Holy Crap! Waterless Toilets?!

by ‐ Tags: water efficiency, building science, green living

For many, hearing the term waterless toilet likely conjures up an image of a smelly outhouse.  However, it might surprise you to know there are many of these toilets, better known as composting toilets, which do not smell at all and don’t use any H20“How could this even be possible?” you say.  Well lucky enough, Wegowise has got your back (side).  We’re going to give you the low down on how composting toilets work.


The basic premise of a composting toilet is simple.  Take human waste and then using a variety of natural processes, turn that waste into a useable end product – shockingly – compost!  These systems come in many shapes and sizes (you can even make one yourself), but they all use little-to-no water.  This is significant, as flushing toilets use about 27% of our indoor water supply – which is a lot of waste to get rid of ours!  On top of conserving potable water, with a waterless toilet you produce incredibly nutrient rich compost for your flower garden.  And who doesn’t want that?

All waterless toilet systems are designed to treat the waste material by composting, micro- and macro-organism breakdown, and by dehydration and evaporation of moisture.  These split into batch systems, and continual process systems.  With batch systems, a container is filled and then replaced when the composting is done with another sealed container.  With continual systems waste enters, composting reduces the volume and moves it downward where it is harvested 6-12 months later.  A sampling of these systems includes:

These waterless toilets can either use power or not. Powered toilets often have fans and heaters that evaporate some urine and aerate the waste to speed composting. The toilets, however, can usually run without power on a plain ventilation pipe. Though composting may then be slower, limiting your toilet use by up to half. Whether it's powered or not, if your toilet composts indoors, you'll need to cut a hole in your roof for the ventilation pipe.  Ignoring this step could certainly lead to a smelly situation!

Now that any misconceptions about waterless composting toilets have been flushed out, if you’re still dying to learn more, read much more detailed information here.  Also, make sure to check back soon for more green know-how from Wegowise!