Compost Magic

Malcolm Street — 2 September 2021
Hoping to reduce your environmental footprint when caravanning? Composting toilets are an eco-friendly addition to any caravan setup.

A composting toilet has two compartments, one for solids and one for liquid. Both are treated differently. The liquid container, having a capacity of about 8 litres, has to be emptied on a regular basis, depending on use but at least every 48 hours. However, the solids compartment has to be done far less, something like every five or six weeks, depending on usage (about 60-80 times).

Emptying either compartment isn’t difficult. The liquid can be disposed of either down a conventional toilet or in the bush or a garden and the solids, if left long enough, look a bit like garden soil. However, the latter should not be used as fertiliser for edible plants or vegetables.

Something to keep in mind when using the toilet, is that it’s important to keep the solids and liquids separate and that does mean using the compost toilet in a slightly different way to a conventional water-based unit. Normal toilet paper can be used and disposed of in the compost. Cleaning the toilet can be done with just a spray of water or a paper towel, soaked in a solution of water and vinegar.

The basic principle of composting is that toilet waste breaks down, dries and shrinks considerably. It’s a process that involves the decomposition of organic matter and turns waste into compost. Something like a Coir-Peat Brick (coconut fibre), available from the likes of Bunnings, is used as the composting medium. An alternative suggestion is sawdust but it’s not recommended.

Coir-Peat Brick is usually purchased in a dehydrated form and then rehydrated with about 2.5L of water before use. The composting is carried out by microorganisms present, like bacteria and fungi. There’s a handle on the side of the toilet to ensure the compost material can be aerated on a regular basis.

A benefit of a compost toilet is that it needs no plumbing connection and only requires a 12V supply for the ventilation fan. The vent fan is not there to remove any obnoxious smells since that’s not usually a problem. However, the essential requirement is to supply oxygen to aid with the composting process.

Installing a compost toilet is fairly easy, since there are no real connections required apart from a 12V supply and installing the ventilation hose. Certainly doing a retro installation is possible too and in all cases, the toilet does have to be fixed to the RV floor using just four countersunk screws. About the only installation requirement in terms of space is that there has to be enough room behind the toilet for opening the lid and lifting the bowl rearwards, in order to gain access to both the solid and liquid chambers.

The Nature’s Head composting toilet is certainly environmentally friendly and has a five-year warranty.


RRP: $1590



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