Why doesn’t it smell?

People asking this question are either thinking about the smell of sewage when near a sewage treatment plant, or have experience of chemical toilets or smelly ‘deep drop’ composting toilets, often at festivals or events.

Urine, when it comes out of us has a mild smell which varies according to our diet. This reduces as it cools leaving a fairly innocuous liquid. If it is added to water and left to stand then the combination of nitrogen in the urine and hydrogen in the water over time combine to form ammonia. By either running the urine into the ground using a soakaway or emptying a collection tank regularly, this is avoided.

Faeces, when they come out of us, contain vast quantities of micro-organisms. Almost all of these are aerobic bugs, which need oxygen, break down our ‘waste’ into harmless compost and create no smell. Only a few are anaerobic bugs, which don’t need oxygen and make a stink whilst breaking down our waste. Using any other form of toilet ensures that the ‘good’ bugs are drowned immediately, leaving only the ‘bad’ ones to create smelly sewage sludge. The dry conditions in our composting toilets, along with the fan providing a good supply of oxygen for the ‘good’ bugs means that not only does composting happen quickly, but also that it happens with virtually no smell.

Do I need to use special toilet paper?

It is not necessary to use anything other than your normal preferred paper as all toilet paper breaks down to compost along with the human faeces. However some papers break down quicker than others and those wanting to produce good compost in the shortest time should consider using leisure brands of toilet paper (e.g. Thetford, Elsan, Fiamma) or cheaper brands. Expensive quilted brands, such as Cushelle, should be avoided as they have a high proportion of plastic within them and are not good for the environment as well as being very slow to break down.

How do I keep the toilet clean?

First of all it should be noted that dry toilets tend to remain cleaner than WCs as it is almost impossible to soil the surrounds of the bowl if used correctly. However, if you should need to, or want to clean the toilet, it is important to only use environmentally friendly cleaners – we recommend Ecover Bathroom Cleaner, but other brands are available. This ensures that nothing enters the toilet which could spoil the microbes producing the compost. If the toilet is wiped with toilet paper or kitchen towel then the used paper can be added to the solids container to break down along with the other contents.