Can you pee in a composting toilet?! And other FAQs!

  • Date: May 14, 2022

Composting toilets are not new – the idea was first conceived as far back as the 1880’s. As more and more people are becoming keen to find ways to live an eco-friendlier lifestyle, there has been an increasing interest in composting toilets. And you can see why – they use less water, are cheap to run and provide an endless supply of great quality compost! Here we have a look at some of the most common questions that crop up when discussing composting toilets.

So then, can you pee in a compost toilet?

The simple answer is ‘yes’. There are two main types of composting toilet model – one has a separate tank for urine (urine-diverting) and the other does not with all waste going in the same tank.

If you are using a urine-diverting model, with separate tanks, you just pee into the toilet bowl – the toilet will do the rest! You will need to empty the urine tank fairly regularly though.

In the one-tank type, it will be more damp due to increased liquid. This can make the composting process take a bit longer due to increased saturation. To counter this, extra peat moss or wood chips can be added – this simply absorbs the surplus liquid.  

Do composting toilets smell bad?

Composting toilets should not smell. If it does, there is most likely an issue with your ventilation system. Luckily, most modern models have an electricity-operated fan built in. This ensures that gas is removed from the system and bad odor is prevented. So, make sure it is plugged in and you should be fine!

Composting toilet diarrhea – is that ok?

Yeah, of course. Diarrhea is just a more watery version of poop – this excess liquid will need to be removed to provide optimal composting conditions. If it a small episode, you might not wish to do anything. Anything more and you should use the exhaust fan to evaporate the extra liquid. Alternatively, you can add a small amount of bulking material to soak it up.

Can worms be used to help the compost along?

Worms can be used in specially adapted compost toilets – known as vermifilter/vermicomposting/tiger worm toilets. These have a layer where the worms are housed. You can’t just pop the worms in to your standard composting toilet. Find out more about the worms and the fine job they do here.

Can you vomit in a composting toilet?

You can vomit in a composting toilet; extra bulking material may be used to bind the material and remove excess liquid. If it is likely that you have a viral infection, rather than just had a heavy night on the beers, it is best if you dispose of it in a different way – concealed in a container in your household waste bin is probably your best option.

Can you put toilet paper in a composting toilet?

Toilet paper can be put down the composting toilet, just like in a flush toilet. It will be broken down by the microbes much like the other materials. Natural waste products degrade quicker than paper, so you will see fragments of paper within the material on removal from the toilet – this is normal. 

The composting process will not be affected dramatically by your choice in paper either – however, 1 ply paper will decompose quicker than 3 ply simply because there is less paper to be broken down.

Recycled paper seems to break down a bit quicker too. And let’s face it – if you have a composting toilet, you likely have an interest in recycling and environmental issues, generally! It is a great choice to complement your eco-friendly toilet.

Can sanitary products or wet wipes be put in a composting toilet?

Wet wipes generally cannot be put in a composting toilet – they can contain synthetic fibers that mean they are not compostable. However, ones that are made from 100% cotton or natural materials such as bamboo may be composted. Check the manufacturers guidelines on this as some may only be eligible for industrial composting rather than home composting, in this case they would not be suitable for composting toilet.

Sanitary products, such as pads and tampons, generally shouldn’t be put in the composting toilet – most contain plastic. They do not need to navigate an extensive network of pipes like in the use of a traditional toilet; however, they are not suitable for composting either.  An increasing number of brands have biodegradable tampons and pads, so in some cases it may be possible – check the packaging for details.

Do composting toilets need electricity?

Most composting toilets need a very small amount of electricity to allow the evaporation fan to work – excess liquid causes sub-optimal conditions for composting. Some models are simply plugged into the mains, whilst some are available that have a solar component.

Outhouses can be fully solar powered, for both the toilet and the lighting. A very eco-friendly pee!  

Do composting toilets need water?

Composting toilets are, generally, waterless. They do not need to be flushed – eliminating the need for water. This makes a considerable difference to the environment. Every year the average household is estimated to flush 35,000 liters of water, which then needs to be dealt with by the sewerage systems. Composting toilets avoid this.

After a pee, you don’t need to do anything. After a number two, add some bulking agent to the system. Close the lid. And clean your hands – with anti-bacterial alcohol gel, if you don’t have any access to water/you want to reduce your water use even more!

The bottom (pardon the pun) line

Composting toilets are a great choice – and, ultimately, there are not a load of differences when you are actually using the toilet.  Diarrhea and vomit aren’t an issue, you can use the same paper and you should avoid putting sanitary products down the toilet (generally). It really is worth the extra maintenance required to take advantage of all the benefits that they can bring – both for your pocket and the environment.