion: Sandy at C-Head did a video on the various media for separating toilets https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUJRJxf_uMk&feature=youtu.be. At 3:48 he talks about equine pine pellets for absorbing excess moisture and how, generally, wood shavings absorb better that coconut and peat moss.

      Again, great video. Thanks for all the information.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks. I’ll have a look.
        Though honestly, since we now know it doesn’t make compost, my current thinking is, “why try?”
        There are inorganic compounds (silica gel, for example) that absorb moisture even better. Thinking about trying those as a (gross) experiment.

        Reply
        1. Hanson

          Right, “composting” is not accurate. They really are UDDT or Urine Diverting/Dehydrating Toilets.

    24. Ted Hall

      Oh wow thanks for being so honest. Most of the other videos are painting the picture very different. I will think and investigate much more before jumping into this option!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yeah. After trying it out for a year, we just couldn’t join hands and sing Kumbaya with the rest of the composting toilet fanboys. 😉

        Reply
    25. Claire Rachaels

      Hi James- Very informative and helpful. I will be purchasing either a Travato or an Aktiv. Is it possible to install a cassette toilet in the Travato? Stef’s comments were especially helpful.

      Rachael

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, anything’s *possible* when it comes to RV mods…
        If you want to install a cassette toilet afterwards, you’ll want to make sure you can get one with the cassette accessible from inside, and not through a trap door. (Unless you want to cut big holes in the side of your RV!)
        It should be possible though, without too much difficulty.

        Reply
    26. Allie

      Thanks for being so candid! You answered some questions that others have glossed over. I’ve mostly seen videos about Nature’s Head in past. Now I’m not sure if the glowing reviews of composting toilets (by Nature’s Head owners) are because that brand somehow functions better or because the reviewers aren’t as candid. If I were to install one, I would select Air Head for the same reasons you outlined.

      Reply
    27. MikeSunstar35F

      This is by far the most informative and entertaining video I have seen on composting toilets. I just stumbled upon you guys and now am a subscriber! Alas based on your review, I’m sticking to a normal toilet (but we have a class A with a bath and a half -2 black tanks) so capacity for the 2 of us hasn’t been any issue yet. Thanks!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hi Mike – Welcome aboard!
        If you’ve got something that’s working for you, I see no reason to change it just for the sake of change.
        See you on the road!

        Reply
    28. Ron Merritt

      LOL guys, good stuff! I “know” my poo enough to take a pass on this one. Look forward to your review of a Squatty Potty coupled with the airhead.

      Reply
    29. Karen-Marie Sarratt

      Not sure if you know or not, watched the vid but have not read all the comments left here but
      There are health benefits for guys who sit rather than stand. It is a long time ago since I studied this so there may be additional information out there now. Google is your friend here lol

      Reply
    30. Jimmie Faulk

      Dump and run! too funny!! I was seriously considering buying one of these for our class C. Have you watched the “gone with the wynns “video? They claim they only have to dump the solids every 60 to 80 uses. 20 days? with the 2 of them twice a day. Thank you for the honest and entertaining video. I guess it back to the dump station for us!

      Reply
    31. Andre Menard

      That was an awesome video. Really funny…thanks. I look forward to all your videos.

      I was wondering about the moisture problem with the wet bath…is it sucking moisture from the intake on the side of the toilet (the screen that allowed the bugs to take up residence)?

      Andre

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hey Andre – thanks for watching!
        It would have been a really peculiar shot for water to get in the vent hole. The way the toilet sits, that hole is at 90 degrees to the shower head. One would have to take the shower head over there to get water into it.
        I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but I don’t think it’s too likely. We’ve never figured it out. Maybe next time I clean the toilet out, I can try some tests.

        Reply
    32. Kevin

      One of the best videos ever! Very funny and informative!
      Thanks guys for telling us The Good The Bad and The Ugly of composting toilets.
      Even though they’re more expensive I think I’m going to go with the dry flush toilet they sound a whole lot simpler even though the bags are expensive you should be able to use a little cat litter to extend their use!
      Thanks again for making this video.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Kevin! Glad you liked it.
        My wheels are actually turning on the cat litter idea in ours. Expect a (slightly gross) experiment soon.
        I mean, since it doesn’t really make compost, why are we trying, right?
        Maybe I could even find those “DO NOT EAT” silica gel packets in bulk and cut them open to go in the toilet…

        Reply
    33. Paul A. Jackson

      Am going to add to what that beautiful little child said, “That Was So Perfect” Thank You James and Stefany for that enlightening and very humorous look at the Composting Toilet. Your Thoughts on the Bio-Let or as it is called in The Great White North the MullToa?, I know there are electrical considerations but have you heard from any RVers that have used that style of CT? And did you consider it? Sounds like the Moisture situation could be rectified? Thanks once again for a good laugh, nice way to start the day, sorry gotta go!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hey Paul – I’ve actually thought about putting a heater under our composting toilet, but ultimately concluded that it would draw too much electricity to really work as I intended. Also, it seems kind of big for a class B wet bath, and I don’t know if it could handle getting wet. But I like the idea in general. Don’t know of anyone who has used one in an RV though (but that doesn’t mean nobody has).
        Glad you found our video entertaining – in the end, humor was the best way we could deal with an uncomfortable topic.

        Reply
    34. Claire J. Kohler

      At 6:00 in the morning, I have never laughed so much. I cried laughing. Yet…it was very informative…done so well. But what a great start to a day.This was the first time I have seen any of your posts and look forward to more. In the 6 yrs. we had a Winnebago View….never dealt with any of thing like this….I’ll take the ”old” style toilet. Thank you for such a funny (but educational) video!! 🙂 🙂

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Welcome aboard!
        We’re glad that people are able to see past the humor and get the useful information out of it. It was a tough subject!

        Reply
      2. Ed

        Okay so where is the comment button?? Well anyway this was an eye opening video, but all this talk about #1 and #2 and the trials and tribulations was a little unsettling but funny through your ability to make it so. I did learn one thing though, I will never switch to a composting toilet, ever. One suggestion, could you make some type of circular vinyl cover that you could put over the toilet when you shower?? Love your videos, keep up the good work, btw, did either of you work in radio, you both have radio voices. One more question, why are comments disabled on youtube?

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          Hi Ed.
          There actually is a shower curtain that Winnebago provided that can seal off the toilet area. We’ve never used it because we don’t want one more “wet” thing to deal with after taking a shower – but we may have to go there. We can either use that, or I can take the material and sew up a cover of our own from it.
          As far as the YouTube comments – we’ve never enabled them. In our experience, they tend to attract a lot of trolls. Yes, I know you can always ban them, but since we both have day jobs, and this is just a hobby for us, chasing down comments and keeping everyone polite in more than one place would be more work than we’re willing to commit to. So we try to guide folks to our web site (besides that, there’s a lot more content here than just the videos).
          Anyway – thanks for watching!
          (And no, neither of us has ever worked in radio. Though I do think it would be fun to do voiceover work.)

    35. Russell Gilmore

      Thank you guys for covering this subject! I have years of experience with RV toilets, but non with composting toilets. Thanks to you I understand them, and now know that I would rather go back to using outhouses. My wife and I laughed our heads off over your video. I find it funny that you first got an RV so that you would have a bathroom with you instead of using the port-o-potties at bicycle races. And now you have to give your toilet some days off at times, so you probably have to go back to public! Keep up the good work! I’m still laughing.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Trust me, you’re not the only one who’s noticed that irony…
        (Although, for cycling events, I make sure it’s an “on” day for the toilet!)

        Reply
    36. Ron

      I’ve waited for this to see how “very” physically active RVers on the road handle disposing the waste in making jet fuel. James being an aerospace engineer knows that it’s serious business at the launch pad (Lance) on the day of the event. For us, my wife has appreciated that I go to a facility that is more suitable in handling the waste fuel processing (service building).

      Reply
        1. Stefany

          LOL! Nah, it really isn’t all that bad! Although on “rest” days, those porta potti’s do become quite useful!

    37. David Golembeski

      Well done. Bathroom humor is always hilarious, plus this video was packed with practical advice I’ve never heard anywhere else. Thank you. I’m planning a van build and had convinced myself I wanted a composting toilet…but now, I’m thinking of saving the $1000 and using a 5 gallon bucket, plastic bags and kitty litter and/or coconut coir/sawdust. The bucket method would eliminate a lot of the negatives you mentioned. If you could do it over again, (a composting toilet) would you?

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        Gosh, it wasn’t our intent to turn anyone off to composting toilets! Like anything, the negatives are easier to talk about, lol. Honestly Dave we have no intention of getting rid of ours and we DO recommend them especially for campervan people looking to extend their boondocking and winter capabilities. We can work with the idiosyncracies, monitoring the moisture content, backing off when the compost needs time to dry, things like that. But, ya know, you brought up an interesting topic…kitty litter. Since we know we aren’t making compost, why do we continue to try? Wonder how the Airhead would do if we replaced the coconut coir with kitty litter! (Perhaps a future experiment, James???)

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          I love it! Except I would have to get over the feeling that we’re using a litter box…
          Or maybe somehow this helps if we want to bring Mel along?
          I mean, I could do it in the name of science – but I don’t know if I’d want to live with it in the RV…

    38. David Dougherty

      Very well done. Hard to talk about but absolutely essential to know about. Glad to hear the good and the bad from someone who isn’t commercially involved with one type. I think this was very balanced and great information. You even made it funny. Too often advocates of one type of toilet or another proselytize and ignore any negatives.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, it’s tough to ignore the negatives in a 21 foot van!
        It’s just kind of a weird subject – we did our best. Glad you liked it!

        Reply
      1. Bill Sprague

        On edit, I saw your reasons. The video was a hoot! I spent part of my working life as a facilities engineer at a sewage treatment plant. Therefore, Bill knows poop! LOL!

        Reply
      2. Stefany

        That one’s easy! The biggest cassette toilet we’ve seen holds 5 gallons. Remember, we produce 2 gallons of LIQUID waste a day with NO FLUSH WATER!!! The cassette also requires water. We’d be emptying the cassette every day. And by “we” I mean James.

        Reply
        1. Richard Kilbride

          As you know, here in Europe practically all M/Hs use a cassette and we can empty them as you do the liquid one in any public convenience. Mine is fed from the mains water tank (on board) and has never frozen. When laid up its always empty anyway. I use bio laundry sachets as an anti odour medium. It certainly does not seem as much hassle as the compost toilet. Most now have a cassette with an extendable handle and wheels. So you look like your off to board a train or plane… We perhaps don’t get such severe minus temps as you do.

        2. Stefany

          I’d totally agree cassette toilets are less hassle than composting toilets, since you don’t have to worry about monitoring moisture content. But it’s just trading one hassle for another. With cassettes, you’re wheeling an entire tank through Starbucks to dump, instead of carrying a little jug of pee. And for us, we’d be doing that every day. With all these toilet options, I guess it just comes down to which annoyances can you most live with? They all have their pros and cons! With cassettes finally finding their way over here to the US, it’ll be interesting to see how they are received. 🙂

        3. James - Post author

          All good points – but there’s still the capacity issue. We produce about 2 gallons (over 7 liters) of liquid waste per day – and that’s without any flush water in it.
          With a 5 gallon tank, and flush water, we’d likely need to empty the cassette every single day.
          That would mean we could never stay off in the forest or desert for more than one evening without “checking in” to civilization each day.
          I know we move around a lot, but that just doesn’t sound appealing.

    39. Mike Fisher

      haaaaaaa…fantastic stuff here guys. I will say you did a real good job on this topic and you showed the good and the bad and even gave an ending comment with was positive as it did fit your needs.
      I have a friend who is going to Vegas for a show and if I write this up and give it to him I am sure the bit will be a total hit even a smash hit! When you get the both of you doing the presentation you make the topic enjoyable to the point of being crazy funny.
      My dad was a plumber all of his adult life after his return from wwII and if he was to hear your topic the way you explained it he would be busting a gut but with out any moisture. He has passed away now but if I ever went to his site at the cemetery and played this and with his love of humorous life storied I bet we could hear his laughing below ground. Thanks for the education and the humor that goes with it and James when you remember not to stand just mention my name and I can assure you you will get a good seat!! Thanks guys and have a nice Thanks Giving Holiday just remember with the composter take it easy on the turkey!! < FISH <

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Howdy Fish! We’re so glad everyone appreciates the “toilet humor”, and we appreciate your kind words.
        You have a great Thanksgiving holiday yourself – and I hope you can have as much turkey as you want. Me? Well there’s this toilet issue I haven’t quite got figured out yet…
        PS – Your dad sounds like a hoot!

        Reply
    40. 99999janice

      LMFAO. THIS IS ONE OF THE FUNNIEST VIDEOS I HAVE EVER WATCHED. Gnats flying up between your legs OMG. I agree, the best part was the couple on the grass. Great job you guys. Thanks.

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        LOL, Janice! Yeah, the couple on the grass were my son Tyler and daughter-in-law Anna and the grandkids…that scene still cracks me up!!!

        Reply
    41. Bob Bedell

      Great, great video!!!!

      I think you have added a valuable perspective to all the “put in a composting toilet and never need to go to a dump station again” comments. I now look at our porta-potti with new appreciation!

      Maybe a quick pros/cons summary to the article/video?

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        Hi Bob! Yeah, we tried to cover everything we could think of in the video…hence the reason it’s SOOOO long! Pros are a short list and I can give them to you now. 1. Saves water. 2. No fear of any freezing problems so we can winter camp to our heart’s content. For us, those are the only pros, but we see those as huge reasons to consider composting toilets. Those are the two reasons we’ll continue to keep it!

        Reply
    42. Rande M

      We have to laugh about this too because we have an Airhead in our custom Promaster…we are so paranoid now about all we have heard from you and others… after we insisted on having it – that neither one of us wants to be the first one to use it as a solid waste management system. We were traveling for a month and I had to train myself to use a public restroom which I would never ever do before….and that kind of ruins one of my loves of having an RV…which is – you don’t have to use a public toilet when traveling!

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        Oh my, Rande!!! If you’ve gone a month with public restrooms, you’ll have NO PROBLEM with a composting toilet, lol! Seriously, though…don’t be afraid to use it! It can work, just monitor the moisture and you’ll be golden.

        Reply
        1. leia

          I haven’t watched the video but I’m reading all the comments and “just monitor the moisture and you’ll be golden” really strikes me funny.

    43. Lynda

      OMG… I was laughing so hard during the “dump and run” reenactment that I scared my dog. Hilarious! Thanks so much. I think I’ve determined I’ll not be using a compost toilet 🙂

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Typically, yes.
        Though on the internet, everyone is a legal expert. (Which pretty much means they’re all wrong.)
        There was one site from some folks who had a composting toilet where the writer had actually tried to get to the bottom of that. They did a pretty balanced and thorough job.
        If I find that article again, I’ll post it back here.

        Reply
      2. leia

        LOL! This post reminds me of the old prank about a bag of said substance, a lit match and a doorbell.

        (I really need to watch this video but we’re watching TV and I don’t think my husband is going to go for an “we interrupt The Voice” to tune into an RV Poo Story” 🙂 )

        Reply
    44. Terry Lee

      I’ve always thought the “glowing” reviews of composting toilets (such as this one http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/composting-toilet) were a bunch of … wait for it … crap. You’ve confirmed that with an extremely well done, honest video. During the video I was wondering about how to deal with the big D. You addressed that at the end – you don’t.

      The fact that you don’t regret your decision tells me you have a very specialized RV style. Thanks for an honest, objective review.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yeah. I guess we’re kind of realistic about the whole thing.
        I’ve more or less resigned myself to using other facilities whenever I can. It’s kind of a pain – particularly in the mornings when I’d rather just sit and sip coffee…
        But everything in RV life is a trade-off of one kind or another.

        Reply
    45. Jay and Ming

      Had to laugh, great video.

      I’m having Advanced RV install my composting toilet. The reason is the toilet I’ve chosen.
      It’s the Swedish made toilet called Separett Villa 9210
      I’m hoping too eliminate one of the problems of the urine bucket.
      Check out this toilet maybe its something to consider.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yah – others have recommended the Separett.
        What I really like about them is they don’t try to kid you into thinking you’re making compost in your toilet. Also – there’s no worry about refilling it. It’s just a bag.
        If we do this again… maybe.
        Thanks for watching!

        Reply
    46. Dan

      Thanks. We’ll stick with the marine head and black tank. Athletes aren’t the only ones who drink an inordinate amount of water. Singers’ rule: sing wet and pee pale.

      Reply
    47. Anita

      Hysterical! Thanks for going the extra mile and taking on this topic. Well done. I didn’t know any of this information. I love the suggestion to get your mom to make a cover for the “units.” You could put Eddie Bower’s name on the covers and make them a designer item. Thanks again for an informative and very funny video!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, I’ve learned to sew myself.
        Now, I finally know how we can make money with this web site: Designer Urine Tank Covers!
        Lol!!

        Reply
    48. Sharon

      Okay well I can give you a little word of the wise being a retired truck driver with 100 inch sleeper with a composting toilet if you put a little bit of Fabuloso in your urine collecting tank you would be amazed at the fact that the smell is really not bad or intense intense ..the green or the red colored one was the best whatever you do do not use the lavender LOL I did this for several years and I actually got this advice from from people who use porta potties in their trucks try it you’re going to actually be surprised it has disinfecting qualities awesome

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Fabuloso, huh?
        That, and the urinal cakes are two helpful suggestions I’ve gotten.
        The Fabuloso is probably cheaper…

        Reply
    49. chris

      couldn’t you guys just pipe the pee into your black tank? Or if you didn’t get a black tank couldn’t you pipe it into your grey tank instead of using the tank on the toilet?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We could. But then it would be subject to freezing. And with only a 13 gallon black tank (which also takes our shower water), we would have a maximum of 6 days (with no showers) before we would have to dump.
        It would require some kind of an adapter. Not sure if that’s a readily available part, or if I would have to fabricate it.
        Also would have to drill extra holes in the floor. etc. etc. etc.

        Reply
        1. Alain

          Since you have the toilet on a raised platform, you can route the pipe to the original toilet drain with an adapted (probably home made) fitting. No new holes to drill. It will need to be adapted to use the removable tank in winter. Doesn’t the shower go to the grey tank, or was that one of your modifications?

        2. James - Post author

          Shower goes to black – by way of a macerator pump. I am absolutely NOT running pee through a macerator pump.
          And since we never had a toilet in the first place, there’s no hole to the below the toilet.
          I’m sure anything could be done if I was determined enough. But I don’t know that I am.

    50. Alain

      I bow to the master video makers. Even your most vocal critics can not fail to be entertained by your funny rendering of our more basic bodily functions. And while Amelia was adorable, Mel stole my heart in the role of the cuddly cat.

      I took the plunge today and ordered ours. Since you seem to have had all the bugs, I expect my install will be smooth sailing (yeah…sure…LOL). I ordered the Nature’s Head, mostly because of strong support from the Canadian distributor, but also because I like a design that has the fan directly mounted on the toilet and pushing the air in the output tube. But either one would probably have been OK.

      I plan to pipe the liquids directly to the black tank, so the urine tanks will not be used, so no need to lift the toilet to remove it. We will need to regularly dumps grey water, so dumping the black tank at the same will not be an issue. But I do expect time between dumpings to be compatible with extended boondocking (I hope, fingers crossed).This might be a solution to your daily urine dumps.

      Also, have you though of adding a passive outside vent to the input side, to pull in outside air directly in the toilet, so the Fantastic fan would not create a depression? This is an occasional practice on fireplaces to avoid smoking with the kitchen fan running.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Alain!
        Yes, I thought about an air intake for the toilet. (I have a similar situation with the dust collector in my shop – I need to exhaust the air back inside to avoid creating a vacuum.) But I really didn’t want any more holes in my van! Plus, where that toilet sits, I didn’t want to mess with creating any kind of weird suction that would pull automotive exhaust into the vehicle.
        Best of luck with yours. Hey, at least you’re informed!

        Reply
    51. Josh

      James, go buy a Separett toilet and all your troubles are solved. We live full time in our Promaster conversion and love our Separett. I had used a Nature’s Head before so I knew of the issues.
      We have the Privy kit built into a box.

      @gratefulpursuit on Instagram for photos.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yeah. In retrospect, a Separett might have been better. But while we wouldn’t have had to deal with the urine tank, we would have had to route it somewhere (probably to the former black tank). And then we have to worry about it freezing, I suppose. But I really do like the built-in bag, and the idea that they don’t try to kid you that you’re making compost.

        Reply
        1. Alain

          I asked the question today to my Nature’s Head dealer if it could be used in the same “mode” as the Separett (he sells both) by removing the agitator and inserting a fitted bucket with a bag. He has not tried it but thinks it could work. Maybe you can try that. At least it would be simple to empty. I was leaning towards the Separett, but the footprint was too big for my bathroom, even the smaller model. And apparently, it is less robust than either the Nature’s Head or the Airhead for RV application. The regular Separett also has a bigger and more powerful fan, which would have been nice.

        2. James - Post author

          Interesting idea.
          But if our toilet turns foul with additional dry bulking matter, wouldn’t it get REALLY foul without it?
          I’d need a much bigger fan. And probably a 2 speed fan so it could be quiet for sleeping.
          And I’d need holes in the bag to let air in and out.
          But maybe we’ll try it as an experiment next time we empty it…

        3. Josh

          Our Separett toilet is just the Privy 501 kit on top of a custom box. Inside the box is another small box where we put the bag. The urine is diverted to our grey tank. You could also divert it to a bottle like the Airhead/Nature’s Head I presume. The coconut coir/peat moss makes no sense. It’s the exhaust fan that removes the odors. We tried three different computer fans and settled on a fairly high powered one. It is audible but not loud. We have no odors unless we turn the Fantastic Vent on high in exhaust mode. I have seen the Separett Villa and it is slick. If we had the space I would have chosen it.

    52. Lauren Meyer

      I used a composting toilet in a closet in my airbnb loft. It was just the 5 gallon bucket with double trash bags (with a regular toilet seat). I had a mixture of peat moss and sawdust for people to cover their deposits. Solids and liquids mix. Not one customer complained about it. When I emptied after they left, there was no smell. If you are going to dump the waste in a trash receptacle or dumpster anyway, I would do this instead in a heartbeat. Very simple, no smell. If it fills up before you can dump it somewhere, you could seal it with a lid and store somewhere else until you came to a dumpster, while using another for the toilet. We carried human waste for 12-18 days for 20 people on the Colorado River while running commercial river trips. It was stored in 20 ml ammo cans (lined with trash bags) on our boats and dumped at the local garbage dump at the end of the trip. Look up the Humanure videos! There’s a much easier way!
      /Users/Lauren/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/Thumbnails/2015/10/28/20151028-193330/TU4PSxpJRx2Oqxv%H9+1Qg/thumb_IMG_0504_1024.jpg

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Oh yes – I’m familiar with the “groover”. I guess the big difference with those, is that you’re not keeping them with you in your RV, but on the edge of your camp, outside.

        Reply
    53. Rainey

      Thank you for your open and honest review. Some people skirt around things that you guys, even if it was uncomfortable, talked openly about. This review is really going to to help is make our decision.

      Reply
    54. Andy

      Great video but I think I’ll stick with the black tank, there’s just something about carrying bags of poop and bottles filled with urine that doesn’t appeal to me

      Reply
    55. Ted

      Ha, ha, Somewhere in the future I see a request for Stef’s mom to sew an attractive (but not “too attractive”) “Urine Cozy” to make it look like you’re carrying a dish for a church Potluck dinner.

      I wonder if you can experiment with adding some of Mel’s cat litter for moisture control. A small amount of the stuff works pretty well for drying up and solidifying cans of paint.

      Have you tried covering the toilet with a garbage bag to keep the shower water out?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’ll have to think about the litter. That may not be a bad idea – if I can get over the idea that I’m using a litter box…
        As far as a garbage bag over the toilet for showering. We thought of that, but decided to just remove the toilet. Reason being – when we were done, we’d have a wet garbage bag to deal with instead of a dry toilet. Just seemed less messy, and as long as the toilet is working properly, taking it out of the bathroom for a little while isn’t a big issue.

        Reply
    56. Stefany

      Did ya’ll catch the best part of the whole video (hidden AFTER the credits) when “Baby” sums it all up, “that was so gross…” HA!

      Reply
    57. Peter

      I don’t own a RV, but have watched a few of your videos and think they’re great – thank you! I even watched this one through to the…end…curious about composting toilets and how well they work (or don’t). Thanks for a interesting, informative and entertaining video!

      Reply
    58. Ray Brown

      You may not be aware of your extreme service to the online RV community, especially with respect to using the toilet (that’s the best way I could put it) with your “scientific” tests and observations. I always give you a thumbs up for the knowledge (and humor!). The composting toilet video is extremely helpful in knowing that it would not be for us, but I had previously wondered about it. Greatly interesting, however, and we admire your dedication to minimizing water usage which we understand completely with our Pleasure-Way. The child was the star of the show, BTW. Keep up your good work.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Ray.
        I didn’t want to come off as either rabidly for or against the composting toilet. But I did want everyone to know exactly what they might be getting into.
        Like everything, it has its sweet spot, and it has its limitations. I want people to know them both, and choose what’s best for them.
        And I actually read that whole book to the grand baby. It was hilarious. 🙂

        Reply
      2. Drew

        +1 Some of the negative videos on composting toilets were done by folks who clearly did not follow instructions. You guys clearly DID do everything by the book, so your observations and advice are much more valuable to me.

        You end this article by stating that you’re keeping the toilet, but what will you do if/when you move to a different RV?

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          Good question.
          If we got a new RV, what we did would probably depend on the RV.
          If it had one of those ginormous black tanks like on those Class A rigs… I’d see no reason whatsoever to go with anything else.
          If it somehow had heated holding tanks – that didn’t require draining your batteries – I might look at a Separett system.
          In the same situation we are now, I don’t think I’d do anything different – though the Separett is tempting.

    59. Andy & Kim

      Finally, “High Tech Pit Toilet: The Movie”! We give it 5 “OMG’s”!!!!

      RVing is always a series of trade offs, and this seems to have accomplished what you wanted. Just wondering, if a Euro style cassette toilet would do about the same with less “dirty job” maintenance?

      The run through the park episode was absolutely priceless!

      Happy Trails,
      Andy & Kim

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        You guys are awesome! We got some funny looks filming that one… 🙂
        About the cassette toilet though: The largest capacity I’ve seen on a cassette is about 5 gallons. Since we produce about 2 gallons of liquid waste every day – without even adding any flush water – we’ve kind of given up on the cassette idea. We figure we’d be dumping a cassette every day. Or every other day at best.

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          Yep! (I remembered that when I started looking for cassette toilets with large capacity… you’d get quite a workout!)

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