Author Topic: C-Head Composting Toilets  (Read 4100 times)

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Offline Fireboat52

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C-Head Composting Toilets
« on: December 02, 2011, 04:37:19 PM »
Hello all, I was invited to this forum by one of the members because of my experience with composting toilets. I am a 63 year old retired firefighter/paramedic that has lived aboard and cruised with my wife aboard our catamaran Lily Pad for five years and lived aboard another catamaran for five years prior to that. I am also a boatbuilder. We came ashore because of my health and our grandkids but plan to do some more cruising when my health improves. During our travels, I invented a unique composting toilet system that I now market under the name of "C-Head" and "Boondocks Johnny" (non-marine applications). My website is www.c-head.com. While my cruising experience has been coastal and island hopping rather than true blue water, I would be glad to add to any conversation with respect to my cruising experiences and I consider myself somewhat of an expert regarding composting toilets in general. There are a lot of questions and misinformation going around on the net regarding composting toilets and their future. I hope to be a valuable asset to the forum.

Sandy and Nancy Graves
S/v Lily Pad
« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 12:45:45 PM by Captain Smollett »

Offline CharlieJ

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Re: Composting Toilets
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2011, 06:16:08 PM »
Welcome aboardSandy and Nancy.

Coastal cruising is still cruising!! Blue water - one wave looks just like the last one. I'm a comfirmed coastal cruiser.

And it's great to have someone with real world experience in the composting head realm.
Charlie J
Sailing on S/V Tehani
Meridian 25

On Matagorda Bay
On the Redneck Riviera

Offline Oldrig

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Re: Composting Toilets
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2011, 12:28:01 PM »
Sandy and Nancy,

Thank you for joining this forum.

If you've looked at this thread, you'll see that somebody sent a link to your product, and there have been several comments on your new product.

First of all: Congratulations on coming up with a product and marketing it yourselves--this is a terrific example of entrepreneurship.

Second, a Question: Does your product require ventilation? I see that you have a link to a simple ventilation system, so I assume that venting is required.

Third, where is the air intake for the venting system? Since the C-head is sealed with gaskets, I presume there must be someplace for the air to enter the chamber and help dehydrate the solid wastes?

Best,

--Joe
"What a greate matter it is to saile a shyppe or goe to sea"
--Capt. John Smith, 1627

Offline s/v necessity

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Re: Composting Toilets
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2011, 09:48:01 PM »
Sandy and Nancy,
   I'm going to throw in a question here also.  What is different about your system that make the interval for emptying the solids so much shorter than your competitors? (if that is indeed the case)  I ask because I wonder if this is something that could be overcome by a custom installation.  Your system appears ideal for those of us who like to "customize". 

Offline Fireboat52

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Re: C-Head Composting Toilets
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 05:55:17 AM »
Hello again, Thanks for the welcome and thanks for the questions. I apologize for taking so long to respond but as you can imagine, I am busy building toilets.

First, with respect to ventilation, the head will need to be ventilated if it is being used on a daily basis. The housing is not air tight and the air intake is through the front sight window slot and around the churn handle hole. The C-Head most likely does not need to be vented if it is only being used for a few days at a time. I no longer gasket the seat but rather have a small "sealing lid" that covers the opening where the business is done. Lowering the seat lid holds the "sealing lid" in place.

I am still getting the hang of negotiation this site so please bear with me.

Sandy Graves
S/v Lily Pad

Offline Fireboat52

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Re: C-Head Composting Toilets
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 06:16:16 AM »
With respect to the question about the interval for emptying the toilet, it is important to understand why this is advantageous to the user. It is fair to say that people like to avoid coming into contact with their waste as much as possible so it would seem that the longer any unit can store the waste before it has to be "handled" is a plus. In fact, that is not necessarily so.

Sorry, but I need to get descriptive to explain. The C-Head holds about 10-15 uses (solid waste) before it needs to be emptied (or more correctly transferred to the disposable container in the case of a boat). This is because the churning mechanism does not "knead" the waste into the medium but rather tosses and rolls it into spheres that range in size from that of lemons to grapefruits. This minimizes the surface area of the waste and coats it with medium. This action does three positive things. It minimizes odor emissions, dehydrates the surface area quickly which retards fly development and forms the waste into a shape the lends itself to being easily and completely poured out of the container.

While emptying the collection container once a week (for a couple) may seem like a chore at first, it is so easy and cleanly done with the C-Head that it is really no bother at all. But the greatest advantage to emptying the collection container weekly is that it takes sewerflies, moth flies and house flies about 8-10 days to go from eggs to larva to flies and because the C-Head empties so completely, any eggs that may find their way into the medium are discarded before they can hatch.

Should an unlikely fly infestation began to develop, the collection container can be easily rinsed out or simply dropped overboard on a line and allowed to soad for a while before being reinstalled for use. Hope this is helpful.

Sandy Graves
S/v Lily Pad 

Offline s/v necessity

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Re: C-Head Composting Toilets
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2011, 09:09:38 AM »
This is the first I have heard of fly development being an issue with either the Natures Head or the Air Head.  Can anyone confirm this?

The C-Head sounds interesting, but it does not sound like it capitalizes on the composting process much at all.

How much of the 5 gallon bucket is available for storage/use on the the C-Head?  (is it an effective 2 gallons, or an effective 4 gallons?  I doubt you want to fill it all the way up...)

Does anyone know what the useful volume of the storage containers on the Natures Head and the Air heads happen to be?

Offline LooseMoose

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Re: C-Head Composting Toilets
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2011, 10:15:21 AM »
Just a quick note that our home built composting head that we have been happily using for goin on four years now gives us about six weeks on average before we have to dump it. Since we are using a five gallon bucket and that seems to be the same size everyone is using that should be a reasonable guide as to how long a couple should get using it every day in a live-aboard/cruising situation.

On the fly problem... Well it is not really a problem... But in the tropics flies do tend to set up shop if they can. We have put a bit of mosquito net into the vent line which helps but a couple of times we have had a fly issue. We now simply place a no-pest strip in the next to the bucket inside the toilet and hey presto no flies.

Bob

http://boatbits.blogspot.com/
http://fishingundersail.blogspot.com/
http://islandgourmand.blogspot.com/

Offline s/v necessity

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Re: C-Head Composting Toilets
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2011, 01:23:21 PM »
Bob,
   Thanks for the input, sounds like the C-Head simply churns different than the rest.  If It really creates perfect grapefruit sized balls of "compost", a miniture trebuchet could allow a person to defend his claimed swinging area...

Offline Fireboat52

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Re: C-Head Composting Toilets
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2011, 02:05:19 PM »
The C-Head is not just a toilet but a waste management system, not to doll it up too much. The toilet is a moldering toilet that will hold 10-15 uses before the waste must be transferred to a common five gallon bucket (called the "disposable bucket") where it continues to compost and molder until it is full and discarded or else moved to a composting system on land. The disposable bucket will take 5-6 transferes before it is full. That means it will normally take a couple 5-6 weeks to fill it up, giving the system a one month plus capacity using less space than a holding tank system or the current composting toilets.

If you use the other currently available composting toilet systems as they were designed, that is you purchase a second (or more likely a third) collection container so that the waste can continue to compost, and dispose of it only after it is completely composted, then you will be using more space than the C-Head system does by far. If you don't use the second collection container, then you are discarding waste that is not fully composted. In fact it is less than half composted and some of it is not composted at all, being only a day or two old. At the very least, this waste should be discarded in a sealed rigid container instead of a plastic bag.

The fly issue is definitely regional. Some areas have it and some don't. But flies lay their eggs in moist fermenting waste. If you dry the waste, it reduces the incidents of fly infestation where they occur. Toilets that compost fully need moisture to work. Moldering toilets that (while the material does compost, but at a slower pace) do not need moisture since they are placing the waste in a state of inactivity until it can be further composted or discarded. It make little since to compost waste that you are going to discard. It is safer and easier to dehydrate it.

As far as using the waste as a missle to defend you territory in an area rife with wind generators, my guess is that the poop would really hit the fan! What I am looking for is a true minimalist, who could dry the fecal geodes in the sun and use them as briquettes in his stove. Now that's hardcore!

Sandy Graves
S/v Lily Pad

Offline JWalker

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Re: C-Head Composting Toilets
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2011, 09:52:33 AM »
this thread is getting a little deep....

so once a containment bucket is full....how long for it to compost enough to be safe for overboard or flowerbed dumping?

we had fly problems in our homebrew compost toilet.

Offline Fireboat52

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Re: C-Head Composting Toilets
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2011, 05:37:36 PM »
The C-Head is not designed to compost waste 100%. Some composting takes place but it is more correctly called a "moldering" toilet. It is designed to store solid waste in an almost odorless state (a slight musty smell as opposed to the sewer smell associated with a holding tank) until it can be disposed of or transferred to a composting system ashore if one is available. If you are running offshore and are outside the three mile limit, you can simply and legally dump the waste overboard as if you were draining a holding tank. If you are uncomfortable with dumping offshore, then store it onboard until you can send it to the dump where it will be buried or burned. A couple can store three months waste in two 5-gallon buckets. This should give anyone plenty of time to find a place where they can safely dispose of the waste with the trash. Empty 5-gallon buckets awaiting use can be used for many purposes until they are needed and biodegradable 5-gallon buckets are available online.

If you are using the C-Head (or the Boondocks Johnny non-marine model) ashore at a homestead or cabin or the likes, you need to compost it further with an outdoor composting mound or some other composting system until it is completely composted, usually six months to a year. To be safe, you should never use human waste compost with consumable crops.

As a note, in Florida, you cannot use a "portable" toilet on a houseboat that is not navigable. Therefore you cannot use a C-Head on board a stationary houseboat, even though it might be nice to have a garden on board too. The C-Head is classified as a "portable" toilet.

Sandy Graves
S/v Lily Pad
www.c-head.com