How do organic toilets work

Compost toilet and co .: toilets for the garden

The way a composting toilet works is as simple as it is ingenious: when it is professionally installed, it does not smell, rarely needs to be emptied and also provides valuable compost - if you use it correctly. Where there is no quiet place and there is no water or electricity connection, composting toilets can be easily installed or retrofitted. But a toilet for the garden? Do you need that? Very few garden owners will have seriously thought about a garden toilet. This extremely practical utensil is actually worthwhile, for example for large gardens, gardens with summer houses and of course - if allowed - for allotment gardens. Once you've decided on a composting toilet, you won't want to be without it again. It's just too practical and you no longer have to walk into the house for every business - perfect for gardening and barbecue parties.

What is a composting toilet?

A compost toilet is not an outhouse. Anyone who hears the words compost or garden toilet immediately has bad smells, hordes of flies, disgusting toilet seats and fiddling with bulging waste containers in their head - but they can rest assured. A compost toilet is neither a hole in the ground nor an outhouse, nor is it related to a Dixi toilet from the construction site.

A compost toilet produces compost; unlike a camping toilet, it does not require any chemicals and does not need to be flushed with water. Also, keep in mind that a composting toilet is not used every day like the toilet in the bathroom, so it doesn't have to deal with the same amount of feces as the regular home toilet - although it can. With a compost toilet you save valuable drinking water and still hardly any odors are formed, as solid and liquid are separated by a plastic insert. Urine ends up in a separate canister and is disposed of in the house toilet. Diluted with water, urine can be used as fertilizer. Or you can simply let the water in the urine evaporate from the ventilation pipe and then simply replace the urine container every few years. If the container is not vented with an exhaust pipe, you should empty it regularly or put it outside somewhere and connect it to the composting toilet with a hose. Otherwise, summer heat and urine cause strong smells within a few days, and the faeces are covered with litter. Since the resulting mass is significantly drier without the urine, composting toilets are almost odorless.

The advantages of a composting toilet are obvious:

  • No water consumption: With normal toilets, six to ten liters of drinking water or more rush into the sewer system per flush.
  • Compost toilets are ideal for garden parties and large gardens: the long way into the house is no longer necessary.
  • A compost toilet does not smell or only smells very little: only the interaction of liquid and solid excretions allows everything to ferment properly.
  • You produce compost: However, it can take two to ten years before you can use it in the garden like any other compost.

How does a composting toilet work?

A compost toilet works without a water connection, so colloquially it is also used with a dry toilet. Simple compost toilets are the noble version of the toilet in the great outdoors, but are basically similar: dig a hole, sit over it, relieve yourself and - this is important - earth over it. A box with a seat, a closed container underneath and usually an airtight ventilation pipe that leads from the container to the outside. You sit on it like on a normal toilet or a camping toilet. The way the composting toilet works is simple. The highlight: The excretions, like the toilet paper, end up in a collecting container with straw, bark or other organic material and the natural biological degradation processes take their course. To bind and suppress odors, you simply "rinse" with sawdust, wood chips or bark mulch. This way, there is no smelly fermentation process like in a cesspool or an outhouse.

A ventilation pipe on the collecting container diverts odors upwards through the roof and also ensures that the litter dries off faster. The chimney effect in the pipe ensures the necessary upward suction, but there are also models with wind fans or electricity-driven fans in the pipe. These are then of course ideally supplied with electricity by solar cells on the garden shed.

You can also line the collection container with compostable plastic bags, which will make disposal much easier and faster afterwards. You just have to be a little more careful so that the more delicate bags don't tear open during transport. That would be a bit uncomfortable. Tip: Put a bowl and canister of fresh water for washing your hands near the composting toilet.

How often do you have to empty composting toilets?

A compost toilet is emptied weekly or just a few times a year, depending on its size and use. The contents of the collecting container begin to decompose in the toilet. But what do you do with the feces? Very easily. You dispose of the contents of the collecting container or the complete compostable bags in a closed high-speed composter and mix them with garden waste. Everything there rots to humus. Depending on the amount and the degree of rotting in the toilet, this can take a few years, but in an open composter it can take up to ten years. The relatively long rotting period is also necessary; you should under no circumstances spread excrement on the beds before they are completely decomposed by microorganisms in the garden. Because only after the complete composting - the former contents of the composting toilet then looks like normal compost - are also potential pathogens decomposed and thus become harmless.

What does a composting toilet cost?

Finished models with wooden boxes and plastic containers are not cheap. Small compost toilets without urine separation are available from around 200 euros, large models with ventilation and a full set of equipment quickly scratch the 1,000 euros mark. Those who are skilled at handcraft are therefore best to assemble their garden toilet independently from prefabricated individual parts or construct it right away very own model.

Build compost toilets yourself

A complete DIY toilet costs only a fraction of the ready-made models and you can also customize and design them individually. All that is required is the appropriate tools and, above all, manual skills.

The body of the toilet is usually made of wood and determines the seat height. Do not forget the recess for the ventilation pipe and make sure that it is airtight, sealed with silicone, in the body. So that you can easily remove the compost container for emptying, the top of the body should be able to be opened, preferably with cup hinges from the cabinet construction. The flap thus closes tightly and, above all, without a gap. Only specially approved containers that should not be too large are suitable as containers for urine and faeces. Remember that you will also need to take out the full container and carry it to the compost.

The urine separation is in the front area of ​​the toilet seat. In a garden toilet, the urine flows downwards according to the force of gravity. Bury the urine container in such a way that its upper edge is only slightly above ground level and thus fills easily and completely. Important: Only containers approved for underground installation may be used for compost toilets, not any containers that you might still have around in the basement.

Camping toilets for the garden: an alternative?

If a garden toilet has so many advantages, why not just put a camping or chemical toilet in the garden? Obviously, they have already proven themselves many times over. It's simple: in a camping or chemical toilet, excretions also fall into a collecting container, but are fought there with chemical substances that prevent odors and rot and disinfect everything. These substances may conceal the smells well, but they and thus the entire content cannot be disposed of on the compost or anywhere else in the garden. The chemicals are often poisonous and can even damage the biofilter of a sewage treatment plant. For this reason, chemical toilets are not always permitted in allotments. And who wants to drive to a collection point all the time?

Chemical toilets were originally purely emergency solutions for campers and actually make sense in the case of mobile homes, for example. The content is then conveniently disposed of at the next campsite, where there are collection points for the content.