We plan on living full time for a year or two in the van. For a minimum of comfort (and convenience), we really wanted a toilet and after reading about Nature’s Head composting toilets, it seamed like the perfect solution for us!
The present article covers the installation of the Nature’s Head composting toilet. If you want to learn more about it (pros/cons/emptying frequency/what we like/don’t like/etc) please head over here for our review:
TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 20 hours
TOTAL COST : 1200$ USD (that’s a shitload of money to take a dump, but it’s so worth it!)
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click a product link and buy anything from the merchant, we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not.
Alternatively, you can visit our Say Thanks! page.
- Nature’s Head Composting Toilet (Buy from Amazon)
- Coco Coir (Buy from Amazon) or Natural Sphagnum Peat Moss (no additives!) (Buy from Amazon)
- Wire Mesh (Buy from Amazon)
- Mosquito Screen (Buy from Amazon)
- Baltic Birch, 3/8″ thick (Bough from our local shop Langevin Forest)
- Custom Cushion (Sourced from our local shop)
- Corner Brace (Buy from Amazon)
- Titebond III Waterproof Wood Glue. (Buy from Amazon)
- 3M 90 Spray Adhesive (Buy from Amazon)
- Owner’s Manual, Installation, Dimensions, etc: http://natureshead.net/installation_use/
- The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition (Buy on Amazon)
- Get your shit together
ALRIGHT, LET’S GET THIS SHIT DONE!
First of all, our composting toilet is hidden in our couch just behind the driver’s seat:
Installing the Air Exhaust
There is no black water or whatever to install with the Nature’s Head, but there is however an AIR EXHAUST. The air exhaust will ensure that absolutely no odor leaks in the van by constantly pulling a very small volume of air from inside the toilet towards the outside world. There is a very small fan (computer-like) that runs at all time; that’s no big deal as it draws just about 0.1 amp. We decided to pass our air exhaust through the floor near the B-Pillar, inside the wall cavity. We got the idea from CargoVanConversion.com, although he is using it as his main van passive intake.
We need to get inside this cavity:
To access the cavity, we cut a door through the Ez-Cool (you can read our EZ-Cool Installation Article here):
Behind the Ez-Cool “door”, we drilled a 2-3/8″ diameter hole using a hole-saw (http://amzn.to/2rboMyD):
Of course, to prevent corrosion, we sanded the bare edges of the hole and touched them up with primer+paint+clear-coat:
To prevent the air-exhaust from being sectioned by the hole edges, we improvised something out of a MLV leftover (what’s MLV? See our Floor Installation Article!). Note that a grommet would have been much better, but we did note have one handy…
Now let’s get under the van, on the driver side where this arrow is pointing:
We can see the exhaust passing through the hole in the floor!
To prevent critters from crawling into our toilet (huh), we installed some wire mesh and mosquito screen (not shown in the picture) on this plastic part (included with your Nature’s Head Toilet):
The we just pull the exhaust out (from the hole in the floor) and press-fitted the plastic part:
The plastic-part is bolted in the upper-left hole of the van’s vent passage (there is a hole in the van. no need to drill):
That’s it for the exhaust! Here we are at this point:
Installing the Toilet
We like our Nature’s Head, but it still has to be hidden. We built a couch with a removable lid and a nice cushion for that job!
Note: When designing you toilet installation remember that to empty the compost, the upper part of the toilet must be removed. To do so, the upper-part rotates around the hinges in the back and then pulled left. Make sure your enclosure has enough clearance around the toilet to allow this movement!
Here is the base of the couch:
The lid is built the same way as the base, except that we glued a 3″ thick cushion on top (with 3M 90 Spray Adhesive http://amzn.to/2sZFy5p) and covered it with fabric.
At this point, hand over the lid and the cushion to your mother-in-law and LET THE MAGIC HAPPENS!*
*Thank you SO MUCH!
The fabric is held with Velcro, so it can be removed and washed:
The lid is held to the base with small “bracket” we made:
At last, fill with coco (or peat moss):
And here are the dimensions:
As mentioned previously, the small exhaust fan is running continuously. No big deal, as it draw just about 0.1A…
ON SECOND THOUGHT
Before living full-time review:
At the time of writing this we don’t live in the van full time yet, but we used the toilet for a few weekend trips. So far, so good! We haven’t emptied the toilet since we first used it (about 3 months ago): there is no odors and we think the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is THE SHIT!!
First month on the road review:
(The following text is extracted from faroutride.com/first-month/)
We would definitely install it again if we had to do it over. You might get away without it for weekend trips, but for full-time living it’s just so-much-better. We empty the liquid tank every 3 or 4 days if using the composting toilet exclusively, or every week if using other toilets. We’re getting between 2-4 weeks autonomy for solid depending on the temperature (cold slow down composting action) and depending if we use other toilets occasionally.
We bought compressed coco fiber (http://amzn.to/2hMo5u7) because it’s MUCH more compact to carry than normal coco fiber! This block is 5in x 11in x 11in and equals to about 3 cubic feet!
STAY IN TOUCH!
Join 15,000+ followers via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Patreon or e-mail:
Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!
Join our Facebook group to connect with other passionate DIY campervan builders like you!