When nature calls and your RV lacks a bathroom, or you’re dry camping, having a portable composting toilet is a lifesaver.
Everyone poops and pees, and not every recreational vehicle has a bathroom, while other RVs find dealing with waste tanks difficult or inconvenient. The solution is a portable composting toilet that allows RVers to place the unit wherever they want and have a comfortable and self-contained toilet system.
Composting toilets are different from cassette toilets, and this guide will explain how they work, how to maintain them, the features to look for, and highlight the top brands and models RVers have put to the test and give the best ratings.
Suppose you prefer having a way for you and your camping guests to safely relieve themselves while RVing that doesn’t include trips to a far-off campground restroom late at night or digging a hole when you camp off-grid. In that case, you’ll want to stay right here and learn more about portable composting toilets for RV use!
How a Composting Toilet Works
What is a composting toilet, and what makes it different than a standard recreational vehicle toilet?
A composting toilet uses a unique design that separates urine (liquids) from the poop and TP (solids). The solids fall into a chamber that is full of various types of organic material, such as:
- Commercial biomix blend
- Peat moss
- Wood shavings
- Coconut coir
- Hemp shreds
As solids fill the composting toilet, the unit will have a crank or automatic mechanism to mix them with the organic material to absorb any moisture and control odor.
When the solids chamber fills up, you remove the liner bag and waste material from the container, or you dump the waste into a compostable bag and then toss the bag into the nearest trash bin or dumpster.
The organic material inside the chamber will “compost” the solids while inside, making the contents odor-free and the entire process ecologically friendly.
The liquids drain into a removable bottle, which you empty when full. You can dump the bottle directly into a toilet or sewer drain or dilute it with water and safely dispense it on the ground in an appropriate location.
There is no water necessary to operate a composting toilet system, but some do have a freshwater tank to aid in flushing solids into the chamber. What keeps this type of toilet from smelling is the separation of liquid and solid waste. When those two combine, it becomes the stinky sludge you get inside a cassette toilet or standard RV toilet waste tank.
NOTE: A genuinely portable composting toilet does not require any external connection to electricity to run a fan to vent odors or dry moisture from within the chambers. However, you can easily use a portable power station or battery to provide the power required to run such features on any composting toilet.
Composting Toilet FAQs
Is It Hard to Use a Composting Toilet?
The answer to this question depends on the toilet design, but overall it’s much the same as using any other type of RV or residential toilet. However, the separate collection area for the liquids can make it slightly more complicated for women to master, especially if they need to go both #1 and #2 in one sitting.
Can You Put Toilet Paper in a Composting Toilet?
Yes, you can drop used TP into your composting toilet, but most users find that it increases the need to empty the waste chamber more often as it creates more bulk.
Most RVers with composting toilets keep a trash can nearby to toss used TP to focus the composting efforts on just solid wastes.
Can You Use Composting Toilet Waste for Plants?
Liquid waste from a composting toilet has no value for use on plants, but many RVers use the solid waste compost as fertilizer for their potted plants. Using the composted waste in outdoor garden beds is common for stationary RV owners, as the final product isn’t any different from using commercial cow or chicken manure compost.
How Often Do You Need to Empty a Composting Toilet?
To help you understand how often you’ll need to empty a composting toilet of liquid and solid wastes, I’ll explain the typical routine of two adults.
Most couples find they need to empty the liquid tank of the toilet every three days. However, people who drink plenty of fluids may need to empty the tank more often, while some tank reservoirs are so large they may take a week to fill.
Since urine is not treated while in the tank, it can get very smelly. To combat this issue, most owners add an environmentally-safe odor-reducing treatment to the bottom of the urine chamber after each empty.
The liquid tank is translucent with visible indicator lines, so you know how full the tank is. Please keep in mind that tanks that are a gallon or more in capacity can be cumbersome when full, making it difficult to remove and empty the chamber cleanly.
It’s best to find your comfort level for fullness or weight to make the job less messy, even if that means you empty when the tank is only half full.
Solid waste is another story, with most couples only needing to empty the tank every 2-4 weeks, depending on the type of toilet and tank capacity.
Some composting toilets are “continuous” and have a tray at the bottom with finished compost you remove every couple of months. You keep adding organic material in the upper chamber to mix with the fresh solids and remove the completed compost from the tray.
Composting Toilet and How to Empty Solid Waste (Video)
Pros and Cons of Composting RV Toilet
You should consider the following benefits and disadvantages of a composting toilet for RV use before making a final decision, as this type of toilet system isn’t for everyone.
Composting Toilet Pros:
- Provides a place to relieve yourself anywhere you travel
- No plumbing, water, or electricity necessary
- Easy to install or move from RV to outdoors
- Better for the environment
- Less messy solid waste disposal
- Saves fresh water for other uses
Composting Toilet Cons:
- More expensive versus standard RV or cassette toilets
- Need to monitor and empty fluids often
- Can be messy or smelly if not maintained correctly
- Must have a safe location to dispose of the waste
- Toilet is large and may not fit in all RVs
Composting Toilet in an RV – What They Don’t Tell You (Video)
Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Composting Toilet for RV
You’ll need to measure the space inside your RV where you plan to place the toilet for use. Allow sufficient room around the sides and front of the toilet to allow you to move and sit comfortably.
You’ll also need to allow room to turn a manual crank easily and to get a toilet height that is comfortable for regular use. For example, many owners place short compost toilets on a riser, so sitting down and getting up is less of a strain.
How much waste the toilet can hold before you empty the chambers will play a significant role in how convenient a composting toilet is to use. If you like to take extended camping trips, find a portable composting toilet with high-capacity tanks so you can avoid emptying them constantly.
On the other hand, if you have mobility or strength issues, a composting toilet with a smaller capacity may better suit your physical needs, as the chamber contents will be lighter to lift and empty.
Composting toilets for RV use are not cheap, with many over $1,000. Portable composting toilet models vary greatly in features but tend to be less expensive because they don’t need electrical or special venting to operate.
TOILET FILLER MATERIAL
Some RV composting toilets require a particular organic medium, while others allow you to use any material you like. However, you do need to add in the cost of continually buying your compost toilet fill material to your final budget and consider how much space you need to store it inside your camper.
5 Best Portable Composting Toilets for RV Use
These five brands of RV portable composting toilets get the best ratings from actual customers who find the features, price, and ease of use make them a great value.
1. Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
|Solid Capacity||80 uses|
|Liquid Capacity||2.2 gallons|
|Dimensions||21 x 19.5 x 21 inches|
The Nature’s Head Portable Composting Toilet is the top-selling composting toilet for RVers because it’s straightforward to install and use, and does a great job containing odor.
The toilet is lightweight, so it’s easy to move within your RV or take it outside to create an outdoor bathroom area inside a pop-up privacy tent, which helps alleviate venting issues. In addition, the crank is easy to reach and turn for most people, so solids mix well with the composting medium.
While this model allows for hardwiring of the internal fan, it’s not necessary to run the fan to get good results. Many RVers prefer moving the toilet to a convenient location while camping and don’t want to be stuck due to a wiring connection.
- Durable construction
- Reliable manual crank
- Large capacity liquid and solid chambers
- Includes venting hose
- No maintenance required outside of general bowl cleaning
- Cap for urine container
2. C-Head Portable Composting Toilet
|Solid Capacity||20 uses|
|Liquid Capacity||1 gallon|
|Dimensions||21 x 14 x 18 inches|
The C-Head Portable Composting Toilet offers a short or tall height so you can choose the size most comfortable for your needs. In addition, the design excludes an internal fan, making it truly portable.
The C-Head toilets implement their Churning System for solid wastes. This system rolls the waste in the compost medium, forming a solid coating that holds in odors and quickly absorbs residual moisture. However, this toilet will not fully compost the material before removal, which is something to keep in mind if you wish to use the waste for plants.
The exterior of the toilet is a phenolic plastic laminate that is super easy to clean and won’t scratch or wear like wood or inexpensive plastics. The hinges and hardware are 316 stainless steel for superior longevity and rust resistance.
- Marine-grade materials and construction
- Top-mount crank
- Compact size
- Does not need venting
- Modern design with several finish options/colors
- Cap for urine container
- No dismantling to empty solid waste chamber
- Cap for urine container
3. Sun-Mar GTG Composting Toilet
|Solid Capacity||30 uses|
|Liquid Capacity||2 gallons|
|Dimensions||25 x 17 x 21 inches|
The Sun-Mar GTG Composting Toilet is a more affordable, sleek-looking portable camping composting toilet that uses an innovative and compact design to allow RV guests a comfortable bathroom experience.
The unit separates liquids and solids efficiently, and it only takes a few minutes to set it up for use and empty the waste chambers. However, this model does not have any system to mix the solid waste contents with the organic matter and requires layering of material after each use.
The built-in 12-volt fan keeps microbes within the waste chamber aerated for optimal compost action and helps eliminate excess moisture that causes odors.
- Compact size and sleek design
- Elongated toilet seat for comfort
- Vented to help control odors
- Simple quick-connect seat for fast waste management
- Compatible with direct solid waste removal or liner bag
4. Poo Pod Waterless Composting Toilet
|Solid Capacity||30 uses|
|Dimensions||28 x 15 x 23 inches|
The Poo Pod Waterless Composting Toilet uses a standard-size toilet seat and commercial-grade materials for a comfortable and long-lasting portable RV toilet solution. This model requires no water or sewer connections, just some peat moss or coconut coir as a composting medium.
The toilet comes with a vent pipe to which you can connect a flexible hose to run out an RV window for temporary venting (a fan is an optional purchase). Still, many users cap it and use it as a traditional self-contained system, without odor being an issue.
You can secure it to the floor and run the liquids drain pipe to your RV exterior into a 5-gallon bucket or honey wagon for permanent installation. You can also buy the urine diverter attachment and a gallon jug for interior RV collection.
You load the hopper at the top of the toilet with your composting medium and then turn the knob several times to spread the material over the solid waste, making quick work of completing your bathroom duties.
- Sturdy build with full-size toilet seat
- No aiming required for liquid waste
- Automatically separates liquid using gravity
- Convenient hopper to hold compost medium
- Top-mount knob turns to dispense compost medium
- Large waste bin has three handles for secure transfer
5. OGO Compost Toilet
|Solid Capacity||30 uses|
|Liquid Capacity||2.4 gallons|
|Dimensions||25 x 16 x 19 inches|
The OGO Compost Toilet is very compact and may not be as comfortable as other options, but the function and efficiency make it a great value.
The toilet does require power to run the agitator, but you can plug it into a small portable power station to handle the task if you don’t want to hardwire it into your RV. After each solid deposit, a push of a button will run the agitator for two minutes, thoroughly mixing and aerating the compost material for quick processing.
There is even an indicator light that will illuminate when the urine container needs to be emptied, making it a breeze to monitor. The clever trap door lever lets you close off the solid waste bin for easy bathroom visits when you only need to go #1.
- Well-built with rugged materials
- Urine level indicator light
- Urine separating trap door mechanism
- Quick-removal waste container with handles
- Push-button agitation
Join 712+ Passionate RVers
Composting toilets are an ideal fit for camping and RV life. RV composting toilets are better for the environment and provide more flexibility on where you set up camp and for how long.
With a portable composting toilet, you can stop being tied to dumping RV waste tanks every few days, worrying about sewage leaks, and having concerns about water usage. Modern composting toilets reduce odors and mess while contributing processed composted material you can use to grow plants or safely dispose of in the trash.
When you want to upgrade from a cassette or DIY bucket toilet when RVing or are tired of dealing with black tanks and sewer hoses, it’s time to look at the best portable compost toilets for RVs in the list above.
A composting toilet is an investment in camping enjoyment, so give them a look and find one that fits your budget and RVing style!
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