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Do RV Composting Toilets Stink? Our Buying Guide + Reviews

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Human beings love avoiding the “ick” factor when it comes to dealing with pee and poop. Out of sight, out of mind is often our motto. Luckily, the best RV composting toilet keeps waste hidden away and smell free.

 

A composting toilet for an RV is an environmentally-friendly and convenient option when you’re on the road.

Maybe you’re an RVer who’s sick of dealing with a nasty blackwater tank and finding places to dump your poo.

You might live in a camper van, and you’re looking for a simple, odorless option for a small space.

The best RV composting toilet might be just the ticket to solve all your dumping needs.

Best RV Composting Toilet Comparison Chart

Want to see our top composting toilets for RVs at a glance?

Check out this handy table and click “BUY” to head to Amazon to read more about each toilet.

Next, you’ll find our Reviews Section with in-depth notes about each composting toilet for an RV.

Our Composting Toilet Buyer’s Guide gives you more details on composting toilets and what to look for when you buy.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
  • Color: Granite
  • Dimensions 22 x 20.5 x 21.7 inches
  • Easy to install

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Villa 9215 AC/DC Villa 9215 AC/DC
  • Installation Type: Wall Mounted
  • Item Shape: Oblong
  • Composting,Waterless,Urine diverting, off-grid, toilet
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SUN-MAR GTG Toilet SUN-MAR GTG Toilet
  • Dimensions: 24 x 15.75 x 19.8 inches
  • Installation Method: Wall Mounted
  • Most compact porta potty camp toilet 
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Nature's Head Dry Composting Toilet Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet
  • User friendly
  • Easy installation
  • Hand crank agitator in base for fast composting
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The best composting toilets for RVs: Detailed Reviews

There are so many RV composting toilets on the market right now, but there are several that stand tall above the rest.

In this review section, we’ll walk you through the main features of each toilet, and their positives and negatives.

Our Top Pick:

Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
  • Color: Granite
  • Dimensions: 22 x 20.5 x 21.7 inches
  • Easy to install


Nature’s Head composting toilets are by far the most affordable ones on the market and are very popular amongst full-time travelers. They were invented by two sailors who wanted a robust, odorless toilet for the ocean, without the need for a holding tank.

These composting toilets, which use stainless steel hardware, can take the jostling and vibration of life on the road. They’re also small enough to fit in the tiniest space.

This composting toilet for an RV is self-contained and has separate containers for pee and poop. Plus, there’s a trap door design that opens when you sit on the toilet, which eliminates the need to buy separate liners for the bowl.

There are two types of Nature’s Head Composting Toilets. The real difference between the two is the type of handle used for stirring the compost. One has a space-saving spider handle, and one has a standard crank handle.

Pros
  • Cheapest on the market
  • Separate containers for pee and poop
  • Small enough to fit in a van, RV or sailboat
  • Hardy design and stainless steel parts
  • Connects to a 12-volt system for mobile use
  • Fan only pulls 1.7 amps in 24 hours, which is about 4 cents per month in electricity
  • Quick and easy installation
  • 5-year warranty
Cons
  • Needs additional hardware to connect to a 110-volt system
  • Some reviewers say the urine tank doesn’t work well
  • There are complaints that the fan isn’t quite strong enough
  • You have to open the main tank to empty the urine container

SEE ON AMAZON

Check out this video by Gone with the Wynn’s about why they love their Nature’s Head Composting Toilet:

Villa 9215 AC/DC Villa 9215 AC/DC
  • Installation Type: Wall Mounted
  • Item Shape: Oblong
  • Composting,Waterless,Urine diverting, off-grid, toilet


Separett is a company from Sweden getting a foothold in the U.S. market when it comes to composting toilets for RVs. They’ve been popular toilets in Europe for over a decade.  Separett’s toilets are sleek and minimalistic, and most-closely mimic a normal toilet. According to Separett’s website, their toilets “overcome the ‘visual acceptance’ hurdle of changing toilet systems.”

A huge difference between Separett and the other options listed here is that the composting doesn’t happen inside the toilet. Instead, you remove the biodegradable bag and put it somewhere else, like in the ground or a separate composting pile so it can continue composting.

Another huge difference between this toilet and others is the urine is piped somewhere else, so if you’re in an RV, you’ll need to divert it to your greywater tank.

Separett manufactures three toilets: The Villa 9200 AC, the Villa 9215 AC/DC and the Weekender. 

Pros
  • Urine-diverting toilet, which either runs to a greywater tank or a collection container
  • Includes a biodegradable bag so you can easily lift out compost and bury it
  • Sleek design; looks a lot like a regular toilet
  • Ships with all the parts you need to connect the toilet
  • Weight-activated trap door that prevents the user from seeing the contents of the toilet
  • Can be connected to both 12v DC or 110v AC power
Cons
  • A little more expensive than Nature’s Head
  • The urine is diverted to a tank, container, or outside, which could make it a little more difficult for RVs
  • We browsed many sites and forums and couldn’t find complaints on Separett toilets

SEE ON AMAZON

To learn more about the Separett Villa DC toilet, check out this video:

SUN-MAR GTG Composting Toilet || SUN-MAR GTG Composting Toilet ||
  • Dimensions: 24 x 15.75 x 19.8 inches
  • Installation Method: Wall Mounted
  • Most compact porta-potty camp toilet


A Sun-Mar composting toilet for an RV is a smaller version of the Sun Mar original, uses a patented Bio-drum technology to compost waste. That toilet is designed for off-grid use, such as in a cabin.

This toilet, on the other hand, is meant for RVing and camping, which makes it way different than other models.

While the Sun Mar GTG Composting toilet bills itself as a composting toilet, it doesn’t have the same components as Nature’s Head and Air Head.

It’s more a compact or cassette toilet, with two separate bins for #1 and #2. You can choose to empty your bins into a regular flushing toilet, or put a composting liner to compost your waste.

The toilet comes with a built-in fan.

While some reviewers love the toilet, others say its just a very expensive portable camping toilet, which you can get for 1/6 of the price elsewhere.

Pros
  • Cheapest composting toilet
  • Smart diverting system – urine goes in one bin, feces in another
  • You can either use it as a cassette toilet or a composting toilet
  • Small and compact
Cons
  • No return policy
  • Some reviewers claim its not a real composting toilet

To check out Sun-Mar toilets, click the link below:

SEE ON AMAZON

Air Head Composting Toilet Air Head Composting Toilet
  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Dimensions: 22 × 19 × 16 in
  • Smooth, round Solids Tank is easier to empty and clean



The Air Head Composting Toilet claims its the smallest composting toilet on the market, close to the size you have at your home. The toilets have a regular toilet seat and lid, and look a lot like a regular plumbed toilet. This can ease people’s fears of using a new toilet system.

According to its website, Air Head says it’s the only diversion system that allows emptying of the urine bottle without opening the solids tank. Designed for marine use, the Air Head can fit in very small spaces.

The toilet’s 5-gallon capacity means a liveaboard couple can expect 60 uses in a month before emptying the solids tank.

Pros
  • Smaller than other composting toilets for RVs on the market
  • You don’t have to open the solids tank to remove the urine container for dumping
  • No nasty streaks on the bowl; the Air Head uses a paper bowl liner that carries solid waste down to the tank
  • Looks the most like a regular toilet; easier for guests to use
Cons
  • Pricier than Nature’s Head
  • It has to be emptied more frequently as its smaller than other models
  • We didn’t find many negatives for this product

SEE ON AIR HEAD WEBSITE

Check out the below video to see why one sailor loves the Air Head composting toilet:

RV Composting Toilet Info + Buying Guide

Just what exactly is an RV composting toilet?

For eons, people have been trying to figure out just how to deal with their #1 and #2. The waterless toilet system started in ancient China, where rumor has it they stored human waste in ceramic containers to destroy any parasites. They’d then dump that waste on their soil, as fertilizer. Hence the very first composting toilet.

Our more modern edition of the composting toilet was commercialized by the Clivus Multrum company in Sweden in the 1960s. Then, in the 1970s, another Swedish company called Biolet started manufacturing composting toilets on a larger scale.

The composting toilet is special because it uses natural elements to compost human waste; no water is necessary.

Bacteria and bulking agents are mixed with human waste to create compost over time, which is called humus. If the toilet is maintained properly, the toilet will compact waste to 10-30% its original volume. Then, you can use that humus as fertilizer, bury it, or throw it away depending on your state or city’s regulations.

Read on to learn the specifics of how a composting toilet works.

How does an RV composting toilet work?

Infographic: How does a composting toilet work?

The best RV composting toilets need three main elements to properly digest your waste: moisture, warmth and oxygen.

After you use the composting toilet in your RV, you add a scoopful of bulking agent to the bowl, which is anything from peat mix, to coconut fibers, to straw or sawdust.

You turn a handle to mix it all together, or some toilets do this themselves.

Once everything is mixed together, anaerobic bacteria use oxygen to break down the waste. It works a lot like your backyard compost pile.

The toilet needs to evaporate excess moisture to work, so many toilets have separate containers for #1 and #2. If that’s the case, you dump the urine separately, then wait for the #2 to become compost.

Some toilets divert the urine into a separate tank in the toilet.

It’s important that the bacteria have enough oxygen and moisture to work correctly. The RV composting toilet also has to be at the proper temperature, somewhere above 55 degrees. If the temperature gets below 55 degrees, the toilet will just pause in its composting and resume when it heats back up again.

According to Let’s Go Green: “The correct balance between oxygen, moisture, heat and organic material is needed to ensure a rich environment for the aerobic bacteria that transform the waste into fertilizing soil. This ensures odor-free operation and complete decomposition of waste.”

When your waste is done composting, the toilet has a finishing chamber or drawer, so you can easier slide the compost out and dump it according to your state’s regulations.

Why you might want a composting toilet in your RV

 

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The best RV composting toilets solve a lot of problems for people and the environment. Take a moment to think about how much water a traditional toilet needs for flushing. Some of the older models use 7 gallons every flush. That is insane! Luckily, the newer toilets use far less – a little over one gallon – but that’s still a ton of water.

According to Conserve H20, more than 47% of water use in the average American home occurs in the bathroom, with nearly 24% being used by toilets.

But when it comes to composting toilets for an RV, the environmental impacts are actually positive. In fact, one person using a composting toilet for one year creates 80 pounds of compost and saves 6,600 gallons of water per year. Holy crap!

Besides the environmental impacts, using the best composting toilet also has a positive impact on your pocketbook. Your water bills will go way down, and if you’re building a tiny home, you won’t have to pay to get hooked up to the city water and sewer system.

Van lifers and RVers also love composting toilets due to their ease of use and lack of odor. It’s awesome not having to head to a pump-out station, or deal with chemicals.

The negatives of an RV composting toilet

Yes, even though there are many positives about using a composting toilet in your RV or campervan, there are also negatives to be aware of before you buy.

The best composting toilets for RVs are expensive, so it’s good to have all the information and weigh your options to find the solution that best fits your needs.

Here are some of the key negatives to be aware of, according to the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • If you don’t handle your compost correctly, it could make you sick. You have to wait the correct amount of time to move the compost to make sure the pathogens from your poo are no longer there
  • Composting toilets require more maintenance than traditional toilets
  • The toilets could stink if not properly maintained
  • Most composting systems require a power source
  • If you don’t properly set up the ventilation system for your composting toilet in your RV, bugs and insects could get in there (ew!)
  • They are much more expensive than other toilet systems
  • They are not meant to be moved around

Good food for thought if you’re thinking of a composting toilet for an RV.

Do RV composting toilets stink?

A white Nature's Head composting toilet in an RV bathroom
Photo courtesy Nature’s Head

A lot of people wonder if RV composting toilets stink, and the answer is this: no. That is, if they’re installed, maintained, and properly ventilated they do not stink.

The best composting toilets that are functioning properly should have absolutely no odor, and here is why:

  • Aerobic bacteria break down your waste, which produces odorless carbon and water vapor. Another type of bacteria, called anaerobic bacteria smell really bad because they excrete methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide
  • Composting toilets for campers also seal off the moment after you use them, which keeps the waste and any potential odors safely tucked away. Also, a ventilation system keeps moving the odor out of the container where all the magic happens. If the vents are properly routed outdoors, no nasty fumes will enter your living space

Factors to think about when picking the best RV composting toilet

 

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Installation: The best composting toilets for RVs need a way for its exhaust vent to reach the outside, so you may have to cut a hole in your rig. They are designed to bolt right to your floor, so aren’t really moveable.

You’ll also need some sort of 12-volt fan to ventilate the compost, and a battery system to power that fan. In reading various RV and van life forums, installation tends to be fairly easy.

How it diverts urine: As you’ll read below, the toilets recommended divert urine into another container, so the #2 can turn into compost faster. Some of those containers are located near the main composting bowl, which you have to open briefly to grab the urine tank.

The AirHead toilet keeps the urine container on the outside of the toilet, so you don’t have to disturb the main container, which might smell a little when opened.

RV composting toilet best practices

There are several things to keep in mind if you’re just starting out using a composting toilet in an RV:

Conclusion on composting toilets for RVs

Many people living alternative lifestyles are choosing composting toilets. If properly maintained, composting toilets don’t stink, are environmentally-friendly, and easy to use.

On the flip side, RV composting toilets require more maintenance than traditional toilets and can make you sick of you touch waste without composting it properly. Plus, they are more expensive than other types of toilets.

Hopefully, this guide will help you choose the right composting toilet for your RV.

Check out some of our other RVing stories:

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24 thoughts on “Do RV Composting Toilets Stink? Our Buying Guide + Reviews”

  1. It’s amazing how much more acceptance composting heads are getting for boats and RVs. We built our own using a urine separator from Kildwick (a small British company you should definitely check out). It’s amazing how much simpler life has gotten nw that we’re not having to get frequent pumpouts of our 12 gallon holding tank.

    Reply
    • Wow, that’s amazing you built your own! I’ve been noticing more and more people using composting toilets for RVs, vans, sailboats and tiny homes. It seems like a great option. Very environmentally friendly as well, which I like.

      Reply
  2. This was a great post. So informative and also really made human waste an entertaining read. Now THAT”S talent! 🙂

    Reply
  3. After the holding tank on our sailboat pooped out, we switched to an Airhead and we love it. So much better than a regular head. Once you get used to it (which doesn’t take long), you realize it is much better than a holding tank. We are int he process of buying a new boat to start full time cruising that has 2 heads and now we will have to save up to put in composting heads, but who doesn’t love boat projects centered around poop?!?!? 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi there, im about to buy a liveaboard boat and researching this option..question is where to dispose of solids / composted waste ..if were sailing for a few weeks or more is it marine safe to dispose overboard or is that a complete no no. ..once the toxic pathogens have gone and become compost ..is that safe or best to store somewhere till back onshore..thanks for any advice

      Reply
      • Hi Graham! I think the rules will deped on where you live. I do think in some places to can put the composted waste into a regular trash bin. If you’re out sailing, you can usually legally dump any human waste once you are 3 miles offshore.

        Reply
  4. Has any one ever tried the Sun-Mar Mobile toilet? I was looking for something that you wouldn’t need to dump the urine separately, I wanted to know if this was a good alternative?

    Reply
  5. With the composting toilet issue it may be worth talking to an RV sales group if you are looking at putting a composting toilet into an RV that you will be looking at selling. You may find the toilet dramatically limits the number of possible byers and consequently the resale value. The reconversion to a traditional system is not cheap either.

    Reply
  6. I think Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet is one of the most reliable models in today’s market. Even it has a little bit expensive but it is fair with the quality that I can receive from it. I will buy it for any reason just cause I like it.

    Reply
    • After searching deeply about Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet, I decided to buy it and I think it is the right decision because of its features that I was experienced with it. By the way, I very like your article so I will follow more of your other posts. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  7. Hello, you used to write fantastic, but the last several posts have been kinda boring?

    I miss your tremendous writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track!
    come on!

    Reply

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