A good composting toilet is expensive, and with everyone looking to save money these days, it's not uncommon for people to try to build their own. But before you head to the hardware store, you might want to read our top 5 reasons why it's not such a good idea to build your own composting toilet.
Among the eco-conscious crowd, composting toilets are a very commonplace product. Not only do they provide a natural form of waste disposal by recycling waste back to the earth, but they also save an enormous amount of water and money. There are many different types of composting toilets, but generally they fall into one of two categories: professionally manufactured systems and homemade units. In spite of the fact that doing it yourself has become a major movement in the United States and around the world, building a composting toilet is not something you should add to your DIY to-do list. In this article, we'll explain the top 5 important reasons why you shouldn't attempt to build your own composting toilet:
Homemade composting toilets may smell bad. Professionally manufactured units are designed with special venting systems and fans to make them 100% odorless. If you build your own toilet, it would be very difficult to replicate the same type of venting system that makes professional units odorless.
Homemade composting toilets are slow to produce finished compost. Many homemade composting toilets are nothing more than a toilet seat fitted over a 5 gallon bucket. In these instances, when the bucket gets full, it's transported to another location (usually outdoors, for obvious reasons), and then may take 2 to 3 years before the bucket can be opened and the material inside has turned into finished compost. A professional composting toilet is designed to hold all the material in one place, and it finishes the product much more quickly, usually within several months, depending on how often it's used.
Homemade compost toilets don't have a system for separating fresh waste from partially finished or completely finished compost. Most people have some feelings of hesitation about composting toilets in the first place. However, this is usually pretty easy to overcome, because modern, high tech systems are designed so that you never have to come into contact with the waste inside. Homemade systems aren't usually as sophisticated, meaning that you may end up having to manually check the contents yourself to see if your compost is finished yet.
Homemade units present a potential biohazard. Because professional systems are regulated and most of them meet certain standards, they are tested and certified to produce a clean and sanitary end compost (to be on the safe side, though, always check out a manufacturer's certifications before making a purchase). With a homemade toilet, you don't have any of those safeguards to guarantee that the finished compost is pathogen-free.
For all of the reasons mentioned above, homemade composting toilets probably won't pass muster with your local building department. Whenever you engage in a home remodeling project or install a new fixture like a toilet, it's important to check your local building code to see what permits or approvals are needed for the work. If composting toilets aren't an approved waste treatment method in your city yet, it's usually pretty easy to get a building department to approve a professionally manufactured system. Just print out the product specifications and certifications and take them to your local officials. With a homemade system, it's not quite that easy, and most home made toilets aren't going to pass code.
The bottom line is, a composting toilet system is a sophisticated piece of equipment, designed to operate in an odorless and sanitary manner. When you try to build your own composting toilet, you're really taking a roll of the dice, and who knows what you may come out with. In almost every case, it is always better to spend the money buying a professionally manufactured system. After all, composting toilets are just like many other things in life: you get what you pay for.