If you’re like us you invested in a composting toilet to save water. This toilet actually saves both fresh water and space for grey water if you’ve combined your RV black and grey tanks. Why on Earth would someone need to conserve water and keep urine in a plastic container and feces in a bucket to be turned several times a day!?! Well, to live for free (as in a couple to no dollars a day). In our case we do his often! Welcome to the full-time, when possible off grid RV Lifestyle.
We learned about this toilet from about four years ago and decided this was for us since we were also investing in solar panels and batteries to let us live without hook ups for extended periods. This toilet is actually a major reason we can live this way. The grey tank alone holds 35-45 gallons of water. That’s not enough for us to live for 2-3 weeks without needing a dump station since our fresh water tank holds 80 gallons. The solution was a composting toilet which freed up the black water tank (another 35-45 gallon tank) to be connected to the grey tank and provide plenty of grey water space. (Check YouTube for videos on how to do this; we did and Andrew found it to be simple and effective)
I love my toilet. We get to live how and where we want to. There are a few issues we’ve had though and here they are with the solutions that made the situations a touch to completely better.
First off, when it was windy and blowing in just the “wrong direction” we ended up smelling the air being vented from the compost (coconut coir and solids area) inside. This could be pretty unpleasant… One major time this was an issue was when driving! The vent didn’t face forward but straight down. The wind whipping by the end of the hose was enough to blow it back into the toilet and as a result into our RV home! Solution was to point the hose towards the back of the rig. This way as we traveled down the highway the wind was not forcing air back into the rig.
When we made this change we also extended the hose (through the cabinet under the living space) to reach from the passenger side to the driver side. This solved a second issue because our bathroom is on the passenger side. When sitting outside we are on the passenger side; that’s where the door and awning is after all. So the exhaust hose literally vented to where we were hanging out! Not pleasant. Now the hose vents to the driver side and that allows the smell to normally not affect us when we are outside.
Another issue related to venting is the strength of the fan. It’s not the most powerful and I find the compost to be most offensive after changing it out. For this reason we place a dryer sheet with a rubber band on the side without the fan to help keep the smells inside while allowing fresh air into the space to help the venting. This seriously cuts down on the odors in our home.
Finally, the urine buckets get some buildups on the sides that can be tricky to clean. We’ve tried the small stone shake, the dishwasher detergent soak, and honestly the best solution we’ve used is Goo Gone. A little bit of Good Gone with a little bit of water, give it a shake and let it soak turning the bucket so it soaks all the sides. Then dump and rinse. We don’t do this when needing to make use of pit toilets and whatnot as I don’t want to affect those so it’s a once every couple weeks thing we do when at an RV park to do laundry, empty grey tanks and get our fresh water before getting back out to a BLM or National Park.
So there you have a few examples of the toilet smell solutions, reality of RV living and the flexibility and creativity needed. Not everything about RV life is glamorous 😉