how does composting toilet work

How Does a Composting Toilet Work?

Every day, fresh water is being used to flush our toilets. A typical family of four will flush as much as 100,000 liters of water every year. Hence, the importance of composting toilet cannot be never be denied when it comes to saving the natural resources of the earth, specifically water.

how does composting toilet work

Composting toilet systems are an effective way of processing and returning human waste into usable organic compost and soil compound without using any harsh chemicals.

Today, we are going to explain how does a composting toilet work and its numerous advantages.

Table of Content
Get Insight of Composting Toilet
a. What’s Composting Toilet?
b. Reason to Choose a Composting Toilet
c. How Does Composting Toilet Work?
d. Environmental Benefits of Composting Toilet
Types of Composting Toilets
a. Dry Composting Toilet
b. Electric Composting Toilet
c. Solar Composting Toilet
d. Portable Composting Toilet
Some Other Useful Information About Composting Toilets
a. What is Active vs Passive Composting Toilet?
b. How Does a RV Composting Toilet Work?
c. How Does a Waterless Composting Toilet Work?
i. Batch Composting Toilet Systems
ii. Continual Process Composting
d. Self-Contained Toilets as a DIY Projects


First, you need to understand what is composting toilets before deep-diving into the actual topic.

Composting toilets use little to no water and treat toilet wastes on-site for reuse as valuable compost according to nature’s renewal method. It uses a fast aerobic decomposition method, which turns biological waste into rich compost by turning it into water and carbon dioxide that can be used as a soil amendment.

Moreover, the toilet stops working on 40% below the moisture level, making it safe and odor-free operation. The system does not require a septic tank or harsh toxic chemicals and considered hygienic and odorless toilets of the modern era.

Get Insight of Composting Toilet

how does composting toilet work
Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

What’s Composting Toilet?

Composting toilets are a form of toilets that use technologies other than large quantities of water to dispose of human waste. Toilet composting manages human waste through composting and dehydration, and the compost that is the end product of the process is a valuable soil additive.

It’s a valuable alternative to building large sewage treatment plants or underground septic systems, and the finished product they produce is actually beneficial to the environment instead of harmful or polluting sewage waste. 

Reason to Consider a Composting Toilet

Since composting toilets use little or no water, they also help preserve this quickly vanishing resource instead of, literally, flushing it away.

Increasingly public facilities at national parks and elsewhere are turning to composting toilets to help manage waste and serve as a demonstration of a beneficial green technology.

Composting toilets are different from outhouses or pit latrines. Most composting toilets have very little (if any) smell associated with them, and many closely resemble a flush toilet in terms of design (although they operate very differently).

How Does Composting Toilet Work?

The toilet uses a natural method of decomposition and evaporation techniques to recycle human waste. The incoming waste is based on 90% water, which is vaporized and carried back to the atmosphere through the air vent system.

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Afterwards the small amount of remaining solid residue is converted to useful composting by a natural process, which is the same as in your garden composter.

Environmental Benefits of Composting Toilet

Composting toilet systems contribute positively to the environment by producing a valuable and environmentally beneficial end-product. 

Flush toilet systems in bathrooms create a waste product which is an environmental pollutant and must be treated or disposed of properly while composting toilet systems produces a safe, nutrient-rich end-product that actually benefits the environment.

The compost that is the end-product of the composting toilet process can be used as a valuable soil additive around non-edible plants and trees, thus creating an even greener environment.

Composting toilets play an important role in water conservation. Water is increasingly becoming a scarce global commodity, but flush toilet systems are quite literally flushing it away. 

On the other hand, composting toilet systems rely on little or no water to recycle human waste and thus help preserve this valuable natural resource.

Composting toilets can help reduce the impact of household waste on the environment. Most composting toilet systems can be used to compost waste from the kitchen, such as vegetable scraps, along with human waste. 

For city dwellers who may not have easy access to composting piles outside their home, composting toilets can provide an easy to use and easily accessible means by which to compost household waste! By doing this, compost toilets can help cut down on the production of household waste and reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills.

Types of Composting Toilet

Dry Composting Toilet

It’s the most popular type of composting toilet, which operates without water, unlike a typical flush-toilet. With a raised pedestal on which the user can sit, and the excreta falls through a drop hole, it’s the best alternative to flush toilets when you’re out or short of water supply.

You don’t need any septic tank or advance sewage system to use dry toilets, giving you the freedom to use instantly without building any infrastructure.

Electric Composting Toilet

Another most popular type of waterless toilet is known as electric composting toilet. The good thing about this design is electricity, which powers them to fasten the process of decomposition and evaporation and break down the remaining solid residue biologically.

It best serves households on land, especially on the grid. Moreover, boat owners and marine enthusiasts may not find ideal. However, several brands that offer electric composting toilets for RVs and boat owners.

Solar Composting Toilet

These toilets offer an alternative, on-site human waste recycling system that reduces environmental pollution and creates a safe yet nutrient-rich compost for vegetation. It helps to protect groundwater from pollution, and nutrients are altered into a pathogen-free, sanitary rich, compost that can be applied directly to the garden.

The process doesn’t need any manual intervention because of solar design, which runs the decomposition process effectively with no moving mechanical parts. Due to this design, very little maintenance required leading to cost-saving.

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Portable Composting Toilet

There are several good reasons to use a portable composting toilet, including the fact that it is a very eco-friendly solution. Furthermore, it is also a very effective way of turning waste into usable as well as hygienic fertilizer.

People who love the outdoor life and who are living outside the grid are the ones that will prefer using a C head composting toilet. This is because these types of toilets do their work without needing, water and they also do not require any septic hook-ups.

Secondly, using a portable camping toilet also means that it can be used at a remote location. Since such toilets are self-contained, they help you do away with the need to transport waste for disposal or treatment.

And, when the human waste has been properly composited, the same can be buried in the ground close to non-edible plants. The result of this is that the environment gets a fresh dose of organic waste.

Some Other Useful Information About Composting Toilets

What is Active vs Passive Composite Toilet?

Active composting systems will rely on mixing, aeration, and heat.  They often feature automatic mixers, thermostat controlled heaters, tumbling drums, fans and other features to promote quick and odor free waste composting.

Passive composting systems are optimized to rely on natural rather than mechanical forces. Gravity, ambient temperature and the shape of the composting chamber are all optimized to promote efficient composting.

How Does a RV Composting Toilet Work?

RV owners may not find using a self-composting toilet for RV to be a very attractive option. However, after overcoming their initial qualms, they will find this to be very effective as well as a simple solution to getting rid of waste.

how does composting toilet work

The best part is that when you use an RV composting toilet, you will not only be preserving the planet’s environment, but you will be able to get rid of waste in a smell-free manner.

A portable camping composting toilet is also very compact. This means that it provides the perfect solution for your caravan, camper van, or RV.

It also does not require high wattage to run the ventilation fan that dehydrates the solid waste. Most portable toilets have a big container that can store the waste for between two and four weeks, which is sufficient for two people. The best part is that a portable self-composting toilet does not produce any smells and it also looks like a regular toilet.

How Does a Waterless Composting Toilet Work?

When a person opts for a composting toilet, he or she will not require a flushing system to get rid of the waste. Instead, waste is composted through sources that are rich in carbon. Typically, this means using wood shavings or bark mulch or leaves. There are several different types of self-composting waterless toilets to choose from.

Each one works differently, and the one that you end up choosing will be one that suits your needs the best. Even so, every outdoor composting toilet has a few common features, including the use of heaters or fans (electrically driven), air as well as an exhaust system plus a door that allows you to empty out the composted waste.

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Toilet composting generally involves one of two different composting toilet systems: Batch Systems and Continual Process Systems.

i. Batch Composting Toilet Systems 

BCTS rely on a series of containers in which the toilet composting process will take place once it is filled and sealed.

Some toilets will rely on a single container which is manually replaced, while other systems may have a carousel-type system where there or four containers are placed on a rotation device and a new, empty container will be spun under the composting toilet once another one if full.

By the time all the containers are full, the first container on the carousel will have been fully composted and ready to be emptied.

ii. Continual Process Composting Toilet Systems

CPCTS are systems that are continually composting toilet waste instead of using containers.  Most of these systems have large underground composting chambers in which human waste will slowly move downwards.  After six months to a year, the compost at the bottom of the chamber will be ready to be harvested and used as a soil amendment.  The manner in which human waste is composted in these systems varies, but many rely on managed aerobic decomposition using microorganisms, and in some cases, micro-organisms such as earthworms.

Self-Contained Toilets as a DIY Projects

There are generally two options for those interested in acquiring a composting toilet: purchase a manufactured composting toilet (of which there are many brands) or build one on-site yourself. Site built composting toilets may be considerably cheaper than many manufactured brands, but owners may find it challenging to get these units approved by local health agencies.

Let’s have a quick review to make a self-contained composite toilet:

Material Required

  • Snap-on Toilet Seat
  • 04 Nos. of five-gallon empty buckets
  • Bucket for bulk material
  • Sturdy stand for five-gallon bucket

It’s as simple as it seems, you just need to snap the lid on the five gallons bucket, thrown in the first layer of bulk material, and that’s all. You’re all set to go.


Education about composting toilets is an important part of encouraging their use in the so-called “developed” world.  Many health agencies in the United States and elsewhere have little knowledge of these systems and treat them with considerable suspicion. 

Misinformation and suspicion about composting toilets often makes it difficult to get a permit approving their use.  In order to combat this suspicion, it is important that owners and users of composting toilets be open to discussing the systems with others and promoting their use.

Though toilet composting may seem strange at first to those accustomed to flush toilet systems, once you have adjusted to the technology, you will find that they are no more difficult to use or unpleasant to have in your home than a flush toilet. 

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