Nature’s Head Composting Toilet Review – Everything You Need to Know
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Composting toilets offer a practical alternative to traditional flushing toilets. They use little to no water and do not require a sewage hookup or connection to a septic tank. This is because they rely on the natural process of decomposition to eliminate waste and unpleasant odors.
Given that they can be installed and used anywhere, composting toilets are an ideal waste management solution for anyone that lives off-grid, on a boat, in an RV, travels by camper van, or has any other living arrangement where a traditional flushing toilet would not be an option.
How Can We Help?
To help you learn more about your options, we are offering an in-depth review of one of the leading self-contained composting toilet manufacturers – Nature’s Head. We will start by examining the company’s history, as well as its current reputation. From there, we will take a close look at their highly popular composting toilet. More importantly, we will decide whether or not a Nature’s Head composting toilet is worth your hard-earned money!
The Nature’s Head Brand
Nature’s Head was originally founded in 2006 by two long-time sailors that wanted to create a more user-friendly alternative to a traditional marine composting toilet. The company continues to operate out of its original headquarters in Van Buren, Ohio, but they have recently added a second location in Saraland, Alabama.
While the company continues to operate domestically, they proudly sell their popular composting toilets around the world, including in Canada, Europe, Australia, and beyond. Not only do they operate primarily out of Ohio, but all of the components for their composting toilets are also manufactured and assembled in Ohio and Pennsylvania, so they are a true American-made company.
The Nature’s Head Story:
The two friends and sailing enthusiasts that founded Nature’s Head originally sought to revolutionize marine composting toilets, as they believed the existing options were bulky, difficult to install, and often produced unpleasant odors.
While their first composting toilet was designed to withstand harsh marine environments, it has since proven to be incredibly popular for a much wider variety of applications. Since it is a self-contained unit that can operate in any environment that lacks plumbing and electricity, it works just as well on land as it does on the water.
The original version of their composting toilet was a near-immediate success; however, they have improved upon that design with various modifications and enhancements, including a unique spider-handled agitator, which helps increase the speed of decomposition, without requiring an electrical hookup.
Despite the fact that they started out as a small, independently-owned company, Nature’s Head has gone on to sell tens of thousands of units to customers all around the world. Today, their unique composting toilet is incredibly popular with owners of off-grid homes, tiny houses, remote cabins, boats of all descriptions, camper vans, RVs, workshops, barns, yurts, survival shelters, and more. In fact, they have even sold their composting toilets to the United States Military, so it is even trusted for military applications!
Review of Nature’s Head Composting Toilets
Now that you know a little bit more about the Nature’s Head brand, we can start to review their products, primarily their incredibly popular composting toilet.
Whenever you are considering a new composting toilet, there are several factors that you should always take into consideration. During our review process, we considered how well the Nature’s Head composting toilet performed in each of these categories. Below, you will see the results of our analysis:
Ease of Installation:
One of the things we liked the most about the composting toilet offered by Nature’s Head is how easy it is to install. The toilet simply attaches to the floor with two basic brackets. As long as you have a flat surface, you can position the toilet in minutes.
Nature’s Head also ships their toilets with everything you need for installation, so you will not need to worry about purchasing any additional components.
From there, you simply need to run one ventilation hose outside. If you opt for one of the versions with the electric exhaust fan, you will need a 12V power hook-up; however, the toilet is capable of running completely powerless.
If you do not have access to electricity, you will probably have to do without the fan. With that being said, the fan has such a low power requirement that you could easily run it using a small solar power system, or by connecting it to a basic solar generator, like the affordable EcoFlow RIVER Portable Power Station.
Nature’s Head packages their composting toilets with straightforward installation instructions, so there is no need to hire a contractor for professional installation. In fact, the easy installation was one of the primary goals when the Nature’s Head founders had when they started the company. In this regard, they clearly succeeded. Many of the other composting toilets we have come across are difficult to install and usually require hours of frustrating work.
Ease of Use:
Not only are the Nature’s Head composting toilets easy to install, but they are also easy to maintain. Unlike a basic outhouse or portable toilet, which often need to be emptied on a near-daily basis, the Nature’s Head composting toilets are designed to sit untouched for a significant period of time.
This feature was intentional, as the toilets were originally designed for marine applications, which meant they would have to be capable of sitting untouched for weeks at a time.
When it does come time to empty the toilet, you simply flip open two latches on either side of the containment compartment. From there, you cap the lid on the liquid container and lift it out of its compartment.
To empty the main tank, you unhook the 12V power cable and the vent hose. From there, you slide the upper section off of its hinge and undo two thumbscrews on the base of the toilet. The main tank is then ready for emptying. Since it does not contain any liquids, you will not have to worry about the same unpleasant odors you would get with a traditional waterless toilet.
Simply flip the contents of the tank into a standard, eco-friendly kitchen bag, and you are done. You do not even have to clean the tank after emptying it, as leftover matter actually helps to kickstart the composting process all over again.
As is the case with any self-contained, non-flushing toilet, odor management is one of the most important features you will want to pay attention to. After all, who wants to deal with a smelly toilet, especially if they are in a small space, like an off-grid tiny home, RV, boat, or cabin?
Fortunately, the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet actually does an incredible job of trapping waste so it can be broken down. Not only does it create an effective seal that acts as a barrier between the odors and your living space, it actually separates solid waste from liquid waste, which means you will not smell any sort of unpleasant odor!
While it may be difficult to believe, the only odors we could detect were a mild scent that we would describe as earthy. The toilet’s ability to manage odors is even better if you are able to run the built-in fan, as it pulls air from inside the solid tank and forces it outside of your living space. Given that the fan only draws 0.1A or 12 watts, it is fairly easy to meet its power requirements with a very basic solar setup.
Without a doubt, the lack of any sort of unpleasant odor was the feature that most impressed us about this composting toilet. The odor control is so effective that you could easily install it inside of your living space, rather than in a separate shed or outhouse. Again, the effectiveness of the toilet’s odor management is not an accident. Since the toilet was originally designed for marine applications, such as the interior of a cramped sailboat, preventing the release of unpleasant odors was a primary design feature.
A Nature’s Head composting toilet will end up running just under $1,000, which is a very fair price considering the overall quality. For comparison, we typically see self-contained composting toilets priced between $1,500 and $3,000. Considering the fact that Nature’s Head includes everything you need and costs less than the average price, they certainly qualify as a budget-friendly option.
Not only can you purchase a Nature’s Head composting toilet at an affordable price, but they are also very economical to operate. This is because they are designed to work without any added chemicals.
Instead of expensive chemicals, you simply need to add a small volume of peat moss, as this helps break the waste down and even helps to absorb some of the moisture and odors. Nature’s Head claims that you can run one of their composting toilets off of a single bale of low-cost peat moss for years at a time. Given that you can usually pick up a bale at a garden center for less than $10, this is a very minimal expense.
Pros and Cons of the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
Now that we have examined some of the toilet’s main features, we can take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks that it offers.
- Low Price and Minimal Operating Costs – As we mentioned above, this is a very reasonably priced composting toilet. Typically, we would assume that a composting toilet priced near $1,000 would be made to a poor standard, but the overall quality of the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is outstanding. The fact that it is priced this low and made in the USA is also impressive.
As an added bonus, you will not have to purchase chemical composting agents, as the toilet takes care of that for you. Once you have purchased and installed the toilet, you will simply have to purchase some peat moss. The toilet also uses very little, so one low-cost bale should last you for a long time.
If you are limited on space, you can also use a compressed and dehydrated coir pith, as it will expand when it is placed in the reservoir. A block of coco coir pith is also very affordable, as you can see by checking the price on Amazon.
- Lack of Odor – Given that the toilet automatically separates liquid and solid waste, the odor is extremely minimal. The slight scent you can detect does not smell at all of the human waste. If you can smell anything, it will be a slightly earthy or soil-like scent, which you will only be able to detect if you are standing directly beside the toilet with the lid open.
The odor control the Nature’s Head composting toilet offers is a great feature, but it is a particular highlight for anyone that plans on installing it in a tight, enclosed space, such as an RV, camper van, tiny house, cabin, or boat. Given the fact that many off-grid dwellings are fairly small, this is a really important feature.
- Easy to Install and Use – As we described above, the installation process is extremely straightforward. Even if you just have basic DIY skills, you should not have any problem installing the Nature’s Head composting toilet.
Maintenance is also a breeze, as emptying the two tanks only takes a few minutes. Best of all, emptying the tanks is not really an unpleasant experience. Some self-contained toilets can be pretty gross, but the fact that Nature’s Head has an effective liquid separation system means it does not smell too bad, even when you are emptying the tanks. You also do not even have to clean the tanks after they are emptied!
- Functionality – Using the Nature’s Head toilet is just like using a typical flushing toilet. In fact, it even looks just like a normal toilet, so there is no adjustment phase. If you are a van life or RV enthusiast, you can easily conceal the toilet, as it is also fairly small.
As we just discussed, it is also extremely easy to maintain. If two people are using the toilet, you can usually go about two weeks before needing to empty it, which is really good compared to a typical composting toilet, which will need to be emptied every three or four days!
- Made in the USA – The fact that Nature’s Head manufactures and assembles all of their composting toilets right here in the United States really impresses us. Given how many composting toilet brands manufacture their products off-shore, it is a feature of the Nature’s Head brand that really stands out.
Five-Year Warranty – Nature’s Head also backs all of their composting toilets with an industry-leading 5-year warranty. This speaks to the overall quality of their products!
Only Available in Ceramic White – The lack of color options is really the only fault we could find with the Nature’s Head composting toilet. While some brands offer their toilets in a variety of colors, Nature’s Head sticks to a basic ceramic white color.
Our Overall Impression of Nature’s Head Composting Toilets
We really cannot say enough about the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. The fact that the design has remained relatively untouched since it was first introduced is a testament to its effectiveness.
It works extremely well, is incredibly easy to maintain, produces next to zero noticeable odors, can be installed in less than an hour, and is available at a very affordable price. Overall, it really has everything you could ever want out of a composting toilet.
No matter what sort of off-grid living arrangement you have, a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet offers an ideal waste management solution.