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  • Anyone made a composting toilet?
  • Premier Icon TheBrick
    Free Member

    As title. Anyone built one and found little tweaks that were useful?

    A few rough plans online, some suggesting a Wheely bin but this doesn’t seem to allow the air flow required. Others suggest a 12v fan forcing air so air flow is from inside to chamber to outside to minimise smells.

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
    Full Member

    I had one as our main household toilet for nine years….. separated liquid off into an outflow and eventual soakaway, off the peg toilet system, not home made. The day we moved into a house with flushing toilet was a day of celebration! I designed one for an NT outdoor site, it used a wheelie bin, in a well ventilated outdoor building, occasional use, no need for fan. Main thing to get right is liquid run off, if you separate wee youll need a soakaway, check out the EA website for guidelines. You can accommodate a certain amount of wee in your wheelie bin, in fact you need a bit to keep it active, so depending on how often it’s used you may be ok without soakaway. I’m back in at work on Tuesday, I can look up my notes if you want…
    Edit….the one in the house DEFINITELY needed (and had) an extractor fan set up!

    Premier Icon TheBrick
    Free Member

    Thanks what do you mean off the shelf toilet system?

    Usage will be primarily summer. Amount will be moderate. Planning on a very small (5pitch tent only) eco campsite. Planed one for years and finally have an opportunity for one.

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
    Full Member

    Google separat toilets, think bucket which you empty daily/whenever into remote compost midden. There are other systems available, for small campsite you will need EA approval. Youd’ be better with a bespoke system, separating liquids off (two main ways of doing this), dropping into wheelie bin which you’ll need to be able to swap. What will you be doing with the composted stuff?
    The separet toilet we used laterally needed emptying every 2/3 days with 3 of us, you could have 10 people using it – design for maximum output! Youd’ probably be swapping wheelie bin every month at peak use (not sure exactly, there are different sizes of wheelie bins)

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
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    You’ll be having a soakaway for washing / washing up anyway won’t you? They can be combined if toilet/washing facility are next to each other…..

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
    Full Member

    I’ve pmd you…

    Premier Icon UrbanHiker
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    Where are you based TheBrick? https://www.kingsettlecampsite.co.uk campsite in Somerset has a great set-up. And there would be nothing stopping you nipping through the gate to have a look at their method. It’s a bigger site than you propose, and has two loos joined in one building. Works really well from a punters point of view, though given the option I’d make them 6 inches bigger in all dimensions as they are a little cramped.

    Premier Icon jaminb
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    My contribution

    Premier Icon TheBrick
    Free Member

    Interesting stuff Gallowayboy thanks I’ve seen those separate toilet systems used in a camper conversation. The composting toilets I had used were more basic.

    Compost use. From what I understand 2 years and you can use it as per normal compost for plants.

    Washing yep planning on a small wash area too. Starting off under the 28day rule. I’ll check your pm when back inside.

    @urbanhiker East Dorset. Used a few at other campsites so have seen a few but there details I never payed enough attention to. If I had the time I’d like to like comrie crofy with their vermi toilets but got to start somewhere.

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    A couple of thoughts.

    Isn’t a urine soak away going to hum? Them that went on Telic told me the desert rose urinals could be found by smell alone.

    Secondly, how are you going to stop campsite visitors putting non-compostable stuff down the loo?

    Premier Icon WorldClassAccident
    Free Member

    There are some properly designed and installed ones at Avon Tyrrell where we host the Big Bike Bash each year. We provide separate portoloos and sanitary cabins and I would rather shit in the woods and used dry pine needle to wipe that go near a composting loo is the high summer.

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    I built one for our semi off grid place. The key is urine separation. That goes to a soak away, which you’d never know was there. The rest of the waste is fairly dry and doesn’t really smell. I was going to add a fan at some point but I haven’t found it essential, a bit more air would speed up drying though. I think one of the reasons that it works OK is that it is just us using it. You’d need something a bit more idiot proof for the general public. It is possible to get it pretty messy if used wrongly or by someone with dodgy guts. One design I considered was a metal plate at the front of chamber. This has a j bend, the urine hits the plate, clings to it because of surface tension, runs around the j bend away from the chamber then drips into a gutter. That keeps the chamber area clear.

    Premier Icon squirrelking
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    Farmer Johns Bike Park has them*, from memory two toilets in each cabin, one for #1 and one for #2. Guys block is a conventional toilet with a baffle to catch urine and a urinal (actually an upended 20l drum like the pic) next to it. Women’s was broadly similar I think only it had two seats. Both a case of flinging sawdust down #2 when finished.

    I’ve used the sawdust types in the height of summer both there and down East Grinstead way (Yoghurt Rooms) and neither smelled but that may be down to more frequent emptying.

    *his shower heater is a pile of horse shit if that’s of interest.

    Premier Icon TheBrick
    Free Member

    Isn’t a urine soak away going to hum? Them that went on Telic told me the desert rose urinals could be found by smell alone.

    Secondly, how are you going to stop campsite visitors putting non-compostable stuff down the loo?

    #1. The ones I have used have been fine to be honest. I was planning on urine separation.

    #2 just have to hope that signage works, as above others I have used have been ok.

    This is a naïve hope maybe but its all I can do. I know I keep saying this but the site I have been on that use this method have been fine (and busy) so with proper management it should be ok.

    There are some properly designed and installed ones at Avon Tyrrell where we host the Big Bike Bash each year. We provide separate portoloos and sanitary cabins and I would rather shit in the woods and used dry pine needle to wipe that go near a composting loo is the high summer.

    This is what I want to avoid. TBH they don’t sound properly designed as the ones I have used are not bad at all. There is a ‘a’ smell but its not of poo or wee and better than porta loos by a county poo mile

    …The key is urine separation. …One design I considered was a metal plate at the front of chamber. This has a j bend, the urine hits the plate, clings to it because of surface tension, runs around the j bend away from the chamber then drips into a gutter. That keeps the chamber area clear.

    Yeah I was planning on buying a pre made urine separator for people sat down and install a urinal for the men who will not sit down.

    Premier Icon welshfarmer
    Full Member

    Some friends of mine in Germany have made a couple now to fit in various camper vans they build. They have done a series of build threads on one of them. Just video so should be able to follow the process without any German,

    If you can understand German they have done a series discussing the loos in both their van and their micro-camper based on a Jeep!!

    Premier Icon TheBrick
    Free Member

    *his shower heater is a pile of horse shit if that’s of interest.

    Now that is interesting. Shower heating I am struggling with atm. I think this will be electric for now closer to the house due to time and money constraints. Ultimately solar thermal.

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    Yeah I was planning on buying a pre made urine separator for people sat down

    That’s what we have and it works well. The problem is that it needs a degree of user interaction. For ladies especially you need to sit a little forward for No1 and a little back for no2. That’s fine if people do it. If they don’t then there can be a bit of mixing of the streams. A bit of pee in the poo makes it soggy which is not ideal but not a big issue. A bit of poo in the pee funnel is less ideal. That’s why I suggested the metal plate solution, which might be better the general public, harder to get wrong and easier to deal with if it does get messy. I suspect whatever you do it’ll be a work in progress and need a bit of tweaking once people start using it (my day job is making stuff for the public and they do come up with imaginative ways to misuse things). We’ve had a few teething issues but it’s good now.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
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    We looked at this for parks and other similar public areas. We even sent a very clever process engineer down to the Centre for Alternative Technology thinking they would have boxed this off.

    They had, they said don’t bother as there are always problems.

    Premier Icon mariner
    Free Member

    Going back in time composting toilets were bottle shaped holes in the ground about four feet deep. When full you dug another then another until finally returning to and emptying out the first some two years later.
    I seem to remember chucking saw dust down there and moss when you used it and somehow bales of straw were involved. Possibly lining the bottom of a new hole?
    John Seymour Self Sufficiency was the handbook of its time which might be worth a look.

    Premier Icon TheBrick
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    Good idea thanks my fokes have that book.

    Premier Icon squirrelking
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    Now that is interesting. Shower heating I am struggling with atm. I think this will be electric for now closer to the house due to time and money constraints. Ultimately solar thermal.

    From what I remember him telling me there is a big wooden box that he puts a fresh pile of manure from the stables into, as the pile heats up it heats an old radiator or boiler heat exchanger (one of the two, think its a cast iron radiator) that’s mounted right in the middle which then heats the shower water. You would have to ask him the finer details like whether it’s a direct or indirect heater but that’s the jist of it.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    From what I remember him telling me there is a big wooden box that he puts a fresh pile of manure from the stables into, as the pile heats up it heats an old radiator or boiler heat exchanger (one of the two, think its a cast iron radiator) that’s mounted right in the middle which then heats the shower water. You would have to ask him the finer details like whether it’s a direct or indirect heater but that’s the jist of it.

    Probably would fail a legionella assessment

    Premier Icon squirrelking
    Free Member

    I don’t know, but seeing as he’s running a business and is an actual real engineer it would be better to ask him than to speculate needlessly.

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    Interesting idea though, I wonder how hot it gets?

    Manure source heat pump? 😛

    Premier Icon squirrelking
    Free Member

    Once established between 43 and 71 degrees, it can get hotter still if you get a big enough heap. Legionella breeds between 20 and 45 degrees and don’t survive above 60.

    Manure source heat pump?

    Totally legit, as is pelleting it for biomass boilers.

    Premier Icon ratherbeintobago
    Full Member

    43 to 71 would be hot enough, wouldn’t it? The heat pump crack was because I’d assumed it wouldn’t get hot enough and you’d need some sort of heat exchanger.

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