If you look at common composting toilets on the market you'll realize one thing: Most of them feature an agitator to mix the solid components with the dry cover material. There are top-operated ones, distinct crank wheels on the sides of the toilet, or other mechanisms that all aim at mixing the contents.
Why is it that we don’t recommend an agitator or mixer for the Throne DIY composting toilet? Isn’t that the most important part for facilitating the composting process?
No. An agitator is not a crucial part for your regular at-home composting toilet, for the sole reason that the composting process needs more time to start and process than the time between emptying your toilet. That means, your toilet doesn’t really compost to begin with.
Wait, isn’t that the whole purpose of a composting toilet? Did we miss a step?
While a composting toilet has the capacity to compost the solids mixed with a dehumidifying agent like Cococoir, sawdust, or similar, the process needs time. And more time than it normally takes to fill the bucket with regular use. So why is it called a composting toilet then?
A composting toilet is the starting point for the composting process. Once the bucket fills up, one can dump the solids either in a humanure pile to proceed with the composting process and end up with nutrient rich soil, or one can throw it away in compostable trash bags. The solids will keep composting that way, eliminating harmful bacteria and breaking down toilet paper and, well, the poop.
Technically speaking, this makes your regular at-home composting toilet a dry toilet. It simply separates the liquids and the solids, preventing smells and overpopulation of harmful bacteria.
However, by adding a dehumidifying agent and with the option to continue the composting process in a humanure setup, it’s the starting point for a true-to-definition composting toilet. It does not need mixing at this point of the process and thus, no agitator.
Getting rid of the agitator doesn’t just reduce the footprint of the composting toilet: it also makes it easier to use (for everyone who doesn’t enjoy bending down and cranking a wheel every time they use the toilet) and ridiculously easier to clean.
There are less nooks and crannies, and all the solids are contained in a bag that can simply be lifted out and carried away (we have still yet to meet someone who thinks taking your entire toilet outside to empty is a good idea).
It also gives the freedom to design the emptying process based on your needs and requirements. Don’t want to lift a lid every time you empty your solids? Just build a slide out. Don’t have the space in front or top? Have it accessed from the sides.
There are no limits to customizations you can create, all to perfectly fit your unique home. This is an important factor for those building or living in smaller off-grid homes like skoolies, vans, RVs, or tiny houses. Every inch counts!
And, last but not least, the golden rule of appliances: less individual components and a simpler build means less chances for something to fail, break, or simply not work as intended.