Category Archives: Toilet

All The Reasons Flush Toilets Are Actually The Gross Ones And Why I Love My Compost Toilet!

I’m just going to break this down.  One of the main concerns about transitioning to a tiny house, right behind ‘where can I park it‘ is… ‘ummm, composting toilet? ewww?’ or something along those lines.  I PROMISE you, I am not embellishing on MY views, I still have family who refuse to use my potty, and that is okay.  I LOVE it though.   The longer I have it the less ‘gross’ it is (it really isn’t gross at all, I was worried about it initially but reality is different than perception in a good way on this one…) and actually the more gross and inconvenient a standard flush toilet is.   If I had it to do all over again I absolutely would go with a composting toilet again!  (If you want more info on my specific unit and the ordeal it was to get it I encourage you to read a few other posts which you can find HERE).
Here are ten reasons I love my composting toilet MORE than I could love a flush toilet:

Toilet brush

1.  This is not something I use.  More importantly this is not something that sits and gets grosser by the day next to my potty.  MORE important, this is not something I find my kid trying to paint the floors or her face with because she just discovered it when I turned my head for five seconds… I clean my potty, when needed with a little vinegar water and a paper towel that I just drop in when done.  The bowl is dark colored and doesn’t easily show any gross, it still gets cleaned but I find it needs to happen less often and is a much simpler process to do!

2.  There is no need to have this gross thing sitting beside your potty either.  For all the reasons above I am glad to not spot this in Hazels’ hands, EVERYTHING is a little closer in a tiny house and doors do get left open…  Even before I had a kid I thought these were gross, you KNOW that has touched poop at some point in it’s life and now it just lives on the floor next to the toilet… getting grosser.

3.  Also, what if one of these was NOT on the floor next to the toilet getting grosser and then you needed it!?  That could be embarrassing… it’s one of those ‘you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ situations that just doesn’t happen with a composting toilet.  No clogs at all!

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4.  This may be too much information but have you ever sat down to pee and had backsplash hit your rear?  If you’re not angled just right… it happens.  Sure you wipe it off but you know you have little particles of gross on you until you get your next shower… no water means no backsplash!

5.  This one applies more to public restrooms, or if you have brothers I suppose too (though composting toilets can’t help brothers…).  I was always lucky to grow up in a house with a ‘boy bathroom’ and a ‘girl bathroom’ one of those little things I constantly thank my mother for now…  You walk in the bathroom and sit down before looking at the seat only to find you sat in something wet… GROSS.  Is it pee? Probably someone elses’ pee at that…  Is it just water from the last flush that splashed out?  Still gross.  Best case, you walk in, see it first and then have to wipe the seat off just to sit down, or if you’re like me ‘hover’.  There is no way around that, it’s gross even in the best case.  Splash is gross and completely eliminated with no water!

6.  This one COULD just be me but I have always been a self conscious pee-er… I don’t like other people hearing my pee.  Public rest room, in home with the door cracked, it doesn’t matter, that is MY business, I don’t like producing any sound… I also don’t like hearing other people pee… it’s a thing.  You don’t hear anything with my compost toilet.  You can ninja pee all you want.


7.  People, myself included, who have never used a composting toilet often just assume it smells.  Do you think tiny house people are just the sort of people who don’t mind living somewhere that stinks of waste all the time?  Or maybe that we are the sort that LIKE the smell of urinals?  No, we don’t like the smell any more than the next person does… A properly functioning composting toilet DOES NOT SMELL.  I promise!

The best thing you can do to eliminate smells is separate the solids and the liquids, a toilet that does that will work great!   On top of that, my particular unit is constantly vented to the exterior so even if it wasn’t working properly I would only smell it from the outside.  The best part about that particular feature is that no matter how dire the specific situation was there is no smell, instead of things being vented from the ceiling and all those smells allowed to fill up the room, and sometimes into others, the smells are entirely contained IN the toilet.  You cannot tell when someone just pooped unless they tell you… which sometimes happens… some people actually have it on their bucket list to poop in a composting toilet, I’m not joking… :)


8.  This is one I am appreciating more and more every day since I am pregnant and get up 2-8 times a night to pee (annoying!).  I don’t have to announce to the whole house I just peed by flushing the toilet in the middle of the night, every time.  Flushes are loud, they can wake kids up, they can disrupt sleep.  It’s probably not standard in a bigger house because the bathroom is probably further than 10 feet from a sleeping baby but in a tiny house I think about this every time, if I flushed I would PROBABLY wake the kid up and then lose even more sleep trying to get her back down.
Yes, you can do the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow…’ thing but I have never been a fan of that, I think it goes back to the self conscious pee-er thing… and the gross splash thing… and the… well all of it… I am grateful for silent ‘flushes’.


9.  These get into environmental factors…  Conserving water!  It takes 1.6 gallons of clean drinking water every single time you flush your toilet.  Say you flush it 10 times a day (that is VERY conservative for a pregnant lady…) that is 16 gallons of CLEAN drinking water, This is the biggest water usage throughout the average persons day.  To move ‘not clean’ water (pee) and occasionally some solids to a center so that it can be chemically treated and then used again…   It is a huge cycle but that is what it is when you opt to tie to city water.  It’s the same with a septic only it isn’t recycled.  That is insane to me, it may not seem like much but per person that is HUGE.  There is a ton of embodied energy in the effort it takes to get clean water, it happens off site so we don’t see it, there are chemicals, there is biology, there are impacts.  We work so hard to make it so easy for the end user to just flush a ‘gross’ [my words because I think flush toilets are gross, so ha!] toilet but those processes have impacts that effect us all.  Removing the water from this one system can cut my own personal water use damn near in half!

I LIKE not being a part of that system, I like focusing instead on putting such MINIMAL effort into managing my own waste (I have had to ‘deal’ with this ONE time in over two years.  One time, it took all of maybe 20 minutes and a hose, and it is safe and sanitary!) and not contributing to that system.  Every drop does count.



This is what various levels of water look like, we eventually drink the stuff on the left, after it has been treated chemically and biologically to get to the stage that it is on the right.  Water is just recycled, we are drinking dinosaur pee if you want to think of it that way, for some reason I do… that’s not weird, is it?  The earth has an amazing way of cleaning and recycling our water but when we add chemicals to the process we have to do more to take on that task.  We have created HUGE compounds to do just that, nearly every city in America has one, a water reclamation site.  We have to use other chemicals to take out the first chemicals so that we can have the perception of a clean bathroom so we can pee in it and flush it all away keeping up our perception of ‘clean’.


This is how we treat water.  If you have never been to a water reclamation site I STRONGLY suggest you head to one.  Most of them have a visitor center, most love to give tours because the more informed all of the users can be the easier the reclamation process can be.  It is an eye opening experience.  You won’t look the same at things.  You will think twice before you flush something down the potty.  Go into it and be mature, I have seen grown ass adults turn into 4 year olds at water reclamation sites… don’t, it’s a real process just like a trip to a landfill…  YOU can impact it for the better just by getting a better understanding of it.



This is all of the steps every single toilet flush has to go through to get it back to something we can all drink again.  It’s pretty intense!  Grey water (showers, sinks, etc.) can be processed differently than black water (toilets, cook prep sinks where raw meat is washed, etc.) but for convenience it all gets sent to the same place and it ALL gets heavily treated to bring it back to something we can reuse again, most likely to flush another toilet…  This brings me to my final point.

10.  I have removed myself entirely from this system.   Ultimately this system is not to treat waste, waste is a very natural part of our lifecycle, this system is to treat water.  It just separates out the waste which ultimately just goes back into the circle of life and essentially gets composted anyway… just off site from us.  Every body poops guys and girls.  Dogs poop in yards all the time and most people don’t even process that the same as people poop, mentally.  It is the same.  It is not hard to manage your own waste.  It is harder to pick up dog poop from the yard in all honestly.  It feels great to not contribute to this recycling of water process and to take the task of managing my own waste on myself.  There are safe and sanitary ways to do it and they are not that hard to do!

It’s funny the mental shift that has taken place in this little living expiriment for me.  Like most people one of my biggest concerns was the potty and it being gross but I was committed to give it a try.  I seriously love my composting toilet more than a flush toilet.  I now think of flush toilets as ‘gross’ because after using a compost system they are!  (that is personal opinion… I know… but it’s mine!)

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Things I Love About My Tiny House This Month

There is so much I love about my tiny house, my favorite part seems to change every day but there are a few things I have noticed over time that I just love about this project.  At this moment, in no particular order here is my top 10 list:

These are a few of my favorite things

1. Endless hot showers in my oversized shower!  Man I love my showers, it was a big priority going into this.  I built an oversized shower at 42″x36″.  I have an on demand hot water heater si I never run out of water.  I can literally take an hour long shower if I want!  Well so long as Hazel lets me… :)  I think my dad has rubbed off on me too (he’s a plumber), it’s kind of cool to harness the power of water and use it for a shower… I’m not sure I ever appreciated that before…

 2. Lounging on the patio in the spring reading a book.  There is a beautiful and aromatic apple tree right off my patio, in the spring it is one of the most pretty things I’ve ever seen.  Add in the patio lights and a little fading sunlight, me curled up in the chair on the patio with a book/sketchpad/journal/staring into space and you have one of my most favorite zen moments.

3. Sitting in the living room watching rain drip from the windows.  This is similar to point one, I am not harnessing the power of water but sheltering myself from it.  I remember the first rain I was so scared to see how things held up, if there were any leaks (there was one, I fixed it!).  It turns out it is a pretty awesome feeling to have built yourself a weather-proof shelter!  It can get cold and bitter and RAINY here in the fall, I love sitting on the couch and watching the rain drip off the window flashing, the way it should.  It’s a detail I never would have cared about had I not put the flashing there myself.

4. Cooking while watching a movie.  I’m not much of a movie buff and James isn’t much of a cook.  We can both do those separate things though and still get to hang out!  In the tiny house we can both kick back and do what we love without having to go to separate areas.  He chills out on the couch with a movie and a browser and a notepad and I fiddle about in the kitchen and we can still chat and bond.

5. My toilet.  My toilet is awesome.  I love that I am not wasting so much water that we work so hard to clean.  I love that it is all handled right at my house.  I love that there is no splashing, no smells and it’s not freezing in the middle of the night (there is a small heater in it).  People may not believe it but I love it so much better than a standard flush toilet (and I was very leery going into this project!)… Poor Hazel is going to be confused though when it is potty training time.  She’s going to wonder where the sawdust is at the grocery store potty! 😉

6. Having everything I love in one spot.  I admit this one has taken time and honestly I still have stores in mom and dads basement (all kids do that, right?).  I can say though that I have everything that I care about under my roof.  There are bags of old dresses I didn’t quite have the heart to get rid of just yet, there are stuffed animals I may want to give to Hazel later, there are things that sit somewhere just because there is somewhere to sit them but anything that is important to me is in my house.  It hasn’t always been like that I have felt very spread out previously just because I moved so often there were a lot of home bases.  Some may think in the small house it would be harder to keep everything near and dear… well near.  It’s not, everything has a place.  It’s nice to have it all at home for once!

7. Saving money.  Self explanatory.   Just before Hazel was born I was able to pay off all of my debt.  All of it.  when I took home my paycheck once a month it was all mine.  Yeah I have bills to pay but no debt, insurance and groceries and a little rent, that’s it.  I have even got rid of my phone.  How would it be to take your whole paycheck and just stick it in your bank account?  The answer is pretty awesome!  With that little cushion I built up before Hazel was here I decided it was ok if I just don’t go back to work until I need more money.  I do side jobs as I want to and try to monetize this site as much as I can while still being human (I don’t push anything I don’t truly believe in) because if I can live off of that stuff then I can stay home even more with her!   So, if you want you can buy my ebook 😉 (just kidding… sort of)

8. Hearing my dog snore at night.  There is no particular reason for this, and perhaps it would still occur in a bigger house but it is comforting to know he is close enough for me to hear him.  In the back of my mind,while I sleep I know I am protected.

9. Inspiring others.  I had no idea when I started this that anyone would be interested in reading my blog, it was just a place I could document my build and update it from any computer.  Then it became a challenge.  Then it just became a part of the process.  Somewhere along the line it got popular enough for me to feel jazzed and inspired to keep going!  It got me through the hard spots, I could think through problems here and get feedback from others.  I remember the day that I got 32 hits in one day.  In one single day 32 people read MY words, they read about MY project.  It was amazing!  Then, a little later I got my first email from someone that called themselves ‘my fan’, it said I had inspired them.  I had a fan?  I couldn’t fathom that.  My weird little project inspired someone to do something in their life, I don’t even know what honestly but I had a fan!  That is a cool and encouraging feeling!  One single person’s life was altered by something I did.  I have a very hard time fathoming that to this day, I can only hope it is altered in the most positive way!  Today I get several thousand people visiting my site every single day.  I love that people seek me out because they somehow found something in me that is inspiring.  Those people are my inspiration too, I mean I’m just a weirdo, they give me someone to be accountable to!

I think inspiring is one of the very best names to be called and I have had way more than my fair share of kind people calling me that.  It’s amazing!

10. Getting recognized at the dog park/grocery store/public.  I have been recognized on the streets as the girl in TIME, the girl in Dwell.  My dog has fans, there is an s on that, he has more than one!  Hazel has been called so many beautiful things by people who don’t even really know how amazing she is!  She has fans, I have fans, sure some of it is cringe-worthy but SO many people are SO nice to hear from!

So that’s my list, what is your favorite part about living tiny?  If you’re not quite there what do you imagine will be your favorite part?



Composting Toilet Saga Part V

Literally two weeks after writing my How My Composting Toilet ACTUALLY Works post how there were basically no issues I noticed flies… in the house, not particularly concentrated in the bathroom but it’s a small house and they did find the toilet… there is no telling where they originated but I am fairly certain it was not in the toilet.  The same week I noticed them I had planted my kitchen window herb garden and bought a bunch for fruit (they looked like little fruit flies…), switched out my bulking material from the standard sun-mar brand to the mix of sawdust/peat moss AND bought a new house plant, could have been any of those…  I decided to treat the toilet first though so the problem didn’t get worse.  These are a few things I have done and some of the things I am considering doing that I’m looking for feedback on.

First I got some diatomaceous earth which supposedly works great as a natural pest controller in sort of a morbid way.  It is the microscopic crushed remains of fossils and shells and basically makes hundreds of slivers in bug exoskeletons, killing them.  It is too fine to be of any harm to pets, kids or myself so it was a good solution I thought to start at.  As a side note, I read it works really well as a flea and tick protectant on pets, Denver may be getting a DE dusting soon…

I poured about a cup of it into the toilet bin and went on as normal.  I did notice a decrease in the flies in the actual toilet but not in the house.  Again, because I know people will think this is gross, I am fairly sure that they originated from either my herbs, a bad banana or the houseplant I bought, I have had the same flies infest my big house about this time of year and there was no composting toilet…  but because there IS a composting toilet, a hands off one at that it becomes a bit of a bigger problem to get handled ASAP before they can take up ownership of the toilet… Long story short using a little diatomaceous earth in your composter seems to have an effect on any bugs that may or may not be in there, I am finding it to be a helpful additive to my bulking mix…

OK, now onto another Sun-Mar rant of sorts… One of the other things I mentioned that changed is that I have switched my bulking material (the sawdust stuff) from the sun-mar brand that came with the toilet, which has been nice, to just the standard construction waste sawdust mixed with peat-moss (could ALSO be a factor in the little bugs…).  I don’t like it as well just because it is a process to mix together and it seems a lot more dense (not ‘fluffy’), not as effective at absorbing the liquids so they can be evaporated… I went to order some more from Sun-Mar along with some more microbes just for good measure.  The total was about $43 which I was ok with and then I went to check out and they want $38 to ship that!  I checked on some other products, I was considering buying 5 bags of the bulking material (an additional $70) just to justify the enormous shipping rate but doing that brought the shipping up to $101!  Basically they charge you double if you want the product shipped…  not cool Sun-Mar, not cool.  Once again I am not impressed with their business model, I would think they would make things more accessible to individuals…

I have decided to go with their competitors microbe mix, Envirolet Compost Accelerator, they seem to be basically the same thing, same cost but much different on the shipping charges… As for the bulking material I may just get some hamster bedding or something a little fluffier, anyone have any suggestions for that?


Another totally separate thought that I would love some feedback on, might be a bit gross for some readers…  I did a little project with the City of Meridian on vermicomposting.  I have since given the worm bin back so some 1st graders can use it but I still have my worms which are troopers… I was wondering if there are any issues using red wigglers in a composting toilet?  I read a little article on it last night from and it seems like a valid option…  Does anyone have experience with this?  It seems that they may be better suited to a composting toilet than just kitchen scraps and sounds like things would go a lot faster.  To date I have followed Sun-Mars directions to the tee and after one year I emptied some waste into the drawer to ‘finish’

This is what that looks like
This is what that looks like

It all looks on point and about exactly what they said it would do, but I am wondering if I am using this composter to it’s full potential.  It seems like, since I am not at full capacity (2-4 people full time) I may be able to put vegetable scraps and the like down it as well.  Am I just asking for trouble by doing that though?  Unless I hear good reason not to I think I am going to stick my red wigglers in there (the website says to acclimate them to the different waste a little first or I could shock them and kill them) and use my toilet as a full-on composter.  I am not too worried about voiding a warranty with Sun-Mar, they have had absolutely atrocious customer service anyway and didn’t even warranty the product that arrived broken…  its doubtful they would warranty anything at this point anyway.

Pros would be faster composting, and a self sufficient system basically.  The cons would be that I don’t have easy access to the bin so the worms are pretty much there when they get there, I can’t maintain them…  It MAY mean I will have to get down there and maintain them manually at a point if it is a complete fail (gross). This is a project in learning though and it seems like that makes plenty of good sense.  The one thing they do say if you use worms in a composting toilet is to use plenty of bulking materials to absorb the ammonia and salts (pee) so that the worms don’t get killed by it… they suggested ripped up cardboard/newspapers…

So I guess I have a few questions:

  1. Do people have suggestions on a good/’fluffy’ bulking material for my toilet?
  2. Does anyone have experience combining vermicomposting with their composting toilet?
  3. Passively asked, has anyone had fly bug issues when it comes to their composting toilet and any ways to mitigate them?



How My Composting Toilet ACTUALLY Works – A Review

I promised I would do a review on the composting toilet after it had been in use for a while, well after 6 months I thought it was time for my first in depth review, besides, I have had A LOT of questions recently on it :).  Waarning, there are pictures into my potty at the bottom (when I was shopping for one I wanted to see what they looked like in the bowl and it was SO hard to find a picture, I never did, so there is a picture of what a composting toilet looks like down in the bowl… if you skip the images you’re not going to miss much, just Denny drinking from the sink ;-))  You can read more about the toilet picking out and purchasing experience HERE, HERE and HERE, suffice to say, I was not happy with the level of customer service from the get go.   I am very happy to say though that the technology (or lack there of) of the composting toilet is great, I love my potty!  (living in a house for a while without a potty and you really learn to appreciate the potty!)

I went into this project very leery of a composting toilet, with the same thoughts as many people have, that it’s gross, that it will smell horrid, that it will be disgusting, that it will be a maintenance nightmare etc.  This entire project has been fundamentally about learning.  Even though the toilet was approximately 20% of my entire budget, and even though I had all of these concerns about the functionality, I took the risk to find out about this option first hand.  This is my experience:

The pros:  I like it way better than a flush toilet, honestly.  There are NO smells at all (there is a fan that creates a constant vacuum of air going to the outside).  It is warm when you use it (the unit I have has a small heater), no back splashing and no one can hear you peeing! All pros.  I have the added benefit of knowing that I am not contributing to a waste system where drinkable water is treated, used to flush a toilet and then has to be treated again, there is quite the process to that and a lot of energy/chemicals which I get to bypass, naturally and safely.  Like I said, I was very leery initially for the same reasons as many others but after six months I have had two issues and zero REAL issues, I will get to those in a moment.  All of that being said, I have not yet had to empty the drawer (based on full time occupancy – 3-4 persons – that would happen after about one year, and about 4 times a year).  Currently I am not even a quarter of the way to full but in spring I will do that drawer emptying deed, simply because it’s been enough time. I expect that it will be as painless as they say (pretty hands off and non-gross).  Other than that, even as expensive as it is it is cheaper than installing a septic system and it is not as limiting to finding a location as having to hook up to sewer, it gives me more flexibility.  So, those are my pros so far, now the cons…

The cons… 100% of people (I rounded up, there are those .001% that think differently) do assume it’s gross and disgusting and that I am a weirdo for choosing that option, that is the one drawback.  I do have a brother who refuses to use it, my partner did too, for a little while, but he’s fine with it now.  I wanted to have the most normal looking composting toilet so that it didn’t weird people out to use it, I think it does anyway though, which I understand, it really is ok though!
I mentioned above that I have had two issues, they are these:  First, the neighbor came over and one day when I was outside working and asked me when the toilet unit ‘cycled’ and if I could reset it for a different time because he and his wife like to hang out in their backyard in the hot tub late at night and it seemed to come on when they were out there and ‘really stinks’.  This was an odd question to me because there is no ‘cycling’ with this unit.  There is a fan that runs constantly, and vents out really high so that it is not noticed (and it does a really good job of being not noticed).  There is also a small heater in the unit that constantly runs, that is all, completely passive outside of those two components.  It made no sense at all that it was perfectly fine all the time except at this one time every night…  I racked my brain on it for a little while and then I noticed that that time of night was pretty close to the same time of night that I let Denny out to potty before bed.  Turns out he had taken up the habit of pooping in the alley, pretty close to where their hot tub is, and they are right, he STINKS!  It is slightly embarrassing that they think I could possibly smell like that, I don’t want to pretend that my poo doesn’t stink but seriously, it’s not nearly as bad as Denver’s poos… Once I figured out the issue I fixed it, he poops in the yard like a normal dog now and everything is fixed.  The neighbors still think I poo nuclear poos probably though… so I have that to think about every time I say hi to them!  So, issue one is a non issue…
Issue two, just the other night, maybe a week ago it seemed like the vent stopped working.  I have had the power go out before or have to be unplugged for a bit causing the fan to stop and it does start to smell in the house after a bit if I don’t seal off the toilet first.  I could still hear the fan running though, I completely couldn’t figure out what was going on.  Of course it happened late on a Sunday night, after it was dark and when I couldn’t see to fix it.  It couldn’t have happened when there was light, and on the weekend when I could do something about it :).   Even still, it wasn’t horrible and I pretty much convinced myself it was in my head and just my pregnant nose smelling weird things (I did cook asparagus earlier…)  So I went to bed, in the morning I could still smell it.  I asked James if he could too, he did, but it wasn’t like when the fan goes all out, that is very noticeable, this was hard to tell… I went back around by the vent and I could hear water dripping in it, there was no reason that should have been happening… by noon on Monday it was just fine, nothing at all wrong.  I am not positive what happened but I THINK that some snow may have fallen into the vent and partially blocked it, then as the day warmed up it melted away and everything was fine.  I did decide I need to get up there and put a screen over the vent opening though, I can see a bird or something making it’s way in the 2″ opening and nesting or something… So even issue two is a non issue, I’m fairly positive it was a weather issue, especially since it fixed itself with the warmer temps…
As you can read in the previous posts linked above, I chose to get a ‘fancy’ composting toilet (and paid the premium for it) so that I could have it in an urban area, it has to pass special inspections to be ‘safe’ as far as health services are concerned.  While this unit is not accepted everywhere it is much more so than say the standard humanuer version.  In most cases where it is not readily accepted it is most likely because the question has never been raised to inspectors.  Obviously a composting toilet is different than the standard flush unit in a few ways.  So, the ‘special’ things you have to do with my particular composting toilet (I am not speaking for the humanuer versions, I don’t know much about them):
  • When you first set up the toilet, after a week or so of use there is a little packet of bacteria that the manufacturer sends with the unit, you put that packet in the tank, it’s as easy as opening a package of ramen and dumping it out, that’s it!
  • At full time use, about twice a week there is a handle on the unit that needs to be cranked a full turn (I actually have grown to love this little activity, it feels like I am accomplishing an important bit of maintenance (and I am) but it also helps me mark the week, I crank it on Wednesdays and Sundays,  it’s really no big deal.
  • There is no special toilet paper you have to use, it all breaks down.
  • About 2-3 times a week you have to throw in about a cup of compost mixture (of a mixture of peat moss (40%) and Sawdust (60%), I have a ton of sawdust I saved from my build, I will be set for years on this!).
  • If the unit is below 55 degrees the bin acts as a holding tank only, composting slows/stops.  The weather does not hurt any of the components, it simply sits dormant until it warms up again.  (this is the reason I am waiting for spring to empty the drawer, I want to make sure it is in composting mode rather than just holding tank mode)
  • To empty the drawer you first fill it (cranking the handle in reverse) and then let it sit and ‘finish’ in the drawer for 6-8 weeks, at that point I hear it is just like potting soil and I will not be grossed out to empty it into my compost bin OR directly onto my plants (I still don’t think I can use the compost on my veggies, I may have to stick to the flower bed… )  This happens a max of 4 times a year (I expect I will be doing it once a year).

That’s it, it’s just different than a flush toilet, it hasn’t been gross in any ways [to me].  There are actually a lot more pros than there are cons [to me].  I would definitely suggest the unit to anyone else.  It’s weird to talk about potties but I am totally fine with it if there are any questions that are left that I haven’t answered, please, write them in a comment, I’m sure you aren’t the only one wondering.  I’ll do my best to answer them as much as I possibly can!

To leave off, one important thing I haven’t really mentioned, because my unit does it automatically, a good composting toilet will have a urine separater which does exactly that, separates the urine.  THAT is actually the stinkie part of a toilet… if you can keep the solid and liquids separate the smells go WAY down though urine will smell much faster and much stronger than poo.

The must haves of a hands-off composting toilet to me include a urine separator of some sort, a vent (preferably with a fan to make SURE the air-flow is going the right way – OUT), and depending on your climate a little heater to keep things above freezing and help evaporate off the liquids.  There are plenty of people though that are good with the humanuer version (5 gallon bucket with sawdust, they sell urine separators for those too…) I just didn’t like the maintenance of those and the fact they would definitely not be allowed in a city center because of health and safety regulations, for some they are a great and inexpensive option though.  Now for the pictures inside the toilet… turn away if you must (it’s really not that bad…)!

Because I can’t just leave it there I have included a video of Denny playing fetch in the tiny house… you can get a glimpse of my belly which is now HUGE! 😉


Things I Don’t Like About My Tiny House

I am not going to lie, parts of this stink… overall… totally worth it so far but here are some of the cons as compared to always giving you the shiny ‘pros’.   I think most of these can also be spun to sound like pros and can boil down to me having moments of laziness, like we are all allowed to have.  (it’s actually hard for me to not put on the positive spin at the end of each point… because I wrote this here though I will not!)   Here is the list:

  1. These things take a lot of time and energy to build, parts of my body will never be the same after this build.  As some of you know, about one year ago I fell off the roof while being dumb on a particular part of roofing, this resulted in a back that was broken in two places as well as a broken heel bone.  Here I am one year later, with the cold season coming and I can already feel it in my back.  My foot is STILL not healed amazingly enough, I have not been able to return to running just yet.  I have been told that I will always feel the weather changes in my back.  That is an unexpected consequence of tiny house living that not everyone will have, but it’s real.   Aside from broken bones, this thing ate up about a year and a half of my life I didn’t intend on giving it!  I seriously and foolishly was convinced that 6 months was oodles of time… nope, two years is more like it.  Sure I could have gone faster, I could have also gone a lot slower… but that is a lot of social life to exchange!
  2. Everybody looks and stares, I am happy to share, in fact I LOVE it, most of the time.  Its those other times when I just want peace and quiet, people still gawk then too.   I have been woken up from a nap more than once by someone knocking on the door.  Which is actually really cool, unless your napping mid day, which pregnant people do sometimes! :)   Part of me feels ‘weird’ too, I wish these were more ‘normal so I didn’t have to be made to feel weird so much!
  3. I am constantly concerned about being ‘turned in’ and worried if I am pissing off any neighbors.  Even though I would probably be totally fine with being turned in and it would actually be a different sort of enlightening adventure I would be ready and willing to tackle, it sucks to feel that little bit of insecurity constantly, just not knowing what is around the corner exactly.
  4. Everything is a work in progress, things break, water is not limitless, every action has a consequence that I have to be aware of. Sometimes it would be nice to be oblivious again to my daily processes, dump all the leftovers down the garbage disposal and not think anymore about it.  If I do that now it will grease up my grey water tank and that will be a much bigger deal down the road.  I have to only take what I will eat so i am not as wasteful.  It is mostly enjoyable to be engaged in my daily processes but sometimes it would be awful nice to get lazy and just not care.
  5. Space, only sometimes though.   It’s not even so much the space as it is smells, and it could be a pregnancy thing.  Denny-man stinks though.  He is getting weekly baths pretty much but it’s small enough in the tiny house that it takes no time for it to smell like dog (still, at least it isn’t smelling like compost!).  There have also been times I want to stretch out and do some yoga without leaving home and I just have enough room to do a few poses, nothing too detrimental but, sometimes, it would be cool to not have to go somewhere to do my physical activities.
  6. The dark flooring was a horrid choice with a puppy and mud.  It stays clean mere fractions of a second at best!  I will gets some rugs once I get a lawn and Denny get’s a little better about keeping water in his mouth, that will make this easier.  Right now my floors stay a pretty consistent mix of puppy slobber and dirt.

And the surprising things that I DO like!

  1. I LOVE the composting toilet, at least so far (I have yet to have to empty it).  I like it better than a flush toilet, for real.  No one can hear me pee, no splashing water back on my butt… it’s great!  and absolutely zero smells and the satisfaction that I am not sending a huge burden to be treated at the water plant.
  2. It is nice to be able to do what I want when I want, to know that the investments I make into may living area are mine.  If I want to paint I can, if I break something that isn’t working properly it isn’t super painful knowing I’ll have to replace something dumb only for it to break again some point later.  My own space is an obvious thing to like, but I am surprised by how much I have missed it. Even if it is less than a tenth the size of my last place that was ‘mine’.  That ownership aspect works just the same!

What else would you guys add to the list of Tiny House cons?

Update 8.8.13

I got my lights back!!!  I love them.  I also have kitchen shelves and a usable closet plus some dog butt towel holders!  The composting toilet has been working great, no smells or problems!  I am very happy to report that!  I still need to hook of the vent so that it vents up high but even as it is it doesn’t seem to be an issue.  I can see how it could be if there were more people using it.  I am shooting to get that done this weekend.  I am also going to try to get my pantry shelves in this weekend so I have a better use of storage.  That is all I have for now!  I hope you all are well!

Open House Postponed, Yet Again…

At least I didn’t send the e-vites out yet (I had a bad feeling that something like this would happen so I held off).

Even though I am already living in my house it is not yet complete and it looks as if there is another road bump.   We have Sun-Mar, the composting toilet manufacturer, to thank for this. I have a big long story that I will most likely tell in full detail at this rate, as soon as it gets all figured out.  The short story though is that they messed up yet again, I ordered three things and there are four errors so far on their part.  Not very pleased.  The latest is that they promised me a replacement part in no less than a week and a half (I have been held up on this for over a month now and losing my patience with them).  One week later and I get an email today saying that it won’t even ship until two weeks after the arrival date should have been.  I was really rushing to try to have the open house on the 13th because the next several weekend are already spoken for.  I feel like having the toilet installed is a pretty important part or I would just have it anyway.  I wish things were smoother but it looks like I will be ‘camping’ a few more weeks (not easy to do when it’s been 100+ degrees!).

In the meantime I have some other stuff I can work on, tomorrow I will either shoot for building some of the drawers or my entertainment center/bookshelf deal, we will see what I feel like in the morning!

Happy fourth of July everyone!  Be safe!