The Perfect Tiny House Composting Toilet

The Perfect Tiny House Composting Toilet

Four years ago, before going tiny, I never thought I’d write a blog post about a toilet – let alone a composting toilet. Yet now I’m so comfortable discussing compost, toilets, and human waste… it’s a little scary! So, here we go. I’m going to tell you why my toilet is the best tiny house composting toilet, with all the dirty details.

Tiny House Composting ToiletMy Tiny House Composting Toilet

My tiny house is outfitted with a Nature’s Head composting toilet. I read the Humanure Handbook by Joseph C. Jenkins and watched dozens of online videos reviewing different composting options. I ended up choosing the Nature’s Head because it’s: 1). Self-contained, 2). Compact, and 3). Proven to be odor free.

How Does it Work?

Video Credit: Gone with the Wynns

Nature’s Head has two chambers – one for solid waste, and one for liquid waste. When urinating, you simply sit down on the toilet and do your business (fellas, you must sit as well). All liquids are directed into the two holes leading to the liquid waste chamber.

THGJ Nature's Head Top

When…. ahem, making a solid waste deposit, you open a trap door via a lever on the side of the toilet which allows you to go #2 into the solids chamber. Toilet paper goes into this chamber as well. I use RV one-ply toilet paper because it breaks down faster than regular toilet paper. After making a solid waste deposit, close the chamber and stir the waste using the hand crank on the side of the toilet.

What keeps it odor free?

By keeping the solid waste separate from the liquid waste, the solids remain dry and less smelly.  Nature’s Head has a 12 volt fan constantly aerating the solid waste chamber, and this little fan helps to further dry out the contents of this chamber. By stirring the solids chamber daily with the hand crank, the solid waste mixes with dehydrated peat moss, which you place inside the toilet before first use.

The liquid waste, or urine, can become smelly if not emptied every few days. You can dilute the liquid waste chamber by adding water, but this will cause you to empty this chamber more often.

Odor Eliminating Tip:  Add one cup of white vinegar to the bottom of the liquid waste container after emptying. Also a spoonful of sugar, once a day, can reduce odor. 

How often do you have to empty it?

Video Credit: Tiny SIP House

Watch the above video for full details on emptying and refilling the Nature’s Head.

With one person using the Nature’s Head full time, I empty the liquid waste every 3-4 days and the solid waste every 12-16 weeks. The solid waste chamber is rated for approximately 90 uses, so you can do the math for your particular family/situation.

And no, when you empty the solid’s chamber, it doesn’t smell or look nasty. It looks like dirt!

Where do you empty it?

I use one of two options for emptying the solid waste chamber:

1). Bag the contents in a biodegradable trash bag and toss it in the dumpster. This is no different than tossing a diaper in the trash. In fact, it’s less wasteful because my biodegradable trash bag will decompose MUCH faster than a diaper.

2). Empty the contents into a compost tumbler. I also toss food scraps, paper scraps, dried leaves, cardboard, and peat moss in my compost tumbler and turn it once a day. So far the contents are decomposing nicely – no odors or infestations. One day, I plan on reusing the fully composted contents in a flower bed or lawn.

For the liquid waste, I either dilute it enough so that it is safe to pour on vegetation (the nitrogen is actually good for your lawn when diluted), or I flush it down the toilet at a rest stop or campground.

Art Cormier parks his tiny house on a piece of land. He empties his solids chamber into a DIY backyard compost tumbler. More info in the video below:

Water Conservation

“With the average person flushing five times a day, toilets make up about 31% of overall household water consumption.” – Home Water Works

One of the major advantages to using a compost toilet over a flush toilet is water conservation. The average low-flush toilet uses 1.6 gallons of water for every flush. If you take this statistic into consideration, we save 16 gallons of water a day (5,840 gallons a year) by using a compost toilet! With my 46 gallon fresh water tank, that’s a substantial amount of water savings.

Of course, RV flush toilets use less water than household toilets, but they also come with the task of emptying the dreaded black water tank. Through my discussions with RV owners – and, yes, we talk about toilets – I’m told a 40-gallon black water tank will last two people about 8-10 days. Compared to my tiny house composting toilet, that sounds like a lot of dumping! Not to mention two other downfalls of black water systems: extra water weight and the need for toxic chemicals (required to flush out the system). Also, black water reeks!

A Silent Advantage

Aside from the positives I’ve already talked about (less maintenance, less smell, easy installation, and water savings) my tiny house composting toilet has one other advantage over the RV flush toilet – it’s virtually silent! Without water, there are no revealing tinkling, splashing or flushing sounds!

Maybe this is something only tiny housers will understand, but in less that 200 square feet, a silent toilet is a luxurious form of privacy.

Guess what? This tiny house composting toilet won’t wake up your partner if you need to go in the middle of the night! Something I never considered before going tiny, but now, I’m thankful for my quiet toilet.

tiny house composting toiletAfter Two and a Half Years of Use

After 2+ years of using the Nature’s Head composting toilet, I have no complaints. In fact, is it weird to say I’ve actually become good at using it? I’ve perfected my ratio (amount of matter versus the amount of stirring), so that the solids chamber is in top notch condition. It took a few months to get used to the system, but now, I’m a professional.

Other Tiny Housers Using the Nature’s Head:

Purchase the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet!!

tiny house composting toilet


Full disclosure: If you purchase a Nature’s Head Tiny House Composting Toilet through my links, I will get a small percentage, with no extra cost to you. I do really believe in this product, and I would promote it with or without an incentive. That being said, having partnerships with products I love helps me keep this blog going. Thank you for understanding.

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44 Comments

  1. Chris Patricia Hafner
    April 9, 2017 / 6:31 pm

    Thanks for a candid discussion. I definitely attest to the smell difference when one uses the cheap five gal bucket, double bag, with seat vs. separated. One thing missing from most TH composting discussions is Vermicomposting. For those perplexed…that is WORMS EAT MY GARBAGE type. I’ve used a large pickle container (the Warehouse size) on counter with a few red wrigglers thrown in on top of leaves or shredded mail and then just put scraps in and cover with a lid pierced with some air holes …if fruit flies are a problem, a cloth or paper towel with rubber band or screw you nail pieced lid right over. Because my ex was squeamish & red wrigglers are shy in light, I either wrapped black construction paper around which can slide up to view the worms progress or a small repurposed bathroom waste basket will work to hide. My sons have had their worm compost jars going for up to three years without dumping …some mighty rich worm castings filled.
    Nonetheless if cooking for a household of five, one will probably not be able to do that with one jar and no collection depot …still mine can be inside for months, which would fit the traveling TH style. I dump my jars into a Gardens Alive worm composter that has a racked system. It would be easy enough to make one though. Why do this? You can take the run off (either via spout at bottom or if system on a tilt and make great biological living microbiome worm castings that really enrich soils through increased moisture retention & a complex microbiome or use the tea for feeding house plants, veggies or any other place you might have someone object to urine fertilizer, which is not balanced but high in Nitrogen.

  2. Sam
    February 18, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    Wonder if someone sells a urinal similiar to the ones in a rental outhouse. I wouldn’t think they’d take much room. Might want to have a way to rinse afterward, maybe plumb in a water line or use a squeeze bottle of water. Guys would appreciate it.

  3. Sandra
    February 15, 2017 / 12:56 pm

    You mention that there is a constant fan running — I assume this is an electric fan? Would it still be “not smelly” in a home without power — meaning, without a fan? Thanks!

    • February 15, 2017 / 1:34 pm

      The fan runs on a 12 volt battery. As long as you have some power – a small battery bank from solar or similar, you shouldn’t have any trouble running this fan. Otherwise, it can get stinky if not stirred daily.

    • February 24, 2017 / 8:27 am

      Waiting for response also…

  4. Lucas Brewer
    February 13, 2017 / 7:37 am

    Do you ever have to replace the peat moss or how does it work.

    • February 14, 2017 / 10:50 am

      You replace the peat moss or coconut coir every time you dump. So every 90+ uses, you dump the contents and fill it 1/2 full of new peat moss or coconut coir.

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