Compost Toilets, also known as biological toilets, waterless toilets and dry toilets contain and control the composting of excrement, toilet paper, carbon additives and sometimes food wastes. Compost toilets work on the same principles as compost heaps where bacteria and fungi break down wastes. However, compost toilets rely on unsaturated conditions, that is, the material cannot be immersed in water. A compost toilet breaks down waste to 10 to 30 percent of its original volume; the resulting end product is akin to soil and known as humus. In the U.S. humus is to be legally buried or removed, but in other countries it is used as fertilizer in edible crops.
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The main components of a composting toilet are :
1. a composting reactor
2. a screened exhaust system to remove odors, carbon dioxide and water vapors
3. ventilation to provide oxygen to the aerobic organisms in the compostor
4. drainage to manage excess liquid and leachates
5. an access door for removal of the end products.
The entire purpose of the composting reactor in the toilet is to separate the solids from the liquids and produce humus with 200 most probable number per gram of fecal coli form.
There are several types of Composting Toilets:
1. Self–contained versus Centralized: In the self-contained version the toilet seat and a small composting reactor are one unit. Whereas in the centralized or remote toilet, the toilet is connected to a reactor placed elsewhere.
2. Manufactured versus Site-built: It is easier to purchase a manufactured Compost toilet. A Compost toilet to be site-built requires permission from local health authorities.
3. Batch (Multi-chamber) versus Continuous ( Single- chamber) :
A Batch Toilet system utilizes two or more composting reactors whereas the Continuous system features a single chamber into which excrement is added to the top and the end product is removed from the bottom. Proponents of the Continuous system claim it is a simpler version that allows urine to speed up microbial activity. Whereas the Batch system is acclaimed for being more efficient and safe due to longer time period to transform excrement into stable humus. This cuts down pathogen survival.
4. Passive versus Active: Passive systems are where excrement is allowed to decompose in cooler environments. Passive toilets are also known as moldering toilets. Active systems are those that feature automatic mixers, thermostat-controlled devices, and fans. By making the process of decomposition active, composting efficiency is speeded up and volume reduced.
Whatever your choice in Compost Toilets may be, rest assured that you are making an ecological choice.