More people are interested in van life than ever before. Much of it concerns the ongoing use of social media, showcasing avenues of life you wouldn’t know about otherwise. Still, as appealing as this lifestyle may seem, there’s much to know about van-dwelling, especially using the bathroom and composting toilets. Hence, many wonder what the best composting toilet for van life is.
As easy as it may seem to find a rest stop whenever you need to use the restroom, you’ll eventually grow tired whenever the bathroom needs arise. Plus, you’ll save on gas and time with a toilet you can use in your van or bus. Well, what are composting toilets, and why are they beneficial for van life, you ask?
Our review will highlight three of the best-rated composting toilets that’ll work well in a van or mobile setting. We’ll discuss the benefits and negatives of each and give a verdict to help you decide if it’s the right option. As straightforward as composting toilets may seem, there’s more to it than most people realize.
Besides our reviews, we’ll dive into our composting toilet guide. The guide will discuss essential questions about composting toilets and the van lifestyle. Examples include what a composting toilet is, why you should consider one if they smell, maintenance requirements, and much more.
Best Composting Toilet for Van Life Review
Portability and ease of use are the two most significant factors when discussing a composting toilet for a van or bus. Although some composting toilets are explicitly made for this lifestyle, plenty of others would fit the bill. All you need to know is some requirements for the toilet, which we’ll cover later.
Compo Closet Cuddy
Every inch matters with a van or bus you’re converting into your new home. Compo Cuddy understands that and has built a portable composting toilet that’ll fit easily on a bench. Considering a bench is where most people store their toilet in this setting, it’s nice Compo Closet has that in mind.
The box shape is efficient and easy to put anywhere, making your life easier. I love how the agitator (mixer in the bin that rotates when you turn the handle outside the toilet) is in the front and fully accessible. It doesn’t protrude and won’t take up unnecessary room in the back. It pulls out from the front of the box, which is excellent.
As for how the product works, it’s simple. Think of it as a solids and liquids bin with a comfortable seat. It has an LED light for when the pee jug is complete and a fan with a carbon filter. That’s it, and that’s all you need. There aren’t any unnecessary features, and there’s not much to clean besides the bins when they’re full.
Functionality-wise, inside the toilet seat is a urine diverter. You can lift the seat to reveal the solids bin with agitator arms and the liquids bin. The solids bin locks with the agitator handle, and the liquid bin fits very easily. Behind the bin is a carbon filter and fan to mitigate any foul smells. A power cable powers it, so keep that in mind while thinking of power for your van.
Like many of these toilets, emptying isn’t too tricky. Liquids are the easiest since all you have to do is remove the black jug and empty it in a safe spot. The jug is also black, which makes it a little more discrete. As you can imagine, disposing of solids is a little more time-consuming, but that’s common with this. You must get the solids bin off the agitator handle and carry it for disposal.
The company behind the product, Compo Closet, is very reliable and popular in the van life spectrum. Unfortunately, they tend to build toilets in bulk, and delivery might take a while. However, it’s worth it if you have the time and can wait it out.
- Dimensions are box-like and perfect for vans
- The company is dedicated to the lifestyle
- Composts quite well
- It does a great job of eliminating smells
- The liquids jug is a discrete color
- Agitator sits on the front, making it easier to access
- Delivery may take a while
- LED Indicator doesn’t work correctly at times
The Compo Closet Cuddy is the perfect composting toilet if you can handle the wait. As long as the wait may seem, the company is very responsive and will answer any questions. From installation to setting your van up, Compo Closet is as popular of a company as they are for a reason.
Separett Tiny Waterless Urine Diverting Toilet
The Separett Tiny Waterless Urine Diverting Toilet is an average-priced composting toilet that’s pretty popular worldwide. It’s a self-contained toilet with two built-in containers, one for solids and the other for liquids. Separett claims it’s user-friendly, modern, and has a simple design for various applications.
The aesthetic and look of a toilet are more vital than most people realize. Your van or bus is your new home, so you should want it to look a sure way to get your mindset right. Besides that, the company has a five-year warranty with the toilet, which is excellent considering issues can come up.
Design-wise, it’s small and fits pretty much any size requirement. You may find it less widely than other composting toilets, which is a pro and a con. The pro is that it’s sturdier, and the con is that it’s harder to move around. I suppose you can look at it both ways.
Emptying it isn’t difficult as you can expect with a self-proclaimed best composting toilet for van life. Both the urine and solids containers are easily removable. Just ensure you properly empty them wherever you are since every state, province, and country varies with its laws in this sense. The design could be better, but you shouldn’t run into any issues once you get it working.
The tanks sometimes take a minute to drop into place properly. A good rule is to shimmy them around until you get it how it’s supposed to. Once you get a general understanding of it, you shouldn’t run into any significant issues. Like most composting toilets, no water is required since there isn’t a flush. It also doesn’t require any carbon matter, meaning you don’t have to keep coconut coir or additives.
As much as the design may give you some issues, it’s hygienic and easy to clean. The straight lines and smooth plastic make it quick and straightforward to clean. You don’t have to worry about getting down to the nitty-gritty and instead give it a quick clean when it requires it.
- Aesthetically pleasing and moldable to any van style
- Space saving, great size
- Easy to empty
- Requires no carbon matter
- Five-year warranty
- The design could be better, specifically with the tanks and lid
- Difficult to move around
Although the design isn’t perfect, the Separett Tiny Waterless Urine Diverting Toilet is still a solid choice to consider as a composting toilet. It’s aesthetically pleasing, is doable to any van style, has a great size, is easy to empty, requires no carbon matter, and has a five-year warranty. Look into it!
OGO Compost Toilet
OGO Compost Toilet is a pricier compost toilet than the others mentioned, so is it worth the price? For starters, the toilet is straightforward to use and has a push of a button for electric mixing. It’s 15″ by 16″, making it compact and perfect for any van, allowing you to set up a small bathroom quickly.
Given its size, you may worry about it comfort-wise. Surprisingly, it’s a lot more comfortable than it looks. It might be a little shorter than you’re used to, but that’s easily fixable by throwing some half-inch plywood under it. Maybe you won’t have that issue since the size varies depending on the person.
The solids chamber is sealed, so you’ll have to lift the lid whenever you use the toilet. All you do is open the solid doors and then sit down. The seat is the same size as an airplane seat, and it’s made of molded plastic with a soft matte finish. It should work out as far as comfort is concerned.
Its urine diverter works well and has enough space to clean and sanitize easily. Remember to clean it as often as you can. Too many people neglect cleaning their composting toilets, which will cause issues down the line. Regardless, once you’re done, you push the lever back, and the chamber seals it up. You then push the button on the side for the agitator to start spinning.
It has a fully electric agitator (requires power), so be mindful of that when designing your van’s power requirements. Unfortunately, there isn’t a manual override for times when the power is out. It shouldn’t be a huge issue, but if you’re a true minimalist, you may find that annoying.
Disposing of waste and liquids is very easy. If you do it correctly, the solid waste container should have dry loose solids that are easy to dump into a bag to dispose of. Though the price might seem hefty, the OGO Compost Toilet does everything it’s supposed to do well.
- Very easy to use
- A push of a button for electric mixing
- Excellent 15” by 16” size
- Easy to set up and put together
- Solids chamber seals well
- Simple to empty and clean
- Requires electricity for agitator
- Costly compared to other options
The OGO Compost Toilet is one of the best options on the market. Though its electricity requirement for the agitator and cost may turn some people off, it does everything so well. It’s easy to use, has a push of a button for electric mixing, is a great size, and is simple to clean and empty.
Best Composting Toilet for Van Life Guide
Our guide will cover the basics of a composting toilet and is geared toward those stepping into this field for the first time. We’ll cover what a composting toilet is and why you should use one. It’ll also cover essential questions such as septic tanks, toilet paper, composting toilet smells, and more.
What’s a Composting Toilet?
A composting toilet is a self-contained toilet that encourages aerobic decomposition. It allows microbes to drive in oxygen-rich atmospheres to break down waste. Most people utilize these toilets to lower their environmental impact when a standard toilet isn’t possible.
Composting toilets grants us the ability to dispose of human waste without water. The toilets typically separate waste from liquids, and you’ll have to empty them manually when complete. Some vary with their functionality and set-up requirements, but all share the common characteristic of compost and self-containment.
Why Use One
The most significant appeal of a composting toilet is the ability to lower your environmental impact and live off the grid, as they say. Mobile or camping arrangements are perfect for composting toilets, but many homes use them too. Regular toilets send sewage to landfills, whereas a composting toilet doesn’t.
Do Composting Toilets Require a Septic Tank?
Composting toilets are self-contained, meaning they don’t require a septic tank or access to the sewer system. You can technically set up a composting toilet in the woods as long as it doesn’t require power. The requirements of the toilet might vary, but you can technically set a composting toilet up for any setting.
For reference, the average person flushes the toilet five times daily, between six and 18 gallons of water a day. Having that in mind, many people turn to a composting toilet to eliminate their impact. It allows for a healthy and sanitary way to deal with our waste. It also helps prevent the contamination of water sources, which sometimes happens with sewage systems and septic tanks.
Can You Use Toilet Paper?
Many people get worried about using toilet paper with their composting toilet, fearing it’ll break the toilet. Though some composting toilets—specifically cheaper models—may advise against it, it’s usually fine to use toilet paper. Toilet paper is made from carbon, which will break down in the toilet. A good rule is to use thinner toilet paper since it’ll be easier to break down.
Do Composting Toilets Smell?
Besides toilet paper, the other fear of composting toilets is the smell. The smell issue is definitely worth noting, especially when discussing van life. Thankfully, good-quality composting toilets typically don’t allow smells to stick around. The toilets rely on high carbon to neutralize the smells of the waste.
It’s a perfect atmosphere for microbes and bacteria to begin the decomposition process. Some toilets recommend adding some scoops of sawdust or other high-carbon material every time you use it. Either way, it neutralizes the smell, and most composting toilets have a fan to ensure it stays dry, and smells are eliminated.
How Often Do You Empty One?
How often you empty a composting toilet depends on its size and how many people use it. If an entire family uses it, you’ll empty the waste bin at least once a week and the liquids more. Whereas if you’re alone and only use it on weekends on road trips, you’ll probably only empty it every couple of months.
Most brands have a recommendation for when you should empty it, but you’ll know when. Some toilets have an LED indicator that goes off when it’s complete. These indicators are helpful, especially for the liquid bins, since those get full a lot quicker. Either way, be aware of emptying your toilet since overflowing it will cause issues.
How Do You Clean One?
After you empty and dispose of the waste properly (every brand varies differently), you can spray the bins with water. You can also wet some toilet paper to wipe down the inside of the bowl. Most of these companies also offer cleaning kits and products, so consider those since they’ll help a lot with cleaning.
Are There Disadvantages of Using a Composting Toilet?
The only real disadvantage of using a composting toilet is maintenance. You just flush with a standard toilet and usually don’t run into any issues outside of clogging it every now and then. Still, the benefit outweighs any cons considering how good a composting toilet is with the van life.
There are many great composting toilets available, and the three we covered today are worth looking into. No matter what option you go with, ensure it fits your requirements, such as your space, look, and budget. Also, be mindful of maintenance and cleaning requirements so your toilet will last a long time.
Understand that the best composting toilet for van life will change over time. Like anything else, composting toilets are improving as the technology improves and the industry grows. Hence, it’s worthwhile to check in on guides like this to learn more about composting toilets and what to be aware of. The field continues to grow, which is a good thing since the more composting toilets in the world, the better.