Towards a better tinyhouse

Inventing to freedom?

The Nature’s head is *not* a composting toilet, or a finished toilet solution

with 11 comments

No matter what their marketing material says. It is a crap-dehydrating, piss storing toilet. And it is not, in itself a solution to the sanitation problem.

In the humanure handbook, Joseph Jenkins explains that the composting process is very slow at room temperature. The Nature’s head only stores for 30 person-days, which is not long enough.

More importantly, don’t confuse pathogen destruction with composting. A toilet like the eco-let causes pathogen destruction just by letting the stuff age for several months. In the humanure handbook there is some info in how long you need to leave humanure in order to allow various pathogens dies off – E-coli dies pretty fast, but worm eggs, for instance, take 1 to two years. From the info provided, it is apparent that 30 days will not help much.

Secondly, it gets a lot worse. Think about it for a second – the *oldest* batch is 30 days old, but the latest pile of crap is a little as 0 days old at the time when you empty it. An eco-let has multiple chambers, so that the compost that gets out has all be aged long enough, not just some of it.

And it does nothing at all with the urine. What are you supposed to do with it? And the urine will stink if left standing – ever forgotten to flush the toilet overnight with urine in it (admit it)? That’s the effect of anaerobic degradation, with the organisms producing hydrogen sulfide and other unpleasant smelling substances, which are not produced by aerobic decomposition.

Secondly, even if there were not disease causing organisms present in the urine when it was deposited, some of those organism that prefer anaerobic conditions are themselves pathogenic, capable of causing pneumonia and other illnesses, and they are bound to start growing in there sooner or later, since they are fairly common in the environment (but not in quantities high enough to cause illness).

Now I’m sure it could be useful as part of a larger sanitation scheme. And don’t think I am trying to overstate the risk of contracting a disease – the probability that someone will contract a disease from the humanure involved is never any greater than the probability that someone using the toilet is infected with a disease that can be transmitted by the fecal route.

For a more complete, but still portable option, search this blog for “pasteurize dehydrating toilet”.

Here are some links to stuff I previously said about the possibility of a pasteurize dehydrate toilet.


Written by gregor

March 5, 2011 at 10:03

Posted in Uncategorized

11 Responses

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  1. Is there a brand you recommend?

    Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural

    March 5, 2011 at 10:47

  2. Also, I searched for pasteurize dehydrating toilet, but this was the only post that came up.

    Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural

    March 5, 2011 at 10:50

  3. Okay, I added some links to the post body, but several posts showed up when I searched the terms…


    March 5, 2011 at 15:26

  4. You are not going to make any friends by attacking people’s products. Composting toilets work fine when designed properly. Do you have a better product that you can offer.
    PLease remove us from your mailing list.
    Thank you,
    Walt Barrett

    Walt Barrett

    March 5, 2011 at 17:31

    • Hi, Walt, sorry your comment got caught in the spam filter. I’m disappointed that you decided to take this sort of approach when someone tries to share some true and accurate information, apparently because it is inconvenient to some people.

      I thought we were on reasonably good terms and that you appreciated the information that I went out of my way to share with you regarding laundry a little while ago.

      It sounds as though you have subscribed to my blog in some way if you are getting emails from this blog, but that is no doing of mine. There must be some setting you can change on your rss reader or something.


      March 16, 2011 at 14:42

  5. i find myself compelled to defend my toilet….

    the air flow pattern includes scavenging the urine container ( though i have done some mild optimizing modifications to improve this ), in conjunction with the ability to airriate the contents provides for an odorless rest room…

    wile the composting is not entirely “final” upon interfacing directly with the environment, the degree to which it is, is operator based….a small thermostatically controlled heating pad, placed under the unit, will speed decomposition.. as well will regular agitation, maintenance of moisture levels, and an appropriate ratio of organic bulker..

    urine processing is a simple matter of creating a mildly sloped natural drainage trench/basin, with termination, to receive it..similar to surface gray water treatment, and of approximately 100 sq. ft/ individual..

    it’s not perfect, but it’s a darn nice toilet, i don’t care what anyone says…so there.. 😛


    March 6, 2011 at 11:25

  6. Lol, I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings, Rulgert. I remembered that you owned one while I was writing it. I guess I am just being a little harsh because they are being deliberately misleading in their marketing materials, and deserve a good takedown.

    So it attempts to evaporate some of the urine at least? That does not appear in their marketing anywhere, so I could not have known. But it does not evaporate all of it.

    I did point out that it could be part of a solution, which seems to be what you are saying too. But as I said, unlike for example and eco-let, it is not a solution it itself.

    Someone like you probably understood these things when they bought the toilet, but other people are buying it expecting it to be a stand alone solution as the marketing indicates.


    March 7, 2011 at 06:49

  7. My Nature’s Head works perfectly, completely unlike what you say. I wonder if you’ve actually used one? Yes the most recent additions will not have completely dried out, and if you just used the toilet they will stink. I try to not use it for a day before emptying, and it is completely inoffensive. This toilet is far less expensive than an eco-let, installs easily and works like a charm.
    The toilet was originally designed for boats. So you’d empty the urine bottle in a toilet ashore, or dump in the sea. On land, you can run a hose into a small drain pit where the urine can percolate harmlessly away. You never need to think about the urine again.
    Urine separating toilets like this are now preferred by the NGO Soil – which build toilets in poor countries like Haiti. Even the World Health Organization extols the virtues of urine separating toilets.

    Richard Brunt

    November 26, 2013 at 15:27

  8. Sorry, wrong on almost all counts. All types of composting toilets have to be emptied. The difference is, with a urine separating design like the Natures Head, the material will not have completely composted in the toilet itself. It needs to be emptied into a compostable plastic bag (two minute job) and placed in a compost bin. Done. Other composting toilets are far, far worse. they say that you ‘remove finished compost’ from the toilet. Uhhhh, not exactly. Often there is too much liquid from the urine, and you never do get compost – just sewage. If it does work, then you get compost trapped in the corners, the rotating parts get stuck, the heaters break down (expensive!)…and the list goes on. I’ve had all these problems. The Eco-let, Sun-mar and Envirolet are all plagued with serious problems. Just Google them, and you’ll see.

    The Nature’s Head (and other urine separating toilets) are a big, big step forward in compost toilet design. The Nature’s Head is nearly perfect, in my extensive experience – and I am a demanding customer.

    You are way off on the urine. Urine is pretty much sterile, and poses no health risk. None of what you say about urine has the slightest basis in fact – except that, it will stink if left a long time. That is why you empty the bottle every day or two. You don’t leave a bottle of pee laying around (duh!).

    James Richy

    January 1, 2014 at 18:55

  9. It is my personal observation that almost all negative reviews of the Natures Head come from people that don’t actually own one. They are talking theory and/or are just speculating. Pretty much all the reviews I read/watch by owners are positive. I also notice that many of the negative reviews are from people that appear to have a possible conflict of interest. I will be purchasing a Natures Head for an RV.


    May 2, 2015 at 10:38

  10. Completely untrue. We have a NH and the urine never smells in the jug. The solids compost fairly fast and it is safe and legal to toss in the trash due to laws allowing dog poop, child and adult diapers out will continue to compost. Harmful bacteria is “killed” with in a few hours due to the chemical breakdown of the compost process. It is simple to change. If you want to push another brand because you get kickbacks by them or work for them that’s great but lying and slandering another brand is very very unprofessional and off putting to many.


    August 3, 2017 at 13:04

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