Gather round everyone. Lulu and I have something to tell you. It’s going to be painful but it needs to be said. The fact is, we’ve fallen out of love. Fallen out of love with our composting toilet, that is. Psych!
Seiously, after over 2 years of more or less continuous use, we’ve decided to give up on the composting head. I know I’ve given glowing reviews in the past but the last year has been a lot shakier. I don’t think I posted about it but last summer, just before we reached Puerto Escondido, we had an infestation of tiny little flies in the poop. They were about the size of fruit flies. The flies weren’t bad enough. We also found their larvae (maggots) crawling around. Now if they’d just stay in the poop it wouldn’t be that bad, but the flies insist on flying and the maggots seem to want to crawl out of the bowl. We kept them somewhat subdued with RAID but it didn’t really do the trick as they had all these little hard chrysalises that were impervious to the spray and were just waiting to hatch. Eventually, we had to dump the compost (which was definitely NOT compost at that point. We then found an out of the way spot way in the back of Puerto Escondido where we could dismantle the toilet and soak every part in salt water. This helpd get rid of the flies and maggots but the chrysalises were still there. And they were everywhere. They were inside tubes, under gaskets, behind folds in the plastic. EVERYWHERE! But, eventually, we think we finally got them. Since we were going to be heading to the States for about 3 weeks, we reassembled the head and sprayed the holy living crap out of it with RAID, sealed it up and left it for the time we were gone.
When we got back, the fly problem seemed to be under control so we put the head back in operation.
I’ve reported before on how unobjectionable the head was, both odor-wise and gross-factor-wise when emptying. And I wasn’t lying. However, over the course of the last year, we seem to have no luck getting any composting action going. Takes us a bout 3 weeks to fill the tank when we’re using it full-time. And, after repeated attempts, we’re still not having much luck. So, rather than the “earthy” smell I’ve reported before, our head smells like an outhouse at a public campground. Not good. Not sure what we’re doing different. I’m sure we’re still treating it the same way we always have but now it doesn’t want to compost.
But the final straw was that on our way down from Puerto Peñasco, we discovered we’d been invaded by the flies again. YEESH! We tried to keep it under control by using lots of insecticide. This could possible affect the composting action but, since it’s not composting anyway, death to flies became the priority. I emptied the head the other day and then Lulu vigorously cleaned every nook and cranny to get rid of every last vestige of fly evidence. Now the head is sealed up in the boat where it can bake in 90-95 degree weather for the next 6 weeks while we’re back in the States.
We’re pretty discouraged by this turn of events. We’ve decided to return to the original set-up: a standard marine head with a small holding tank. Got to be easier and it can’t possibly smell any worse. Not looking forward to the hose-bending installation but that’s just the price I have to pay.
Having had success in the past, I know that composting heads can work. It’s pretty much a function of how you operate them as there isn’t really anything that can go wrong mechanically. We just know that it’s been quite awhile since we’ve been able to operate ours correctly. And we still don’t know where the flies are coming from. The inlet and outlet air circulation ports are both screened. I suppose they could squeeze through a small gap between the trap door and the tank. Just don’t know. And we’re tired of fighting it.
So, on that stellar recommendation, if anyone is in the market for a used Airhead composting toilet and can come to San Carlos to get it, we’ll make you a hell of a deal.