Stinky Composting Toilet Suggestions

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.

Dryer sheet over vent hole.

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 😉

Sorry, we’re closed

Lake Mead: That’s our rig on the left. You can see we take social distancing seriously ?

That’s what we’ve been told by the park rangers at Lake Mead (through a sign, no personal contact) and Desert National Wildlife Preserve. We carefully selected a spot away from others at Lake Mead. We had a nice view of the lake. We enjoyed a couple nights, several walks/hikes through the dry part of the lake (there is an absurdly long boat ramp that leads to very dry ground-climate change) and to the lakeside. Then the weekend hit, lots of Vegas locals looking for fresh air came out to enjoy the space and then Monday we were told to be out on Wednesday. We left Monday.

Lake Mead: Notification that this park is closing.
Lake Mead: Dry lakebed walking.

Monday we found the Preserve, trying to stay somewhere warm, near Vegas. There was no signs or anything on the website about this park being closed so we figured it was a good spot. We parked on the side of the road for the night just inside the boundary and I scouted out an amazing little space further into the park so we moved in there and setup on Tuesday. Setup includes leveling, moving slides, rugs, cording the refrigerator closed/open, zip ties on some of the cabinet, etc. We are pretty stuff free and I’m pretty good at the process so it takes about 20 minutes to pack. Depending on how level the ground is it can take way longer or less than that to setup. Tuesday’s setup took quite a bit of manipulation to get level with all our tires on the ground, but I was done in under an hour.

Desert Preserve: We had even more space here for our social distancing… Until the ranger stopped by.

Tuesday night we were enjoying the sunset when the ranger came by to let us know we had to leave because the park was going to lock the gate Friday morning. We packed, again. We moved this time to the Great Dunes area. This is BLM land and we figured there is no gate so we should not be locked in or out! We are all alone; it is beautiful; we are continuing our quarantine! With luck we will be here for a couple weeks. That’ll make our quarantine three weeks long and then we will be certain we are healthy before heading back to a store somewhere to stock back up on tp and food.

Great Dune, Nevada
Great Dune: This is BLM living which is what I love the most!!! We are alone!

Tiny Closet

Laundry room on the left. Refrigerator on the right. Tiny closet in between!

This is a tiny closet. When we renovated the kitchen in Palazzo we were able to create this closet especially for Andrew’s motorcycle gear. His “monster boots” and jacket need to be accessible when put away. The space revealed itself when we removed the wall between the refrigerator and the stacked washer and dryer. On the floor is an interesting velcro bag-like thing that houses electrical cords that need some flexibility to move as the slide is pulled in and out. On top of this we set his boots. The hook for the coat hanger is Andrew’s creative way of solving several issues all at once.

View from the kitchen. The black horizontal pipe the oranges are hanging from is the mirror image of the pipe his jacket hangs from in the closet.

To keep our new refrigerator in place as we travel he installed these metal pipes on top of the refrigerator set into a 1×4″ piece of wood. The pipes are cut to the perfect length and screwed into the wood which just sits on top of the fridge. The top of the post is screwed into the ceiling. From the vertical pipes Andrew attached another horizontal pipe on each to be able to hang a coat in the tiny closet and to hang my fruits and veggies on the kitchen side. Genius!

My messy and productive sewing table.

The finishing touch of this closet is the grey curtain which acts as a lightweight door and a noise dampener (this is very important when doing laundry). I bought a pair of light blocking curtains at Walmart for the windows. The windows are small enough I knew there would be plenty of fabric left over to use on this project. A bit of cutting and hemming made three RV window curtains and this “door.” After this installation there was a gap above the refrigerator. It needed visual and noise dampening; like a partition. We took out wood and walls (weight in an RV is important) and I was unwilling to install wood in this space. The floral quilted fabric was the perfect find when I was shopping in my mom’s sewing room this fall! She is always super generous and the color was perfect. A bit of cutting and sewing bias tape along the edges is all it took. I used three finishing nails to attach it to the 1×1″ board we left from the original wall. I also used the fabric on the shelf I made and hung above the kitchen counter – just to carry the color and pattern a bit further.