Composting Toilets

The best composting toilets with advice from Practically Green.

Heap of soil isolated on whiteDry toilets are a great way to go off-grid at your glamping site. They require no water and often no electricity. Dry toilets come in a variety of types, including incinerating and bag and wrap, but arguably the most ecological and suitable for hospitality set ups are composting toilets.

Compost toilets treats faeces through a biological process that decomposes organic elements, transforming human waste into compost. Microorganisms undertake composting under controlled aerobic circumstances (primarily bacteria and fungus).

After each use, a carbon addition such as sawdust, peat moss or coconut coir is supplied to assist decomposing the solid waste in various types of composting toilets. This method creates air gaps for aerobic decomposition and also raises the amounts of carbon and nitrogen, which reduces possible odours. This simple, sustainable technology has been used for thousands of years and is now making a much-needed comeback!

Which toilet?
There are a variety of manufacturers of quality composting toilets on the market, including Nature’s Head, Sun Mar, Airhead and Separett, to mention a few.

It’s worth understanding the difference between self-contained and central system toilets. Self-contained units are usually preferable for glampsites and cabins as opposed to central systems as the pedestal and the composting chamber are all-in-one – perfect for structures with limited or no underfloor space.

You should also consider toilets that divert urine into a separate chamber to that of solid waste. Composting is slowed by the addition of urine, which cools and dampens the material. Toilets that feature urine diverts, channel urine into a separate receptacle which will need to be emptied. You can alternatively choose to filter urine through an external soakaway (check with your local rules and reg regarding expelling urine in this manner) or collect it in a larger external tank for manual removal by a specialist company.

Composting methods
True composting toilets feature chambers that hold and break down dry matter so that what you end up with looks and smells like soil. Others require emptying and the dry matter disposed of, but are kept odour free by means of a fan which dries the solid matter.

Here are some examples of our favourite composting toilets:


Nature's HeadNature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet
Because of its simplicity and compactness, this is a self-contained and portable type that uses a urine separating system, making it excellent for glamping.

Due to its hand crank agitation in its core, Nature’s Head Dry Compost Toilet with standard crank handle design provides users with a better and faster cleaning ability.

This waterless toilet functions on a urine-diverting mechanism and is self-contained. It is built-in with a 12v power plug and fan for low volume air circulation. Maintenance is fairly straightforward and it has a quick installation process. It is free from bad smells, running on a waterless operating system. However, the toilet requires the urine container to be emptied frequently.


Sun MarSun-Mar Excel
Sun Mar has a patent for the most efficient composting method, and has a long-standing history of creating and producing composting toilets. An innovative ‘Bio-drum’ is included in every unit that allows the rotation of the compost. Use the handle at the front to rotate the drum every two days to mix and aerate the compost. Once a month or so roll the drum anticlockwise to drop some compost into the finishing drawer where it remains for at least another month to break down. This method means that you never have to handle any unbroken down waste – the output is like a fertile loamy soil made of sand, clay, and water.

Despite being non-electric, the toilet is efficient in decomposition and disintegrates human waste without any smells from the process. It is able to have up to three users in residential settings and up to seven if installed in a cabin or used for weekend use.


Separett VillaSeparett Villa 9215 AC/DC
Separett has been developing waterless toilet solutions for over 40 years. The Villa 9215 AC/DC is an excellent choice if you need a toilet that can be used both on and off the grid as it can be used with a battery or a solar panel. With this composting toilet, you receive everything you need to get started right out of the box. The Separett Villa 9215 composting toilet doesn’t require any additional parts to be functional, unlike some others.

The price is a little on the high side, but you won’t have to worry about any odour concerns with this model. For direct venting and draining, the single-speed fan may reach a maximum distance of 20 feet. Compostable bags and a lidded waste receptacle are included. It also comes with a five-year warranty on manufacture defects and a three-year warranty on the fan.


Air HeadAir Head Composting Toilet
This AirHead diverts urine from solids, allowing the solids to dry up and compost in three months. Moreover, the composted solids occupy minimal space, and they offer agricultural value.

The liquids divert into a tank that is smaller than the solids hatch and placed on the lower front of the AirHead to allow easy removal. The urine bottle is compact and capable of holding 10 litres so you can go a day or two before emptying it.

This toilet is electric and a 12-volt shroud fan keeps sewage smells at bay. A simple, waterless flush plunges the deposit into the compact solids hatch, which is spacious enough to take 60 comfortable visits.

Like most modern composting toilets, it is waterless and self-contained. Even when gents urinate into the AirHead while standing, the solids hatch will trickle the liquids back into the front urine bottle. Select between a paper liner in the bowl or commissioned coir, which provides a smooth carriage when you open the solids hatch for a waterless flush.


About the Authors

Practically Green is a blog and review site created by university friends Leo Dickson and Jess Taylor.

Creating content to help people live more sustainable lifestyles, the pair aim to give to access to information to help more people to make more sustainable choices.

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