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Looking for a toilet that you can take on all your off-grid adventures, no plumbing necessary? A composting toilet may be right for you, but there are so many options on the market that it’s hard to know what actually works.
That’s why we’ve brought you the ultimate review of Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. We’ll answer all your questions, from how it works to whether or not it’s worth the investment. Nature’s Head is a self-contained, eco-friendly, compostable toilet that doesn’t require plumbing, electricity, or water to function.
This being the case, it’s most commonly purchased by those living in RVs, remote cottages, and tinyhouses. This white granite coloured toilet is made of polyethylene, a lightweight thermoplastic, with high-quality stainless steel hardware.
How Does It Work?
Nature’s Head is conveniently compact at just 28 pounds, 20 inches tall, and 19 inches wide at its largest part. It uses a two-waste bin system, one for solids and the other for liquids. Liquid waste goes through two holes at the front, which drain the urine into one bin. Solid waste goes through a trap door, which you open manually before use and which leads into a separate bin filled with compost.
Once you’re finished using Nature’s Head (for solid waste), close the trap door and begin turning the handle at the side of the toilet two to three times in both directions. This mechanism grinds up the compost and waste, mixing them together so that it can be dumped safely at a later date. There are two options for the handle, a crank handle or a spider handle. Though the crank handle is a bit easier to use, the spider handle will save you some space if you’re trying to fit Nature’s Head somewhere a little more narrow.
Does Nature’s Head Cause Odours?
This is probably the most important question for any compostable toilet. The answer is…no! The reason is Nature’s Head’s impressive compost system. The mixing of the compost with the solid waste essentially eliminates the odour until it’s time to dump it. This is helped largely by the fact that urine is diverted into a separate bin, as keeping the compost mixture relatively dry is critical to prevent any sewage-like smells.
You don’t need electricity to use Nature’s Head, but it does have an optional electric-powered fan that helps in keeping the compost dry. This fan takes 1.7 amp-hours in 24 hours, equivalent to only 4 cents a month for an entire household. The fan is good to have if you’re using the toilet full time, but don’t keep it plugged in if you’re not going to be using it for at least 10 days. This will not only waste your electricity but also render your compost too dried out to effectively break down the solid waste.
Although you might experience some unpleasant smells during the dumping process (mostly with the liquid bin), Nature’s Head is a major step above most waterless and chemical-free toilets when it comes to odour. If maintained properly, the most you’ll get when actually using Nature’s Head is a mild earthy smell.
What Compost Should You Use?
An essential element of this toilet is having the right kind of compost in the waste bin. People typically use one of two kinds of compost for Nature’s Head toilets: sphagnum peat moss or coconut coir. The benefit of these substances is that they both have aerobic bacteria, which breaks down waste and prevent odour.
However, this is only possible if you remember to use the handle to mix the compost with the waste, which allows oxygen to come in and activate the aerobic bacteria. Though both the moss and coconut coir are effective composting agents, we personally recommend opting for the coconut coir. Coconut coir is less likely to mould or become a home for bugs, though you should still check intermittently and avoid over-hydrating your compost.
The Dumping Process: Inconvenient or User-Friendly?
Dumping both of Nature’s Head’s bin can be a bit awkward, but all in all, the process is straightforward and manageable. The lightweight design of the toilet means that the whole thing can be taken outside to be emptied, which we definitely recommend. This is an easy way to avoid any potential spillage or obstacles.
The liquid bin is incredibly easy to empty, which is good because it has to be emptied pretty regularly (more on that later). Nature’s Head comes with a handy lid that you can put onto your liquid bin before removing it, protecting you from the smells and any accidental splashback. The bin itself is easy to access, located under the detachable toilet seat. You can remove it without having to grab the bin itself using its attached handle.
With the solid bin, you can turn the toilet itself upside down, dumping the contents into a rubbish bag, a hole, or wherever else you’ve chosen. This is easier with two people but can be done by a single person without too much difficulty. Always remember to replace and hydrate your compost before using the toilet again.
As for where to dispose of your waste, you can dump the liquid bin into another toilet with plumbing when one is accessible, into urine bags, or in nature, at the base of older trees if diluted. Just make sure you’re not accidentally on private property, or you might be in for an uncomfortable confrontation. The solid waste can be emptied into a compost bin, buried outside, or put into biodegradable bags and thrown into dumpsters. Your solution will depend on whether or not you’re in a really remote location, but thankfully you have a long time between solid bin dumps to figure out a plan.
If you’re emptying both bins, the process altogether takes less than 30 minutes. This isn’t bad at all, considering it’ll take about 60-80 uses before the solid bin needs to be dumped at all.
Can You Install It Yourself?
Yes! You don’t need a plumber or any other professional to install Nature’s Head. The toilet comes with the installation materials and instructions, which are thankfully pretty easy to follow.
The first step is actually finding a place to put the toilet. Be sure to leave some space behind and to one side of the toilet to leave room for the solid bin and the aforementioned handle. Once you’ve brought the toilet over to ensure that it fits and can be used comfortably, bolt it to the floor. This may not be an option for everyone, but we recommend it, especially if you’re driving that toilet around on a daily basis.
Now that the toilet is bolted down, find a ventilation route for the vent hose. The hose, which comes with the toilet, helps oxygen get into the compost bin, which is essential to breaking down the waste. Many people have some concerns that the hose will let some odours escape, but this isn’t an issue. The compost definitely does its job.
The toilet also comes with a fan, which requires a small amount of electricity but isn’t totally necessary. The final step is to add in and hydrate your compost, whether that be coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss.
There you have it! Your new toilet is ready to be used after a relatively short and straightforward installation.
Natures Head Composting Toilet Dimensions & Weight
The Nature’s Head Composting Toilet measures out at 19 inches wide, by 19 inches depth, by 20 inches high and weights only 28 pounds when empty.
- Width: 19″
- Depth: 19″
- Height: 20″ to seat, 21″ total
- Weight: 28lbs
Here are some of our favourite Nature’s Head features, and why we would recommend it to the majority of people who like to live on the road or off the grid:
- Eco-Friendly and Non-Toxic
Those concerned about their environmental impact will love the design of this eco-friendly, non-toxic toilet. It doesn’t create any sewage, and it uses absolutely zero chemicals. The contents are also safe to dump outside, as urine is actually beneficial for some vegetation like mature trees. Nature’s Head also turns human waste into compost, which can be emptied in a compost pile or buried with no ill effects on the environment.
- No More Black Tank
A major benefit of this toilet for RV users is that it frees up the black tank. This is somewhat of a positive for composting toilets in general, but imagine not having to deal with the clogging, chemicals, back-flushing, or the other unfortunate maintenance responsibilities that come with black tanks?
Using the Nature’s Head toilet also gives you the option to repurpose your black tank as an additional gray tank, giving you more time and freedom out on the open road.
- Doesn’t Use Water
This toilet doesn’t use any water, other than a very small amount used to hydrate the compost. That means your reserve of freshwater will last much longer. This is highly beneficial for those who like to spend a long amount of time on the road, in nature, and away from civilisation.
- Feels Like a Real Toilet
Though everything grinding, mixing, dumping, and replacing the compost is relatively new for most users, Nature’s Head feels like a regular toilet when you’re using it. It doesn’t feel like an outhouse or like you’re doing something unusual, uncomfortable, or unsanitary. It’s designed to look and feel, as much as possible, like a toilet that uses plumbing and/or electricity.
- Great Toilet Seat
The toilet seat is a big reason why Nature’s Head feels like the average home toilet. Over time, the moulded seat changes shape, comfortably mimicking the bottom shape of its user(s). The seat is also full-size, like that you’d find on a home toilet, rather than the little ones that some compostable or chemical travel toilets make us put up with. The height and durability of the seat make it accessible to people of nearly all heights and weights, no squatting or climbing required.
- Easy to Clean
The smooth sides and interior are easy to wipe down with hot and soapy water, which is critical considering the toilet can be cleaned with a couple of flushes. The toilet seat section detaches, so the interior is always accessible when you need to give it a quick clean.
- Highly Portable
At just 28 pounds and 20 inches tall, Nature’s Head can be used, cleaned, transported, and dumped by almost anyone. This is essential for solo travellers in particular who need a product that can be realistically managed by one person. You don’t need an outstanding athlete to install, move, or dump Nature’s Head, making it accessible to a much wider audience than the heavier and more complex toilet alternatives.
Nature’s Head does come with a few drawbacks, all of which you should be aware of before deciding to purchase one. Here are some of our least favourite features of this product:
- Fills Up With Toilet Paper
Though this isn’t a problem for the waste bin, the liquid bin tends to fill up faster than it should just from toilet paper. Some users have opted to keep their used number one paper in a sealed bag by the toilet. However, simply using single-ply paper will help the issue quite a bit, as it breaks down much faster than other rolls.
- Compost Might Get Mouldy
There have been reports of people dealing with some small amounts of mould in their waste bin. This can be cleaned manually without too much difficulty, but of course, we’d all rather avoid being in that situation in the first place. Thankfully there are a few preventative measures you can take. First, use coconut coir as your compost, as it tends to attract less mould and insects than moss. You should also be conscious not to over-hydrate your compost. Aim for the compost to be damp rather than wet, and use distilled water to avoid attracting any unwanted fungi.
- Liquid Bin Fills Fast
The liquid bin fills up quite fast, especially when compared to the waste bin. Though the waste bin only needs to be dumped and changed about once a month, the liquid bin has to be emptied approximately every five days. The actual process of emptying the liquid bin is relatively simple, so this wasn’t too much of an inconvenience, but it’s worth noting the stark difference between the two bins.
- Should Be Cleaned Regularly
A waterless toilet that doesn’t flush is naturally going to have to be cleaned once every week or so, depending on how many people are using it. Though the trap door is large enough for waste to go through without much trouble, there are the occasional skid marks that come with most toilets. Unfortunately, this can also be inconvenient for those who menstruate, as there’s no water to wash everything down into the liquid bin. The toilet itself is thankfully quite easy to clean, but this is definitely worth taking note of.
Where You Can Use Nature’s Head
Due to its compact, odourless, and waterless design, Nature’s Head can be used as a bathroom solution in a wide variety of locations. This includes:
- Tiny houses
- Off-grid homes
- Pool areas
Though some may want Nature’s Head as their one and only toilet when they’re on the road, away from civilisation, or on a boat, it’s also great to have as an emergency back up. If your power goes out and you lose your electricity or plumbing, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you have a reliable and effective solution for you and your family.
Why Nature’s Head Is Perfect for You
We’re not saying this is a flawless product that will accommodate everybody. However, its impressive shape, design, and function may be perfectly suited to your lifestyle. Here are a few indicators that Nature’s Head is right for you:
- You’re an Adventurer: If you enjoy spending a lot of time camping and hiking in deserts, forests, or any other remote area, Nature’s Head is a real lifesaver. You don’t have to worry about hooking up to sewer hoses or using up electricity, giving you more time to spend out in the wild.
- You Want to Save Resources: Having a plumbing and/or electrical hook up installed for your van, cottage, boat, or home can be costly. Opting instead for Nature’s Head will save you money and preserve your freshwater and electricity reserves.
- You Like Being Prepared: As mentioned before, Nature’s Head is a great piece of survival gear. It feels amazing knowing that you don’t need modern electricity or plumbing solutions to get by.
Why Nature’s Head Is Wrong for You
Though Nature’s Head is a high-quality, convenient, and lasting solution for those living in vans and tiny houses, it may not be a wise investment for everyone. This depends largely on your lifestyle and preferences, but here are a few indicators that this toilet may not be right for you:
- You Prefer RV Parks: If you spend most of your time in your RV at parks with a full sewer hose hookup, you’re probably not in dire need of a composting toilet.
- You Won’t Maintain It: Though maintaining a composting toilet is far easier than dealing with a black tank, it may not be for everyone. If you know that you won’t or can’t commit to emptying the bins or replacing and hydrating the compost, then you may experience the aforementioned mold and odor. It’s totally okay if you’re not up to taking care of this kind of toilet, but it’s important to be honest with yourself about it before making a purchase.
- You’re Squeamish: Nature’s Head is not gross to use or maintain, especially when compared to other options on the market. There’s no odor, and it has a clean and comfortable exterior. However, if you find yourself feeling queasy at the very idea of having to empty this type of toilet, you may want to look into some more chemical or plumbing-based alternatives.
- You Have a Big Family: If your RV or cabin is home to a family of five, this probably isn’t the toilet for you. The reason for this is largely the liquid tank. It fills relatively quickly for solo travellers and couples, so a family of five will be emptying it daily or every other day if you don’t come up with a creative way around it.
So, is the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet a great product and a worthwhile investment? Absolutely. The positives far outweigh the negatives, in our opinion. As far as bathroom solutions that don’t require electricity or plumbing, Nature’s Head is top of the line. It’s convenient, well-designed, and highly effective at what it’s meant to do.
The simplicity of turning a crank to render your waste totally odour-free is pretty ingenious, making it a step above the majority of its competitors. The actual build of the toilet is also very sturdy and durable, which means you’re bound to get your money out of it for many years to come.
How does it stack up to other compostable toilets on the market? Nature’s Head has other products beat in essentially every category that matters, including both portability and having a straightforward, user-friendly design.
Whether or not Nature’s Head is right for you will depend on your lifestyle and how much you think you’d actually use it. However, if you’re a fan of being out on the boat or in nature and not having to leave every time you need to do your business, Nature’s Head offers a long-lasting, high-quality, eco-friendly solution.
If you do decide to purchase your very own Nature’s Head, these bonus tips will help you get the most out of it. We’ve collected these solutions from our own experience as well as what others have reported in their reviews, so they’re bound to come in handy!
- Buy a second sealable liquid bottle to give yourself more time between liquid dumps. Trust us, you’ll be glad to have it late at night when you realise your liquid bin is already full.
- Research where to find compost bins on your road trip ahead of time for solid bin dumps. This is especially important if you’ll be without the internet.
- Use a cleansing liquid like vinegar or eco-friendly soap for the liquid bin. Putting a few drops down the holes and into the bin will help keep that urine smell at bay for when it’s time to empty it. This is essential if you plan on setting a bottle aside to be emptied at a later date.