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The moisture content of a compost pile is very important for composting. Below 40%, organic matter will tend to dry out and not decompose rapidly. Over about 60%, not enough air can get into the pile and it can become anaerobic {no oxygen}.

616769Moisture & Liquid Separation

All Nature Loo compost chambers contain a false/perforated floor to allow liquid to be separated from the solids. This reduces the naturally high moisture content of human waste and prevents the process from becoming anaerobic. The separated liquid is either evaporated by the ventilation fan or diverted to a small absorption trench (2m long x 40cm wide x 40cm deep) filled with gravel. The fan also helps evaporate liquid from within the pile due to perforations in the internal vent pipes. A moisture content of approximately 50% is ideal for composting.

All Classic models have the option to upgrade to the urine diverting Pasadero pedestal or the Excelet NE can be upgraded to the Excelet with a urine diverting top. With urine diversion liquid never even enters the compost chamber but is either dispersed directly into an absorption trench or collected for use as a fertiliser.

Temperature

The heat coming from piles of organic material including those found in composting toilets is generated by the feeding and multiplication of millions of microorganisms. Technically, the stage of the temperature cycle below 40°C is termed mesophilic, above 40°C is thermophilic.
Composting is most rapid in the thermophilic stage. As the temperature rises over 40°C, mesophilic organisms die out and are replaced by an upsurge in the population of thermophilic organisms; the agents of fastest decomposition.

Nature Loo composting toilets function well in both thermophilic and mesophilic stages, but in most cases, it operates in the faster, thermophilic stage. This happens for a couple of reasons:

  1. Air is drawn into the Nature Loo composting toilet through the toilet pedestal. As the air inside a house is usually warmer than the air outside, the Nature Loo chamber is kept warm. In colder climates, the chamber can also be insulated with a thermal insulation material.
  2. The containers are black. This means they are an excellent absorber of heat, especially if located in natural sunlight as is recommended once they are full.

611760Unlike most other commercial composting toilets, with Nature Loo there is no need to only position the toilet pedestal on the sunny side of the home. This is one of the greatest benefits of the "batch composting" method. When a compost chamber is full it is:

  1. Disconnected from the waste chute and sealed with an "out-of-service" lid.
  2. The "out-of-service" chamber is now placed in a sunny location to finish composting. It can, therefore, be exposed to natural sunlight for at least 50% of the composting cycle.
  3. Another full compost chamber that has been composting in isolation for several months is emptied into a hole on the property or emptied into a communal compost pile and left for a further 12 months.
  4. The now empty compost chamber can be connected up to the waste chute and the cycle repeats itself.

Supply of Oxygen & Ventilation

Micro-organisms that require oxygen to survive are called aerobes. Organic materials are composted most rapidly by aerobes ~ much more rapidly than the anaerobes used in septic systems.

Aerobes need many cubic metres of oxygen per day for rapid breakdown. The small 12 volt ventilation fans housed inside the Nature Loo ventilation pipe supply up to 420 litres of oxygen per minute, more than enough to keep the process going at optimum levels. This has the added advantage of acting as a highly efficient extractor fan to remove odours from the toilet room.

Microbes

An important function of the composting process is the destruction of pathogens. Most are killed in the thermophilic stage. Composting at temperatures above 55°C for one day kills almost all pathogens.

Depending on the model and frequency of use a Nature Loo chamber is in use for around 2 to 6 months and is composting by itself for another 4 to 12 months, there is little chance of any pathogens surviving, even if the composting process does not reach the thermophilic stage. In addition, our use of isolated chambers ensures no recontamination from fresh waste.

Since a Nature Loo chamber's internal temperature can reach 45 degrees centigrade in winter in Northern NSW, there is little chance of any pathogen surviving a number of months under such conditions even in the cooler regions of Australia.

A typical analysis of the humus from a Nature Loo shows no traces of Faecal Coliforms or Salmonella sp.

When the toilet is first supplied it arrives with a packet of Nature Quick which contains a proprietary strain of microbe that facilitates the composting. This is used when first starting off the compost chamber and only as required to bolster the good bacteria (e.g. if someone is using broad-spectrum antibiotics).