How Do You Empty a Composting Toilet

How do You Empty a Composting Toilet?

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Composting toilets are great for those living off-grid or wanting to reduce their water use. There are many types of composting toilets designed to to reduce water and energy usage. Although they all have the same function, they do not all work the same. Some require less maintenance, and others need frequent attention. 

Before installing off-grid toilets in your house, you need to learn a few things about them. For example, how to reduce odor from your composting toilet? How do you empty a composting toilet? And what to do with the waste?

We have previously discussed how to dispose of urine from composting toilets, but in this article, you will get all the information you need about disposing of human waste.

compost toilet sign

How Do You Empty a Composting Toilet?

The way you empty a composting toilet depends on its waste-collecting system.

Mainly, composting toilets come in four types. Here’s how to empty each one of them.

1) Self-contained

Self-contained composting toilets have the whole system installed within the toilet seat inside the pedestal. All you need to do to empty one is lift the seat part to expose the composting chamber.

It’s a wise idea to pre-line the chamber with biodegradable bags. This way, it becomes easier to take the bag out and get rid of it. Otherwise, you need to take the whole chamber out and empty it.

cartridge composting toilet

2) Split Batching System

This type of composting toilet has a much larger composting chamber sitting under the floor beneath the pedestal. Still, the chamber isn’t tough to empty, as it usually has wheels to drag it.

It doesn’t matter if you leave the full chamber out to mature or dispose of its contents. You just need to replace the composting chamber with a fresh one.

Overall, composting toilets using split batching systems are more suited for tiny homes.

3) Continuous Systems

Using a continuous system, the waste stays inside the chamber until composting is complete. To empty it out, you access the compost through a hatch leading to the composting chamber. Then, you shovel out the compost that needs removing.

This type of composting toilet is ideal for heavy commercial use or bigger households. However, it requires quite a large underfloor space, with each toilet bowl having its own chamber.

4) RV Composting Toilet

RV composting toilets work the same as self-contained units. They separate the urine from the solid waste into two different containers. Depending on the number of users, you may need to empty it each three to four weeks.

Basically, the urine goes to a bottle container you can easily remove and empty. As for the feces, it collects in a bucket-like chamber easily accessible through the toilet bowl itself.

Separating Compost Toilet

How To Responsibly Dispose of Urine?

Using composting toilets helps protect the environment, and so does the safe disposal of waste. That’s why you need to learn how to responsibly dispose of urine.

Here are a few ideas.

1) Public Restrooms

Even if it doesn’t contain any pathogens, bodily fluids are still considered biohazardous waste. Thus, you can’t just dump urine anywhere you like.

The best place to dispose of urine collected into your composting toilet is a public restroom. Luckily, you can find many of those on the road if you travel a lot. All you need is empty the urine container down the toilet, the drain, or the sewer.

2) RV Dump Stations

Dump stations are specially designed to dispose of toilet waste, whether it’s black or gray water. You can find them at campgrounds, RV parks, rest stops, and gas stations.

These stations look like gas stations with several docks lined side by side. Each dock has enough space for a whole RV to park and dump waste.

3) Outdoors

Although it’s okay to dump urine in the great outdoors, you can’t just do it anywhere. Focus on the areas where you can urinate in the wilderness, such as remote dirt roads away from people (avoid paved surfaces).

So, it’s better not to dispose of urine anywhere near the following:

  • Public places (like camping sites)
  • Waterways
  • Ornamental vegetation
  • Storm sewers
  • Private properties

How To Responsibly Dispose of Human Waste?

Most composting toilets don’t complete the composting process all the way. Thus, the waste may still contain harmful bacteria. That’s why you can’t empty the poop chamber in the woods.

Here are a few ways to dispose of human waste.

1) Waste Management Service

It’s not against the law to dispose of your composting toilet waste via ordinary waste management systems (AKA the trash). Just like baby diapers, you just need to keep them wrapped tight in a garbage bag.

Although it varies from county to county, most landfills allow human poop disposal. That said, some companies advise mixing human waste with enzymes to break it down and eliminate odors.

2) Public Pits

Public pit toilets, also known as long drops, are those toilets with a huge hole dug underground beneath them. They’re usually located at campsites or trailheads and designed to collect a substantial amount of human waste.

It works great if your composting toilet accumulates small amounts of poop. However, it may not be an ideal solution for bigger waste containers.

3) Compostable Trash Bags

Using compostable trash bags is the best way to care for the environment. Unlike ordinary plastic bags, these types don’t produce any toxic material because they’re made of natural plant starch.

Remember that, in all cases, human waste must be in a solid form to be able to dispose of it inside trash bags.

4) Composting Pile

Adding the waste from your composting toilet to a pre-existing compost pile is totally safe. You can find many public compost piles in parks and campgrounds.

These compost piles continue the composting process to turn these wastes, along with other organic waste, into usable topsoil.

outdoor composting toilet

How to Reduce Odor from Composting Toilet?

Foul odors coming from your compost toilet can be inconvenient and even embarrassing. But fortunately for us, compost toilets are made with the intention of reducing odors. What you should keep in mind is that:

  • Clean composting toilets once a month. By following a basic cleaning schedule, your compost toilet will be clean, preventing bacteria that cause odor.
  • Use a commercial composting toilet as they are designed with the intention of concealing odors within the toilet.
  • Utilize compost materials such as coconut fiber, peat moss, and sawdust to absorb odor.
  • Spray organic cleaning vinegar onto your toilet after each use.
  • Utilize composting bags whenever possible.
  • Separate solid waste from liquid waste.

Still, you should remember that it is nearly impossible to remove all odors. But taking the right steps will go a long way to reducing the odor released from the toilet.

DIY composting toilet off grid

Final Thoughts

Composting toilets are incredibly useful, especially for people living off-grid. They prevent water waste and convert your poop into easily-disposable matter.

So, how do you empty a composting toilet? It depends on its type. While some toilets (self-contained) are easy to empty out, other types (continuous systems) may require a bit of extra work.

In all cases, it’s essential to take proper precautions before handling this kind of waste to remain safe and healthy.

If you enjoyed this article, and are looking for a composting toilet, consider seeing our list of the 6 Best Off-Grid Toilet Options, or reading our article on learning how to make a composting toilet at home.

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