Building your composting toilet: The 10 most common mistakes and how to avoid them

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Building your own composting toilet is more than just constructing your own individual toilet. By building it yourself, you're consciously choosing to use water as a resource with care and making a clear statement: "I don't use chemicals in my potty!" In addition, it is a great project in which you can fully let off steam in terms of craftsmanship. Unfortunately, even with supposedly simple projects, the devil is often in the details. To help you successfully build your composting toilet and avoid later hassle and dissatisfaction, here are the 10 biggest installation mistakes:

    1. Lack of planning: careful planning is the key to success when building your composting toilet. Measure the available space accurately and take into account all spatial conditions. Inadequate planning can, in a worst-case scenario, result in your composting toilet not fitting into the space intended for it, being unstable, or not functioning properly. How you can avoid frustration or what to consider during planning, you will learn in our special installation article.

    1. Awkward seating position: make sure to plan enough space for legs and shoulders, especially if the installation is in RVs, tiny houses or gardens. Why? Simple. Imagine squatting like a monkey on a grindstone during an extended session. In such a constricted sitting position, a relaxed release is not possible. It is therefore advisable to try it out.

    1. Incorrect angle of inclination of the toilet seat: the angle of inclination of the toilet seat is decisive in ensuring that it remains open when it is opened. An angle of about 100° is recommended. If the angle is too low, the seat will constantly fall into your back when you sit down. Space is limited in motorhomes and vans. Therefore, such a design is not always possible. In such a case, you do not have to give up building your composting toilet. You just need a lid to lift off. You can find inspiration in our composting toilet models Origin, which have lids with magnetic closures.

    1. Mistakes with the external urine drainage: Separating toilets are available with integrated urine canister or external urine drainage. Which variant you choose depends on your needs, your usage behavior and, of course, not least on your intended use. For example, external urine drainage is more suitable when installing the toilet in a mobile home or a Tiny House than in a van.
      Urine smells when it combines with water. So if you drain urine externally into your gray water tank, you should use a trap to prevent unpleasant odors. Some use siphons or route the hose in an S or U shape, while others use traps for waterless urinals. Similar to traditional drains, it's important to keep disconnecting toilets from backing up odors as well. This is especially true if the external urine canister is very large, allowing for a long emptying cycle. Over time, urine begins to decompose. If urine scale is deposited, this can lead to unappetizing odors. To prevent this process, regular cleaning with a vinegar or citric acid solution is recommended, as is the use of an odor trap.
      To remove excess air and ensure a smooth flow into the canister, it is also necessary to vent the urine tank. So if you build your composting toilet yourself, you should definitely take this into account. Attention: This is a venting directly at the urine canister, not the exhaust system!

    1. Problems with emptying the container: When building your composting toilet, plan from the beginning how the containers can be removed later. Different designs on the market offer different options here. If you have very limited space, it is advisable to empty from the top. If you have enough space, you can also install a side flap in your composting toilet and remove the containers through it. So take into account your space constraints and choose the right solution for you.

    1. Lack of tightness: Pay careful attention to the tightness of all hoses and connections and check them at regular intervals. If there is a leak somewhere, in the worst case the urine will not splash into the canister but into the body of your composting toilet. And don't forget to clean regularly with a mild vinegar or citric acid solution. Urine scale can build up in the connector6s and hoses. Once this builds up, it is not only difficult to remove, but in the worst case scenario, it causes the plastics to break through the solid deposits or clogs the hoses.

    1. Incorrectly designed separation insert: The separation insert is a crucial element of the composting toilet. If it is not optimally designed, urine may run into the solids tank. This undesirable wetting of the solids leads to unpleasant odors. Equally unpleasant is the scenario in which parts of the big business end up in the drain of the urine canister due to a faulty design of the separating insert and have to be cleaned out of it. A well-designed separation insert is therefore essential for a functioning composting toilet system.

    1. Incoherent construction: When selecting materials for toilet construction, it is important to choose strong yet lightweight materials. Make sure that the top panel and toilet seat can easily support body weight to prevent breakage. In addition to plastic and wood, it is also possible to choose polystyrene as the material for your toilet seat. This is a styrofoam that insulates the cold well in winter. The disadvantage is that it becomes brittle with regular use. If a warm pop is important to you, wood is a very good alternative to compensate for temperatures.

    1. Do not think about the exhaust: depending on the choice of material, the emptying cycles and the place of use, the connection of an exhaust system can be useful. If you decide to build a wooden toilet that you use mostly in warm temperatures and don't want to empty every day, an electric fan or exhaust system will help you dry solids faster. This helps to prevent unpleasant odors and the formation of mold. In order not to have to put on afterwards again hand or saw, you should consider the factor exhaust air already the composting toilet build.

  1. No room for accessories: To complete your toilet successfully, your "last official act" is to reach for the litter box. At best, this should be easily accessible. In this respect, it makes sense to keep a small space next to or under the partition toilet free for your litter.
If you avoid the most common mistakes when building your composting toilet, you will find heaps of joy in your individual quiet little toilet. To support you in your project, we offer you ready-made dry composting toilets as well as do-it-yourself kits that you can easily plan and use in your individual construction.

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