Compost toilets are the best alternative to standard flush toilets. They are perfect for off-grid locations and are completely environmentally friendly because they use zero water.
Let’s take a tour of these dry toilet systems as we bring you the 8 best composting toilets money can buy.
The 8 Best Composting Toilet Options
#1. Villa Composting Toilet
First released in 2018, this Villa model is relatively new to the US market. It replaces the older version, which was extremely popular.
The great thing about this toilet is it offers you off-grid options with a dry waste system, or you can utilize the gray water from your washbasin and drain any urine into a tank or sewer system. The solids still compost in the usual manner.
It is constructed from high gloss polypropylene, which is hard-wearing and easy to clean. You get a 5-year warranty against manufacturing defects and a 3-year guarantee on the fan.
The system works by separating the solids and fluids, which removes contamination. As the solid matter dries, it breaks down into compostable material. The average family should get about 3 weeks worth of use before it needs emptying.
The fan draws air over the fecal matter, helping it to decompose and control odors, but you need to remember to connect it to a 12-volt battery if you are installing it off-grid.
|Dimensions (inches)||18.5 x 23 x 27.5|
|Max weight (pounds)||330|
|Warranty||5-year toilet, 3-year fan|
#2. Stansport Portable Camp Toilet
- Bathroom ON-THE-GO Take the comfort of a commode wherever you need with this portable camping toilet that brings all the amenities of a private restroom to the great outdoors
This Stansport camping toilet is very much an on-the-go option. It is small, lightweight, and easy to carry. It is constructed from heavy-duty plastic so that it can withstand the rigors of outdoor life.
You can install this toilet in a tent, a camper, and even as a head on a boat. It has a full-size seat and lid and a sturdy body to conceal the sanitary bag containing the solid matter, which also makes it easier when you need to bag it and bin it.
This toilet can handle as much as 350 pounds of weight, and the two side handles make carrying it a breeze. Although it is pretty basic, it brings some comforts from your home to your tent.
The only downside is it can leak odors as the lid doesn’t seal, so you might want to carry some cat litter or sawdust to put in the bag to minimize smells. This also helps to absorb fluids when they mix.
|Dimensions (inches)||14 x 14 x 14|
|Max weight (pounds)||350|
#3. Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
- No one - and I mean no one - will beat my customer service and individual support
Nature’s Head is the Rolls Royce of composting toilets. This model will set you back quite a lot of money but is a sturdy compost toilet. The unit is self-contained, with a urine bottle and a solids bin to separate the waste material.
You also get a spider-handle agitator that mixes solid matter with the drying agent to speed the decomposition process. It has a considerable capacity too. Two people could use this every day, and it would take 4-6 weeks to fill.
And when you need to empty the bowl, it takes no time at all. Nature’s head guarantees that this toilet is odorless and requires zero maintenance. All you need to do is place a sanitary bag inside the container and add a drying agent after emptying.
The unit has a low-voltage, 12V fan, similar to the type you see on desktop PCs, which circulates air, drying the fecal matter and aiding the composting process. This model sits at 20 inches high, making it a comfort-height toilet.
It means that older and taller people can use the toilet with ease. It is also a lighter unit compared to the Villa model. This one weighs just 28 pounds, making it one of the lightest compost toilets on the market.
|Dimensions (inches)||22 x 20.5 x 21.7|
|Max weight (pounds)||300|
#4. Dometic Portable Toilet
- High-strength ABS construction withstands harsh environments; smooth, easy-to-clean finish
We are sticking with the camping theme here with this Dometic portable toilet. These cube-shaped units are often referred to as “Porta-Potti” toilets.
Unlike the proper composting toilets that separate solids from liquids, this has one collection bowl that mixes the waste material. It holds 2.6 gallons, which is 9.8 liters, so it should take a day or two to fill it.
It has a push-button flush, a water-level indicator to tell you when the tank is nearing capacity, and an extra-long pivoting discharge spout for mess-free emptying.
This Dometic toilet is constructed from marine-resistant ABS plastic, which is smooth and easy to clean. This model is the ideal candidate for boats, RVs, and other camping environments.
The downside with this toilet is that it doesn’t actually compost the waste, serving instead as a holding tank for waste matter. It’s also an expensive option compared to other camping toilets, costing double the Stansport model.
|Dimensions (inches)||13.5 x 15.5 x 16.5|
|Material||Heavy-duty ABS plastic|
|Max weight (pounds)||Not stated|
#5. Camco Portable Travel Toilet
- 5.3 gallon holding tank is detachable; 2.5 gallon flush tank
This is another cube-shaped camping toilet in the same vein as the Dometic. This model is larger than the Dometic, thanks to a waste tank capacity of 5.3 gallons. The flush reservoir holds 2.5 gallons and operates with a bellows-style flush.
To prevent leakages and odors, you get a sliding valve lock that seals tight. You also get a full-size seat and lid and filler cap for topping up the flush tank.
To the side is a cap that seals the disposal spout for easy emptying, and the top and bottom sections clamp together with sturdy locks. It measures just over 16 inches in height, so it is a standard toilet size, with a weight capacity of 330 pounds.
It is constructed from high-grade polypropylene but is lightweight when empty at just 10.8 pounds. You also get a handle for easier maneuverability when it needs to be emptied.
|Dimensions (inches)||14 x 16 x 15.5|
|Max weight (pounds)||330|
#6. Tooca Portable Camping Toilet
This Tooca toilet is another travel, RV, and camping option. It comes with two buckets, giving you the choice of how you use it. One bucket has a bottom and collects the waste in the traditional manner like other “Porta-Potties.”
The other option is a squat-style bag, which gives you more room inside the toilet and makes it easy to bag and bin the waste. It also means you don’t have to clean the bucket after emptying.
This model is constructed from heavy-duty polypropylene in one complete piece for added durability, taking a maximum weight of over 440 pounds.
The waste tank holds up to 5kg of matter; you get a clip-on phone and toilet roll holder for those who like to check their emails while sitting on the toilet. And the whole unit weighs just 6.39 pounds, making it highly portable.
The other notable thing about this portable toilet is the price. It costs less than half the Dometic model.
|Dimensions (inches)||19.3 x 17.3 x 17.7|
|Max weight (pounds)||440|
#7. Waterless Composting Toilet
This compost toilet functions without water or electricity, so it doesn’t use a 12V fan to control the airflow or odors. You can buy a fan as an accessory if you want to ensure there are no odors whatsoever.
Like the other “true” compost toilets, it separates the solids from the liquids, which is crucial for an effective dry toilet system.
It works by denying the fecal matter any moisture while using a drying agent like sawdust or coffee grinds to help dry it out. Bacteria then breaks the material down into compostable matter to spread onto your garden.
The urine channels to the back of the toilet and out through a pipe, either to a holding tank or a soak-away.
Instead of a fan, ventilation comes from a vent pipe that carries smells to the outside. What this toilet does is free you from any form of power to keep the contents aired.
It means you can install this model in your cabin in the woods or even a garden room. The toilet holds a massive 11.6 gallons of waste matter, making it one of the largest capacity toilets to make the list. That’s about 50 to 100 toilet visits between emptying.
The maximum weight capacity is 374.8 pounds.
|Dimensions (inches)||27.8 x 15.35 x 23.23|
|Fan||No (fan sold separately)|
|Max weight (pounds)||374.8|
#8. Sun-Mar Composting Toilet
- COMPACT AND PORTABLE - The efficient GTG is the ideal portable toilet for camping or RV toilet use!
This Sun-Mar composting toilet comes with a built-in 12V fan for aerating the solids to help the decomposition process and reduce odors.
You get an easy-to-remove seat and separator, making it simple to get at the waste material in the tank. Plus, it installs in a matter of minutes.
It works by separating the liquids from the solids to allow them to dry and break down. It is also compact, measuring just 24 x 15.75 x 19.8 inches, making it the ideal toilet for small-space living and campers, RVs, and boats.
The tank holds 1.85 gallons, and the whole unit weighs 29.5 pounds.
|Dimensions (inches)||24 x 15.75 x 19.8|
|Max weight (pounds)||Not stated|
|Warranty||5-year tank, 3-year all other parts|
What Is a Composting Toilet?
A composting toilet is a dry system that uses a biological process to break down human waste without using flushing water. Solid matter sits in a holding tank and decomposes, while the liquid is separated and disposed of independently.
How Do Composting Toilets Work?
Composting toilets work by separating solid and liquid waste. The decomposition process begins as the moisture contained within the fecal matter starts to evaporate and break down.
A fan aerates the contents of the toilet, increasing the drying speed while eradicating odors. Drying agents like sawdust and coffee grinds are placed inside the waste bowl to absorb natural moisture and aid decay.
Some composting toilets use an agitator, which is a metal bar that stirs the waste matter, mixing it with the drying agent to enhance composting.
Types of Composting Toilets
There are four types of composting toilets available to buy.
This is where the toilet and composting container are one single unit.
This is where the toilet and the composting site are separate.
This is where waste is collected and composted in two or more separate containers. Mounted on a rotating carousel, when one tank fills, it is replaced with another.
This is where the decomposition process takes place slowly in a single container, with the compost harvested from the tank in an ongoing process.
Reasons to Use a Composting Toilet
There are many reasons to use a composting toilet. The most obvious one is when you live off-grid. Sometimes it’s not possible to have running water, so a dry system is preferred.
You might also object to water wastage and feel a dry toilet is the best system to use for eco-friendly reasons. A standard toilet uses between 1.28 and 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Across the globe, that’s a lot of wasted water.
Composting toilets increase your flexibility because you can fit them almost anywhere. Boats, RVs, cabins, and garden rooms are all ideal locations for a composting toilet.
The beauty is you don’t need running water or any sort of plumbing.
Buying Guide: Choosing the Best Composting Toilet
Want to know the key things to look for when shopping for a composting toilet? Here are some pointers.
Self-Contained or Central Units
If you live in a tiny off-grid home, you will likely choose the self-contained toilet over the one that dumps the feces into a separate tank located away from the bathroom. Self-contained toilets allow the waste matter to decompose within the toilet.
Central units require more effort when installing the toilet because you have to bury a tank below the floor so that gravity can do its thing and drop the solids into the container.
When thinking about capacity, consider who and how many people will use the toilet. Most compost toilets have a holding tank with a capacity range from 5 to 11 gallons.
Nature’s Head boasts that their toilet will take 4 to 6 weeks to fill with two people using it every day. If you opt for a central tank system, that could extend to months.
Standard toilets require minimal maintenance. As long as you clean them, that’s about the extent of regular attention they need. With a composting toilet, it gets a bit more involved.
The container needs regularly emptying for one thing; plus, you need to add a drying agent like peat moss, coffee grinds, or sawdust to aid the composting process and reduce smells.
You also have to dispose of the urine and keep the bottles clean, as well as the inner bucket and agitator if you have one.
Ease of Installation
The good news is, for the most part, composting toilets are easy to install. They require minimal plumbing or electrical knowledge, making them ideal for novices.
Compare the difference when installing a standard toilet, and you can see why they are so simple to fit in your new home.
Composting toilets are cumbersome compared to standard models. Make sure you have the clearance before attempting to fit one in your new bathroom. You might find its chunkiness makes for a snug fit.
Once you have chosen the toilet you want, the best advice is to measure twice before purchasing to save you hassle later down the line.
Electrical Vs. Non-Electrical
Electrical composting toilets require a minimal power supply to operate the 12V fan. The fan keeps the solids aerated and improves the drying process. You can connect the fan to a leisure battery, similar to the type you find in an RV or camper.
Non-electric composting toilets use a vent that channels the smells outside. The great news is you can install them anywhere. So, if you have a cabin deep in the woods, this is the type you should choose.
Composting toilets are by far the most expensive off-grid toilets you can buy. When you compare the cost of the Villa model to a standard toilet, the figures are eye-watering.
You can spend many hundreds of dollars when shopping for the right composting toilet. These eco-friendly waste management systems are not budget options.
How to Install a Composting Toilet
The first thing you need to do is measure the space to make sure the toilet fits. Once you have confirmed this, make sure the floor is even and free from obstructions. Slide the toilet into position and make sure that nothing is blocking the fan.
Ensure there are no tight bends in the venting system and that it reaches the outside wall in the most efficient way possible. This stops odors from backing up and seeping into the bathroom.
Measure the height of the vent pipe and line it up with the wall. If you are cutting through a cabin wall, hold the vent outlet to the wall and draw a pencil line around the pipe’s circumference. Grab the drill and cut the hole.
Connect the fan to the battery. It is recommended that all fans are installed using a ground fault interrupt circuit to prevent power surges from blowing the fan motor.
Maintenance Tips for Composting Toilets
Maintaining your composting toilet ensures that smells are kept to a minimum, and it stays in tip-top condition for as long as possible. So, what are the tips to follow?
Inspect the Toilet Every Month
Give your toilet a once-over every month to ensure the seals are in good order and that the waste tanks are kept clean. Many things can damage your toilet, especially damp and extreme cold.
Clean the Fan
The fan works 24/7, aerating the waste tank so it gets dirty with dust and debris. Grab an old toothbrush and sweep away any dirt on the fan blades. If the contamination is heavy, use a vacuum nozzle.
Keep the Urine Bottles Clean
Urine smells, so you must keep the bottles clean after you empty them. Use warm water and a few dabs of washing detergent. Seal the lid and give them a good shake to disperse the detergent over the entire inner surface.
If you are cleaning stubborn stains, leave the bottle overnight. Adding a spoonful of sugar can neutralize odors inside the bottle.
Don’t Use Chemicals
Chemicals upset the delicate balance of bacteria inside your toilet. That hampers the decomposition process and pollutes the fecal matter inside.
Use warm water and natural soap. Sensitive skin soaps are a great idea because many use natural ingredients to minimize skin flare-ups, so if they are gentle on your skin, they’ll be fine on your toilet.
Best Composting Toilet FAQs
What is the best composting toilet on the market?
It’s a matter of opinion, but the Nature’s Head model gets a lot of plaudits. It tops most reviews thanks to a built-in fan, top-quality materials, and a zero smells guarantee. However, Nature’s Head is one of the more expensive toilets available.
How much does a composting toilet cost?
You can spend anything from less than $100 to over $1,000. You get what you pay for, so if you just want a bag and bin it toilet, the budget models are fine. However, when installing a composting toilet in your home, go for the best model money can buy.
Do composting toilets smell bad?
As long as you use the correct drying agents and follow the composting procedure correctly, you should not suffer from smells. The 12V fan removes odors and aerates the solid matter, speeding the composting process.
Make sure you avoid urine contamination wherever possible. Keeping the solids wet increases the smells and turns to sewerage.
Do you need electricity for a composting toilet?
You do need electricity if you have a toilet with a 12V fan.
Do you put toilet paper in a composting toilet
Yes and no. If you use recycled toilet paper or dedicated composting paper, you can safely drop it into the waste tank along with your feces. It has looser fibers that break apart easier.
If you use 3-ply, super-quilted paper, think again. This type of toilet paper is slow to break apart, slowing the composting process. If you use an agitator, that becomes clogged when you turn the handle.
Where should I empty a composting toilet?
As long as the composition procedure is observed, you can empty the contents of your toilet into your garden compost pile. You could also bury the waste in the garden, under your prized rose.
Some areas allow you to double bag the waste matter and dispose of it in the trash, although why would you do this if you have a garden?
How often do you have to empty a composting toilet?
It depends on how heavily it gets used, but most composting toilets will last a couple of weeks before they need emptying.
Nature’s Head claims their toilet only needs emptying every 4 to 6 weeks based on two people using it every day.
Can I use a composting toilet the same way I use a traditional model?
Composting toilets are not the same as traditional toilets and need to be used differently. They are dry systems, which means you need to separate solids from fluids. You also need to consider which toilet paper you use.
You don’t flush a compost toilet, so the waste sits in the container and decomposes. You will need to empty the toilet periodically, unlike a standard model that flushes away to a sewer.
The other crucial thing to remember is if you are a man, you should pee sitting down to allow the urine to channel into the fluid bottle. Keeping splashes away from the fecal matter is crucial to avoid cross-contamination.
Composting toilets are not everyone’s cup of tea. The idea that you store and empty human waste is too horrifying to contemplate for some.
The truth is far tamer. You smell nothing and see only an earthy mix inside the container, which is a far cry from how you might imagine it looks.
If you want to save water, get a compost toilet. If you live off-grid, get a compost toilet. If you have an RV or camper with enough space, get a compost toilet.