Your first reaction when learning about a compost toilet might be disgust, but they’re actually the preferred toilet for a growing number of tiny house homeowners. People who are familiar with modern compost toilets understand that these are the best toilet designs for tiny homes for a number of reasons. And perhaps the most popular brand of compost toilets for tiny homes is Nature’s Head.
So why do most tiny house dwellers choose the compost toilet models offered by Nature’s Head? Nature’s Head Toilet is consistently ranked as one of the best models for RV and tiny house living because it is efficient, environmentally-friendly, and odorless.
In this Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Review, we discuss everything you need to know about Nature’s Head’s ever-popular composting toilets, from its design specifications to its pros and cons, so you can understand exactly why it’s the preferred toilet choice for most tiny house homeowners.
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What Is a Composting Toilet?
A compost toilet treats human waste by allowing heat, moisture, bacteria, and microbes to break down the organic matter into compost. There are two kinds of composting toilets: self-contained and central.
- Self-contained: These are toilets that house the composting system itself, with the compost chamber built-in below the bowl. These are usually found in tiny houses, RVs, boats, and off-grid seasonal dwellings.
- Central: These models direct the waste to a composter located in another area, and feels more like a traditional toilet.
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet: Product Description and Technical Details
The Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is a self-contained toilet designed to separate solid and liquid waste. It’s a compact model that is waterless, odorless, and can fit into extremely narrow spaces - including tiny homes.
Price: The average cost for a Nature’s Head Toilet ranges from $925 - $1000.
Size: The dimensions are 450 mm wide x 546 mm high x 475 mm deep.
Capacity: The solid waste container can hold 80 - 90 uses before emptying, or an average of
two weeks. The liquid waste container can hold fluids for 4-5 days before emptying.
Inclusions: The toilet comes with the following items for easier installation:
- Vent hose and flange
- Mounting brackets
- Cable and plug for 12V fan connection
- One (1) Coir-Peat brick
- One (1) 500ml spray bottle of cleaner stimulant
Available Models: There are two available models that differ only with the crank handle for mixing the solids bin.
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet with Close Quarters Spider Handle: The spider-head model is built closer into the body of the toilet itself.
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet with Standard Crank Handle: The standard crank handle sticks out further compared to the spider handle, which is something to consider when you have limited space.
How a Nature’s Head Toilet Works
The Nature’s Head toilet has two chambers for solid waste and liquid waste. Urine is directed to the two holes in the front, while solid waste deposit and toilet paper fall into a “trap door”. This “trap door” can be opened by a lever at the side of the toilet.
After depositing the solid waste, an agitator or hand crank is on the side of the model for stirring the solid waste into the compost medium. It’s best to stir this every day.
Compost medium, usually sphagnum peat moss or coco coir (bricks made of coconut fiber), is added to the solid waste chamber before use as it activates the aerobic bacteria. Aerobic bacteria combined with heat and moisture are responsible for breaking down solid waste into compost.
On the other hand, urine drains into another container latched onto the front of the toilet. This jug is semi-transparent and can be removed once it reaches a certain level. If it is not emptied on time, it may overflow into a tray in the toilet.
How Does It Remain Odorless?
Since the solid waste and liquid waste are kept separate, the solids remain dry in their chamber. The Nature’s Head model also has a vent with a 12 volt fan aerating the solids chamber, keeping it dry and free of fumes.
How Do You Empty It?
For solid waste: The solid waste chamber can be occupied up to 90 uses, so it would depend on your family situation on how frequently it needs to be emptied. Two people can go up to 12 weeks without emptying it, while a family of four may need to clear it every other week. You can empty the waste by throwing the contents of the solid waste chamber in a biodegradable trash bag, where it can decompose quickly.
You also have the option of converting this into toilet compost, since it looks and smells exactly like dirt. Once it is fully decomposed, you can use this for a lawn or a garden.
For liquid waste: You can dispose of the urine in a canal or sewer, and even flush it down a toilet. Some people opt to dilute it with water so that it is safe to pour onto vegetation, since the nitrogen compound in urine will be beneficial for plants.
For a more thorough rundown, check out the video below:
Pros and Cons of the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
An objective composting toilet review would be incomplete without listing the pros and cons of this product. While Nature’s Head’s line of composting toilets may seem costlier compared to other options on the market, it’s clear that you are paying for a premium product with its ease of use, minimal maintenance needs, and other advantages.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider the Nature’s Head model for your tiny house:
- It’s environmentally friendly.
On an average, composting toilets can reduce a household’s water usage by up to 60%, and the Nature’s Head toilet is no exception. Since these models don't require any water to operate, it can save more than 6,600 gallons of water per person a year. Toilets composting waste also produce a natural alternative to fertilizer, which can also encourage small-scale gardening.
- Its containers are large.
The Nature’s Head Toilet has large containers and an overflow tray for urine, which allows a longer interval time for disposal. Households with two people will only need to dispose of solid waste every 3-4 weeks, while liquid waste should be emptied every 4-5 days.
- It's easy to clean and to empty.
The Nature’s Head Toilet is designed with a lightweight and sturdy plastic that makes it easy to clean and to empty. You won’t need harsh cleaning chemicals for it, since it is odorless compared to an ordinary toilet. The liquid container also has a nylon webbing fabric handle, so it can conveniently be removed when it’s almost full.
- It’s comfortable to use.
Although it does not operate as a normal toilet, it still feels like one. You won’t need to squat since it is designed with a similar height. You won’t feel discomfort from the smell either, since it’s almost odorless - only the liquids will smell when you dispose of them, and the solids mixed with compost material only gives off an earthy scent.
While the Nature’s Head Toilet is an overall great choice, there are still some downsides to it. These are:
- The process gets tedious.
An adjustment you will have to make when investing in a compost toilet is the process of emptying solid and liquid waste. You will also need a consistent supply of peat moss or coco coir, which needs to be hydrated correctly. Too much water may invite mold, while too little is insufficient to activate the composting process.
- The product is a little expensive.
The price tag of $900 - $1000 may turn a few potential buyers off, particularly those looking to save as much money as possible. However, since it doesn’t use water, you’ll be able to save more on your utilities.
- The toilet requires a lot of care.
Installing this compost toilet requires that the vent be properly plumbed in, and that there is sufficient ventilation in your tiny house for the mini-fan to work. It may also necessitate meticulous cleaning during a woman’s menstrual period. In the long run though, most users of Nature’s Head products have no regrets.
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet vs Other Brands
Each Nature’s Head Composting Toilet review often praises the brand of ease of use, but how does it stack up against its top competitors?
1. Nature’s Head vs Air Head Composting Toilet
The Air Head Composting Toilet is similar to the Nature’s Head toilet functionally and price-wise, so most of the differences fall to the design of these respective models. The Air Head model is smaller and fits in tiny houses well, but needs to be emptied out more frequently. Unlike the Nature’s Head model, the “trap door” for solid waste does not retract with the Air Head Toilet, and requires a coffee filter basket to help catch the waste.
2. Nature’s Head vs Separett Villa Composting Toilet
The Separett Villa is a more expensive product compared to the Nature’s Head Toilet, though they generally operate the same way. However, the difference is that the Separett allows you to line the solid waste chamber with a compostable plastic bag, which makes it easier to take waste out. This has its downside too, as the plastic bag sometimes gets twisted up with the agitator mechanism. This Sweden-made product will require a family of four to empty the container for solids every 3-6 weeks.
3. Nature’s Head vs Sun-Mar Excel-Ne Composting Toilet
The Sun-Mar Excel-Ne model is more expensive than the Nature’s Head toilet, but this was designed for off-grid living. It’s found to be a suitable product for people who have an inconsistent power supply, as it does not have a fan nor a heater. However, some product users found that this model is difficult to clean and often clogs up with debris, as the chamber for composting is sectioned off with a screen.
Composting Toilet Do’s and Don’ts
Maintaining a compost toilet is a little different from what you are accustomed to, but it’s not that intimidating. If you are considering purchasing a compost toilet for your tiny house, here are a few tips that can help you use it cleanly and smoothly:
- DO: Keep it clean with vinegar and water.
Aside from emptying out the liquid container frequently, wash it with a mix of one part vinegar and four parts water after emptying to neutralize the smell of ammonia. You can also fill a spray with this mixture to keep the seat and pan area clean. Pour some neat white vinegar into the fluid container before you reattach it as well. Sugar and essential oils can also make the compost toilet smell good.
- DO NOT: Throw away non-biodegradables into the toilet.
As long as your toilet paper or wipes are biodegradable, they are fine to dispose alongside your excrement because they decompose on their own. However, it’s best to use a separate trash can for non-biodegradable products, such as female sanitary products.
- DO: Purchase a second jug for fluid waste.
Although the container for urine only needs to be emptied every 4-5 days, it’s best to keep another jug on hand in case you are unable to empty it on time.
- DO NOT: Allow the composting material to get too dry
The wrong temperature or moisture levels can kill off the microbes that break down the waste matter in your excrement, so it’s essential to keep your composting material just moist enough. Since your compost toilet is equipped with a fan for evaporating excess liquid, keep the peat moss or coconut coir damp enough for composting.
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