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Frequently Asked Questions

1.     What is a composting toilet?

2.     Why should I choose a composting toilet?

3.     How long does it take to fill one wheelie bin?

4.     What should I do with the compost in the wheelie bin?

5.     How long does it take before I can use the compost?

6.     Will a Free Range composting toilet smell?

7.     What should I do with the urine I collect?

8.     Does anything need to be added to the toilet?

9.     How is the toilet delivered?

10.  What do I need for assembly?

11.  Do the toilets require any foundations?

12.  Do the toilet buildings come supplied with a light?

13.  Can a sink be plumbed in?

14.  What are the compost toilets made from?

15.  Do I need to get planning permission for a Free Range loo?

16.  What are the health and safety regulations surrounding composting toilets

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Q 1. What is a composting toilet?

A. A well-functioning compost toilet is a magical way of turning human wastes - humanure - into lovely, safe, useable compost. Composting toilets rely on organisms such as insects and worms, and micro-organisms like bacteria and fungi, to aerobically decompose and break down human wastes, producing a safe and fertile end product.

 

Q 2. Why should I choose a composting toilet?

A. Composting toilets are simple to use, environmentally friendly and produce lovely useable compost in a year’s time. They require no water or electricity to run and can therefore be sited almost anywhere.

 

Q 3. How long does it take to fill one wheelie bin?

A.  On average, using the composting toilet everyday, it takes one adult 150 days to fill up a bin. So a group of six people would fill a bin in about 25 days, and a group of 15 people would fill a bin in a bout two weeks. If the toilet is used only occasionally, it will take much longer to fill the bin.

 

Q 4. What should I do with the compost in the wheelie bin?

A. Once the composting process is complete, the compost you are left with is a safe, fertile product and should be used to fertilise your garden or allotment.

 

Q 5. How long does it take before I can use the compost?

A. Like fine wine, the longer you leave compost the better the product.

Left standing in a wheelie bin the composting process will take around a year to fully break down into useable compost. However it will break down much faster if it is emptied into a standard composting box, which allows the air to circulate and aerobic composting to happen more rapidly. Left in a composting box like this, the compost should break down and be usable in about six months. After this time, all the pathogens have been destroyed and the compost inside is safe to handle and ready to. (Human pathogens don’t like conditions outside the human body, so almost all will be dead after a few hours. Only one type of roundworm egg can survive a year-long decomposition period, but even though it is a tiny risk, we recommend using the compost on fruit trees and bushes, rather than the vegetable garden.)

 

Q 6. Will a Free Range composting toilet smell?

A. If the composting process is working well, there should be no unpleasant smells at all. We have never had any negative feedback about smelly toilets.

There are two key factors to avoiding smells: separating the urine from the poo; and adding the right amount of soak (e.g. sawdust) after each use. Diverting the urine away from the poo, either into a container so that it can be used later or into a soak away, prevents the compost in the wheelie bin from getting too wet and too rich in nitrogen.

The composting critters (worms, insects, bacteria, fungi) that break down humanure into compost need the right conditions in which to thrive: air, food and water, and a balanced diet of carbon and nitrogen. If there’s too much nitrogen, the critters can’t use it all and the excess is lost in the form of smelly ammonia gas. Adding a handful of carbon rich soak after each use helps to keep the right balance.

 

Q 7. What should I do with the urine I collect?

A. Urine has even more nutrients in it than poo and makes an excellent fertiliser on your garden or allotment. When the container you are diverting the urine into is full, dilute the urine 1:10 with water and use as a liquid fertiliser on your plants.

 

Q 8. Does anything need to be added to the toilet?

A. Yes, you should add a handful of soak (sawdust or other carbon rich material called) after each poo. As well as absorbing liquid, the soak also allows oxygen into the pile, so it can decompose aerobically, to produce nitrates, phosphates and sulphates – all very useful. Without a soak, the pile will decompose anaerobically and produce methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide – all smelly and not very useful. So you just need to keep a bucket of soak next to the loo and drop a handful into the toilet after each use.

You can also add a handful of worms at the bottom of your empty wheelie bin before you begin and again periodically as the bin fills up. Worms are nature’s best decomposers and they will help accelerate the composting process.

 

Q 9. How is the toilet delivered?

A. The smaller toilets (Bog Standard and Gypsy Caravan) are designed to fit onto standard UK pallets and are delivered by specialist couriers to all destinations in the UK. The cost of delivery is generally included in the price of the toilet. However, due to their size and weight, we deliver the disabled access toilets in person, and delivery costs vary depending on the distance we must travel.

 

Q 10. What do I need for assembly?

A. The toilets tend to come in three easy to assemble parts: base, toilet and roof (plus ramp for the disabled access toilets). All that is needed on your side is a cordless screwdriver and a few pairs of hands to help manoeuvre the toilet into position.

 

Q 11. Do the toilets require any foundations?

A. All the ready-made toilets are designed to be free standing and self-supporting, so should not need any foundations for stability. However, we would recommend laying down loose paving slabs to raise the wooden structure off the ground, to prolong the toilet’s life.

 

Q 12. Do the toilet buildings come supplied with a light?

A. Our toilets are designed to require no electricity, so they are not supplied with a light. However solar fairy lights are easy to install and work really well.

 

Q 13. Can a sink be plumbed in?

A. Yes, there is space for a sink to be plumbed in if you have running water nearby - we can supply one on request.

  

Q 14. What are the compost toilets made from?

A. All our composting toilets are made from locally sourced timber from sustainable managed woodlands, either larch, douglas fir or cedar.

 

Q 15. Do I need to get planning permission for a Free Range loo?

A. None of our customers has ever had any issues regarding planning permission and, as far as we are aware, our toilets fall within the size of structures that do not require planning permission. However, if you are unsure it is best to check with your local planning authority: www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning

  

Q 16. What are the health and safety regulations surrounding composting toilets?

A. The UK environment agencies are concerned with the possible contamination of waterways and the movement of potentially hazardous wastes. So if you are collecting and processing all the poo and wee yourself on site then there are no health and safety concerns with a Free Range composting toilet.

If your toilet is on publicly owned land, for instance on an allotment site, on school grounds or in a visitor centre, then you could check with your local environment agency what their guidelines are: www.environment-agency.gov.uk

There might also be health and safety implications if you are planning to install a Tree Bog or use a soak-away to deal with urine and you would need to be careful about the trees and plants you grow around the toilet to make sure that no leaching occurs. Please contact us for more details.

 

If there is a question that you have that has not been answered please send us an email us for an answer.


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