If you’re looking for the best eco-friendly toilet for your campervan or RV, then this Nature’s Head composting toilet review will help you with your buying decision.
It’s not exactly a sexy topic, but trying to choose the best toilet for your tiny home on wheels is important if you’re thinking about what items to use for a self-contained van.
And if you’re like us, once you dive down the rabbit hole of RV toilets, you can easily become overwhelmed.
Cassette and chemical toilets are the most common, but aren’t necessarily the best for the environment.
A great eco-friendly alternative is to start looking at composting toilets, and once you’ve done your research, you’ll discover one brand always comes up as the best one around – Nature’s Head.
The Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is one of the best toilets for a campervan you can buy, but it’s not the cheapest option on the market. Here are our key takeaways from our in-depth, personal review.
Requires emptying far less often
In our beautiful campervan we’re happy to have a Nature’s Head composting toilet, and after more than 12 months of full-time van life in Australia, we strongly believe they are the best product brand in its field.
By now you’ve probably already made the decision of whether or not you should put a toilet in your campervan (if you’re not sure, the answer is a definitive YES), so our hope is that by writing up this comprehensive Nature’s Head composting toilet review, you’re going to have a full understanding as to why this is the way to go.
Our Honest Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Review
To kick things off, I am going to go over the pros and cons of owning a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet.
(Warning, this post does contain some dirty visuals…but what else would you expect from a compostable toilets review?)
- Environmentally friendly
- You save so much water per year (as you literally do not need any).
- No chemicals are used or required
- It is cost-effective in the long run
- It is easy to maintain and keep clean
- Doesn’t need to be emptied anywhere near as often as cassette toilets
- Liquids are separated from solids
- Ease of use
- It is more expensive than a portable cassette toilet
- It requires 12 volt electricity for the fan to operate
- It does require hands-on for cleaning when you are emptying the tanks
- It is quite bulky and needs a proper installation in your van
- Cannot go hard up against a wall as the chambers cannot be accessed
- To access the liquid chamber you have to open the solid chamber too.
Check Out Our Full Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Review Video Below!
What Comes in the Box?
When you buy your Nature’s Head toilet, you’ll find these items in the box:
- Toilet seat with lid latch
- Liquid waste bottle
- Solid waste bucket
- Trap door liquid diverter
- Composting crank (we recommend getting the spider handle)
- Vent Fan
- Exhaust Hose
You may (or may not be) overwhelmed when opening the box. A composting toilet requires an extensive amount of setup. Do read the instructions and check out videos on Youtube on how to set it up.
How Does Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Work?
Nature’s Head separates the liquid waste and solid waste into two different chambers. Number 1’s goes into a container at the front of the unit and the number 2’s goes into a chamber at the back.
Liquid waste automatically drains into the correct chamber when the latch is closed.
Both men and women should sit on the toilet. If a man stands, unfortunately your liquid will not go in the correct chamber. You must sit.
Just embrace the seat, and take a moment to admire the handy work you’ve done in your van.
If you’re wondering “Can you pee in a composting toilet?”, the answer is yes and no. Yes, you can pee in one if it has a separate tank to catch urine. No if it doesn’t, as liquid stops the composting breakdown of organic matter.
Number 2s go into a separate tank inside the Nature’s Head composting toilet.
First you half-fill this chamber with a composting material, usually peat moss or coco coir, which is what’s needed to break down the organic matter you’re going to add to it.
When you’re ready to do your business you open the latch, take a seat and do, uh hum, your business.
Once you’re finished you can wipe up (toilet paper can go in the solid waste chamber, or you can put it in a separate garbage bag), then you spin the spider agitator handle on the left-hand side a few times to mix it all up.
The longer your waste stays in with the mix, the more it breaks down. But as an absolute minimum, it needs at least 8 hours.
IMPORTANT – Keep the inside of the toilet bowl clean by spraying it with a toilet cleaner after every use. We personally use a vinegar/water mix in a spray bottle, but you can buy dedicated sprays from most RV and camping stores.
Adding Composting Mix to Your Toilet
The best compost mix to use is sphagnum peat moss or coco coir, which you can buy from most hardware stores.
Alternatively, you can buy the compost mix here online, which is the best eco-friendly stuff you can find on the market.
It comes in bricks and can be broken down with water.
These packages will come with instructions, but usually what you need to do is soak the organic matter in 10-15L bucket with water for 15 minutes or so, then break it up by hand.
Massage it so the entire mix has a consistent texture and moisture to it, then add it directly into the solid wastes compartment of your Nature’s Head composting toilet.
How Do You Empty Nature’s Head Composting Toilet?
We couldn’t dive into our Nature’s Head composting toilet review without talking about how to clean the unit, as it’s a pretty obvious question a lot of people have.
The liquid chamber is the easiest to clean, and you will be emptying this one most frequent as this chamber fills quickly.
We use our toilet for liquids maybe every second day and empty it whenever we see a dump point.
So this is how you empty it:
First, unclip the side latches and lift the whole toilet seat so you can access the liquid chamber. This will reveal the solid waste chamber, but you don’t have to touch it at all.
Then pull out the urine jug (carefully so you don’t get any splashbacks), take it to a dump point and empty it.
Thoroughly rinse the jug inside and out, add a bit of natural soap or detergent to keep it super clean, then place it back in the unit.
Close the toilet lid so the gasket seals around the urine container, clip up the latches and you’re good to go.
The solid chamber is the composting area. Cleaning this area requires a bit more work.
To do this the easiest way possible, it’s best to unhook the entire toilet unit from the base and bring it outside of your van (if you can).
It’s entirely possible to clean it with the toilet still installed in the bathroom, but it requires shovelling out the waste with your hands and being in a cramped space.
If you’re carrying it out, open a large garbage bag, tip the toilet upside down and empty the compost directly into the bag.
Put on some gloves and scoop out anything that is still stuck to the inside of the chamber.
Don’t worry, if you have done the setup of the coco coir or peat moss correctly, and regularly turned the spider agitator handle after every use, your waste would have turned into proper compost and have a top soil-like consistency.
The waste can be dumped into a garbage bag and disposed of in the rubbish bin, or added to a garden if you have access to one.
Give the entire unit a rinse down, spray with vinegar or another natural disinfectant, then add some more compost mix to the chamber.
Then all you need to do is reinstall the toilet to its base plate.
How Often Do I Need to Clean My RV Compost Toilet?
That entirely depends on how often you use it.
If you’re a single person or couple who only uses it on the occasions you can’t find a public toilet, you might get away with emptying the urine bucket every 3-4 days, and the solids chamber every 2-4 weeks.
If you’re a family using it for every single time someone needs to go to the bathroom, don’t be surprised if you’re cleaning out the liquids container every day, and the solids bin every 3 days.
Us personally, we usually clean the liquids container about once a week, and the solids bin every 2 months or so.
There are two chambers – one for liquid and one for solids
Does the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Smell?
This is a legitimate concern, and one of the most common questions we get about our Nature’s Head compost toilet.
With the human waste sitting in a tub for so long, won’t it stink out your van?
After half a year of using it, we can confidently say “no”. It doesn’t sink.
With the compost toilet, the odour is kept to a minimum by the separation of the liquids and solids. You will fill up the liquid chamber much quicker and more often than the solid chamber
On the side of the toilet there is a small ventilation fan that will pull clean air in and vent exhaust through a pipe outside the vehicle. This is where you need to build in an external exhaust for the sewage and hook up the toilet to electricity.
Surprisingly the exhaust fan is small and hardly draws any amps at all. You will need all this hooked up, as this keeps the smells away.
You will only smell the waste when cleaning out the toilet at a dump point. It may smell a little like soil.
If your composting toilet isn’t maintained properly it can get pretty smelly. So take care of it.
Where to Dump the Waste from a Compost Toilet?
We’ve mentioned it a few times, but composting toilets need to be dumped in the correct place.
For urine, use an official caravan dump point, or pour it directly into a toilet.
For the compost, put it in an organic waste bag and place it in a commercial rubbish bin, or add it raw to a garden (make sure you have permission to do this).
Alternatively, if you’re out in nature, you can dig a hole and bury it.
Jarryd emptying the toilet. There are dump points in so many places.
Do’s and Don’ts When Emptying Waste
Here’s a couple of pointers to think about.
- Dump your waste in a responsible location. A lot of caravan parks and recreational parks have waste dumping points. Use these for your liquid waste.
- Be thoughtful and respectful of who is around as you take the pee bottle outside or empty the solid chamber.
- If you are not near a waste dumping point, you can empty your pee chamber in a drop toilet or out in the middle of nowhere, dump the liquids on a dirt area where nothing grows. The salt concentration in urine can be especially harmful in arid areas that don’t receive much rain to leach the salt out of the soil. Please beware of this. This is your extreme last resource.
- Don’t dump your waste down storm drains. This is wrong and illegal as some drains go out to the ocean or river systems.
- If you have to pour your liquids out in nature (last resource, remember) make sure you are at least 60 meters away from any water source. Urine is horrible for natural waterways because the nutrients in the urine can upset the ecosystem balance. Don’t just think, “it’s only pee, she’ll be right”. Well, it is not, it can be harmful. So please do not do this.
- Don’t pour solid waste into a normal toilet. It’s like dumping dirt, and can block the septic systems.
- Don’t dump your solid waste into a public garden. This is disgusting.
Where to Buy a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet?
Ready to take the plunge and buy one of these units after reading our honest review of Nature’s Head compost toilets? Here’s where you can buy them:
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How often do you have to empty a Nature’s Head composting toilet?
If you’re using the Nature’s Head composting toilet every single day, you’ll have to empty the urine chamber every 3-4 days, and the solids compartment every 2 weeks or so.
Does the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet smell?
You’ll be pleased to know that the Nature’s Head composting toilet does not smell! As long as you clean it regularly, you’ll have no urine smell or poop stench.
Can a Nature’s Head toilet get wet?
Yes, a Nature’s Head toilet can get wet. Ours is kept inside the shower, and as long as the lid is closed so no water gets in the compost section, the entire outside of the unit is waterproof.