We installed a dry head almost a year ago. We are pretty happy with it. I’ve noticed, talking with other sailors, that most folks are using peat that is too moist, infested with bugs, doesn’t dry or desiccate the poo. One liveaboard friend told me about her black gnat problem. Since I have not had any black gnats, odor, or issues of any kind, I thought I’d share my poo bucket recipe. :-)
First off, my husband built ( for $130) our dry or desiccating head. For ease of understanding most folks call them composting heads. The big thing to remember is it separates pee from poo. The pee collected in pee tanks. The poo is collected in poo tank and is desiccated through the use of peat. Unlike composting, the dry head uses a drying process to reduces the bacteria count to a non stink level :-). No smelly head.
Our poo tank is a 3.5 gallon bucket. No vents, no stirring agitator. I do have a long handled SS spoon but found it is unnecessary and messy to clean up. I rotate bucket throughout the month to keep levels even. The less fuss the better, less you handle the poo bucket the better ( IMO).
The low down on Peat – The peat I use is CokoTek peat (http://www.amazon.com/General-Hydroponics-GH98145-COCOTEK-BAIL/dp/B004D441ZO/ref=sr_1_1) , I’ve had no bug problem, made from coconut husk, renewable, and comes in compressed bricks so I can easily store 8-12 months of peat in a small bag about the size of a shoe box. I DO NOT BUY FROM PET STORES. Peat from pet shops could be a source of bug infestation. I buy from amazon. Get about a year supply for $25.
To reconstitute the peat brick- put brick in gallon ziplock baggy, add around a 1/2 cup of water. Each brick makes about a gallon of peat. Let sit overnight. By morning, it will still be very very dry in spots, but most of brick will be broken up into smaller chunks. Swish bag around and maybe add a tablespoon of water and let sit. Be patient. Few hours later check and try to break up more of the brick. I just grab bag and crush chunks without opening the ziplock bag. The end result should be a nice coarse very dry peat.
bucket liner, I usually use a wag bag ( http://www.amazon.com/Cleanwaste-Toilet-Bag-Pack-Blue/dp/B009A6VM1G/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1409262960&sr=8-3&keywords=Wag+bag) or (http://www.amazon.com/Reliance-Products-Double-Doodie-Toilet/dp/B0024O0W94/ref=pd_sbs_sg_4/178-4887923-8337124?ie=UTF8&refRID=1A75Q911YDPGASYD8SY1 ) or any compostable garbage bag
Poo powder, (http://www.amazon.com/Reliance-Products-Bio-Gel-Gelation-Ounces/dp/B000FIAPZW/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1409261551&sr=8-6&keywords=Poo+powder). Poo powder adsorbs moisture, aiding to the desiccation process. This is not necessary, but I’ve found it accelerates drying and absorbs any liquid that may find its way into the poo tank.
Cedar Chips, cedar chips repel, kill or can inhibit insects like termites, cockroaches, cloth-eating moths, carpet beetles and certain ants such as ordorous and Argentine.
Preparing poo tank
1) line my bucket with black compostable trash bag, usually a “Wag Bag”
2) I lay down a scoop of Poo Powder.
3) lay down a handful of peat. Poo tank is ready to go :-)
4) after each use I pour a cup or two of peat to cover poo and then sprinkle a handful of cedar chips into the poo tank.
***If you have an upset tummy( polite way of saying loose stool), after each use of the dry toilet sprinkle poo powder on poo before the layer of peat and cedar chips.
I empty my poo bucket every 4 weeks or so. The end result smells like dirt and is about the size of the gallon ziplock bag I started my peat in. Poo is 75% water, so once desiccated, there is very little waste to dispose. I like using the wag bags because they are designed especially for safe disposal of waste in dumpster and trash cans. No need to bury if you don’t have the land to do so.
Hope this helps. We will be leaving this winter for Caribbean. Will update on any issues or pitfalls we may come across.
Sorry for the typos, a bit under the weather.
Peace out :-)