By: Blonde Two
I tell you. We cover it all here.
From how to go to the toilet outside to what to do with your toilet paper if you’re wild camping. Nobody could accuse us Blondes of shying away from the excrement issue.
Campsites with composting toilets
Which brings me onto a toilet topic that many campers will have been facing this summer. That of the composting toilet. As a relaxation in planning rules allow more pop-up campsites to appear in fields without traditional sewerage, the composting toilet is growing in popularity.
One could argue that using a composting loo has become a right of passage. If I was in a ‘go-on-I-dare-you’ kind of mood, I’d say that if you’ve never seen your own excrement nestled comfortably in a bed of deciduous sawdust (yes it does need to be deciduous), then you’ve never camped.
Composting loos can be very interesting
This of course isn’t true but I do seem to have developed a rather odd fascination in the composting loo. Flushing so much clean water (if you want to see how much, just lift the cistern lid and look) down the drain every time I go seems such a waste. This fascination appears to be a family one. During lockdown, while the rest of the world was watching Netflix, and ordering too much pizza, my sister built (after working out how to do it) a composting toilet in her local community woodland.
So what is a composting toilet?
A composting toilet is exactly what it says it is. It mixes our poo (and sometimes our wee) with natural carbon based materials (often sawdust) that allow it to break down and make useful compost (aka ‘humanure’ and ‘bio solids’).
Why do compost toilets separate wee and poo?
Lots of compost toilets have urine diverters (my sister will tell you that these make great Christmas presents). Diverters allow you to sit to go as usual but send your wee in one direction, and your poo in another.
Separating wee and poo is all about breaking the poo down safely. The ammonia in your urine slows decomposition. Some campsites achieve this separation by asking you to wee and poo in different places (not always easy). Once they have been split up, urine is usually filtered through a system of plants, poo is mixed with sawdust.
Do compost toilets smell?
That’s an interesting one. If you’re expecting a comforting hint of bleach and perfume, you’re going to be disappointed with a composting toilet. If you don’t mind the gentle aroma of damp sawdust, you should be okay.
Will I have to look at my own poo?
In some countries looking at your poo is considered a matter of public health but most of us aren’t used to it. When you use a composting toilet, you will need to add a scoop of sawdust on top of your poo so yes, you will see it but I can promise, you’ll get used to it. You might even find it interesting!
Can I put toilet paper and tampons in a composting toilet?
This one will be up to whoever is in charge of the toilet. Toilet paper decomposes well in this situation (but you should never leave it behind a bush). Natural tampons or sanitary towels will decompose. It’s more likely however that the campsite owner will provide a bin for these.
Who’s going to empty the composting toilet?
Now that is a good question. The only answer you really need is that, at a campsite, it isn’t going to be you. How often the emptying needs to happen will be down to different factors. Some systems bag up the poo and sawdust so it can all be removed at once. Others are dug out from the bottom, hopefully when the composting has started to take place.
Are you sitting comfortably?
So there we have it. If you love remote camping locations, you’ve probably already experienced a composting toilet. If you haven’t yet, don’t let the thought of it put you off. Who knows, you might come home will all kind of unexpected eco-thoughts in your head!