No, composting toilets do not smell bad. While dumping your compost toilet may not be the most pleasant experience in the world, the odor will not bother you otherwise.

composting toilet smell
Tiny House Living

So, I’m telling you that you can have decomposing fecal matter and urine in an enclosed space not ten yards from your living space without an odor issue – understandably you’re suspicious. But, just give me a chance to explain myself.

Compost Toilets and Smell

smelly compost toilet sprinter van
Sprinter Adventure Van

You may think that your poop would smell the worst, but this is surprisingly not the case. The ammonia in urine – which becomes more pungent as evaporation occurs – is the worst smell of the whole process.

Interested in why evaporation is a big deal to your composting toilet? Learn more here.

If evaporation is making the ammonia in my pee stinky though, then how do I keep my compost toilet from smelling?

How Do I Stop My Compost Toilet From Smelling?

Theoretically yes, your toilet will smell if you do a DIY compost toilet and don’t take its odor into account. But if you did your research, then you know your composting toilet needs a good ventilation system.

In addition to the ventilation system, having a chambered design that keeps the urine and feces separate prevents the creation of sewage (the combination of the two). That’s the stink that’s really out of control. If your ones and twos are separate, then the ammonia smell won’t become an issue.

So, if my compost toilet won’t smell up my house or RV, then why don’t more people have them? Well, because people think that their eco-friendly throne will smell even though there is plenty of evidence that this is not the case. Perhaps if you knew that you could save upwards of 50% on your water bill you’d make the switch.

Is a Compost Toilet the Right Choice for You?

  • Looking to compost both human waste and kitchen scraps in an efficient manner that requires little maintenance?
  • Want rid of that costly traditional plumbing system? Did you know that toilets older than 1992 use over five gallons of water per flush?
  • Dream of a decrease in monthly utility costs?
  • Building a structure off the grid? Living long term in a van, RV, or tiny home? Well, a composting toilet can be easily accommodated to all of these living styles.
  • Allows a level of flexibility when planning your property as you won’t be dependant on where the septic tank goes.
  • Hope to reduce gray-water loading? This is the water from your sink, washing, etc. that you don’t want to put directly on your plants. Did you know that with a little help, you can use gray water on the plants in your garden?
  • Intent on lessening your negative environmental impact? Well, a composting toilet is a great way to start as it’ll decrease your monthly water usage by over 50%!

Alleviating the Smell

smelly port-a-pottie
Youtube (Rocker1821)

Chances are you’ve been in a porta potty, and chances are you were less than impressed by the odor. To be fair though, the odor would be much worse without the harsh chemicals that provide the sickly aroma and blue-ish water.

When it comes to your compost toilet, the process couldn’t be more different. For starters, a porta potty is similar to a vault toilet; it’s design is just a big chamber for waste to sit in. A composting toilet, on the other hand, is designed to breakdown the waste. As a result, their designs tend to be multi-chambered so that the fecal matter and urine are kept separate and harsh chemicals are unnecessary.

The additives for your eco-friendly lue are natural as well. Toss in some coconut coir, peat moss, or sawdust to help combat the odor of your poop. These additives will aid in the decomposition process and help to make sure that your compost looks and smells like your garden variety garden soil. If you do things right, your compost will even be usable.

Should you Switch from Traditional Toilet to a Composting One?

The first thing worth noting is that this is not an inexpensive endeavor. To rip out your home’s septic system is a huge undertaking in terms of both time and money and, as a result, should not be taken lightly.

A compost toilet is ideal for people building off the grid without access to a septic hookup. Yes, in an ideal world composting toilets would be the norm, but it’s a huge hullabaloo to make the change. Imagine going from traditional to solar power, but even more difficult.

You can always add a composting toilet as a way to alleviate pressure on both your septic tank and your water bill. This idea is great for those with large gardens or bigger tracts of land. In a similar vein, a compost toilet is also a suitable idea for those living out of an RV, van, or tiny home.