What are dry toilets and how do they work?

If you’re diving into the world of composting toilets, you’ve no doubt heard or read of a lot of different terms for these types of toilets. Composting toilets, off-grid toilets, dry toilets, etc. If you’re wondering what the difference between all these names is, we give you a rundown of what a dry toilet is, how it works and where you can get your hands on one. 

What is a dry toilet?

A dry toilet is essentially a type of toilet that uses no water to deal with human waste. Unlike ‘traditional toilets’ that use thousands of litres of water every year to move waste through a series of pipes to eventually end up in a waste treatment plant (which then uses more water and chemicals to treat the waste), composting toilets use no water to turn human waste (both numbers 1’s and 2’s) into a usable by-product that’s very similar to topsoil. 

Composting toilets are able to break down the waste through a couple of different composting processes. 

First there is the mesophilic phase, which sees Mesophiles (tiny organisms that thrive in moderate temperatures) raise the temperature of your composting pile and start to reproduce.
Next comes the thermophilic phase, where Thermophiles start breaking down much of the human waste that’s added to your pile. 

Next is the cooling phase. Now that your composting pile isn’t so hot, bacteria, actinobacteria, fungi and moulds really go to town on the composting pile to break down all the elements the Mesophiles and Thermophiles weren’t able to decompose. 

The final stage in a dry toilet pile’s life cycle is the curing phase. This is where any leftover nasties that can be found in the pile are killed off and the pile matures into a top-soil like humus. 

Throughout this process, there is no requirement for any additional water to be added to a composting toilet – in fact, we use exhaust fans (often run by solar power) to extract additional moisture from the pile added by urine. 

Aren’t all composting toilets dry toilets?

Technically, no. There are some composting toilets that use a small amount of water to move waste. These types of composting toilets typically have the pedestal (the part where you sit) and the chamber (the part where the waste goes) in two different locations that have considerable space between them. 

The water is used to move waste along piping and into the composting chamber. Typically these types of toilets are only installed when your chamber and the toilet pedestal are in two different locations. 

Most homes will be able to install a true ‘dry toilet’ as they will be using a self contained composting toilet or a split system composting toilet. 

If a dry toilet uses no water, what happens to all the liquid from urine? 

One thing you definitely want to avoid when installing a composting toilet is having your pile too wet. If your composting pile has too much moisture in it, this can kill off all the good bacteria, fungi and moulds in your pile that are doing all the hard work of breaking down waste into compost. 

Dry toilets come with an exhaust fan that can be plugged into mains power, or hooked up to a solar panel kit that helps to reduce the liquid content of the pile by evaporation. 

So dry toilets actually use no water?

Yes, that’s correct. A dry toilet, or composting toilet, when set up correctly does not require any water to be used, other than to perhaps wash your hands. This can save up to 36,000 litres of water for an average family every single year and removes any type of reliance on councils to remove and treat your waste. 

Where can I buy dry toilets?

Our website has a wide range of dry toilets available for sale. If you have a small home or live on a block where there’s no under floor space, it would be worth looking into a self contained composting toilet. If you’ve got space under your home, you may want to consider a split system dry toilet

If you have any additional questions about dry toilets, composting toilets, microflush toilets or anything composting toilet related, please feel free to contact us today on 1300 138 182.