Stirred things up a bit with my last blog. Unfortunately, it got some folks who had previously been sold on composters to have second thoughts. I say unfortunately because I am now pretty darn sure that all of our problems were self-induced and not a basic problem with composting head design.
I read a few internet accounts ( this one, this one, and this one) of compost toilet installation and operations and was reminded of a practice that we quit doing awhile ago and was probably the source of our problems. Namely, we were supposed to moisten the coir when we first put it in the tank following a dump out. We had done that in the past and, amazingly, the toilet worked as advertised. However, we ended up with things getting a bit soupy once and we decided to skip that part figuring the fiber would get plenty of moisture from the poo. Apparently not.
So, by not wetting down the coconut fiber, we were not allowing the composting to get started properly resulting in anaerobic, smelly conditions which apparently attract gnats and flies. So, it looks like the fault was ours and not the AirHead’s.
So, are we going to give it another shot? Well, no, and here’s why. When we installed the AirHead, we had to make a larger floor for it to sit on since its footprint was larger than the Wilcox-Crittenden Headmate that came on the boat.
We probably could have used the old pedestal but we wouldn’t really have anyplace to put our feet and the pee bucket would have been left hanging out in space mostly. Of course, in the end I didn’t use that block of wood in the photo. No, I built a nice floor with legs on each side and an opening so we could use the lost floor space as storage space although nothing much got stored there. I looked through my archives and can’t find a photo of the original toilet setup but, suffice it to say that we gain a little more standing room by going back to the original design.
So, reason 1 as to why we’re giving up the AirHead is floor space. Why does floorspace matter so much? Well, that leads to reason 2.
We want to make it feasible to shower in the head when it’s the convenient thing to do. One of the things Lulu misses most is the ability to take a shower inside whenever she feels like it. Our head had been set up with hooks for a shower curtain and even had pressure water and a shower head. Of course, we yanked the pressure water system since we hated the sound and wastefulness of the pump. But that part is easy to fix. The problem is that, with so little footspace you can hardly turn around. It was literally tight enough in the head with the composter installed that, if you dropped something on the floor, you couldn’t bend over and pick it up. Had to use your toes to pick it up. What I wouldn’t give for opposing thumbs on my feet sometimes. So that’s reason 2: showering onboard.
Reason 3 (actually 3a and 3b) is much more emotional. First, since we had a couple of pretty disgusting episodes with the AirHead (granted, they were probably our own fault), there will forever be the fear that it will happen again tainting the unit. Secondly, you know how once you get your mind set on something, nothing else will do? Well that’s where we’re at with this head change. No doubt you’ll get to read my rants during installation and a year from now I’ll probably be lamenting the passing of the AirHead but such is life.
So, please, please, please, please, PLEASE don’t let our experience alone discourage you from getting a composting toilet. I’d really feel bad if that happened.