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Thread: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

  1. #246
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    We've been using our Nature's Head for 6 years or so and our only regret is not having bought it sooner for use in our former boat. The cost compared to a conventional blue-water potty was what held us back. We have a PAIR of urine tanks.

  2. #247
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet


    Separett also sell an incinerator to get rid of the solids!
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  3. #248
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by stromborg View Post

    Separett also sell an incinerator to get rid of the solids!
    I've been around one. Let's say it's not odor free---you will recognize the smell if you have ever been around when someone pisses on a campfire.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  4. #249
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    They do say it is for outdoor use.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  5. #250
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I used to sell the Air Head.
    Not one disappointed customer.

  6. #251
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Hey,

    So timely for this post to come back up, I'm currently making up some holding tanks for our boat. Yup, two.... They are going to fit in our bow section, and I wouldn't mind having a large capacity, yet they need to fit through the hatch !

    I'm wondering if it would be worth having a a urine tank and solids tank vs plumbing them together and then make up a flushing urine diverting flush head. So, I'd end up with a tank of crap, and the other would be urine. Would this be less stinky ?

    It's a biggish boat, and I'm thinking this might be easier for offshore sailing and guests.

    thought ? comments? suggestions ?

    Mark

  7. #252
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark0 View Post
    Hey,

    So timely for this post to come back up, I'm currently making up some holding tanks for our boat. Yup, two.... They are going to fit in our bow section, and I wouldn't mind having a large capacity, yet they need to fit through the hatch !

    I'm wondering if it would be worth having a a urine tank and solids tank vs plumbing them together and then make up a flushing urine diverting flush head. So, I'd end up with a tank of crap, and the other would be urine. Would this be less stinky ?

    It's a biggish boat, and I'm thinking this might be easier for offshore sailing and guests.

    thought ? comments? suggestions ?

    Mark
    Comments, for what they are worth and keeping in mind that my experience with composting heads is still limited:

    1. The C-Head, and I assume other similar devices as well, has a provision for an external urine tank which would meet your requirements. My personal opinion is that the extra plumbing, tank space and requirement for pump out with a permanent tank is way more effort than it's worth, but it's an option.

    2. I think you should look at the actual duration for solids storage in a composting head. They typically allow for weeks or months of use just with the internal container in the head itself, with no need for an external tank at all. The water flush requirement for a typical holding tank system requires a lot more room and the tank needs to be emptied far more frequently than the solids-only container for the composting toilet.

    3. I think for guests the most complicated part of using the composting head is going to be the diverter. If you are thinking about using a diverter system anyway, you might as well just go with full the composting head and eliminate the complexity and hassles of a holding tank entirely.

    My recommendation - save your forepeak space for storage or some other use, ditch your holding tanks entirely, and stride with confidence into the brave new world of composting. You won't regret it.

  8. #253
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I've just been doing a bit of reading about making a land based composting toilet using a 240 litre wheelie bin. Pretty simple, basically put in a filter grate a couple of inches above the base, and a drain as low as possible. Urine and other liquid will drain out, leaving poo and saw dust to do its thing. The liquids go by hose to a small soakage trench. Add a vent with a fan to draw smell away. I'm thinking the same could be done on a boat, with a 20 litre bucket, and the liquid draining to a plastic container, which could be regularly emptied, while the bucked would last for a decent cruise. Then put the lid on, take it home, leave it in the yard for a few months to completely compost, then empty. Seems like there's no need to catch urine up top, it just finds its way through the pile. Thoughts?

  9. #254
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    Seems like there's no need to catch urine up top, it just finds its way through the pile. Thoughts?
    We have a Nature's Head that we have been very happy with. The key to success with composting toilets is keeping the urine out from the composting part. If the composting container gets too wet (even with plain water) the process doesn't work. Having the urine run through and drain out the bottom would result in terrible odor. The composting material (we use peat moss, others use coconut coir) needs to be just barely moist.

  10. #255
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    That's kind of what I thought. And yet these wheelie bin compost toilets seem to work. But of course they tend to be in an outhouse, not in the confines of a boat.

  11. #256
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    Comments, for what they are worth and keeping in mind that my experience with composting heads is still limited:

    1. The C-Head, and I assume other similar devices as well, has a provision for an external urine tank which would meet your requirements. My personal opinion is that the extra plumbing, tank space and requirement for pump out with a permanent tank is way more effort than it's worth, but it's an option.

    2. I think you should look at the actual duration for solids storage in a composting head. They typically allow for weeks or months of use just with the internal container in the head itself, with no need for an external tank at all. The water flush requirement for a typical holding tank system requires a lot more room and the tank needs to be emptied far more frequently than the solids-only container for the composting toilet.

    3. I think for guests the most complicated part of using the composting head is going to be the diverter. If you are thinking about using a diverter system anyway, you might as well just go with full the composting head and eliminate the complexity and hassles of a holding tank entirely.

    My recommendation - save your forepeak space for storage or some other use, ditch your holding tanks entirely, and stride with confidence into the brave new world of composting. You won't regret it.
    Hi Chris,

    These are all valid points and well written. The space that I'm planning to use is just forward of the spot for a collision bulkhead, so if we put one in down the road this would be a good use of this lost space. The only issue is that you are only suppose to have one penetration through a collision bulkhead below the weather deck.... not sure if you can get away with more.

    Right now it's not really a hassle to build and put in (shop space / boat in back yard), however down the road would be a massive undertaking. So, I figure if I put in a couple black tanks now, they could always be used for urine or grey water down the road.

    I suspect we will end up using a dry solids / urine separating head at some point if we are frozen in the ice.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  12. #257
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Christie View Post
    I used to sell the Air Head.
    Not one disappointed customer.
    I should have mentioned, these were all boat installation sales.

    I agree, keeping the wet #1 function from the dryer #2 function is key to it's successful operation.

    Cheers

  13. #258
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark0 View Post
    Hi Chris,

    These are all valid points and well written. The space that I'm planning to use is just forward of the spot for a collision bulkhead, so if we put one in down the road this would be a good use of this lost space. The only issue is that you are only suppose to have one penetration through a collision bulkhead below the weather deck.... not sure if you can get away with more.

    Right now it's not really a hassle to build and put in (shop space / boat in back yard), however down the road would be a massive undertaking. So, I figure if I put in a couple black tanks now, they could always be used for urine or grey water down the road.

    I suspect we will end up using a dry solids / urine separating head at some point if we are frozen in the ice.

    Cheers,
    Mark
    It sounds like you have a plan that you are happy with Mark, and I understand the reason for putting the tank in now. But one comment I'd offer though: I would never, under any circumstances, put a black water tank behind a sealed bulkhead. Honestly I'd rather not put any tank anywhere that would make it difficult to access later but it's not always possible to avoid doing so. But in the case of holding tanks... yeah, no. It *will* leak, or the hoses to it will, or the hoses will need to be replaced (they don't last forever), and then you will have a larger problem. I would put it absolutely anywhere else but there. If you really need to use that space for something and it doesn't work as a chain locker for some reason then maybe the fresh water tank could go there?

  14. #259
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Out of interest, I looked up Airheads to see what the price is here now - nearly $1700!

    Rick

  15. #260
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Check out the C-heads. Way more reasonable. But still quite a bit more than the ol' cedar bucket.
    -Dave

  16. #261
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    They seem to be about $800 there? There doesn't seem to be a distributor here so by the time freight etc. is paid, I reckon the cost would be similar. Anyway, the system Kairos has put together looks good to me.

    Rick

  17. #262
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    $1,700 for Air Head !!! The price for my Natures Head was a bit over $800 seven years ago. That's a lot of inflation!

  18. #263
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I think you guys are confusing Australian and US dollars. Airhead website says $1029USD which is $1417AUS today.

    ETA: Natures Heads is $925USD on their website today.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  19. #264
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I sold them 7 years ago, where the designer lives('ed?), for $1000 Canadian, suggested retail, which was almost at par to the USD at the time I recall... kind-of hazley...

  20. #265
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I geuss what I want to know is: will women empty and clean the head????

  21. #266
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    It's a man's job.

  22. #267
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    So are these composting toilets accepted in areas that have restrictions that favour plumbed systems and holding tanks?

    This is what I have to meet:

    " There are restrictions against pumping sewage into all waters with the province of Ontario. A pleasure craft fitted with a toilet must also be fitted with a holding tank and if fitted with a piping system that allows the discharge of sewage directly overboard, then this discharge must be visibly disconnected. Sewage may only be discharged at shore pump-out facilities.

    Portable toilets are illegal on Ontario waters.

    The owner of a pleasure craft shall ensure that each toilet and the holding tank(s) is/are installed so that;

    The toilet and equipment are connected in such a manner that the equipment receives all toilet waste from the toilet.
    Equipment designed for the storage of human excrement is provided with a deck fitting and such connecting piping as is necessary for the removal of toilet waste by shore-based pumping equipment.
    No means of removal of toilet waste is provided other than the means mentioned above.
    All parts of the system for removal of toilet waste are congruent with one another and the boat."

    I'm curious how amenable regulators are to composting toilets, and any who approached it as above that now allow composting toilets.

  23. #268
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Good question. And how does the law view the gel bag systems. Looks like a rule written without any research.
    -Dave

  24. #269
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    I've just been doing a bit of reading about making a land based composting toilet using a 240 litre wheelie bin. Pretty simple, basically put in a filter grate a couple of inches above the base, and a drain as low as possible. Urine and other liquid will drain out, leaving poo and saw dust to do its thing. The liquids go by hose to a small soakage trench. Add a vent with a fan to draw smell away. I'm thinking the same could be done on a boat,...Thoughts?
    You just described a Microfor, without the features that make it work

    btw, had some friends with a microfor on a boat, it was pretty nice. Not sure why I don't hear the name anymore ...
    Last edited by Favorite; 11-12-2018 at 12:55 AM.

  25. #270
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Hi Tomcat,

    That's an interesting topic you have brought up. I know lots of boaters on the great lakes that have made the switch to composting units, and now they don't comply with this directive. I tried search the actual TC regulations, but they seem to be not available at this time. I've just put in a 270 liter holding tank, but have made provisions to pump out while at sea, so according to this we are illegal while in Ontario waters also - I wonder if removing a sea cock handle makes it visibly disconnected.

    I suspect this law is indirectly tied into the consumption of alcohol rules - fixed head / cooking / berth is needed. It helps avoid a grey area in smaller boats.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  26. #271
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Things may have changed but when I last search, both Canadian and US regulations OK'd a Y valve but in no discharge areas there had to be a seal to prevent switching to overboard and then switching back. The hang up then was finding an official who had the seals.

    Composting heads are a complex issue, especially on boats.

    Start with fecal transport, which depending upon your use may come up every couple of months. You can compost on your own property but you cannot without a license transport human waste off your own property. Your AirHead is full. How to get it legally from the boat to your main compost site? Strictly, you can't. But no one gets in trouble carrying if off in a sealed pail.

    Marine units need to have urine diversion, like the AirHead, because otherwise you have too much volume to store on a boat and such soupy composting can get a bit smelly anyway. So you have a gallon or so portable tank to empty each day. Turns out there are not clear laws on urine disposal, leading to very entertaining questions from medical offices but that's another matter. You are not violating a law when just pouring it overboard. But, as with exercising the "sea dog's perrogative" at the leeward rail, you'll want to be discrete and avoid offending others. Many home and farm compost systems that separate human or animal urine use the high nitrogen content of urine as a specialty fertilizer. A gallon from your boat into the bay won't cause an algae bloom but still there are places already suffering nitrogen overload from surrounding humans so at least pour it out on an ebb tide or away from confined waters.

    It looks like the Ontario regs, rather like many land based sanitation regs before the '70s, simply do not permit composting. Pity that.

  27. #272
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    The thing about Ontario is that a lot of options that might be available for outdoor fun aren't, but one thing we really excel at are canals and lakes, and we also for discussion another day, excel at river running opportunities. I'd just like some kind of boat I could go out on, and stay out on and a toilet becomes an important part of that. Maybe the deciding part of that. Most of the small boat designs I see have an X marks the spot, porta potty approach to the head. It is sorta like the advent of 4 stroke engines, all of a sudden designs have to be rethought for the requirement that only 4 strokes can be sold. The advent of the composting heads though reduces the need for really big boats that pollute, so if one has to re-scale one's dream boat, this could be a win, other than that it might allow a lot of riff raff out on "their" waters.

  28. #273
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Gartside got right back to me and said, I probably could fit a holding tank system in Wayfarer, or Shanty Boat. I don't know how to do that, but I guess there is stuff on the net.

  29. #274
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomcat View Post
    Gartside got right back to me and said, I probably could fit a holding tank system in Wayfarer, or Shanty Boat.
    Whatever you do, don't put it in a living area. I just tore one out. It hadn't been used in years, the y-valve wouldn't even turn in the tank's direction, there was nothing wrong with it, I just don't like the idea.

    As soon as it was gone, and it's not psychological because I knew it hadn't been used in years and didn't even think of this until after removal, but as soon as it was gone you could smell the difference. It didn't smell identifiably like sewage before but ... when it was gone, it was better. Cleaner. More like fresh air and less like rotting something-or-other.

    That isn't necessarily "wooden boat smell" your nose is complaining about.

  30. #275
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomcat View Post
    Gartside got right back to me and said, I probably could fit a holding tank system in Wayfarer, or Shanty Boat. I don't know how to do that, but I guess there is stuff on the net.
    The options are considerable. Most are prone to create odor issues, and all will if not maintained properly. The biggest issue on a compact boat is fitting all the pieces. Holding tanks, to be useful, need to take up what would otherwise be very useful space. A 30 gallon tank can fill surprisingly quickly with several people onboard, and having to change course just to find a marina with a pump-out is a real PITA.

    Here's one book I found very useful when I put a system in from scratch. I went with a flexible tank so I could use an odd-shaped space underneath a berth. (Don't tell guests what they're sleeping over!) I also used a Lavac brand head, which I highly recommend. They are far less prone to clogging and are maintenance free, compared to the usual types with plunger-type pumps. The Lavac uses a diaphragm pump. And if used carefully, the Lavac uses far less water to flush, which means the tank doesn't fill near so quickly.

    Have fun, and brace yourself for the final ticket. The part list gets long and costly.
    -Dave

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