If you’ve been meditating on compost toilets (and perhaps have already read this post here) then you might be wondering which compost toilet would be best for your boat. Well, look no further!
Your choice of toilet may depend on who exactly you expect to be using it. Will there be guests? Clients? Small children? Visiting dignitaries? Such considerations will impact on which compost toilet is right for you, and whether or not you can improvise with a bucket.
1. Airhead (airheadtoilet.com)
The Airhead composting toilet works using a separating system, and claims to have a waterless flush. As far as I can see, this is basically just a hatch that opens and drops your deposits into the holding containers below. The solids container has a 12 volt fan and an ‘agitator’, which just means a handle that you crank to mix up the poo.
The Airhead purports to be ‘female friendly’ since it separates the urine automatically, without women users having to ‘aim’ at a separator. Nonetheless, men still have to sit when peeing into the toilet. The loo is a self-contained system, which can also be integrated with an existing holding system – eg. if you already have a tank for pump out.
The Airhead is an American brand aimed chiefly at RV drivers and yacht-owners. You won’t get much change from £1000 to have one of these installed on your boat.
2. Nature’s Head (natureshead.net)
Nature’s Head is another American brand, and is self-contained and urine diverting. I am not sure why these toilet brands seem obsessed with ‘heads’, when really their preoccupation is ‘tails’.
Will there be guests? Clients? Small children? Visiting dignitaries? Such considerations will impact on whether or not you can improvise with a bucket.
It looks a bit of a contraption, in my view, sort of Heath Robinson-esque. Too many nooks and crannies make for difficult cleaning. And I’ve already had to clean a minging toilet with a toothbrush so I don’t want to go there again. Anyway, the Nature’s Head stipulates fitting a 12 volt fan and has options for agitator handles and an external vent. I couldn’t find a current retailer for the brand in the UK, but found it advertised (if out of stock) from Black Bear Boating and Leisure for £625.
3. Kildwick (kildwick.com)
Kildwick is a British company that seems to be rapidly establishing itself as the go-to brand for composting toilets on boats. The people behind Kildwick are boat dwellers themselves, and their website and Facebook group are excellent repositories of information. Kildwick sell a range of products, from modular build-your-own flat packs right the way up to fancy bespoke models suited for a range of settings. They also sell parts that will help you make your own compost toilet, including their very own Kildwick separator which costs from £55.
Kildwick urine separators look something like a small urinal fitted over the front portion of the toilet bowl, and women need to aim their flow in the right direction to avoid it squirting into the poo compartment. I believe this takes some practice. However, Kildwick produce rather glorious glittery separators that would make any visit to the toilet instantly delightful, even if your aim is off. (Plain white separators are available for those who are glitter-averse.)
The basic Konstruct flatpack starts at £150, and if you would like a standard non-glitter separator that will add an extra £65 to the cost. (Glitter is £30 extra-extra.) Their Koodle toilet, which claims to be the world’s smallest urine-diverting compost toilet, comes in finished wood and is a good size for most modestly-proportioned boats. Prices for the Koodle start at £395. Fans, agitators, glitter and other extras cost – well – extra.
4. The Little House (littlehouse.co)
Martin Doyle of the The Little House produces the Eco-Loo, British artisan made-to-order wooden toilets. There are two models to choose from. The handsome Eco-Loo Divert funnels urine away to a soak pit (or conceivably an onboard waste tank), but the recommended model for boats is the Eco-Loo Capture, which is entirely self-contained.
The Eco-Loo is a fine-looking piece of furniture in its own right, and comes with a price tag of £395 (£350 for the Divert model). This gets you a a fine piece of bare wood solid oak kit, which you can paint or varnish to your own tastes. A very tasteful Farrow-and-Ball painted version will be an extra £50.
The Little House also sell Kildwick and Separett products, as well as a range of parts and accessories to help you build our own toilet. The Eco-Loo uses the plain white Kildwick separator as standard.
Kildwick produce rather glorious glittery separators that would make any visit to the toilet instantly delightful, even if your aim is off.
5. Separett (separett.com)
Swedish manufacturer Separett produce a number of different compositing toilets, all of which are plain white polypropylene and look more like regular toilets. That means no glitter, and no artisan joinery; but the Weekend model is pretty sleek.
The Weekend is relatively compact but not entirely self-contained, so will need a degree of DIY competency to install. It requires a vent through the wall or roof as well as an outlet pipe to divert urine to an external waste tank – for instance, a former pump-out tank which will likely be positioned under a bed. (This latter does not appeal to me, although I’d be happier with plain urine swilling about under me at night than gallons of poowee soup.)
The Weekend doesn’t use sawdust but relies on a 12 volt fan to dry out the collected poo. At the time of writing there seems to be a problem with UK distribution of Separett products, but normally a Weekend retails for around £495 from The Little House.
6. Cinderella (cinderellaeco.com)
Cinderella! Be still, my beating heart. What’s this: a toilet that incinerates all your doings and transforms them into purest ash? That you could dispose of, ceremonially, in the most glorious of all cremations? And who wouldn’t want a toilet called Cinderella? As you can tell, I’m completely sold, even though the Cinderella isn’t actually a compost toilet.
The Cinderella is a Norwegian brand and they are VERY expensive. Cinderella’s marketing manager explains why. ‘The components of the incineration toilets are mainly produced in Norway and they are technologically advanced. This includes the fire retardant composite shell and an inner frame of special steel which can withstand acids, as well as high temperatures and temperature fluctuations. It is a time-consuming process to assemble the Motion…’
The what now?
Yes, I thought that’s what you said. Well, anyway, The Motion is designed for recreational vehicles – hence the name, in case you were wondering. At the time of writing Gael Force Marine in the UK is selling the Cinderella at a bargain basement price of… wait for it… £3522.49. I’ll have two.
(By the way, there are a number of other incinerator toilet brands so it’s rather unfair of me just to include the Cinderella. I just like the fact that it’s called Cinderella.)
7. Simploo (simploo.co.uk)
The British-made Simploo is a good-looking toilet – if you can imagine such a thing – and is widely recognised as the budget option for compost toilets. The Simploo looks like an average, white, fairly sleek acrylic loo. Under the seat is a urine-diverting system that includes a plastic solids container (basically a plastic crate) and a large urine bottle.
A 12volt fan is recommended, and if an external vent pipe is out of the question (although I am assured that drilling holes in your boat is entirely feasible) then they also offer a carbon filter to help neutralise odours. The Simploo folk maintain that this system works without the need for sawdust or other cover material. However, some folk might prefer the idea of using cover material rather than the faff of installing a fan and a carbon filter. (That might just be me.)
Simploo toilets start at £259.
8. Sun-Mar (sun-mar.com)
Sun-Mar is an American company whose website somehow resembles the inside of a nuclear bunker. Maybe self-contained waterless toilets will be just what everyone needs after the apocalypse, when the cockroaches take over? COULD BE.
Apparently (says the website) ‘in 1971 Hardy Sundberg developed the world’s first self-contained composting toilet.’ Furthermore, the company pioneered the amazing ‘rotating drum’ and ‘three chamber design’ which allows ‘composting, evaporating and compost finishing’ all to take place within the unit itself. Sun-Mar make several self-contained toilets including the Excel, the Compact and the Mobile, any of which would work in a boat. Their Mobile (Marine) option seems to be designed more for seafaring vessels.
Maybe self-contained waterless toilets will be just what everyone needs after the apocalypse, when the cockroaches take over?
HOWEVER. There are two basic problems with their toilets, as far as I can see. As we know, I like a toilet that is smooth and easy to clean. I do not like toilets with crannies and crevices and nooks. Sun-Mar toilets seem to have a lot of nooks which, apart from (I imagine) making them difficult to clean and prone to grime, also makes them fugly (although the Compact model is neater). No less importantly, they cost upwards of £2000.
As for the ‘patented Bio-Drum’; when manually rotated anticlockwise, this makes the poop drop down from the upper chamber into the ‘finishing drawer’ where it continues to break down. So in theory you don’t need to find some corner of your boat to store a box full of poo compost. Call me lazy, but for £2000 I would very much like the toilet to manually rotate itself, before giving itself a good scrub down with some vinegar and bicarb. At the very least.
But you probably ought to watch their video. I mean, it’s pretty epic.
9. Biolan (biolangroup.fi)
So, here we are at number 9. I’m tired now. I don’t know about you but I feel like I would be happy if I never had to hear about a composting toilet ever again.
Anyway, we’re nearly at the end. We’re nearly there. Stay with me.
There isn’t actually that much to say about the Biolan. They’re a Finnish company and manufacture a range of composting products for kitchen, garden and bathroom. To be honest their toilets are probably not especially suitable for the boat environment although it’s possible – from looking at the online spec – that their Separating Dry Toilet could be combined with an existing pump-out tank, since urine is drained away through a pipe rather than being stored in a bottle under the bowl. This, of course, would require some DIY aptitude, of which I have none.
I’m mainly including their toilet because it’s bright blue and looks like something from a child’s Duplo set. It also looks enticingly smooth and easy to clean. And you know how much I like that in a toilet. The Separating Dry toilet costs around £730 from their UK distribution outlet.
Personally, though, I think I’d rather use…
10. A bucket
A bucket! Yes; after all that deliberation, and since I’ve reconciled myself to the idea of never having guests ever again, I’ve decided to go for the cheapest possible option: a bucket. I’ll let you know how it goes. But that will be a whole other post. Next time I’ll be able to share with you the relevant takeaways of my new bucket toilet. Stay tuned, folks!
Of course, once you’ve decided which compost toilet solution is for you, you’ll be keen to put all that wholesome slurry to good use. We can talk about that later. After all, waste not, want not, and all that.
But please remember that I do not pretend to be the world’s greatest expert on compostable evacuations, so if you have superior knowledge that you would care to share, please go ahead! Leave a comment or get in touch directly.
Do keep it clean, though.