In the world of composting toilets, there is so much to learn! Like any industry, we have our own jargon and way of explaining things and sometimes forget that someone new to composting toilets won’t know their pedestals from their enzyme sprays or the difference between a split system and self-contained composting toilet!

Never fear fellow eco-custodians, we’ve written this article to outline exactly what a self-contained composting toilet is and how they work. 


What is a self-contained composting toilet?

Put simply, a self-contained composting toilet (like the name suggests) is a composting toilet system that is one unit and isn’t split into different segments. A split-system, for example, has a few different components like a pedestal (essentially a toilet seat), a chute and then the composting chamber. 

Typically these types of toilets are installed in homes that have room under their house. The composting chamber is installed below the bathroom under the house, the pedestal is installed above it in the bathroom and the chute connects these two components together. 

A self-contained composting toilet, on the other hand, is one complete unit. The seat, chamber and componentry are all in the one unit making it the perfect solution for low set homes, caravans, holiday homes or homes where space may be an issue (think tiny homes).

Are self-contained composting toilets good for RVs and caravans?

Self-contained composting toilets are the perfect solution for RVs and caravans. Not only are they contained within the one unit, but they also save space and don’t rely on chemicals to break down waste. 

Typically for RVs and caravans, our customers choose a composting toilet with a urine diversion feature like the Sun-Mar GTG or the Nature Loo Mini. Not only are these two systems small in stature and packed full of features, but they’re also space-saving toilets that look stylish in either a home or caravan.  

How do self-contained composting toilets work?

Most composting toilets will use the same process for breaking down waste into a usable topsoil-like by-product that can be used on fruit trees and non-edible plants. Bacteria (both Mesophilic and Thermophilic), Actinobacteria, Fungi and Moulds all start working together to break down waste, leaving you with something that’s totally natural and doesn’t require harsh chemicals to create.

Note: if you’re after a more in-depth overview of the composting process within a composting toilet, check out our article What actually happens when you poop in a composting toilet?

The big difference between a self-contained unit and a split system is the mixing mechanism is contained within the toilet in a self-contained toilet. Some units have a manual mixing mechanism (usually in the format of a handle that you turn, like the top of a salad spinner or the front of an old-timey car) whilst others have semi-automatic or fully automated mixing mechanism (usually they will mix when the lid closes). 

Is maintenance different between self-contained composting toilets and split systems?

This will ultimately depend on the type of composting toilet system you have. If you have a split system like the Clivus Multrum™ Low Profile (CM LP), Clivus Multrum™ High Profile (CM HP), Nature Loo™ Classic 650 or Nature Loo™ Classic 850, the maintenance for these systems is very similar to a self-contained unit. 

There is a bucket-like chamber that you can remove and replace with another spare chamber which is then left to cure before being used on your gardens.

When you start moving into bigger units like the Clivus Multrum™ CM8, CM10 and CM14 you will need to rake the compost pile and use a shovel to remove the hummus when it’s ready (see this video for an example).
If you have any additional questions about self-contained composting toilets, please feel free to contact us anytime or call us on 1300 138 182


Nature Loo / Ecoflo was the first supplier of composting toilets to be certified to New Zealand and Australian Standard 1546.2

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