Composting toilets in Summer - the do's and don'ts

In Australia, we can handle a lot of heat. Even though many tourists are sweltering, all true Aussies know it isn’t officially summer until thongs are a requirement to cross the road, the seat belt that’s been in the sun stings like an angry wasp and your ice cream melts faster than you can eat it. 

Coming into the summer months there are several different maintenance jobs that start to pop up around the house and if you own a composting toilet there are some things you will want to keep in mind when the weather heats up and the mercury starts to rise. 

Don’t let it get too dry

Composting – all composting, works on different methods of microbial activity breaking down the waste matter you add to the pile. Get the temperature or moisture to the wrong level and all of a sudden that combination of heat, microbes, bacteria, actinobacteria, fungi and moulds starts to be impaired and won’t work as effectively as it could, or worse still – it could kill off all the good elements of your pile.

Making sure you have enough moisture is essential to creating an environment where your waste is broken down properly. Even though most composting toilets are installed with a fan for evaporating excess liquid, some liquid is still needed to ensure the good bacteria and other microscopic beasties in your pile work to their full capability. So when it’s 35 degrees at 7am and it’s expected to get hotter still for days on end, how can you ensure your composting toilet is running in tip-top condition in these oven-like conditions?

Close the lid

This is a simple, yet often forgotten tip to keep your composting toilet running smoothly. Closing the lid after every use ensures you trap the heat and moisture in the pile and makes sure only the exhaust fan is used to help excess liquid escape. Keeping the lid open means liquid will evaporate at a faster pace and leave your pile getting dry before it should. This could potentially leave an environment that doesn’t sustain life well and kill off any good bacteria and microbes doing good work on your pile. 

What to do with your composting toilet when you go away on holidays

When it comes time to go away for holidays in the summer months there are a couple of things you should do with your composting toilet before locking the door, shutting off your phone and sitting back with a drink in your hand ready for take-off (or a 10 hour drive if that’s how you prefer to travel!). 

Add wood shavings before you leave
Before you leave the house and everyone has used the bathroom for the last time, it’s a good idea to put an extra sprinkle of wood shavings over your pile as this will act as a mulch to keep the moisture in whilst you’re away. You don’t need to put half a forest on there – just enough for a light covering to keep the moisture level in. 

Add some moisture to the pile when you get home
After you’ve been away on holidays it’s a good idea to add a little moisture to the pile once you’ve gotten back. Again, we don’t recommend draining half a pool or leaving the hose in there for hours, just a small watering can’s worth (or half a one if you’ve got a bigger watering can) along with a good squirt of our Nature Flush Enzymes Concentrate to give the pile a good kickstart and you should be good to go. 

Get a family member or friend to use your loo
We get it. It sounds a little weird, but chances are if you have a composting toilet some people are going to think you’re a little weird anyway so why let them think that when you can confirm it!!! If you’re going away and you’ve got a family member or friend that understands the benefits of composting toilets (they might even have one themselves) ask them to pop around every now and then to make sure everything is OK, water the plants, feed the chooks, make an extra-strong coffee, wait 15 minutes, grab a magazine and.... well, you get the idea. 

Change your fan speed
If you’ve got a variable transformer on your exhaust fan, it’s sometimes a good idea to turn your fan down a little when you go away on holidays. This will reduce the amount of evaporation that happens as there is less air being pulled through the system. 

Note: don’t turn your fan off altogether as this will have a negative effect on your compost – keep your fan running, even when you’re away on holiday. 

Curing is faster in summer

Another point worth mentioning is that curing your compost pile is faster in summer. The added heat in the ambient temperature of the environment helps your pile to cure faster – sometimes by weeks, even months. 

In winter we usually recommend a composting toilet pile cures for at least 5-6 months. If you had the same pile curing in summer, you would be able to use it after 3-4 months of curing. 

If you have any additional questions about composting toilets in summer and best use strategies, please feel free to contact us on 1300 138 182 and we’d be more than happy to answer any of your questions.