A Photo & Discussion Forum for Wharram Design Enthusiasts
I'm looking to put an "air head" composting toilet and a shower in "Pai Nai" aka "Pumpkin". I'm planning on using the standard location in the main cabin and and I can't find much about it online. I would appreciate any feedback or links on this....Toilets, through holes vs pump, interior paint/sealant, location, etc.
Thanks for your input, Rob
We've been using a natures head, basically the same thing, for 8 months now. We are using it in our temporary domicile while building the boat. Unless one only uses it on weekends, it definitely does not compost. Composting takes months, and two people fill it up in around 3 weeks. The odor was a little strong until we used more peat moss to keep it drier, but that is part of the reason it fills so quickly. The urine tends to calcify and needs to be scraped, in small areas, we use a putty knife, when cleaning it, and the bottle needs to be emptied about every other day. In a boat the idea of handing it up through a hatch sounds difficult, and emptying it in the cabin would not be easy. We've decided to go with a Lavac, though there is a lot to be said for the ease of installation of the natures/air head. If you get one of these, empty it every couple weeks, and use lots of peat is our recommendation. Please feel free to ask us any questions. We've got quite a bit of experience and would be happy to help if we can.
I would vehemently suggest against any small composting toilet (regardless of manufacturer) on any boat. They are not suitable for anything more than a couple of deposits per week, and that can be pushing it. I have been the recipient of vast sums of money for the service of replacing composting toilets on small boats with more typical sea heads (especially the Lavac as suggested by Chuck.) The Lavac is not well suited to use with smallish holding tanks since the pump draws and discharges a significant amount of water. I have only clogged a Lavac once in over 6-years of daily use, and that was because a child input a foreign object.
I have used Marelon thru-hulls and seacocks since the early '90's and never had a failure. If you use quality hose and fittings, the service life of modern sea head is likely longer than a Yanmar diesel engine, and with far less maintenance.
We use Behr Premium Exterior Semi-gloss (from Home Depot) latex paint. It has great wear, dries smooth (when applied properly), and provides a great breathable waterproof barrier.
Sealants depend on the application, so advice is impossible here.
I would beg to disagree on others' opinions of composting toilets on board. We have had an Airhead composting toilet on our Tiki 38 Lipa Lipa for the past 10 years. It is in the forward port side cabin (we went with "option 2" for the layout from the original plans). We have been very happy with its performance. It can handle full time use of 2 or 3 for several weeks. We don't have any problems with it smelling. There are no through hulls, and it is completely legal to use anywhere as it doesn't pump out. The liquid container tends to get smelly well before the solids section, which for our toilet hardly smells. The trick is to put sugar, or similar, in there - this discourages the type of bacteria that make smells. We use cheap lemon cordial - each time we empty the liquids, we put an inch or so of this in the bottom for the next round. To be truthful, if we are in an anchorage, we use the deck hatch or wee overboard, but the toilet is always there if you need to hide away to go to the loo. The solids can be emptied into another container, after about 4-6 weeks, then either emptied overboard, or buried in a friend's garden. It turns into an earthy-smelling powder. It definitely composts well - maybe it's the heat of the tropics in all the areas where we have used it.
All the best,
bucket and chuckit... works well for me.. porta potty for the ladies
I had two buckets, a black one for the gents and pink for the ladies... You have to maintain some sort of decorum. Best only invite ladies with a good sense of humour though ;-)
steve martland said:
bucket and chuckit... works well for me.. porta potty for the ladies
We, of course, apply "bucket and chuck it" in suitable locations as well, to reduce the amount we're putting into the toilet and lengthen times between emptying. Better still, we have a very suitable deck hatch as a outdoor toilet when we're all good friends on board. However, it's great to have the option not to chuck stuff overboard…. if you're in a beautiful, clear anchorage and fancy a bit of snorkelling, you are better off not having your …ahem… "solids" floating in it(or anyone else's, for that matter). The advantage of the composter over a portapotti is no need for any fresh water, and also the lack of chemicals (and associated smell) - when you do empty your toilet and throw things overboard well offshore, you are not throwing formalin in as well.
Emma, Lipa Lipa
Like we said.....it's best when you don't use it often...........
I'm considering the Nature's Head. I have read countless reviews and the comments above mirror those reviews exactly. Some say it works great and some say it doesn't compost. I'm wondering if the differing results are from the those who use or don't use the 12v fan option. It sounds like that could make all the difference. But i could be wrong. I'd love to hear from those who have posted if this theory is accurate. Thanks for all the great info :)
PS: I realize that actual composting takes months up to a year even and that these heads actually are dehydrating the poo and starting the process for composting... just to be clear :)
Hi Brandon. The Airhead has a 12V fan as standard, so maybe this is part of the solution - this draws a very small current, and is on all the time. It also has a tumbler in the solids tank, so you give it a tumble each time you make a deposit, this introduces oxygen, which is an essential part of the composting equation. The automatic separation of solids and liquids is an important part of the design - if urine is mixed with the poo, then the process would need to be much longer, and you would need a huge tank (more like a domestic household composting toilet). However, I don't agree that the process is dehydration rather than composting - in our Airhead, it is a moist process, and definitely composting. If you leave it alone and don't use it, it then goes powdery. Once the composting is working well, all the bugs are really fast, you make the deposit, cover it with the other compost, and the poo is almost instantly turned to compost. No smell at all! You need to use a bit of peat moss to get things going, but once it's working well, you just cover the fresh deposit with the compost that is already there, using the tumbler.
We have our 12 volt fan running constantly in our Natures Head. It's still moist unless you use a lot of peat. When we dump ours, it is very moist. Both brands are nearly identical. We really wanted ours to work. There are discussions on other websites, but it's difficult to evaluate unless you use one regularly. We don't like ours, Emma and Graeme like theirs. It's not the brand, it's personal preferences. We think these would be great for weekend use. You may consider a solar fan with more power. Composting takes time. We dump every month. It needs to dry out, so you have several bags of compost sitting around, unless you dump it into the ocean. Also, you should not put this compost into a vegetable garden, only a flower garden. If you want to wait, we probably will put our Natures Head up for sale when we finish our boat.