Composting Toilet PDF Print

If you asked most people today what composting meant to them they would most likely describe a process they use to dispose of yard waste or basic kitchen scraps in their backyard. This would make sense considering the fact that these are the most common uses of the process. However, a customer recently asked the staff at MasterCraft whether or not we have ever developed or installed a composting toilet. Since we were unfamiliar with the system, we did some research.

Basic Definition and Different Types

According to the National Small Flows Clearing House and Oikos, an energy efficient building information source, a composting toilet system is viable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional septic disposal systems that contains and controls the composting of human waste in the home. The types of composting toilet systems vary greatly in size and style. Some are self contained, meaning the waste is stored directly underneath the toilet. Others utilize a centralized system that directs waste through a chute into a much larger composting container. Furthermore, the composting container itself can be continuous or use multiple alternating containers. Multiple containers are used to mitigate negative effects such as odor and overflow, depending on a homes spatial limitations or even personal preferences. Systems can be bought directly from the manufacturer or custom built on site.

How does it Work?

The system itself relies on aerobic and fungi in unsaturated conditions (not fully immersed in water) to break down the waste inside the composting container. If maintained and used properly the system should break solid waste down to ten or thirty percent its original volume. The bacteria and fungi in the composting container rely on a certain temperature and moisture content to turn the solid waste into liquid and or gas. The final result of the process is a “humus” material that has to be burned (Illegal in some municipalities) or removed by a licensed hauler. Any gas produced is released via a vent and fan system attached to the container.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Use

There are several advantages to using this system, but also a few concerns to consider when deciding on whether or not to utilize a composting toilet. Composting toilets do not usually require water for flushing (there are some systems which offer it as an option) and will help reduce a household’s water consumption. Composting systems are ideally suited for new construction especially in areas where conventional options are difficult to install. Additionally, composting systems can also compost basic kitchen wastes and would allow the owner to reduce household garbage. The biggest concern associated with the use of a composting system is the proper maintenance and care of the apparatus. The system requires a large commitment and a great deal of responsibility from the owner. If not taken care of properly the system can cause several hazards. The most obvious of these hazards is the presence of unwanted odors or even the sight of waste. More serious, is the high potential for health risks if the system is not properly contained and the waste is not disposed of correctly. If the system is maintained and proper attention is given to its upkeep, it should remain a viable and safe alternative to a traditional septic system.


Due to a wide range of options and variables associated with manufacturing and instillation, the cost of most systems range from $1,500 to $6,000. In some cases the price for such a system might be even greater depending on the feasibility of operating and installing the unit.


Here is a visual example of a basic composting toilet system:





Thanks to the following sources for providing relevant information:



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