Caution This Is A Toilet Post!
Today we have been on a bus trip. The S4 picked us up from Thrupp Turn, a short walk away, winding it’s way around villagers taking us to Banbury. I picked up a parcel from the Post Office, more wool and handed over another with finished woolly things inside. M&S supplied us with lunch before we headed to Tooleys Boatyard.
Kate Saffin and Colin Ives were running a workshop on composting toilets this afternoon. Recently on a facebook group Composting Toilets for Boats and Off-Grid Living Mick had made a comment about the installation of our set up. We have a Separett Villa which doesn’t come with a collection tank for your yellow water, we had one built in under the floor and have a pump to empty it. Kate asked if Mick could write something to add to the files on the groups page and then invited us to join in at the workshop. As it was a free event we decided to go along and see if we could learn anymore about waterless toilets.
Kate Saffin (Alarum Theatre Company and doyen of waterless toilets) talked everyone through the basics of how a composting toilet works. The name ‘Composting Toilet’ is a bit of a misnomer. In the early days of boaters buying into this type of toilet the companies selling them suggested that the contents would compost, some saying within 6 weeks, the contents of the solids buckets could then be used as compost. This was never the case. If you are a vegan your deposits might be composted down after 4-6 months, a meat eater 12 months. No matter what diet you have all the bugs in the solids will have died off within 100 days.
We were talked through the differing types of waterless toilets, how people tend to use them. Kate had brought with her her three buckets. A single lady living on her own she tends to have a bucket in use, one stored away doing its secondary composting and a third either empty waiting to be used or fully composted down ready to be returned to the earth. Today she showed us a new bucket which she was preparing for use (wood cat litter pellets are her preferred base layer), a bucket that had been on her roof doing it’s stuff about eight months old and her third bucket which she had finished using yesterday. My out of focus photo is of her 8 month bucket and the one she’d been using for the last four months. The photo isn’t out of focus due to aroma as there was absolutely none.
Conversations were had about what cover to use in your buckets, whether to leave toilet paper in the mix, any concerns about being on medication, just about every question you could possibly think of was covered by the workshop.
Colin of Kildwick and The Little House Company started about four years ago, building himself and family a composting toilet to use on their boat. A family of four quickly filled up their cassette toilet and walking up a steep hill to the elsan was becoming a very regular thing. Colin designed and built his first toilet and then looked at how to improve it with a better separator etc. Other boaters asked if he’d make them one too. Over the years Kildwick has expanded and now they have difficulty keeping up with the demand. The Little House Company are now the UK stockists for Separett Toilets.
There were several of Colin’s toilets to have a look at, including one with, what has become known as, a glitter shitter. This is a separator that is glittered and has become very popular. I think that if we’d been aware of Kildwick when Oleanna was being built we’d most probably have gone with one of their toilets. Having said that we are very happy with our toilet and would never go back to a pump out. Having been in a house for almost a month doing panto, I was appalled at the amount of water being wasted everytime I flushed.
We were already converts and our approach is very standard. However we seem to fill our solids bucket a little bit too quickly. Colin and Kate recon that we might be using a bit too much cover material, so we will try a bit less in future. We’d also been wanting to see options that people use for the secondary composting stage on boats. If we had a home mooring we’d be able to carry on the composting process on land, but we don’t. We came away with a few more ideas which need thinking about a touch more before we go for it. A very interesting afternoon.
By the time we got back to the boat we wanted something to eat so headed over to The Boat. The menu seemed to have changed since we last visited, but the chips were still not as good as they could be and most of our food wasn’t that hot. I say most, as my BBQ chicken bacon and cheese pot was bubbling away, but our peas were decidedly cold. Next time we’re in Thrupp we’ll try the Jolly Boatman instead.
0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 parcels exchanged, 3 balls of yarn, 2 jacket potatoes, 2 cups of tea, 1st visit to Tooleys, 2 poo experts, 3 toilets, 3 buckets, 8 months old pooh, 4 months old pooh, yesterdays pooh, 1 glitter shitter, 1 gammon, 1 cheese pot, 1 pint, 1 glass wine, 1 very very very very bored cat!