RV Composting Toilets Pros & Cons (And Best Camper Toilet)

Composting toilets are becoming increasingly popular among RV owners and renters due to their eco-friendly nature and potential cost savings. But they aren’t for everyone! So, let’s review the RV composting toilet pros and cons:

Some pros of RV composting toilets include reduced water usage, minimal environmental impact, and easy maintenance. However, they may have a higher upfront cost, require more frequent emptying, and may produce odors if not used and maintained correctly.

In this article, we will delve into the world of composting toilets for recreational vehicles.

We’ll explore how they work, discuss the various advantages and disadvantages associated with these systems, and address common concerns such as odor control.

Additionally, we’ll provide insights on boondocking benefits with waterless options, special toilet paper requirements for composting toilets in an RV setting, dumping procedures, and alternative solutions available in the market today.

Lastly, we will examine the costs involved in installing a composting toilet system in your camper van while highlighting some of the best models available for purchase.

There’s a lot to consider before making the switch from traditional RV toilets.

Table of Contents:

compost toilet pros lg

What is a Composting Toilet? (and how do they work?)

A composting toilet is an eco-friendly waste disposal system that uses aerobic bacteria to break down human waste into composted material.

Unlike traditional toilets, which rely on water and sewage systems, composting toilets require little to no water and can function independently of septic systems.

Composting toilets are an appealing choice for RV enthusiasts who want to minimize their ecological footprint while traveling in their camper.

How Do Composting Toilets Work?

Composting toilets work by separating liquid and solid wastes into separate containers.

The solid waste container typically contains peat moss, coconut fibers (coir), or wood shavings as a bulking agent to help with the decomposition process. Aerobic bacteria then break down the organic material in the presence of oxygen, turning it into nutrient-rich humus over time.

Liquid waste is stored separately from solids and can be easily disposed of at any appropriate location like public restrooms or dump stations. Some models even evaporate liquids through a vent hose using a small fan powered by solar panels or electricity.

The Main Components of a Composting Toilet

  • Toilet seat: Just like regular toilets, composting toilets have comfortable seats designed for ease of use.
  • Solid waste container: A dedicated chamber where solid wastes are collected along with bulking agents such as peat moss or coconut coir for efficient decomposition.
  • Liquid waste container: A separate compartment that collects urine without mixing it with solid wastes helps prevent foul smells associated with sewage systems.
  • Ventilation system: Proper ventilation ensures that odors are minimized and aerobic bacteria can thrive, speeding up the composting process.

Having examined the features of a composting toilet, let us now assess its advantages and disadvantages in terms of RV use. This will help you make an informed decision on whether or not this type of toilet system is right for your needs.

Composting lavatories can be a beneficial alternative for RV and camping enthusiasts, as they allow them to diminish their ecological footprint while simultaneously saving money and time.

Potential users should carefully consider the pros and cons of utilizing composting toilets before settling on whether they are suitable for them.

Key Takeaway: 

Composting toilets are eco-friendly waste disposal systems that use aerobic bacteria to break down human waste into composted material. RV owners can experience the joys of roaming around while lowering their ecological footprint by opting for composting toilets, which utilize oxygen-loving bacteria to transform human waste into fertilizer and don’t require a lot of H2O or septic systems.

Pros and Cons of a Composting Toilet

Advantages of a composting toilet include water savings, independence from public restroom access and the ability to process organic materials for waste management. The cons include initial cost, foul odors from improper maintenance, and potential health hazards from improper installation or use. Let’s dive deeper into these advantages and disadvantages.


  • Reduced Water Usage: One of the most significant benefits of using an RV composting toilet is that it uses little to no water in its operation. This not only conserves precious resources but also reduces your overall water consumption.
  • No Black Tank Needed: A composting toilet eliminates the need for a black tank found in traditional RV toilets. This means you won’t have to deal with sewage systems or dump stations during your travels.
  • Eco-Friendly Waste Disposal: By turning human waste into nutrient-rich compost material through aerobic bacteria decomposition process, you’re contributing positively to the environment by reducing landfill waste.
  • Better Odor Control: If properly maintained (i.e., separating liquid and solid wastes), an RV composting toilet will produce significantly fewer foul smells compared to conventional chemical toilets or septic tanks.


  • Initial Cost: An upfront investment is required when purchasing an RV composting toilet system as they tend to be more expensive than their traditional counterparts; however, this can be offset over time by savings on water usage and dumping fees at campgrounds.
  • Foul Odors from Improper Maintenance: If not properly maintained, a composting toilet can produce unpleasant odors. This includes regularly emptying the liquid waste container and ensuring proper ventilation for the decomposition process to occur.
  • Potential Health Hazards: If improperly installed or used, there is a risk of health hazards such as bacterial contamination or improper handling of human waste. It’s essential to follow manufacturer guidelines and local regulations when installing and using an RV composting toilet system.

In weighing these pros and cons, it’s important to consider your personal preferences, travel habits, budget constraints, and environmental impact when deciding whether an RV composting toilet is right for you.

Composting toilets offer a great way to reduce waste and be more environmentally friendly, but they come with their own set of considerations. When weighing the pros and cons, it is important to consider why you should install an RV composting toilet in your vehicle or campsite.

Key Takeaway: 

An RV composting toilet has several advantages, including reduced water usage, eco-friendly waste disposal, and no need for a black tank. However, there are also cons to consider such as the initial cost of installation, foul odors from improper maintenance, and potential health hazards if not installed or used correctly.

Why Should You Consider an RV Composting Toilet?

Before making a decision on whether to buy an RV composting toilet, it’s important to consider the pros and cons. There are several reasons why many RV owners and renters choose to make the switch from traditional toilets:

The Ability to Dry Camp Longer

One of the main advantages of having a composting toilet is that it allows you to dry camp, or boondock, for longer periods without needing access to dump stations.

Since there’s no need for water in this type of system, you won’t have to worry about filling up your black tank as quickly.

No More Sewer Hose “Poopsicles” in Freezing Temperatures

In colder climates, freezing temperatures can cause waste inside sewer hoses and tanks (affectionately known as “poopsicles”) which can be quite unpleasant when it comes time for dumping.

With a composting toilet, there’s no need for a sewer hose since solid waste is contained within the unit itself – eliminating this issue altogether.

More Waste Water Holding Tank Space

  • Black Tank: When using a traditional toilet with an attached black tank, both liquid and solid wastes combine into one container. This means that space fills up much faster than if they were separated like they are with a composting toilet.
  • Fresh Water Tank: A standard flush-style RV toilet requires water each time it’s used – depleting your fresh water supply more rapidly than necessary. By switching over to an eco-friendly composting toilet, you can conserve water and extend the time between refills.

It’s up to you and your RV usage intentions when it comes to selecting amenities. For those who value sustainability, extended boondocking capabilities, or simply want a more efficient waste management system – an RV composting toilet may be the perfect solution for you.

If you’re in search of a green, low-maintenance option for your recreational vehicle’s lavatory requirements, then maybe a composting toilet is the ideal selection. Moreover, composting toilets are said to be economical and conserve water over time. Now let’s take a look at whether or not RV composting toilets smell bad when in use.

Key Takeaway: 

An RV composting toilet can be a great investment for those who want to dry camp longer, avoid “poopsicles” in freezing temperatures, and conserve water. With no need for a sewer hose and more space in the waste water holding tank, it’s an eco-friendly option that offers efficient waste management.

Do RV Composting Toilets Smell Bad?

One common concern among RV owners and renters is whether composting toilets produce foul odors.

The good news is that RV composting toilets are designed to minimize unpleasant smells by separating liquid and solid waste. When urine and feces mix, they create sewage which has a strong, offensive odor. This is why traditional RV black water tanks start to stink when they get full.

In contrast, a well-maintained composting toilet should not emit any bad smells because it keeps the two types of waste separate. By doing so, you essentially have an odor-free waterless toilet in your RV.

Maintenance Tips for Odor-Free Composting Toilets

  • Aerate the solids chamber: Regularly turning over the contents of the solids chamber with a standard crank handle helps promote aerobic decomposition and prevents foul odors from developing.
  • Add bulking material: Adding organic materials like peat moss or coconut coir can help control moisture levels in the solids chamber while also providing carbon-rich material for aerobic bacteria to thrive on – this will reduce any potential smell issues.
  • Clean out liquids container regularly: Emptying the liquids container frequently ensures that it doesn’t overflow into the solids compartment where it could cause unwanted smells due to anaerobic decomposition taking place (the process responsible for creating sewage).
  • Ventilation system maintenance: Ensure proper functioning of your vent hose and small fan by cleaning them periodically as per manufacturer guidelines – these components play an essential role in maintaining airflow within your composting toilet system which helps keep odors at bay.

If you find that your RV composting toilet is producing unpleasant smells despite proper maintenance, it may be time to investigate potential issues with the installation or consult your composting toilet manufacturer’s guidelines for troubleshooting tips.

In summary, a well-maintained and properly functioning RV composting toilet should not produce any foul odors.

By following simple maintenance steps and ensuring correct installation, you can enjoy an odor-free waterless toilet experience in your RV while also benefiting from its eco-friendly waste disposal system.

Maintaining and using a composting toilet properly can be done to ensure it does not produce an unpleasant odor. However, for those who plan on boondocking often or want an even more sustainable option, a waterless RV toilet may be the better choice.

Is a Waterless RV Toilet Better for Boondocking?

The need to store water in your RV is one of the biggest obstacles to long-term boondocking for many RVers.

Switching to a waterless RV toilet (also called an RV composting toilet) can save some of that precious liquid and give you more time in the backcountry, too. If you enjoy dry camping and want to stay out longer, installing an alternative toilet might make sense.

Benefits of Waterless Toilets for Boondocking

  • Water conservation: Since composting toilets do not require any water for flushing, they significantly reduce your overall water consumption during boondocking trips.
  • No black tank maintenance: With no need for a black tank or sewage systems, there’s less hassle when it comes to waste disposal at dump stations.
  • Eco-friendly option: Composting toilets are environmentally friendly as they turn human waste into organic material that can be safely disposed of or used as fertilizer after proper treatment.

Tips on Choosing the Right Waterless Toilet System

To help decide if a waterless toilet system is right for your needs while boondocking, consider these factors:

  1. Budget: Determine how much you’re willing to spend on this upgrade since high-quality composting toilets may have higher initial costs compared with traditional ones. However, keep in mind that they will save money over time due to reduced maintenance and lower water usage.
  2. Tip: The Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet with Close Quarters Spider Handle Design is a popular choice among RV owners. Check it out on Amazon.
  3. Space: Evaluate the available space in your RV to ensure that you have enough room for installing and using a composting toilet comfortably.
  4. Maintenance requirements: Different models of waterless toilets may require different levels of maintenance, such as emptying solid waste containers or adding peat moss regularly. Verify that you’re content with these duties before settling on a choice.

A waterless RV toilet can be a great option for boondocking, as it requires no external water supply and produces less waste. Before making the decision to go with a waterless RV toilet, it is important to weigh all factors. Now let’s take a look at whether or not you need special toilet paper for an RV composting toilet.

Key Takeaway: 

Installing a waterless RV toilet, also known as an RV composting toilet, can be beneficial for boondocking. It conserves water, eliminates the need for black tank maintenance, and is eco-friendly by turning waste into organic material. When choosing a system, consider budget, available space in your RV, and maintenance requirements.

Do I Need Special Toilet Paper for RV Composting Toilets?

When using an RV composting toilet, it’s essential to choose the right type of toilet paper. Just like with a black water tank, you should only use RV-safe toilet paper in your camper. This type of tissue is specifically designed to break down more efficiently when combined with additives, ensuring that your composting system remains clean and functional.

The main difference between regular and RV-safe toilet paper lies in its decomposition process. Regular toilet papers take longer to disintegrate, which can cause issues when dumping the waste from your composting toilet. On the other hand, one-ply RV-safe tissue breaks down much quicker than two or three-ply options.

  • Eco-friendly: Many brands of RV-safe toilet paper are made from recycled materials or sustainably sourced fibers, making them a more environmentally friendly choice compared to conventional options.
  • Biodegradable: The quick breakdown of these tissues ensures that they won’t contribute to clogs or blockages within your composting system.
  • Gentle on plumbing: Using soft and easily dissolvable tissues helps protect your plumbing systems by preventing build-ups that could lead to costly repairs over time.

We recommend using Aqua Soft Toilet Paper from Amazon in your RVs due to its gentle nature on both the environment and our systems.

It’s important not just for maintaining proper function but also for minimizing any potential odors associated with improper waste disposal practices. By selecting this eco-friendly product, you can help preserve the environment and ensure your RV composting toilet continues to operate optimally for years.

It is important to consider the type of toilet paper you use with an RV composting toilet, as it can affect its efficiency. As a result, transitioning into how to dump an RV composting toilet is essential in order to properly maintain your system and keep it functioning optimally.

How Do You Dump an RV Composting Toilet?

Dumping an RV composting toilet may seem intimidating at first, but with the right steps and precautions, it can be a simple process. To ensure proper waste disposal, follow these instructions for emptying both the liquids and solids from your composting toilet.

To Empty the Liquids:

  1. Take off the seat and lift the toilet to a 45-degree angle.
  2. Grab the handle, cover it with the lid, and extract the reservoir.
  3. Dump the liquids in an area that is legal and safe, such as a public toilet or designated dump station. Check local regulations to make sure you’re disposing of waste correctly.
  4. Rinse the bottle with vinegar or detergent before placing it back into your composting toilet system. This will help prevent any foul smells from lingering inside your RV.
  5. Put the seat down, clean up, and you’re all set.

Properly taking care of one’s RV composting toilet is a necessity for maintaining hygiene and cleanliness in the vehicle. Alternatively, if a composting toilet isn’t the best solution for you, there are other options to explore. We’ll then examine some potential substitutes that could be more appropriate for your situation.

What Are the Best Alternatives to a Composting Toilet?

If you’re not keen on the concept of a composting toilet in your RV, there are other alternatives that may better suit your requirements. Let’s take a look at some popular options:

Cassette Toilet

A cassette toilet is similar to a traditional RV toilet but has a removable waste container instead of being connected to an external black water tank.

These toilets still use water and chemicals, but they offer greater flexibility when it comes to emptying the waste. You can simply remove the cassette and dispose of its contents at any appropriate dumping station or public restroom.

Portable Toilet

Portable toilets are standalone units that can be used both inside and outside your RV.

They typically consist of two parts: an upper section containing fresh water for flushing, and a lower section serving as the holding tank for waste. Portable toilets require regular cleaning and maintenance, but they allow you to easily transport them wherever needed – perfect for camping trips where facilities may be limited.

Bucket/Bag Toilet

The most basic option is using a bucket or bag system as your temporary bathroom solution while traveling in an RV.

This involves placing biodegradable bags inside buckets with lids or portable frames designed specifically for this purpose (such as Luggable Loo). When nature calls, simply line the bucket with one of these bags before doing your business; once finished, tie up the bag and dispose of it in a designated waste disposal area.

This method is an economical and convenient option, though it may not be suitable for extended use or larger groups.

Each alternative has its own pros and cons, so it’s essential to consider your specific needs when choosing the best toilet solution for your RV adventures. Whether you prioritize ease of use, water conservation, or affordability will ultimately determine which type of toilet system is right for you.

Before investing in a composting toilet system for your RV, it is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Moving on, let’s explore how much RV composting toilets cost in comparison with other options.

Key Takeaway: 

The article discusses the pros and cons of using an RV composting toilet, as well as alternative options such as a cassette toilet, portable toilet, or bucket/bag system. Each option presents its own benefits and drawbacks, contingent on factors such as the convenience of use, water economy, and cost-effectiveness.

How Much Do RV Composting Toilets Cost?

The cost of an RV composting toilet can be a significant factor when deciding whether to make the switch from a traditional black tank system. In this section, we’ll explore the average costs associated with purchasing and installing a composting toilet in your RV.

Average Costs of Composting Toilets

The average composting toilet will cost around $1000.

This price range includes various models and brands available on the market today. While it may seem like a large investment upfront, make sure to consider that black tanks can eventually cost you more time and money in maintenance and dumping fees over time.

Installation Costs

In addition to the initial purchase price of your new composting toilet, there may also be some installation costs involved if you’re not comfortable tackling this project yourself.

Hiring a professional installer can add anywhere from $200-$500 to your total expenses depending on their rates and the complexity of installation required for your specific RV model. After all, there is not one standard size for RV toilets.

DYI Installation Savings

  • Saving Money: If you are handy with tools and have experience working on plumbing projects, you could save money by installing the unit yourself.
  • Tailored Setup: By doing it yourself, you’ll have full control over customizing the setup according to your preferences and needs within your RV space constraints.
  • Familiarity: Installing the unit personally allows you a better understanding of its functionality which helps in troubleshooting any issues down the road without relying solely on professionals.

Long-term Savings and Benefits

The cost of a composting toilet may be significant, yet it is important to factor in the long-term savings and advantages that come with this environmentally friendly waste management system. Some potential advantages include:

  • Reduced Water Usage: Composting toilets use little to no water, which can help conserve your RV’s fresh water supply for other purposes.
  • No Dump Station Fees: Since you won’t need to visit dump stations as frequently (or at all), you’ll save money on dumping fees over time.
  • Eco-Friendly Waste Disposal: By converting human waste into nutrient-rich compost material, you’re helping reduce your environmental impact while traveling in your RV.

The cost of an RV composting toilet can vary greatly depending on the type and size you choose, so it is important to research your options before making a purchase. Factors like capacity, ease of use, and installation requirements must be considered when selecting the optimal RV composting toilet.

Key Takeaway: 

RV composting toilets cost around $1000 on average, and installation costs can add up to $200-$500 if done by a professional. However, DIY installation could save you money while allowing for a tailored setup and a better understanding of the unit’s functionality. Long-term benefits include reduced water usage, no dump station fees, and eco-friendly waste disposal.

What is the Best Composting Toilet for RVs?

After researching various models and user reviews, we have found that Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet on Amazon stands out as a top choice among RV owners.

When making a decision about the optimal composting toilet for your RV, there are various elements to consider, like the convenience of use, smell control, and cost.

Nature's Head Compost Toilet

Below is what I like about this one:

Nature’s Head Features:

  • Durable construction: Made from stainless steel hardware and robust materials designed to withstand harsh conditions in an RV environment.
  • User-friendly design: The close-quarters spider handle allows easy turning of the compost without taking up too much space inside your small bathroom area.
  • Odor-free operation: A built-in fan helps ventilate odors through a vent hose connected outside your RV. This ensures no foul smells linger within your living space while using this composting toilet system.
  • Liquid-solid separation: Nature’s Head efficiently separates liquid waste into a separate container which can be easily emptied when needed. Solid waste gets mixed with peat moss or coconut coir in another compartment where aerobic bacteria break it down into usable compost material over time.

The initial cost of Nature’s Head may seem steep at around $1000; however, considering its long-term benefits like reduced water usage and avoiding dump station fees make it is worth the investment for many full-time campers or those who love extended boondocking trips.

Additionally, customer reviews consistently praise the ease of installation, use, and maintenance associated with this composting toilet model.

While Nature’s Head is our top pick for the best RV composting toilet, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences when making a decision.

There are other models available on the market that may suit your requirements better. We recommend reading reviews from fellow RV owners who have experience using different types of composting toilets in their rigs before making a final choice.

CLICK HERE to check the current price on Amazon.

Key Takeaway: 

The Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet with Close Quarters Spider Handle Design is a top choice for RV owners due to its durable construction, user-friendly design, odor-free operation, and efficient liquid-solid separation. Although the initial cost may seem steep at around $1000, it provides long-term benefits like reduced water usage and avoiding dump station fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the disadvantage of composting toilets?

The main disadvantages of composting toilets are their higher initial cost, regular maintenance requirements, limited capacity for large groups or frequent use, and potential odor issues if not managed properly.

Additionally, some campgrounds may not allow them due to local regulations.

What is the advantage of a composting toilet in an RV?

Composting toilets offer several advantages in an RV.

For one, they save water and reduce wastewater storage needs; eliminate black tank dumping; produce less odor than traditional holding tanks; require fewer chemicals; extend boondocking capabilities by reducing freshwater consumption; and provide eco-friendly waste disposal through compost production.


In conclusion, RV composting toilets offer a great option for those who are looking to reduce their water usage and waste disposal needs.

While there may be some cons associated with this type of toilet such as initial cost, foul odors, and the need for special toilet paper – when weighed against the pros of less water consumption and environmental friendliness it’s easy to see why many RV owners choose them.

With careful consideration given to all aspects of an RV composting toilet pros and cons list you can find the best choice that fits your lifestyle while still protecting our environment.

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay and Image by PixelCrusher from Pixabay

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