Frequently Asked Questions
There’s no ordering page – how do we purchase?
Sorry, we don’t sell online through this website because the Visa commission charges would increase the price by around $95.00 – and we want to keep the price as moderate as possible. Simply drop us an email using the Contact page and we’ll respond promptly with full information. Don’t forget to tell us where you live so that we can calculate freight costs and give you a confirmed purchase price. It’s also very helpful if you can tell us something about your end use – bus; boat; motorhome; tiny house; cabin; bach; container home; caravan etc.
When should I empty it?
It is best to allow the solids to decompose before emptying your toilet. The longer you wait before emptying your toilet, the nicer the job will be. Many boaters will leave the solid wastes in the toilet over the winter and empty it in the spring. That may not be possible for some applications, but you will find that even in as little as one week much of the solid wastes have begun to decompose, and just the paper products are visible. It is best if you do not leave the liquid wastes in the tank for extended periods. While everyone is different, some urine will smell bad if allowed to sit for extended periods.
Can I use it standing up?
Yes, although the recommended use is sitting down, especially when underway in a moving vehicle or vessel. This minimises ‘splatter’ and will be appreciated by the person who has to maintain the unit. A small sign saying ‘Men, all performances must be conducted sitting down please!’ will do the trick. This practice is quite normal when using marine toilets.
What are the dimensions and weight of the unit?
The dimensions are: 546mm tall, 486mm front to rear, and 330mm wide at the base. The toilet is 495mm wide at the seat. See the .pdf file or the installation section of this website for full information. The complete toilet weighs 12kgs in the carton. The base section weighs 4.2 kgs, so when it’s time to empty it you are only lifting approximately 8 kgs in total.
When do you empty the solids bin?
The time frame for this will depend on the number of people and the time period. Generally it would be 3-4 weeks for two people, based on once per person per day and assuming that you don’t load it up with excessive toilet tissue. Weekend use for two people could be two months or more. Your solids comprise approximately 75% water, so as the fan draws air through the toilet it removes the moisture, thus reducing the mass of the solids. So, just a couple of days of non-use extends the period of time as the level of the compost will not increase; if it does it will be minimal. The toilet is designed for 1 to 4 adults full time use, and ‘peak loading’ with large guest numbers will means that it needs to be emptied much sooner.
How do I prevent urine smell or staining in the front of the bowl?
A system that we have adopted is to pour a small amount of clean water (about 1/3rd of a cup) into the urine section of the bowl after each use. This rinses the urine down into the bottle, prevents stale urine, and inhibits staining. To keep the bowl and the pee bottle smelling fresh we suggest that you use a Bio-Enzymatic Urine Digester in the spray bottle provided and give it a spray every day. This is available on-line in 946ml and 3.78 litres from Pack Centre NZ Ltd in New Plymouth. This can be diluted about 10:1 (water 10: digester 1)
Is the Nature’s Head Toilet approved for Self Containment Certification ?
Yes. It has been accepted for Self Containment Certification under NZS 5465: 2001 (incl amendments 1&2) – Self Containment of Motor Caravans and Caravans. However, as the Standard requires you to be self contained for a minimum of three days you may need to make provision for extra containment of urine. With very careful management the 8 litre bottle may last two people for three days, based on an average of 1.3 litres produced per person per day. As some people produce more than others it is prudent to carry a spare plastic container and a funnel. We suggest that you use the following figures for guidance. For two persons an extra 5 litres; for three persons an extra 10 litres; for four persons an extra 15 litres; for five persons an extra 20 litres; for six persons an extra 20 litres;. The capacity of the solids bin is more than adequate for three days. It’s possible to divert the urine to a holding tank – see next question.
Is it OK to dispose of tampons into the composting bin?
No. Virtually all tampons are made from a mix of rayon and non-organic cotton and are commonly chlorine bleached. These will not decompose. They should be placed into a separate container in the bathroom for disposal as mentioned in the previous comment.
The agitator handle turns with difficulty. What do I do?
If the compost gets dry, the handle may not turn easily. Adding used coffee grounds results in added moisture and keeps the compost loose so that it mixes better.
Will freezing temperatures damage the toilet?
Other than emptying the urine bottle nothing needs to be done and it will not affect the toilet.
Does the toilet require any sort of pre-loading to process the solids?
Yes. It needs to be pre-charged with a high carbon based medium like coconut coir (called coco coir) or peat moss (which is mined from swamp aged sphagnum moss). We recommend using the BesGrow Coco Coir briquettes which are readily available from Bunnings Stores, or the ‘Hauraki Gold’ peat moss marketed by Yates and available from most good garden centres. The coco coir briquettes are highly compressed and need to be re-hydrated by soaking with 2 litres of water. One briquette will swell up and slightly more than fill a 9 litre bucket. The peat moss needs to be moistened by adding 2 litres of water to 6 litres of peat moss. Composting is achieved by aerobic bacteria and when the pile is regularly turned over the oxygen in the air introduced to the composting bin by the fan allows the bacteria to work efficiently. Mixing the faeces with the high carbon medium (coir or peat moss) breaks the faeces up and allows the bacteria to get to work. This is the reason that the Nature’s Head toilet doesn’t smell bad when working efficiently. If oxygen is excluded the anaerobic bacteria will thrive and produce an unpleasant smell.
Where do I empty it?
The proper place to empty the solids tank is in a composting bin where it can eventually be used to fertilise ornamental plants. Boaters may empty theirs overboard if they are the proper distance offshore. The pile can also be buried deep in soil as long as this is done well away from waterways. Always consider your environment. The liquid tank can be emptied into a toilet, dump station, or overboard if well offshore. The solids must NEVER be emptied into a dump station or you will block it up. If you are travelling, the solids should be double bagged for safety and sent to municipal landfill using a dumpster or wheelie bin. While this is not ideal, it’s the only practical solution. Certainly it’s no worse than the daily disposal to landfill of soiled disposable nappies, incontinence products, female sanitary pads, tampons and animal faeces. It is never acceptable to use a public rubbish bin in any town or city to dispose of human waste.
Why is the toilet seat moulded into the unit?
Because we designed this toilet for the “mobile” market, this became a safety issue. I have spoken with boaters who have had a toilet seat break off in rough conditions. I have heard of other boaters lifting the seat and sitting on the base of the toilet to avoid this problem. (That can’t be comfortable). While this isn’t as likely with an RV, it would not be out of the question.
The composting bin seems to be too dry?
This can happen when the toilet is only used occasionally and the fan is left running. Simply turn the handle and add water while the compost is being turned over. If the toilet isn’t going to be used for more than a week it’s acceptable to turn the fan off. If the toilet is going to be checked periodically, say as on a boat through the winter, just continue to turn it over as frequently as possible with the fan off – or empty the bin and refill it when you are using the toilet again.
How often should I empty the pee bottle?
It holds 8 litres maximum, so it’s suggested that at 6 litres would be a good time as it’s lighter and spillage is less of an issue. Remember, put the cap on before pulling it out. Usage shows that the average person will produce approximately 1.3 litres of urine per day. So, that would be 4 days for one person. Two people, 2 days. Storing urine for longer than this isn’t a good idea as it can smell strongly quite quickly in summer. We have found that if you add a dessertspoon (10ml) of Janola to the pee bottle after it has been emptied and rinsed will keep the nasty smell bacteria from getting established.
I seem to have fruit flies in the toilet – what do I do ?
From time to time, mainly in the warm weather, we get enquiries from users with gnats or fruit flies infesting the composting bin. This isn’t a pleasant situation, but of course these little flies love a nice cosy compost pile whether it be in the heap at the back of your section or in your Nature’s Head. The remedy for this is to introduce some Bti bacillus into your toilet. This will find it’s way into the gut of the larval stage of the gnats and kill them, quickly overcoming the infestation. The Bti is the active ingredient in a product used to control mosquitos and is called Mozzie Bits – marketed by Easy Trap. Simply add about a heaped tablespoon of the granules into the toilet and mix well in. Use a pyrethrum based spray within the toilet area and around the toilet itself to eliminate the flying insects. Within a day or so you should see the effect of the Bti granules. For the next week or so add a dessertspoonful of granules to the toilet as a top-up dose. Mozzie Bits are available online from Aquatic Plants in Otaki.
Can I divert the urine to a holding tank?
Yes, this is a very practical solution for a motorhome or bus and the toilet still meets the requirements of NZS 5465: 2001 (incl amendments 1&2) – Self Containment of Motor Caravans and Caravans. Simply explained, you remove the pee bottle from the holder and then the three screws which attach the holder to the front of the composting bin. A pipe can be attached to the tube extending down from the front of the bowl and led away down through the floor of the vehicle to a waste tank. This can go to your grey waste tank, which for SCC will then be regarded as a ‘black tank’, however the fittings can remain the same size as for the grey tank requirements. It’s essential that you fit a 32mm HepVo non-return valve in the pipe near the toilet end so that there can not be any back flow when braking etc. If you pipe the urine to your grey waste tank, then that tank must be of sufficient capacity to accomodate both your normal waste water in terms of The Standard, as well as the urine for three days for the number of persons that you are certificated for. Base this calculation on 1.3 litres of urine per person per day. We are able to provide photos of the various ways that the pipework for this option can be constructed.
I’m told that you have to see the compost when changing the bottle ?
False. This is a sales pitch used by a competitor to promote their toilet. As you are leaning over the top of the toilet lid, the front of the bowl section only needs to be lifted by about 150mm to enable the pee bottle to be removed, so there’s no need to look inside. Your head is actually well above the top of the toilet as you remove the bottle, preventing you from seeing in.
Does composting work in cold conditions?
Composting works from 12 degrees centigrade and warmer. The warmer it is, the faster it composts. When there are very cold temperatures, the compost will be dormant until heat is introduced into the area.
What colour is it?
The colour of the toilet is ‘white granite’.
How do we remove build up in the liquids bottle?
Rinse the bottle, add vinegar and some pea gravel. Shake well and the build up will break loose.
Does it smell bad?
No. Because the urine is separated from the solid waste the toilet doesn’t have the odours associated with sewerage, cassette or holding tank systems. When working properly the composting bin will have a slight earthy smell. See comment above also.
How does it separate the liquids and the solids?
The toilet has a gate or door that when closed directs the liquid waste into the front tank. When the door is open the solids pass through to the lower main tank. When seated on the toilet (male or female) the liquids naturally are aimed towards the front collection area and the solids are directed straight down into the main tank.
Do I need to run the fan all the time?
While the unit can be operated without the fan the composting process performs best if it runs all the time. This will prevent any musty odours escaping from the unit into the bathroom and also helps with the aerobic composting process. If battery drain is a concern then you might consider attaching the unit to a solar vent instead of using the built in fan, or using a small solar panel to offset the battery drain. The fan is tiny – only about 30mm in diameter – and draws .07 amps. On a 12 volt system this will use less than 2 amp/hrs per day from your battery.
The fan has stopped working – what do I do?
The fan is quite small and works very hard, so it’s not unusual for it to die for no reason. Remove the air tube from the fan housing and with a wet finger see if there is air coming out of the fan. If not, then the first step is be be sure that you still have power to the plug where it enters the socket on the fan housing. This is easily checked with a simple volt meter. There is no danger of electric shock with 12 volts. The centre of the plug is positive and the outer silver sheath is negative. If you have a 230v/12v power module plugged into a wall socket, make sure that the power outlet is functional by plugging in another 230v appliance like a hair dryer. If all is well with the power supply, then contact Nature’s Head NZ for a replacement fan under warranty. It’s best to send an email outlining the steps you have taken to check the fan and/or power supply. Advise your delivery address and current phone number and a replacement will be send promptly by courier along with emailed instructions for replacement. Or, you can phone Alan on 021 – 877 902
The compost seems to be too wet – what do I do?
The first thing to check – is the fan running – 24/7? If too wet from, say, diarrhoea, add a small amount of coco coir or peat moss. It is also possible for the compost to become too wet if the toilet is operated in a region where there is high humidity and low temperatures – this will cause condensation – add more coco coir or peat moss. If it’s too wet and also bad smelling, make sure that no-one has been allowing urine to get into the composting bin. The combination of urine and solids will soon upset the composting balance.
If you cannot isolate the problem, phone Alan at Nature’s Head without delay on 021 – 877 902
What kind of toilet paper must be used?
Any kind of toilet paper will work, however single ply paper breaks down quicker. Many single ply papers are approved for septic tanks. Remember, if you use miles and miles of toilet paper and put it all in the toilet, you will fill it up faster. We suggest that it may be acceptable to adopt the principle used in many countries where not all of the paper (and in some countries none) goes into the toilet. An option is that ‘first wipes’ go into the toilet, and the subsequent ‘polishing paper’ goes into another container which has a liner and a lid. This container is also used for ‘pee wipe paper’ and other sanitary products, and is emptied on a regular basis and combined with other domestic refuse to go to landfill.
Can the toilet be installed in a wet area which has a shower overhead?
Yes, but you will need to consider several issues. The mounting brackets which secure the toilet to the floor will need to be sealed underneath to stop water getting into the substrate of the shower area. You will also need to remove the pee bottle and drill a hole in the bottom of the pee bottle holder – easily done through the polyethylene. This will allow water to drain out of the holder onto the shower pan. The lid on the toilet fits down over the seat and this will keep the seat dry, however we suggest that the more practical thing to do is to make a plastic or nylon cover which goes over the whole toilet when you are showering. This will also add protection to the fan housing and associated 12 volt plug.
Do I need to use a bowl liner?
No. Some other brands advocate the use of a bowl liner to catch the solids and avoid soiling. The Nature’s Head has a generous sized trapdoor which means that soiling is rare. Also, our trapdoor is designed to fully retract out of the chute, whereas a competing brand’s trapdoor still protrudes 10mm or so into the chute when retracted and thus can catch solids on the way through into the bottom bin.
Can I add vegetable scraps to the composting bin?
No. Other forms of bio-degradable waste will retard the speed of breaking down the solids. Additionally, adding other waste will fill the composting bin prematurely, resulting in having to empty it sooner than normally needed.
Can the toilet be used in a basement?
Yes it will work fine in a basement and any room or closet where a toilet is required.