The #1 question I have been asked as a woman living in a tiny house is; How is using the composting toilet? followed by: Is it easy to use? Does it smell? How easy is cleaning and changing it? What kind do you have? Well I shall address all of the pros and cons of a composting toilet in my experience. This will apply to both men and women.
First off we have a Separett Villa 9210. It is a Swedish urine diverting toilet that runs roughly about $1500. Composting toilets are far more expensive then regular water flush toilets, I have no idea why. Im sure there is a lot more that goes into engineering them to be fluid workhorses then a regular flush toilet but I don’t make the things so I couldn’t honestly say, I just use it. The Seperatt is the only composting toilet i’ve ever used so I can only give feedback based on what I know from using this toilet.
So how different does it feel from using a regular toilet. Honestly? Not much different at all. What i like in particular about this toilet is it’s size. I don’t want to feel like i’m walking up to a throne or standing on my tippy toes to sit on it. This is a regular toilet size, thank goodness since I am only 5’4 with short legs. The nice thing about this toilet is that it separates the liquid from the solid which is what helps in the having no odor come from the toilet. Which leads me to the next one question.
Does it smell? No. Next question….. Only Kidding! This is definitely the most asked question! For good reason to. Ok so why doesn’t this one smell? Because of it being a urine diverting toilet, the urine goes outside through a little line which can go into the ground filtered through gravel and charcoal which is what they recommend for when running the line outside. Or it can go into an exterior collection tank. For specifics check out their website Separett Villa 9210 because again I didn’t design the thing I just use it and can only explain what I know or have paid attention to while using it for the almost past 2 years. Now the solid: this I think is pretty cool, there is a blue little trap door as we like to call it, that stays closed except when you sit on the toilet there is a little trigger or button thing, (ya I dont know the correct term but you get the gist) that opens the trap door so your body naturally separates the liquid from the solid, as does this toilet. So the solid goes into the trap door section which is a large capacity bucket that both the solid waste and toilet paper and/or moist wipes go into. So by the solid and liquid being separate, that’s what prevents that unpleasant odor that even regular water toilets have after using the facilities! Especially after the men use it 😉 sorry for the blast gentlemen. Someone can literally be in the restroom for an hour using the toilet and thankfully with using this composting toilet you wouldn’t know it! I will say the downfall of a composting toilet in this aspect is that the bin/bucket can fill up rather fast mainly of toilet paper. On occasion we do add peet moss just to keep things extra dry and to kind of weigh down that fluffy TP. However we do work from home and as a woman who drinks a lot of water/coffee/tea….that comes with a lot of liquid and TP use :/ something men don’t have to use as much. An added bonus is that you can use as many moist towelettes as you please and don’t have to worry about it being hard on your plumbing! I do love that! So totally depending on your personal situation will depend on how often you have to change that bag of waste, which i’ll get to shortly 🙂
Ok so men using the toilet…The only difference is that they have to pee sitting down. Which my husband says took a little getting use to but now he doesnt even think about it. He says it’s not bad at all, just takes a little getting use to is all. We do live in a rural setting with privacy, so he does have the option of peeing outside if he feels like it, sorry TMI but we are talking about toilets….so there ya go.
How easy is changing and cleaning it?
Ok so I have to be completely honest here….I do not change it myself, Josh does that. That was part of our agreement when going tiny is that I will use a composting toilet if he takes out the waste. Thankfully for him we got this toilet that only the solid has to be taken out. I couldn’t even imagine having to remove the urine also, ick! From watching him on a weekly basis change out the bag it’s not difficult at all. I could very easily do it however , I don’t wanna break our agreement 😉 so he does it. That is the one time you’ll smell any odor is when the seat lifts to give you access to change the bag of waste out since the trap door isnt closed and the fan isnt able to expel the odor. For us it’s once a week. Again this will depend on how often you are home to use it, how many people are using it, whether you are a woman or man using it and so on.
Cleaning is pretty simple. It just requires a wipe down here or there just like a regular toilet would, mainly from dust. What we do a couple times a week is pour a little water with vinegar, warm or hot water is even better, we pour that down the urine line just to keep the line from building up of any crystalizing that over time naturally occurs when you don’t have a constant flow of water going down. We did recently have to replace the urine line that goes into the ground after almost 2 years as it did harden from the crystalizing. We this time opted for a thicker less soft line. We assume this will just be one of those yearly things that needs to be done. However we didn’t start to weekly pour down water and vinegar until about a year after using it as we didn’t notice any crystalizing until then and we could hear the draining of the urine line being really slow and kind of blocked up. So by doing this we’ll see if that prolongs having to change the line. Other then that cleaning is quite easy!
That’s my experience thus far as a woman who was not all that thrilled to having to give up a regular toilet in the beginning, I am quite content with it. Don’t worry, using a regular flush toilet comes back to you no problem when using one elsewhere. It’s like riding a bike. I’ve gotten that question asked frequently if we forget to flush when using a toilet elsewhere, nope not at all! However when we go out of town or stay in hotels and do use a regular flush toilet, A: I forget how stinky regular toilets can be and B: when we get home I’ll forget that I don’t have to flush and automatically turn around to flush, that natural inclination doesn’t seem to leave. That only happens when we’ve been away for a week or so, I quickly remember that there’s no flush after a couple times 🙂
So for those who are a little scared of a composting toilet, I get it. It’s intimidating, however once you start using one it won’t even be a second thought after a week or two initially. Definitely do your research on the toilets and look at reviews, sometimes it can be tempting to want to save a few hundred dollars (understandably) but in some areas unfortunately, you get what you pay for. I hope this little article has been somewhat helpful, until next time! 🙂