How To Pee And Poo On A Sailboat? Our Experience With The Composting Toilet From Nature’s Head

Their first toilet or head (the marine term for toilet) was designed in 2006 by two long time sailors who sought to create a more user friendly version than anything else on the market. While they designed their product to withstand the harsh marine environment, it can be used anywhere you need a toilet, especially anywhere that plumbing or electricity is difficult or non-existent.


Since that time, the toilet has undergone some modifications and enhancements, including the spider handle for the agitator which was introduced in 2011.

The very first Nature’s Head Composting Toilet was sold in 2007. The number of units sold now measures in the tens of thousands — to owners of homes, tiny homes, cabins, boats, campers, RV’s, workshops, barns, yurts, survival shelters, as well as to the US Military.


I’ve been receiving tons of questions lately like ‘How do you poop or pee in your sailboat?’ ‘Do you dump them into the water?’ ‘What is that toilet? How does it work?’ ‘How do you dispose all of those junk?’ ‘Is it smelly?’ etcetera. I just love how curious our readers are! Haha. Thank you for those wonderful questions (in a Ms. Universe tone), I’ll be answering all of them in this post.

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1) ‘How do you poop or pee in your sailboat?’ Do you dump them into the water?’

We pee and poop using a Composting Toilet from Nature's Head.  And no, we don’t dump them into the water. It’s illegal! No thanks, we don’t want to go to jail or pay a fine for such a small thing.

2) What is this Composting Toilet? How does it work?’

A composting toilet, aka a Dry Toilet is a self-contained, urine diverting and waterless toilet. It works in a way that it separates the poop and the pee (which is the really stinky part) by using something like a trap door. (It needs cooperation though. You have to turn the knob if you’re going to poop or pee. It’s not a robot and there’s no way it’s going to separate those junk on its own).

When these two things are separated, the poop (could be mixed with coco coir or bacteria packet) could be turned into a compost and dumped in the soil which turns into an instant artificial plant fertilizer (Emphasis on the word artificial. It’s not recommended to be used on edible plants). The pee on the other hand could be diluted or it goes straight to the sewage.

3) ‘How do you dispose all of those junk?’

We usually have a compost dumping schedule, or sometimes we just do it when we feel like it. The schedule really depends on whether one of us has diarrhea haha. But if all things go well, we dump the liquid tank every 3 days and the solid tank every 2-3 weeks.

4) ‘Is it smelly?’

Not at all. Unless you splatter your pee all over the place! Since the pee and the poop are separated, it doesn’t leave the stinky air that you usually get when you do your business. Plus, there’s a fan which is connected to a tube outside which guarantees that it won’t stink. If used correctly, it smells ‘soil-like’-- the smell when the rain touches the earth.

5) ‘How do you clean it?’

We just spray water & vinegar all over and wipe it with tissue. If you’re really grossed out with this, go ahead and spray it with lany other cleaning aid :p However, bleach, ammonia, and other commercial cleaning compounds should never be added to your composting head as they will interfere with the composting process and may lead to unpleasant odors. These cleaners may be used to clean the exterior surfaces.

6) ‘Can I dump tissue paper in toilet?’

Yes, with the solids. Marine/RV toilet paper is recommended as they compost the quickest.

7) ‘Can I dump tampons, sanitary napkins, wet wipes, or diapers with the solids?

Oh please don’t. Many brands of these items are made from a mix of rayon and non-organic cotton, and are commonly chlorine-bleached. These will not decompose.

8) ‘Can I just dump the waste anywhere?’

No way! You can dump them in permissible areas where they have composting piles (which means it’s illegal to dump in some places). Know the law wherever you may be as it always varies.

If you’re burying it in the ground (assuming it’s allowed), dig up to not more than 6 inches-- this way, the bacteria could properly break down this waste. It doesn’t live any deeper than that.  Make sure that your ‘cathole’ is at least 200 feet away (or around 70 adult paces) away from water, trails and campsites.

9) ‘Can I just dump the waste in the trash bin?’

Yes. Put them in a composting plastic and they would just continue composting.

10) ‘What if I have menstruation?’

Heavy menstruation is no biggie! This composting toilet can handle it. (Although it is suggested to add more composting medium)

11) ‘What composting medium can I use and where can I buy it?’

Sphagnum Peat Moss (Do not use Miracle Gro Peat Moss!) or Coco Coir, although the use of Coco Coir is more sustainable. It is available on Amazon or your nearest plant stores.

12) ‘What if I need to vomit or I have diarrhea?’

No problem. Vomiting and diarrhea, if not persistent, are unlikely to affect the head function. If increased wetness of the compost results, the situation may be corrected with the addition of a small amount of dry compost medium.

13) ‘How many gallons of urine can it store?’

The liquid waste vessel will contain approximately 2.2 gallons of urine. The translucent material of the container allows easy visualization of the liquid level to prevent urine spilling. (But don’t wait for it to be full before disposing of it. As you all know, urine can be really smelly)

14) ‘Does it work in a cold environment?’

Composting works from 55 degrees and warmer. The warmer it is, the faster it composts. When the temperature drops to freezing, the compost will be dormant until heat is introduced into the area.

15) ‘How do I clean the build-up on the liquid tank?’

Empty the bottle. Add 1/4 cup of Lemishine Detergent Booster per gallon to the bottle and let it sit for 24 hours. Another suggestion is to rinse the bottle, add vinegar and some pea gravel. Shake well and the buildup will break loose.

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While Nature Head sent us this product for review, we deliberately chose this Composting Toilet among all others who are trying to lure us with freebies. We only have one boat and we need only the best one.

1) It is lightweight, odorless and compact- It thereby fits perfectly on our sailboat. It will also definitely fit in your home, cabin, tiny house, RV, workshop, and survival application.

2) It is sturdy and built to last- This eco-friendly toilet with its stainless steel hardware, robust construction, and user-friendliness has been designed to withstand the harshest of conditions.

3) It’s very easy to install- If Jonathan wasn’t there, I would really install it myself. That’s how easy it is. And if you’re not convinced, go check out this video on how Jonathan installed our Nature Head Composting Toilet.

4) It’s eco-friendly- This is so much better than flushing out 90% of fresh water in the regular toilet and using a lot of chemicals to treat it. Right??

5) It saves us tons of water- FYI, 90% of fresh water gets flushed into the toilet every time we use it. That’s just too much water wasted. And now that we’re living in a sailboat, we can’t afford to waste any. So this is dry toilet is really a lifesaver!

6) It doesn’t consume much electricity- It only consumes 1.7amps in 24hrs--- that’s more or less $0.04 per month


Note: We were provided with this product for review, however, all views and opinions are my own! =)

SAILINGKach HoweComment