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While there are several different types of composting toilets out there, for your van a portable composting toilet is in our opinion the best choice. There are a plethora of different ones on the market. Here are some things to consider when choosing one to buy.
Portable composting toilets come in different shapes and sizes. First, figure out where in your van you want to put it. If you’re going to put your composting toilet in a wet bath, then the height of the toilet isn’t such a problem. However, a taller unit won’t work if you want to stow it somewhere, like under a bench seat.
If you look at this example, the Cuddy composting toilet can fit in several locations in your build. These pictures are from @Camper Dreamin,’ a van converting pair who graciously let us borrow their beautiful van for a photoshoot.
For many builds, this is the ideal solution. As you can you there is no “lost” space. The Cuddy or a composting toilet of similar size can fit in or under the different bench/seats of the van.
As mentioned above, taller composting toilets will need more space. If you have a dedicated wetroom, this might not be an issue.
Plan and get your measurement down first before you purchase.
Keeping #1 and #2 separate - A urine-diverting composting toilet
While it’s not necessary to separate out your #1s and #2s, you make a lot more #1 than #2 so will need to empty out your bin more often if you don’t. If you choose not to separate them, you’ll also need more composting agent such as coco coir, sawdust, etc. to absorb moisture and reduce odours.
A more practical choice for your van is a urine-diverting composting toilet. This art of composting toilet separates your #1s and #2s at the source. You have two containers for your business: a liquids bottle and a solids bin. The good thing about this is that keeping the solids bin dry means you won’t have to empty it out as much. Poop is 75% water - the longer it has to dry out the less you empty it!
A van is a small space so a smelly toilet will quickly be noticeable - when choosing a composting toilet you will want to check how it deals with odors. A good way to reduce odor is to have a fan to continuously vent odours outside. This takes the smell right out of your tiny space. But - you have to cut a hole into your van! In addition, accommodating a ventilation hose if you need to move your toilet for access can be tricky
If you don't want to vent externally, you can get a toilet with a fan and carbon filter. This is an elegant solution that not only keeps your composting toilet portable but also means no unnecessary holes!
To Agitate or not to agitate.
Some portable ‘composting’ toilets are basically advanced, bag-in-bucket models. They may or may not have a fan, but they certainly won’t come with an agitator. Some people, especially those who are just planning on using their toilet once and then binning the contents might prefer the bag-in-bucket model; it does make single-use clean up easier.
However, if you are planning on waiting a bit before changing the bag, you will need to keep some composting agent like sawdust on hand to spread over your business each time you use the toilet to help reduce any unwanted smells.
An agitator helps reduce smells by rotating the contents of the solids bin to cover fresh deposits. With an agitator, cover material can be added at the start instead of after each use. This frees storage space and prevents the risk of spilling cover material each time. Another benefit of sh*t stirring is that it helps the poo break down quicker by exposing it to oxygen and mixing around the aerobic bacteria and carbon-rich material - boosting the composting process each time.
It also helps facilitate drying - poop is 75% water - which reduces the volume and that means less emptying!
On that note the last thing we will discuss is emptying.
When picking a portable composting toilet you will want to not only consider the sizes of the solids bin and liquids container but also how easy it is to empty them. Depending on where your toilet is you might have secured its base to the floor of your van. It’s good practice to secure things in a moving vehicle after all. In this case, it would be practical for your composting toilet to have a separate solids bin that you could easily remove from the base of the unit. But even if you want your composting toilet to be more portable and are planning on moving it in and out of your wet bath, for example, a separate solids bin is still preferable. Why? Moving the whole unit to empty the solids section is cumbersome in comparison.
We hope we have helped you with this list of things to consider when choosing the right composting toilet for your van.