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Marine Composting Toilets for Houseboats

by Roger
(somewhere, fl)

A common Marine Composting Toilet

A common Marine Composting Toilet

Talking about houseboat marine composting toilets, and we still had an area that wasn't the way we wanted, and that was the "porta potti". It was smelly, and unpleasant to empty, so just a real pain.

The nice thing about the houseboat community is we often like to share experiences, and marine sanitation is often one of the main topics. There are a few houseboats that have composting toilets, and they all say that if you follow manufacturers instructions they will work well.

There are a few problems with them that can determine if one is for you. The physical size is always talked about as they do take up a lot of room, and cost is another factor. I was stopped by size as I just didn't have the room, but when I bought a new older houseboat, that all changed. I now have the room, but there was other areas that concerned me.

#1) the tray that holds the finished compost has to be monitored closely because if it gets too full, it's a mess to empty.

#2) liquid drain off is another area, since the liquid seeps through into the bottom, and has to be drained off. I've heard many ways, but not fond of them.

So I starting looking hard at different designs and found one that was more what I thought would be to my liking. This unit has a unique design in the bowl area that collects and drains liquid into a portable holding tank, it has to be used sitting down.

The one problem with it is it doesn't have a tray for the finished compost, so when you empty it the last addition hasn't had time to compost. It empties by removing the seat unbolting from floor then inverting it into a large trash bag then reverse process, add moist peat moss, ready to go.

There is no odor involved, but the unfinished compost was not what I wanted, so Ii built an on-board composter to finish off the toilet composting also to compost my galley garbage and in this I raise fishworms.

I'll show the design later on for my onboard composter. Here is the names of marine composting toilet manufacturers I know will work:

Sunmar, Biolet, Envirolet, Natureshead.

The choice is yours, but more on this later, got to get some fish worms to catch some dinner.

Just my thoughts, Roger (somewhere in FL)

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Reply - Answer
What an excellent post Roger, since we all know that a smelly washroom can ruin a great day houseboating. I thank you on behalf of all our readers for sharing your experiences with composting toilets.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers and visitors will share and post comments about their houseboat composting toilets and the experiences.

Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Marine Composting Toilets for Houseboats

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Update c-head
by: Anonymous

We’ve given this C-head a fair shake, maybe ten years, now. It has not disappointed. The head still looks new, is easy to clean, never a spill or overflow.The gallon milk jugs for the liquid waste are easy to save, tote, dump, and swap. The no-stink key, I think, is to empty the urine daily, and rinse the jug with a wee bit of dish soap, or cap the jug securely and save it until you can dispose of it. Those who use peat for the poop bucket complain of messy dust and bugs; they find coconut fiber or pine pellet pet litter better. And we are content with pleasant cypress sawdust leftover from a houseboat paneling project. We employ a cat box scoop for the sawdust coated lumps, when the cranking gets stiff, and treat it exactly as we would treat a cat box cleaning, flushing or double-bagging and dumpstering.

Design of on-board composter?
by: Margaret in NY

I'd love to read about the design of the on-board composter/worm bin - has it been successful?! Am looking into composting toilets and would be so great to be able to have composting happen on-board as we don't have a spot on land to compost.

How can I get in touch with Roger in FL about his system?

Cheers for C-Head!!!
by: Amelia

We did the research, and decided to furnish our homemade houseboat with a C-Head 'composting' toilet. Much to our amazement, we are delighted with it after 18 months or so. First, it cost half what the competition did, and occupies no more space than an ordinary household toilet. It is compact, comfortable, and sturdy.

Second, it is easy to use, and easy to keep clean. There is never any odor! No pumpout hassle, no costly mechanical repairs, and excellent support, advice, etc, from Sandy, the builder.
Third. As all real mariners know, EVERYbody sits to use it. Period. This keeps smelly liquid waste separated from solid, and prevents splatter.

The pee container, an ordinary plastic gallon jug, can quickly be swapped out and capped for proper and discrete disposal. The solid waste falls into a bucket of sawdust, peat, or coir, and is churned to coat it for odorless drying. Works like a charm.

When the poop bucket is full, it and its drying lumps are dumped into a secondary bucket for further composting. Final disposal is easier than taking out the kitchen trash, and not nearly as repellent as a kitty letterbox.

I try not to be smug as we pass the pumpout facility and its summer queue, but this C-Head has been brilliant.

Houseboat Sewage - legal laws on Type 1 and 2 septic treatment
by: Amelia

Thanks to my busybody state legislators, who, having nothing better to do, have quietly passed a law making Type 1 & 2 sewage treatment systems illegal in NC waters.

I've had to rethink my long-decided on Raritan system for The Houseboat Project. How convenient to find this good discussion of composting heads.... the dang politicians haven't thought to ban those yet. Looks like a very logical way to go, especially if it works as well as its adherents say.

Now I'm wondering how to choose between the two most oft-mentioned brands, and also hoping Roger will share the design of his on-board finishing-composter/worm-bin with us.

Composting Toilets for Houseboats
by: joy

Great article on the "pros & cons" of houseboat composting toilets. It is really informative, and still have more questions. I can't wait for the follow up.

Tiny Houses
by: Anonymous

If you are looking for complete information on composting toilets, recommendations and anecdotal information try posts about TINY HOUSES. There are a number of websites that have usage information, comparison buying and consumer details.

As many of you may know, the tiny house movement has spawned a lot of fabulous resources for checking-out available appliances or energy saving devices that operate well in small spaces and make their owners happy.

Simply type in Tiny House XXX--(whatever you want to search)--into the search engine. You'll not be disappointed. There is a lot of information upon which to make an informed decision.

Air Head Composting Toilets
by: Bob

I've been using another design called the "Air Head Composting Toilet". It is also separates the urine like the toilet Roger describes and I love it!

I thought it was important for the sake of completeness to mention it and since they were the first to come out with the separating design years ago. Also, it is important to give credit where credit is due.

The design has been well proven (I've had mine for five years) now and I have a friend who had one a few years prior to that. I've looked at both of the company sites and still find mine to be better for me since it has a real wood seat and a few other nice things such as a crank handle that can be mated with a socket wrench etc ...

But the main thing is that the liquid separating design prevents overflowing of urine and does not require high voltage to evaporate liquid. Hope this helps, Bob.

Reply - Answer
Thank you Bob for sharing this great hands on experience with us all.

IAN from

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