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The cassette toilet is ubiquitous in the RV world – well, apart from North America – and for good reason: Compact and straightforward to use, they’re well suited to the lifestyle. However, they have limitations and can be particularly unpleasant to empty if used for, um, the ‘full range’ of bodily functions.

Also, in a DIY or custom vehicle they require a large hole to be cut in an outside wall, dedicated plumbing (usually) and power. But, there is an alternative that’s becoming increasingly popular – the somewhat misleadingly named Composting Toilet.

In essence, a composting toilet is one that separates liquids and solids. The former stored-in and disposed-of-from a container (sealed, but you still have to carry it through the vehicle), while the latter ‘composts’ away in the main unit, which has the capacity for up to 80 ‘trips to the loo, ma’ darling’ – if you catch my drift. You won’t, however, be catching a whiff, because the unit is externally fan-vented, leaving the inside of your RV fresh as a daisy, so they say…

Allan Whiting from OutbackTravelAustralia.com.au has such a unit – the Nature’s Head composting toilet – under test and apparently it’s so-far so-good.

“In essence, the compositing toilet is a twin-compartment design, with a liquid waste tank at the front and a ‘solids’ bin at the back. In other words, wee goes in the front and poo in the back. The wee tank can be emptied when full, while the poo area is where the natural composting takes place. Aiding that important function is a supplied coir-peat ‘brick’ that absorbs any liquid content in the solid area, while a tiny fan circulates air through the chamber and out through a supplied vent hose. When the poo chamber is full of composted material it’s simply disposed of,” he writes.

“Nature’s Head is a USA-made system with a five-year warranty and is marine grade quality, because boats can also benefit from a system that doesn’t need through-hull inlet and outlet fittings. The rear compartment is angled with the shape of boat hulls in mind.

“Our Outback Travel Australia testers purchased a composting toilet for around $1600 and installed it in their caravan, replacing the standard cassette toilet. It was supplied with all necessary parts, and fitting it proved to be simple. It weighed only 13kg empty, so manoeuvring it into place was light work. The vent hose connected easily to the existing cassette toilet vent outlet. The evaluation began in early December 2020 and impressions to date are excellent; there have been no issues with its use and the composting system has worked without unpleasant odours from day one. The fan power consumption has been less than 1.7 amps per day”.

The reference to the term composting being somewhat misleading is people think that what comes out of the main container can be used as compost in the garden. In reality, composting is what goes on inside the container to break down waste. In capital letters on its brochure, Nature’s Head says, “Do not place composted human waste as fertiliser for edible plants or vegetables”.

So, while the ‘compost’ still requires responsible disposal, being able to use your RV’s loo to the full (pardon the pun) for weeks at a time between major emptying is a huge attraction. Ditto the lack of chemicals. To find out more visit the Nature’s Head website and watch for updates from the Outback Travel Australia team as they are, um, deposited…

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