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Tiny House Composting Toilet: Everything You Need to Know

Whether you are building a tiny home or thinking about living in a tiny home, you’ve probably wondered: How does a tiny house composting toilet work and how do I choose the right one?

Pooping and peeing in a tiny home is something all tiny dwellers do, but many questions often go unasked. But do not worry, we got all the toilet questions answered for you.

  • How does a composting toilet work in a tiny house?
  • What are my composting toilet options?
  • How do I choose the best composting toilet for my tiny home? 
  • Does it make my house smell?

We answer all of the tiny house composting toilet questions that you were afraid to ask but always wanted to know. Read on!

Table of Contents

How does a composting toilet work in a tiny house?

Composting toilets are dry toilets that treat human waste through composting. They work by mixing solid waste with dry materials such as peat moss or coconut coir to turn the waste into compost.

To assist in composting and to eliminate odor, composting toilets typically have a urine-diverting system that directs urine from the solids. The resulting compost and urine can then be used for gardening or simply disposed of. 

What are my tiny house toilet options?

There are three options when it comes to the tiny home toilet system: All-in-one composting toilets, incinerator toilets, and DIY composting toilets.

All-in-one composting toilets

Best Tiny House Composting Toilet - Nature's Head Composting Toilet
Nature's Head Composting Toilet

All-in-one composting toilets are toilets that come in as one single unit. It is easy to install and has an exhaust fan that vents out the odor. It’s compact, installation is simple, and costs around $1,000 or less.

Incinerator toilets

Incinerator toilets are waterless toilet system that uses electricity to burn human waste to ash. Just like the composting toilets, they are compact, look like a regular toilet, and are easy to install. 

But on the downside, it costs around $2,000 to purchase and takes significant energy, and takes a long time to complete the burn cycles.

DIY composting toilets

DIY composting toilets are toilets that you can make yourself using a 5-gallon bucket and a composting medium such as peat moss or conut coir.

The downside to the bucket system is that it does not exhaust the odor out from your home. So it will make your house stink. However, you can spend a bit more money and time installing an exhaust fan. It is doable for only a few hundred bucks. 

Other tiny house toilet options

Composting toilets aren’t the only toilet option for tiny homes. Here are two more options you should consider.

Septic System – For instance, if you own your land where your tiny house is parked, you can install a flushing toilet but this requires you to install a septic tank which can cost anywhere from $5,000 up to $20,000 in materials, labor, and permit costs depending on your region. 

Use Public Restrooms – Very few people go this route but it works for some folks who live very close to public restrooms or gyms. However, the convenience of having your own bathroom and shower is a luxury. In my opinion, having a composting toilet is so much better than having no toilet. 

What are the pros and cons of a composting toilet?

Composting toilets are great for people who want to live in a off-grid cabins, vans, RVs and tiny homes. Moreover, composting toilets are great for people who don’t have the option to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a septic system.

And that is why almost all tiny homes are equipped with composting toilets. That being said, here are the pros and cons of installing a tiny house composting toilet you should consider before purchasing one for your home.

You can save tens of thousands of dollars by opting to not be connected to the septic system.
The installation process is simple and DIY-friendly.
There is little to no smell.
Composting toilets are compact, easily transportable, and easy to maintain.
Using a composting toilet requires more work than using a conventional toilet.
You will have to feel comfortable dumping your urine and solids on a regular basis.

What's the best composting toilet for tiny homes?

Of all the toilet options we listed above, the best, cost-effective, and hassle-free option is purchasing an all-in-one composting toilet, specifically Nature’s Head Composting Toilet

Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet

The best composting toilet option for tiny homes, RVs, van life, and cabins. It produces little to no odor and it’s super easy to maintain.

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

I’ve had this product since 2019. Since then, my girlfriend and I have only run into a few minor issues.

The Nature’s Head composting toilet is a waterless composting toilet that has both a urine diverter and an exhaust fan that constantly sucks the odor away from the tiny house.   

It is weird to love a toilet but we truly love ours as it requires little to no maintenance. Also, the product has an excellent warranty. We broke a couple of parts due to mishandling but Nature’s head gave us spare parts for free and shipped them to us the next day.

How to Use a Composting Toilet

First, you fill up the compartment with 2 gallons of composting medium such as peat moss or coconut coir before your first use. 

When you are ready to use it, simply pull down on the lever to slide open the lid to the waste container. Then, go about your business as usual. Make sure you aim your poop into the waste container and your pee into the urine diverter.

Finally, after finishing your business, pull up on the lever to close the lid. Then, spin the handle three full turns to mix the waste with the composting medium. That’s it!

How and where do you empty a composting toilet?

To empty the liquid waste container, release the latches located at the left and right sides of the unit. Then, proceed to raise the bowl to remove the urine container. 

You can empty the urine bottle into a regular toilet or release it to your garden while mixing it with water at a 1:10 ratio. 

To empty the solid container, release the latches on both sides of the toilet. Then, lift and slide the seat unit to the left to fully remove it from the toilet. 

With the seat unit removed, place a 13-gallon kitchen bag over the opening of the solid container. Turn the unit upside down to empty the solids into the bag. You can then dispose them as you would with regular trash.

How often does a composting toilet need to be emptied?

For two people using the toilet full-time, the composting toilet needs to be emptied every 4-6 weeks for solid waste and 2-3 weeks for the urine.

Personally, we like to use public restrooms whenever we can, so we typically empty our composting toilet every 2-3 months.

How bad do composting toilets smell?

There is little to no smell when using the composting toilet. This is because the composting toilet diverts urine from the solids while the smell is constantly vented outside. This combination ensures there is no smell escaping from the toilet into your home.

Sometimes, there is an “earthy” smell when the solid waste compartment becomes close to full. But even then, you can reduce that smell by running a bathroom exhaust fan or simply emptying your toilet. 

Now, here’s a word of caution. A foul odor is created if you misaim your pee and the urine becomes mixed with the solids. And trust me, you will know because it will smell like throwup. To prevent this from happening, make sure to aim properly!

Is a composting toilet worth it?

Absolutely. In fact, it is a necessity. 

That is why almost everyone in the tiny house community has a composting toilet. Moreover, it is a significant cost-saver considering the fact that it costs up to tens of thousands of dollars to install a septic system if you want a flushing toilet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most tiny house composting toilets have urine diverters that allow you to pee directly into them. For women, you would pee like you normally would in the conventional toilet. But for men, you would have to squat to pee so you don’t splatter your pee all over the place.

No. Not all tiny house composting toilets require venting. However, vented composting toilets help prevent odor from staying inside the tiny home.

Yes! In fact, all vented composting toilets will give you an odorless bathroom experience. We highly recommend the Nature’s Head composting toilet which you can buy straight from Amazon.

Yes. If you compost the waste properly, it can be safely used as you see fit or simply disposed of. 

Occasionally, your composting toilet’s exhaust system may not completely remove odor from the toilet. In that case, either run the bathroom exhaust fan or use a more composting medium to lessen the odor. The smell should be gone in a couple of days.

No. Composting toilet is meant to compost human waste, not the throwup. Please use a trashbag for this purpose.

Yes. Although it can get messy if you have exploding diarrhea. In that case, you can use a water spray or disinfecting wipes to clean the aftermath. 

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