A little warning… this post is about a marine toilet and kinda gross. Don;t read it if you aren’t interested 🙂
It’s been a week since we moved aboard our 35 foot sailboat and began to rely solely on the brand new Nature’s Head toilet. It’s a remarkable piece of hardware because it allowed us to eliminate our holding tank and a lot of extra hoses, not to mention the hole in the bottom of the boat that the old marine head used for raw water intake.
The Nature’s head is pretty good by all measures so far except for a few flaws, but before we get to those let’s talk for a minute about how this thing actually works.
The core concept with a composting toilet is to separate liquids and solids before they can mix. When the liquids and solids do mix, you get the terrible smells and bacteria associated with human waste. The toilet is designed to avoid that right from the get go.
It has a trap door for solids to enter a rear chamber and inside that chamber is an agitator. Before use, you add an absorbent material like peat moss to the solids chamber and when the toilet is used, the peat moss pulls the liquid out of the waste eliminating smell and bacterial growth.
After a month or so the solids contain starts to get full and should be emptied. By this time is has already begun to break down and smells like garden soil. It’s fairly easy to empty and a lot less gross than it sounds. It can but put in a garbage back and safely thrown away where it will continue to degrade until it’s simply dirt. You can even use it to compost.
The liquids on the other hand are where we find some flaws.
When using the toilet for liquid purposes, the trap door stays shut and liquids are diverted into a smaller bottle chamber on the front of the toilet. Liquids by themselves offer little to no smell and are fairly clean.
As the liquids container is slightly transparent you can see when it’s getting full and empty it accordingly. We dump ours into a near by toilet but it can safely be dumped in the woods if you’re in a cabin or something.
The first problem with the liquids system is that it’s diversion is not perfect. Some liquid ends up in the solids tank when guys stand up to pee. It’s designed so this is minimal and Nature’s Head recommends you sit to pee, but boys will be boys. The peat moss should make up for this defect.
The next issue is more our problem than the companies, but if you let the liquids contain get over full it will immediately begin pouring excess liquid into the solids container making for a huge potential mess. I would think it would have been more ideal to have it back up into the bowl to alert the user that something’s wrong? Not a deal breaker but it would be nice if the toilet were more idiot proof, or Tim proof as it were.
When an overflow situation happens and you try to disconnect the liquids bottle to finally empty it, it spills all over the floor and makes a big mess. Ask me how I know!
And the last and most irritating issue…
When you remove the liquids container because it’s almost full and you want to empty it, you put the cap on and carry it to the toilet. You remove the cap and try top neatly pour the pee out but the opening in the bottle is round and pee basically goes everywhere. There is no way to get a neat pour going so it splatters and runs down the sides of the bottle onto the floor and likely your hands.
It’s a messy ordeal and by far the worst part about this toilet.
All in all, we still very much approve of the product but as composting toilets are an industry still not largely perfected or advanced, we can respect the difficulties these companies may have with R&D to improve the product. Another side effect to the infancy of the industry is the price. In Canada the cheapest we could get the toilet for after shipping about just over $1500 CAD or about $1100 US. Not cheap for what it is but with no other real options, we gritted our teeth and bought it.
I’d but the value of the product at about 60% what we had to pay to be more realistic.
Anyway, hope this review helps and if you have any questions, throw them down in the comments.