How to Choose a Composting Toilet


An important part of green living, composting toilets (also called biological toilets) allow you to safely and efficiently convert human waste into a soil amendment. Once you've made the decision to install a composting toilet, you'll need to select one that adequately suits your needs or your entire experience can quickly become a headache. Evaluating your personal goals and requirements in terms of utility usage, sizing, and time and financial investment will help you choose the composting toilet unit that is the best match for you.

Step 1

Determine your goals with utility and water usage. According to, using a composting toilet can reduce your water usage anywhere from 20 to 50 percent. Certain composting toilet units and styles will use more water and electricity than others. For instance, according to, self-contained composting toilets don't require any water usage, whereas some central composting toilet styles flush water in a fashion similar to a traditional toilet.

Step 2

Figure out what size composting toilet you will need. Base your sizing requirements on the number of people using the toilet and how frequently it will be in use. For instance, if you're getting a composting toilet for your hunting cabin, which your family of four uses for just two weeks each year, you won't need as big a storage area for the composting materials as you would if you were installing a composting toilet in your family's home. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), composting toilets range in size from small, self-contained units to larger units that need a basement for installation. A self-contained unit typically has a smaller holding tank that is directly attached to the toilet seat and waste receptacle; this style is usually best for smaller families or less frequent usage.

Step 3

Consider the location where you will be placing the composting toilet. Certain types of composting toilets require minimal electricity to operate, whereas others don't require electricity at all. If you're installing a composting toilet in an area that will not have electricity, then you'll want to keep that in mind when choosing your composting toilet.

Step 4

Determine how much time and money you wish to put into working with your composting toilet. Some composting toilets may come with a lower initial price tag but require more regular maintenance than more expensive composting toilets. If you plan to maintain your composting toilet yourself, consider the amount of time each type of composting unit requires. According to the EPA, you'll need to remove the composted waste as frequently as every three months or as infrequently as every two years, depending upon the size and type of composting toilet you choose.

Step 5

Compare models based on your requirements and choose the composting toilet that meets all these requirements and fits into your budget. If possible, talk with people who own the different units that you're interested in purchasing so you can ask questions without feeling pressured by a salesman. You may even be able to see different models in use, which will further help you to select the composting toilet that will work best for you.


  • US Environmental Protection Agency
Keywords: composting toilet, choosing a composting toilet, composting

About this Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.