Finally!! I finally got time to clean AND shoot a video of our finished Tiny House Skoolie, Chitty Bang:) We have been living Tiny for 4 months now and are still learning a lot. Adjusting to the space, everyone’s own space needs, schedules, working with each other to move about, and getting in new habits other than building a bus house! For a little over a year we have been working non stop, making Chitty Bang into a Tiny House on Wheels that would be functional enough for us to live, work, and school on the road:) And now, we are figuring out the functionality and deciding wher eto put more shelves, and the best use for certain spaces without getting all cluttered and claustrophobic. Working that Feng Shui:)
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*As Featured in Bus Conversion Magazine May 2019* www.busconversionmagazine.com
I never ever thought I would be supportive of using a composting toilet. Not that I have bias towards or against it…I just never thought of it. When we started researching how we were going to build #ChittyBang we definitely wanted a way around a black water septic. We wanted it more self sufficient than that. So we researched some other rv’ers/tiny housers who made the move to Composting Toilets, and amazingly enough it was legit.
People loved their compost toilets! People were making their own compost toilets. We had the money to spend, and I wanted something easy because I was learning enough about building a house out of a bus to keep me busy for years! So we purchased the Natures Head Composting Toilet for around $900. We are not being paid for this review by Natures Head and it is all based on our own experiences installing and using this toilet. This Composting toilet is all self contained, has a separate spot for urine and solids so that way they do not mix (keeps the smell from going all porta potty-ish), has a handle outside to turn the soil and solids, a small vent fan to pull fresh air through and out into an included vent hose that you vent outside via floor or wall, and you never worry about black water systems!! We chose the toilet with the Spider Handle Design because it looked like it would be better for your hand and was best for tight spaces. I am happy to say I love that option. They do offer another handle though as well 🙂
Not difficult at all. If you are a DIYer, this will be no problemo. Since we had to manufacture all of our holes in our bus, We had to drill a hole in the floor to stick the vent tube (comes with toilet) into it, I then stapled a screen to the bottom side of that hole via construction stapler so no bugs can come in. I just used a staple gun to secure it underneath the bus and then caulked the edges. Next you install the two side brackets the toilet will be secured to. These keep it from moving in travel and use, and easily unscrews (by hand, nice sized knobs) on each side for solids emptying.
But what about the smell from the solids?
To be honest, as long as you have the right amount of medium in the bottom of the solids container, and only add more medium after a few solids uses, turn the handle after each use, and keep the solids hatch closed while you are going #1, you are totally good. The only time it ever stinks is if the liquid and solids mix. Ways to prevent this are to dispose of your toilet paper separately instead of in the toilet. Also, park level or at least where the urine can go into the proper tank and not into the solids tank. Some compost toilet users will put a piece of wood under the back side to tilt it to make sure the urine flow correctly.
What kind of medium do you use for the solids container?
From my experience, Peat Moss and Coco Core have worked the best and each can be found on Amazon. The Peat Moss is cheaper at Home Depot and you get more. 1- 3 cubic feet bag of peat moss ($13 or less) will last us about 3 months. Coco Core is the newest medium I am experimenting with. I found a 10 lb. compacted brick of Coco Core for $15 on Amazon. So far, it has lasted a month and a half and prob will last another month and a half. I carry a 5 gallon Home Depot bucket to keep my “ready” medium in, and the extra in the original bag or I will put a trash bag over it to keep from spilling. The bucket keeps the medium dry and alows me to store it right behind the front of the bus tire or in the back of the truck without worry.
Do not try Planting Soil! Just don’t! We had ran out of peat moss and could not find it anywhere, so we ended up using Planting Soil. Big Mistake. It was like mud. I made the solids container smell sour, so I dumped and got Soil Conditioner. The texture was more like peat moss, but the chemicals in it made it have a weird smell. I dealt with it because locally there were no other options, until I decided to go on Amazon and order some Peat Moss, but just 1 cubic foot was $20+ dollars! I received it and used it anyway, and by the time I needed more, we were in an environment that sold it locally for much cheaper.
Does the Urine Container Stink?
Occasionally there is a smell from the pee container, but a splash of vinegar solves that quickly.
You can buy additional urine containers and they do come with a screw on lid. I guess if you don’t want to empty it right away, this would be a good option for the winter. We use just the one it came with for now, but I did order an extra for just in case this one is damaged ever or if we need to just let it dry in the sun a few days. The leftover urine will dry and flake off and you can just shake it out from there.
How often do you have to empty it?
Urine container with 4 people, once a day, usually every morning. Solids container once every 4-7days. I think that since we have 3 girls, we use more TP…lol so every family is different:) We have also changed our diet while using the compost toilet and as we became healthier, the less often I had to empty it.
What about emptying the poop out into a bag?
Yes…it is super gross mentally. But honestly, there is not a smell if you do the soil:solids ratio right and it mostly looks like soil. I use a trash bag and gloves! Unhook the toilet from the floor (2 screws), take vent and plug for fan out, carry toilet outside…about 15 lbs when its full I think. Unhook the top of the toilet from the base, Slip the trashbag over the top of the solids base, turn it over, and bang it out into the bag. Then we place the bag in the big dumpster at our rv spot. Seriously, the flies didn’t even go near the bag! Think about all of the diapers in our landfills, baby and elderly and hospitalized people. Maybe that will help with any mental roadblocks you may have with it. It helped me!
Do you have to use the RV type toilet paper?
No. At least we do not! I use the softest TP with lavender smell (charmin!) I can find. Why? Because I appreciate those small conveniences in life and I have not noticed any issues with it in out compost toilet system. The lavender helps freshen the space too!
Does it use electricity?
Yes. 12 volt or 110. I bought the DC adapter seperately and I plug it directly into my bathroom outlet. Or wire it with the plug it comes with directly to your bus or house batteries. The small pc fan inside the housing of the toilet uses very little electricity to pull that fresh air through the toilet and out the vent. You can wire it directly to your house batteries, or buy the transformer here to easily plug it in (that is what we did!).
The company has been awesome! My little fan for my toilet became loose and stopped working, so I emailed them. They sent me two replacement fans for free 🙂 So I found out you get FREE REPLACEMENT FANS FOR LIFE! It was all in the housing unit, so the switch was as easy as two screws! No worries with this product’s warranty at all 🙂
Can your kids do this chore?
Yes. But this depends on every family. My eldest takes out the pee container. Eventually she can do the whole toilet, but I don’t mind doing it and I like to make sure it is fully cleaned.
What is cleaning it like?
The toilet actually comes with a small spray bottle you can keep vinegar or soapy water in. Every time I dump the solids, I end the job with cleaning the outside of it with bleach (I feel better using bleach) including the handles, clamps, everything. The toilet seat is bleached too. I clean the top of the toilet (the bowl you sit on) with gloves at this time too, but I also do this if it gets dirty after use in the house. Everyone knows it is their job to clean their own mess. This happens very rarely though.
The Natures Head Compost Toilet is a great investment for those wanting to boon dock, not have to deal with a black water tank, or live out in the woods. I seriously would not mind having this as a permanent solution for our future homestead…but time will tell:)
Their free fans for life is great. I have used this 3 times. I like to have 1 on hand and I am down to 1 currently, but they are pretty punctual. It normally takes 7-14 days to get them. So have one on hand at least.
Until Then, Happy Flushing to you Modern Folks… *heehee*
-After caring for other human beings and animals on a homestead, from poop messes to full blown vomit…adult and child… taking care of and cleaning this toilet is not crazy. If you don’t think you can do it, even after researching, don’t! Everyone has their own limits of comfortability, which is what building your own home is all about:D It is prob easier to just go with the black water first and then take it off later if you want to go compost option.
Let me start by saying, I am not an electrician. My husband is not an electrician. We have some electrical experience, but never on a bus. We just never had the confidence because it was a new skill to learn more about. If we are going to have an even more amazing homestead one day, I need to know how electricity works on my temporary home. Old Chitty Bang lost about 30 pounds in unnecessary electrical wire! Thanks to a new and very knowledgeable friend, he got us squared away with removing things I didn’t have a clue what they were for. Thanks Robbie. You are the best….Around…and no one’s ever gonna keep you down…;)
And, of course, Murphy’s Law will always come into play…especially when you have no idea what you are doing. We broke the solenoid in the breaker panel that controls the side yellow lights (clip lights I believe is what they are called), and some other stuff (I told you I don’t know what we did in this process, lol. I just absorbed it). So we found one on ebay for $20 and got a new one. I do want to buy another for our “On the Road Equipment” box we want to make. Two is one and one is none…
We steadily worked on cleaning up the wiring and re-taping and re-looming everything…
I am so happy to say that this part is over. Although, we will be revisiting the electrical for the house part, I am happy to be past this specific part. Why? Because now that we finished that, we were able to move on to running the wires for the speakers, the radio, amp, back up camera and screen, and some LED lights for the exterior! Yay progress!!
We finally did it! We finally sold our home for what we needed and were able to become debt free and pursue our renovation of Chitty Bang. We hustled. We got rid of even more crap, and began the next step of our lives. We packed what was rest of our stuff, loaded up the u-haul, and with the help from some amazing friends (Thanks Amber, Brent, Barbara, Mike, and, Anne & Drew:)) were out of our home and on our way to West Texas to finish the bus!
Thanks to another fantastic friend, Jim, we have a place to stay while we work on Chitty Bang at his house. Now, we are focusing on that:) So far, living without a majority of our stuff has not been that bad 🙂 We have clothes, our necessities, the girls have a few toys (About a large shoebox full and their electronics), and our tools. And what we order for the bus of course. It feels like it did after the fire, but more at home and with the knowledge of this all being my choice…instead of a choice made for me. Since we have left over 3 months ago and began working on Chitty Bang, I have not regretted our decision once. We have been surrounded by some pretty awesome people that each know a lot about something specific that we want to learn more about. We also have a place to stay where we all feel so welcome. Although it will be just another small moment in our lives, we have already learned more about ourselves and each other 🙂
I have decided this never ending seal job of leaks will end this day! We went into the bus on a hard rain day and used chalk to mark all the spots that were leaking. We attempted to spray the bus with the hose to find any leaks, to no avail. So we have been waiting for hard rain storms to hit us the last few weeks (thank God we are not in a drought anymore!) so we can get a realistic view of what kind of leaks we are looking at. Almost all of the leaks came from the seal between the glass and the metal and was collecting in the corners of the windows, dripping down to the floor…eventually will cause rust issues and mildew in the walls if we don’t take care of it. And as our Sgt Crab says, Don’t do the easy wrong over the hard right. And I don’t want issues later *grumble* so here we go!
After this, we waited a few days and used the hose to spray all over the bus. No leaks! But, then it rained really really hard one day and I ran out into the bus to make sure (who can recreate mother nature, really?) and *GASP* a few leaks! But they were only around the Emergency Windows (those are total crap anyway and will be covered inside and out with aluminum anyway). SO I just sealed every single crack on them, and problem solved! I did not even have any roof leaks this time! The only leak we have left is coming from the back door, and that is just as easy as replacing the rubber seal around the door. I have been told by my Skoolie thread on Facebook that I can get that stuff anywhere. So that will be next. Then we think we may just go ahead and cover the outside of the emergency windows with the aluminum b/c we have the rivot gun for it, we just need to get the rivots and sheet of metal.
Either way, we are still making slow progress….we did not drop off the edge of the world, I promise! Summer is here in Texas, and so is the heat…and a smaller bus budget so we can do some family stuff…The dream will continue! Thanks to everyone for continuing to follow and support us in this huge adventure of ours! Look for an update on our GoFund Me page I am creating if any of you would like to help us get moving on it too!
Thanks all and have an awesome day and I hope everyone is having a great summer!