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homeiswheretheyurtis 06-19-2013 05:30 PM

A bathroom hangup
So we are looking at a composting toilet, just wondering if anyone here has one in their yurt and could give us some intel!

cmwingfield 06-19-2013 06:29 PM

Re: A bathroom hangup
I'll try and offer some insight regarding my experience with composting toilets. I used a Biolet composting toilet for the first three years in my yurt. After the third year I stopped using it. Here are some reasons: I have my bathroom with a loft over it enclosed which takes up a little less than a quarter of my yurt, but in the winter it is was hard to keep the temperature in the optimal seventy degrees to insure that the composter was in fact composting. When the temperature drops below the optimal, the aerobic action slows and will stop in the fifties. At that point you aren't composting, you are providing waste storage. You can see the problem.

In the summer the composting toilet works great, unless you lose power to the twelve volt fan that moves the air up and out the flue, much like a woodstove, except it really stinks when your fan isn't working. I tried using a solar panel and twelve volt battery, but I've got too much shade in the summer and I couldn't keep the battery charged enough to run the fan 24/7. When it would stop it was awful. I was able to hook up a twelve volt step down from 110 volts and everything worked great as long as I didn't lose power from the grid. When the power did fail from thunderstorms, windstorms etc, the smell would run you out of the place and you wouldn't be able to go back in until the power came back on. In defense of the power company, this only happened a couple of times, but it was bad enough that I didn't want it to ever happen again.

Another problem with summer use was gnats. They are called fungus gnats and they love leaf mold. As an example, they are so thick right now that if you are outside long, they will swarm around your head and make it difficult to breath without breathing them in. Amazingly, they love the composting toilet and they will use it as their vacation paradise. Regardless of suggested ways to eliminate them (and I tried them all) you cannot get rid of them. No matter how hard you try, every time you open the door some of them get inside, and immediately head for compost heaven. They are miserable, so much so that I decided after three summers that I couldn't go on with composting.

Here are some possible solutions for you: If you go for an Envirolet, they have the composting chamber outside, which also allows the flue to be outside, which eliminates the odor problem I mentioned. You will still experience the problem with winter temps if you live in a part of the world that gets cold, so you'll need a composting toilet with a heater, of which I wasn't prepared to pay the electrical bill for that.

My solution was to switch to a 27 gallon RV portable tote. It's what people with RV's use to haul waste to the dump stations in parks. I live a mile from a Corp of Engineers campground, so every forty days I take the tote to the campground using a small trailer, pay five dollars and use the dump station to empty the tote. I'm currently using less than three hundred gallons of water per year for flushing. It's not the most ideal setup, but it works and it's lots cheaper that the electricity to power a composting toilet heater for a year. As a reference, I'm a single person and I use a very low flush toilet. With more people my solution would be much more difficult.

Sorry for the length of the message. I hope it helps in you decision making.

Jafo 06-19-2013 06:42 PM

Re: A bathroom hangup
Of course, I am not living at my yurt so I just use an outhouse there. :) One note that might be helpful though, I painted the outhouse flue black so when the sun hit it, it would heat up the pipe, which also heated the air inside the pipe, the air would rise and pull any smell out. I haven't had any odor issues at all, but like I said, we only use it every other weekend or so. I think if you lived in a sunny spot, you might consider painting your flue black. :)

Thanks for sharing your experience cmwingfield!

djspn 06-19-2013 09:02 PM

Re: A bathroom hangup
I don't have experience w this, but will consider it when the time comes:
The Humanure Handbook - Instructional Manual

Corinarose 06-19-2013 10:28 PM

Re: A bathroom hangup
I use the humanure system which is a bucket system. No smell, very simple and easy. No cutting holes for flues, or need for heating system in the yurt.
Check out the humanure site, read his book~very informative!
I compost on my land~simple easy and no wasting water or spending money on expensive systems. Hope this helps~been doing this for 2 years.

homeiswheretheyurtis 06-19-2013 11:57 PM

Re: A bathroom hangup
Ohh. Thank you all for the input! I never considered the issue with losing power to the composting toilet. The humanure looks like a good option at least for the immediate future, I think we may go for something that appears more conventional at some point down the road (we want to start our family soonish and quite a few of our friends have younguns so the input will increase substantially in the near enough future) Every bit of information is very appreciated! And all ideas are very welcome!

Jafo 06-20-2013 03:30 AM

Re: A bathroom hangup
Well on a lighter note:

Poop in a Bucket.mp4 - YouTube

homeiswheretheyurtis 06-20-2013 09:42 AM

Re: A bathroom hangup
That is too funny!

Ronjf1 09-11-2013 01:56 PM

Re: A bathroom hangup
Ditto, Thanks for sharing.

YurtSquared 09-18-2013 08:49 AM

Re: A bathroom hangup
That Humanure Handbook looks to have some great info. Its going to take a shift in thinking for many to be ok with composting when compared with the carefree way most have lived their whole lives by just flushing the toilet. Then again, living in a yurt takes a certain kind of mentality as well.

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