Composting waterless toilets work by utilizing natural organisms, oxygen, moisture and temperature to transform excrement into odorless compost material. When hard waste and urine enter the toilet bowl, they are sent into separate chambers, where they are exposed to circulated oxygen. Moisture and odor move up through the ventilation system into the outer atmosphere. Meanwhile, bacteria inside the waste goes to work, breaking feces down and reducing it in size.
A starter mix containing peat moss and pine wood shavings can be tossed into the toilet after each use to accelerate composting. Compost toilet users have a choice of powered and non-powered toilets. Electric models include heaters and fans that greatly speed up the composting process. Composting happens twice as slow in non-powered toilets.
Temperature plays a role in how long it takes for waste to transform into safe fertilizer. Low-temperature toilets process human feces slowly, which translates into months of waiting for usable compost. Higher-temperature toilets, such as the electric waterless toilets, incinerate fecal matter within hours, destroying harmful human pathogens quickly.
The compost waste is removed by pulling out a container located at the bottom of the toilet. Compost is ready to be used as a natural fertilizer, or it can be disposed in the trash.