|This thing is surprisingly simple and effective.|
In general, the thing has worked really well, and with very few problems. It extends to nearly two weeks the time between needing to empty the solid waste from the toilet, and makes that job less arduous because the mass is far lighter without being chocked full of pee. Not having liquid pooling in the compost bucket means far less chance of insects or odor. We use a spray bottle with a weak bleach solution and spray the diverter after every couple of uses, which keeps the smell virtually nonexistent, and the bottle (a disused 1 1/2 gallon cat litter container) is far simpler to empty than dumping the entire composting bucket, I can tell you.
There, however, a few things that we might have done differently (and which we will do differently in subsequent versions) that we thought we'd impart.
First and foremost, we used 1/2" (about 13 mm) tubing for the drain. The interior diameter of this hose is only about 3/8" (about 9.5mm), which is fine for drainage. From the beginning, however, we've used mostly wood chips and wood stove pellets for mass in the composter, and dropping even a single pellet into the diverter can plug the thing (happens about twice a month) necessitating using a piece of wire or something to dislodge it. Not a deal breaker, certainly, but irritating. In future iterations, we'll endeavor to use a wider diameter tube, which should solve that instantly.
Since this was a retrofit to a composting toilet we'd already built, we had to get a bit creative with routing the tube to the bottle. Because it looks a bit like a novelty drinking straw, it's rather easy to kink it when pulling or replacing the compost bucket. In designing a new housing, we would opt for a much more straightforward (and shorter) route for the hose.
Since the initial install, we've had to play a bit with both the height and the depth of the diverter to keep it from hitting your bum on the toilet. This was pretty easy, and involved screwing the thing in place half an inch lower and using a pocket knife to cut the curve of the top of the diverter a bit more deeply to keep it out of the way. Neither affected the efficacy of the unit.
By the way, rotating the compost buckets is a plus. Even with a liner, the plastic still manages to pick up some stink (though it isn't evident until you go to dump them). Being able to leave one out to air while the other is in use keeps that down . I'm curious if a stainless steel bucket might be more resistant to retaining odor.
When choosing your diverter bottle, virtually anything will work, but as unattractive as it may be, I'd strongly recommend getting one in which you can easily see the liquid level. Humans produce a surprising amount of pee, and though we've only overtopped it once, it wasn't a pleasant experience cleaning it up. There are a bunch of other fixes for this, including possibly sealing the hose into the bottle while providing an air vent of some kind, but the simplest is just to be able to see just how much of the smelly amber stuff with which you're dealing so you can empty it in a timely fashion.
Lastly, note that, if you're in a non-mobile situation, routing the urine hose permanently into a dry well or into a garden or flower bed (urine being a major source of nitrogen) can mean you NEVER have to empty the thing and your flowers or lawn can reap the benefits.
All in all, I'm really happy we built the thing and rather wish we'd done so sooner.
|Hiking at Marshy Point Nature Center on a sunny December day.|
|Fortunately, the solution to chilly feet is ALWAYS a well padded ship's cat.|
AND AN UPDATE:
A lot of folks have asked us to put all the blog articles on composting toilet construction and care and feeding in one place, so we've consolidated all those pages along with some additional material and created a little Ebook. The thing is available by the below link on Amazon for Kindle. It's free if you have Kindle Unlimited, otherwise it will set you back a massive .$.99. It was the easiest way to put the thing together and distribute the information, and if you do download, you'll be giving us grand total of $.35 to help us further the stuff we're doing here. If you're interested, just click the picture or link below: