All the Composting Toilet Questions You’ve Been Afraid to Ask

ALL THE COMPOSTING TOILET QUESTIONS YOU’VE BEEN AFRAID TO ASK 

When it comes to composting toilet questions, we’ve heard them all…we think!

Read any Separett (or other composting toilet) review and you’ll see run-of-the-mill questions followed by G-rated answers. Despite the obvious fact that everybody poops, most people are squeamish when it comes to this topic…lucky for you we’re not lol! So if you’ve been delaying getting a composting toilet because you just haven’t raised the courage to ask your grossest question, today’s your lucky day!

In this article we hope to answer all the composting toilet questions you’ve been afraid to ask. If you’re squeemish or have a high gag reflex, you may want to stop reading right about now and go back to doing something a bit more pleasant. We’ve heard a lot of questions at our tiny house workshops but if you have one I don’t answer below, please email me at [email protected] Don’t worry, I promise to keep your identity completely anonymous. 🙂

THROWING UP

Perhaps you’ve contracted the stomach flu, or your cousin Dave’s wedding had you dancing on table tops after WAY too many shots of Petron. Whatever the cause, throwing up sucks; there’s just nothing pleasant about it. One way to quickly turn this bad situation into a nightmare though is by trying to vomit into a composting toilet. Not only will you be tortured by the violence of your stomach contents escaping at high speed, but you’ll also be starring down the barrel of lord-knows-how-old crap mixed up with used toilet paper.

So if you’re a porcelain goddess hugger (like I used to be), you’ll need to find a new location to bide the time while your stomach contents vacate. I’ve actually found that a bedside bucket or large cooking pot is just as comforting; being able to roll over into my pillow between cramps is not nearly as bad as I’d imagined. 

PERIODS

This is the question that causes the most amount of (needless) worry. If you’re a non-menstruating human and squeamish about blood, you may want to just pass this topic on by. As a woman of child-bearing age, I’ve experienced many a moon cycle with our Separett toilet and have never had an issue.

OK, here’s the deal. Blood comes out of a woman’s body from the same general vicinity as urine. This means that blood falls into the urine/front portion of the Separett (or any other composting toilet with a urine diverter). When you’re done peeing, if there’s blood in the front bowl, simply take a mug of water and “flush” it all down. Easy peasy.

If you have larger clots (some women have a condition that causes this), don’t worry, the slats for the pee grate are quite large and will allow them to pass into the urine tube. Use a couple mugs of water just to ensure that nothing gets trapped inside the urine line.

Maxi pads should be thrown into the trash as usual (you wouldn’t throw them into a flush toilet anyways!) but tampons can be placed into the solids compartment of the Separett IF you don’t intend on fully composting the waste. If you do intend on composting it fully, toss your tampons into the trash.

SITTING MEN

It comes as a surprise to many that men are supposed to sit down when peeing into a composting toilet. The reason is simple: mens’ urine streams tend to be strong. When compounded by height and gravity, there’s a tendency for pee to splash every which way, including outside the toilet and onto the seat and floor. Spare yourself and your loved ones and take that extra minute to sit down and relieve yourself. There is one exception to this rule: if you’re an older man and/or your stream has begun to slow, it’s possible that standing up won’t cause a yellow geyser.

ERRR…ON THE TOPIC OF WELL ENDOWED MEN

I once received an email from a wife relaying a message for her husband. He was concerned that certain special parts of his anatomy would touch the waste bowl but was too embarrassed to write himself. Hey, we don’t judge and we love that people can ask us all types of questions!

I had to confer with Andrew and other men we know well who have used our toilet and they shared some good information. The Separett is equipped with a detachable plastic “rim” that comes placed between the liquid and solid bowls of the toilet. This rim raises the level of the toilet in between those two areas and for some men who are larger, certain parts can indeed touch that rim. Once Andrew realized it was removable he took it off and there was no longer an issue with anything touching the plastic bowl, which, I presume, was a big relief. 

DIARRHEA

If you’ve had food poisoning as often as I have, you have a healthy respect for how crappy (pardon the lousy pun) it feels when those stomach cramps kick in. When that happens, you know you may be sequestered to the toilet for quite some time. Fortunately the Separett is pretty comfortable for even the longest bouts and it can handle quite a lot of volume.

When your intestinal demons have finally exorcised,  because the solids will contain much higher water content than normal, it is especially important to remove the composting plastic bag from your house while it’s still inside the bucket. That way, if your bag has developed a leak, it won’t leave an effluent cookie-crumb trail through your house.

HOW DO I EMPTY IT?

It’s possible that we missed the instructions on how to empty a full bucket from the Separett, but for some inexplicable reason, we had tied up the composting bag, lifted it out of the bucket, and marched it outside. This was idiotic. So, let us be the cautionary tale: anytime you empty the solid waste bag, do yourself a favor and carry it inside the bucket. You’re welcome. 

DOES IT SMELL?

This is our #1 question and it certainly was ours when we were considering the Separett. We didn’t want our tiny house to smell like poop and we’re guessing you don’t either. You’ll potentially be surprised to hear then that it actually smells LESS than conventional water based toilets. The reason is that this toilet has an electric fan which sucks out odors 24/7.

Honestly, even if you’re giving birth to your biggest doogie, there’s no smell because of the fan. You can’t say that about a flush toilet! So if smell has been your biggest fear…don’t fret anymore! As long as you follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions, you’ll be all set.

Hope this has helped answer any questions you’ve had about tiny house composting toilets! If not, like I said before, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be sure to give you an honest and unrated response. 😉

 

To watch our G-Rated video tour of the Separett toilet click below: 

 

To watch an unrated segment about composting toilets from our Digital Tiny House Workshop, click below: 

Want to learn more about tiny house living and how to build a tiny house? Want to do so for FREE? Sign up for our totally free 7 Day Tiny House eCourse! Find out more HERE.

78 Responses to All the Composting Toilet Questions You’ve Been Afraid to Ask

  1. Lydia Greenfield June 26, 2018 at 11:27 pm #

    Honestly I don’t want to barf into my regular toilet. I have a small plastic wastebasket, the old fashioned kind, lined with a plastic bag for whenever I get sick. It was actually because I wasn’t making it in time and the sink became the target. I suppose if you want to be environmentally friendly and you are capable of doing it, you can dump the unlined basket and wash it out, For me tying off a bag was all I was capable of. Thank you for all of the interesting information!

    • Gabriella June 28, 2018 at 12:02 pm #

      Thanks for chiming in Lydia!!

  2. Pam June 27, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

    OK, you did answer a lot of questions that I had about composting toilets but there’s still one concern. If you have loose stools for a day or two how do you combat the overspray so to speak all over the solids bowl? Spray bottle and tissue?

    Thanks!

    • Gabriella June 28, 2018 at 11:48 am #

      Hi Pam! Thanks for your question! You’ll be happy to hear that there is no ‘overspray’ issue on a composting toilet like the Separett. That’s because the holding buckets are quite large and tall and can hold much more volume than you’d keep in there. Any ‘spray’ just hits the sides of the composting toilet bag. Much easier cleanup than a regular water toilet where things tend to splash up all over the bowl and seat bottom. Hope that answers your question!

  3. Carolyn Graham June 27, 2018 at 5:51 pm #

    OMG, I have no fears about composting anything, but thanks for going down this path. If only RV parks allowed CTs.

  4. Memphis Brewer February 27, 2019 at 11:50 am #

    Thank you so much I’ve loved the idea of composting toilets so long but asking a stranger to test theirs out is too awkward even for me. I have a few more questions if it’s not too much to ask.

    I suffer from diarrhea 2-3x a month (no matter what my diet) and the sides of my .8gpm flusher can get “ugly”. That being embarrassingly said, do I have to remove the bag every time or do I stick with some sort of a normal interval or?

    Also, I’m building a home primarily out of 40’ High Cube shipping containers this fall. I need to build the home as if both bathrooms will go into a septic system for permitting reasons. Is there a way to divert urine into the drain automatically and would that be ok to greywater?

    On that topic I plan to add two single containers to STVR, do one or two night guests tend to handle composting toilets alright?

    • Gabriella March 21, 2019 at 12:46 pm #

      Hi Memphis Brewer! You wouldn’t have any issues with spray with the Separett as everything just would go into the bag below. You wouldn’t need to change the bag out everytime bc you wouldn’t be able to see anything below in the bag. Even the most intense expelling of solids/liquids hasn’t led to anything to clean up at the upper level of the bowl. Yes, you can divert the urine line into the drain automatically and depending on your area/neighbor situation, you could divert it into your greywater system. And finally, yes, one to two guests per night would be A-OK. 🙂

  5. Sarah March 23, 2019 at 6:26 am #

    So for reasons that don’t need to be said I have to take regular enemas. Luke 2 a week sometimes mire. Would something like this be possible while using a compost toilet exclusively? I dream of living full tine in a rv, heck I got a second full time job just so I can have the funds to do it right and beautifully. However a compost toilet is how I want to go. So I see they can handle diareahwould it be the same principle? Please if anyone knows anything I would live to know all I can find online is like fetish stuff and diffrent types of enemas

    • Gabriella April 14, 2019 at 10:27 am #

      HI Sarah! Thanks for reaching out! It should not be an issue at all. All the solids and items which go into the rear portion of the toilet are collected into a well fit plastic bag. If you begin to find that you have a bit too much liquid in there because of the enemas, you could use something like peat moss or even high absorbent cat litter to help with some of the excess moisture. 🙂

  6. Christina May 20, 2019 at 3:05 pm #

    Regarding vomit. Besides the vision described in your answer, can the vomit be composted with the bucket waste if you have no where else to do your hurling?

  7. Mary June 19, 2019 at 12:02 pm #

    I have two questions:
    What if you need to do a number 1 and a number 2?
    Also, since I don’t believe there is a flushing mechanism, what about the smell of urine? I absolutely hate a urine smell and if there is no flushing I would imagine the bowl will start smelling of urine?

    • Laney February 18, 2020 at 10:20 pm #

      You are supposed to put a small cupful of water after you pee.

  8. Orion July 7, 2019 at 2:38 pm #

    Great article, I’m just curious about the drums that i store the waste in for a year to break down pathogens:Do I seal those up tight or let them “breathe”? Thanks!!

    • Andrew July 9, 2019 at 8:45 pm #

      Hi Orion. There are two different approaches: aerobic and anaerobic. Both can work, but the process is different for each. I believe that Separett recommends keeping the tubs sealed, but you would need to confirm that with them. Cheers.

  9. Cintia August 1, 2019 at 3:25 pm #

    Hi I live in a home with a composting toilet and have a 2 month old baby. How safe/sanitary is it to live in a place like this with a baby? I feel like even we have a fan the air carry’s everything and she is breathing all that.

  10. Alayna October 23, 2019 at 11:55 am #

    The idea you share with us just amazing. I have a little plastic wastebasket, the good old kind, fixed with a plastic sack for at whatever point I become ill. It was really on the grounds that I wasn’t making it in time and the sink turned into the objective. I assume on the off chance that you need to be ecologically cordial and you can do it.

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  12. Jon May 2, 2020 at 10:30 pm #

    If Separett is located in bathroom below a loft with ventilation windows on back and /or sides of loft, is there an odor problem from the CT vent exiting at near the roof coming back into the house? A vent located lower down would be just around corner from windows in lower living space, so same question. Where is best location for a CT vent and loft windows when loft is over bathroom? Additional problem is that most of roof is occupied by solar array, so vent exit high on wall but not through roof would be easiest.

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    I have three toilets in my house, and all three fill for a few seconds every got our so. I have replaced all the flappers and fill valves, and made sure that the water is below the overflow pipe and that the chain is not getting caught in the flapper.

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