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The Brave New World of Waterless Toilet Options


As rules and regulations related to onsite sewage disposal using septic systems continue to tighten, more and more South Frontenac property owners are turning to the myriad of waterless options either to add a second bath or update a vacation property.

The toilet technology available on the market today is as sophisticated as it is diverse. Figuring out which solution offers your family the best value without imposing a lifestyle change not everyone may be anxious to embrace can be difficult.

Fortunately, our friends down East at The Cabin Depot have made it their business to know what it’s like to do your business in a range of different waterless systems.

For those not in the know, The Cabin Depot is a family-owned firm in Lincoln, N.B., catering primarily to those who love the outdoors especially those seeking reliable off-grid living solutions. Their promise is if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’ll do their best to find it for you.

With their permission, Our Lakes is happy to summarize their analysis to assist you in your decision-making process. So, before you complete the paperwork on a new waterless toilet, check out what the experts from The Cabin Depot have to say about five of the most popular lines from around the globe, which are all readily available to South Frontenac property owners.

Cinderella

The current Cadillac of off-grid commodes, Cinderella’s incinerating system is intended for full-time use and averages about 30 minutes to complete a burning cycle after which only ash remains. Made in Norway, Cinderella’s line-up includes solutions for homes, cottages, tiny homes, construction sites, boats and RVs. Depending on the model, the unit is powered by propane or electricity. Easy to use, liners are applied before each use and the whole thing engages at the push of a button. Only requiring light cleaning, Cinderella’s ash bin generally needs to be emptied about once a month. The system is completely odourless if properly vented. All of these features make it the easiest unit to use on the market right now. They also make it the most expensive brand of waterless toilet to purchase and operate as it’s also the biggest power user out there.

Sun-Mar

The undisputed leader as far as Canadian content goes, Sun-Mar’s line of full composting toilets has decades worth of experience behind it. The units are intended for full-time use and range from self-contained central dry systems to larger central flush varieties that route waste to a well-vented composting chamber.

Sun-Mar’s line-up includes solutions for homes, cabins, cottages, tiny homes, as well as construction and industrial sites. Using one of these units will require you to mix the composting medium and add other ingredients – like the company’s own Microbe Mix. You’ll need to inspect the unit regularly and clean the contact surfaces as required. Only medium to low energy consumption is noted and odours are low to non-existent if properly vented. On the downside, it is generally the second priciest option available and the ongoing need for a supply of the peatmoss-like composting medium and additives can be a pain for some. The emptying and the cleaning of the compost containers in the standalone units would be their biggest detractor. 

Separett

Hailing from Sweden, the Separett line of urine diverting toilets is intended to be a much more affordable full-time solution in which liquids are separated through an external hose. Intended for use in homes, cabins, cottages and tiny home settings, the company offers many different models, but all are non-compositing. Solid waste is bagged and must be properly disposed of separately.

Again, to keep the unit spick-and-span requires regular inspection and spot cleaning of contact surfaces. Little to no energy is required and thanks to the hose, there is no need to empty urine collection containers. Odours are low to non-existent if properly operated and vented. The need to deal with “honey bags” as they are known in some parts of the country, can be a negative some will not want to accept.

Nature’s Head

In a similar price-range is an innovative American offering from Nature’s Head. With only one model available, the toilet has been designed to accommodate two people full-time or preferably for just part-time use in cabins, cottages, tiny homes, boats, RVs and camping situations.

Combining urine separation and light composting the unit has a detailed operating procedure. A manual trap door is opened via a lever, composing medium must be added and the mixing handle turned after each use. The urine bottle also needs to be emptied frequently.

Odours are low to non-existent if properly vented and cleansed, which requires removal of the top unit for disposal of the composting material and cleaning of the container. All contact surfaces must also be monitored and cleaned as needed.

Reliance

Far and away the most economical option, the Chinese-made Reliance units are only intended for temporary use, though they are completely portable for those on the go who gotta go.

With many models to choose from, in a pinch they can be used seasonally or on other occasions at your cabin, tiny home, boat, RV or even your favourite rustic campsite.

They generally consist of a bucket and bag or water flush system in which the waste is contained internally. Waste requires disposal in an approved area and all contact surfaces require thorough cleaning. These units – or “honey buckets” as many Canadians refer to them – have very limited capacity and need frequent emptying. Chemical additives need to be used to control the odours.

Waterless Toilet Comparative Performance
(Data courtesy of www.thecabindepot.ca)
ManufacturersCinderellaSun-MarSeparettNature’s HeadReliance
TypeIncineratingFull CompostingUrine DivertingLight CompostingTemporary Storage
Origin NorwayCanada Sweden U.S. China 
Relative Price$$$$$$$$$$$$
Avg Capacity5-12 users4-14 users4-8 users2 users1-4 users
Primary EnergyPropane or ElectricN/AN/AN/AN/A
Avg Energy Consumption (in use)800 to 2,000 Watts/0.15 to 0.3 lbs LPG per cycle0-250 Watts intermittent depending on the modelN/AN/AN/A
Avg Energy Rating (idle-fan)<1 Watt~1 Watt3 Watts     1.7A/24 hours          (~1 Watt)N/A
CertificationAll models CSA/UL/NSF/CENSF/ANSI/LSAETLUSCGN/A
Warranty3 Years1-3 Years5 Years5 Years0-5 Years

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