Imagine a toilet that doesn’t require water, eliminates unpleasant odors, and helps you reduce your water usage.

Sounds like a dream, right? It is a legitimate reality, allowing those into off-grid life to have a few creature comforts.

A big player in the composting toilet world is the Air Head brand. The Air Head is the original composting toilet and is a huge player in sustainable waste management.

No water, no smell, no septic. No problem!

Are you ready to dive into eco-friendly, waterless waste management? I am pulling out all the punches to share my review of the Air Head Composting Toilet.

Let’s get started!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I can earn commissions. If you decide to purchase through my links, it is at no cost to you.

What is the Air Head Composting Toilet

air head toilet

The Air Head Composting Toilet is a urine-diverting toilet that allows you to live anywhere, regardless of access to water or septic.

This product has a 5-year warranty, is made in the USA 🇺🇸, and is a waterless and self-contained system.

It is designed to provide a sustainable solution for waste management by using decomposition and evaporation to recycle human waste. ♻️

Its eco-friendly design eliminates the need for a black water tank, making it perfect for camping, boat trips, and other off-grid adventures. This toilet can even be installed in a traditional home or backyard ADU if you don’t want to install a septic system.

How does the toilet work?

This composting toilet separates urine and solids and stores it till it is time to empty. There is a trap door that opens the solids container when you need to use it.

The rich in nitrogen solids land in a holding tank and start to break down using a carbon-rich composting medium like coconut coir.

Perfect composting environment

The material produced when the solids are mixed with the medium is sometimes used for non-edible gardens but will need to continue to cure for 6-12 months before it is ready to use for gardening purposes.

Surprisingly, separating the urine and solids prevents any smell from the waste.

composting

Who Created the Air Head Composting Toilet?

Geoff Trott developed the idea for the Air Head toilet in the 90s when the boat he was living on needed a toilet solution.

It did not have a holding tank (or head), and there are rules about dumping your waste overboard.

He determined he needed to separate the liquid and solids and also have airflow over the solids to dry them out. Once he had a working prototype, he liked it so much that he started a manufacturing business.

Several other companies have copied his idea and created a similar product.

Who is the Air Head Composting Toilet For?

The Air Head composting toilet is designed with small spaces in mind, making it ideal for those living in off-grid environments such as:

  • Sailboats

  • RV’s

  • Off-grid cabins

  • Hunting camps

  • Backyard ADUs

  • Tiny Home

  • Camper Vans

Top benefits of the Air Head Composting Toilet

  • Water & Black Water Tank Savings: No water is needed, and therefore, no black tank is required. This saves water and space for more freshwater or gray water storage.

  • Versatility: The toilet is ideal for off-grid or water-based lifestyles.

  • Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Benefits: It produces nutrient-rich compost for gardening.

  • Convenience: The self-contained unit is travel-friendly because it is easy to empty.

  • Uncloggable: Since no plumbing system is associated with this system, you can never clog the toilet.

Airhead toilet diagram

The 6 Best Features of Air Head Toilet

1. Waterless & Eco-Friendly

The toilet does not need water to flush like a regular toilet, so you will no longer waste thousands of gallons a year.

Did you know?

The average flush toilet uses about 2 gallons per flush. Each day, you are using 20+ gallons of water – per person!

This is your contribution to a better earth by living more sustainably.

Average water usage of toilet-min

2. Urine-Diverting

Urine diverting toilet

The toilet is desired to separate the liquid and solid waste. Liquid is in the front, and solid goes in the back. By keeping these separate, the nasty sewage smell we are all too familiar with is no longer an issue.

Pro Tip: Keep a spray bottle handy with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar, water, and essential oils to spray after each #1, and you won’t have to worry about any potential smells.

3. Composting Action

A compost medium is added to the solids container, breaking down your solids, helping remove moisture, and neutralizing stinky smells.

You can help the compost do its job by turning the handle after each use and integrating fresh solids into the mixture.

Pro Tip: Once the agitator gets a little hard to turn, it could indicate you need to dump the solids – even if it is not full.

4. Electric Fan and Vent for Odor Control

A 12-volt fan removes moisture from solid waste, drying it out. This reduces the solids and also helps reduce unpleasant smells.

Additionally, the toilet has a venting system to help eliminate any remaining odors.

The toilet’s fan and composting process work hand in hand to provide effective odor control. Seriously, no smells!

Pro Tip: Clean your fan vent when you empty your solids container.

5. You can Take it Anywhere

You can take this toilet anywhere since you don’t need water or a septic system for this setup.

From your sailboat on the sea to an RV under the tree. (Does that feel too Dr. Seuss to anyone?)

6. Non-transparent Urine Container & Easy to Remove

The liquid container is not transparent, so it is easier to be discrete when carrying it to the dump if you happen to have neighbors at your location.

comparison

Unlike Nature’s Head, the liquid tank can be removed without lifting the lid, making it very easy to remove.

Air Head Toilet Pricing and Expenses

Initial Investment – The toilet is your biggest investment and expense. It will cost about $1,000+.

The good news is there are some options for the toilet, as some may be using it on boats. I have not personally used a marine style. I have only ever seen the model with the household seat.

Other options other than seat type that are available:

  • Crank Handle option (right or left)

  • Fan Housing (Straight or Right angle housing)

  • Tank Type (Flat back or hull type)

  • Liquid bottle size (Standard – 2 gallon or Compact – 1 gallon)

Ongoing expenses

Optional expenses

  • 12V to 110V AC adapter (depending on installation)

  • Container to mix compost (if desired)

  • Extra Hose lengths – 1 1/4″ PVC (optional)

  • Child Seat adaptor (if needed) 

  • Small stool for shorter people (like children – if needed)

Pros and Cons

Air Head Pros ✅

  • Great for off-grid tiny houses, boats, or Vanlife

  • The liquid container holds about 2 to 3 days of waste with full-time use, so there is no need to empty it daily.

  • The Solids container only has to be emptied every few weeks.

  • No need to search for dump stations – just empty the solids in a regular kitchen trash bag.

  • Compost medium like coco coir will help remove smell from the solid matter.

  • The removable toilet seat makes it more comfortable than a molded, built-in one.

  • Do not have to leave space behind the toilet to open the lid.

  • Handles on the solids tank make it easier to dump.

little boy sitting on the toilet

Air Head Cons ❎

  • Possible bug issues if the compost material stays too wet or gets too wet. 

  • Won’t fit under a seat or bench – unless that bench is built higher.

  • The space needed to turn the handle may limit the space it can be installed.

  • Have to have compost material on hand – so it could be harder to find if you run out while remote.

  • Guys should sit down for #1.

Installation, Dimensions, and Specs

airhead dimensions
Image Source: AirHeadToilet.com

Installing the Air Head Composting Toilet

Regarding installation, this toilet is a breeze, with only a small hole required to vent the exhaust and some brackets to mount to the floor.

If you are installing this toilet where an old toilet was run to a black tank, you will need to get a plug for the black tank.

airhead install options
Image Source: AirHeadToilet.com

The vent hose should be exhausted outdoors to move moisture and odor outside the space. Running the exhaust to the ground is an acceptable way to install it; I have read others that recommend not doing this.

The toilet requires electricity to power its 12-volt exhaust fan, but a 12V to 110V adapter is available.

Pro Tip: Fewer bends and distance are recommended in the vent hose.

Air Head Composting Toilet Dimensions and Specs

The toilet’s dimensions are:

  • Depth = 19 inches

  • Height = 19 3/4 inches

  • Width = 18 3/4 inches

Comparision

Unlike Nature’s Head, this toilet does not need a clearance from the back of the wall but will need space to turn the agitator.

There is even a marine seat version with small dimensions for more limited spaces.

  • Depth = 17 1/2 inches
  • Height = 19 3/4 inches
  • Width = 18 3/4 inches

The toilet seat is not built in and can be changed out.

Step-by-Step Guide to Emptying the Air Head Toilet

Emptying the Liquids Container

The liquids holding tank must be emptied every few days when two people use the toilet full-time. Emptying the liquid tank is simple.

  1. There is a latch on the front to loosen. It holds the liquid jug in place.

  2. Pull the container out of its place.

  3. Dump it outside on non-edible plant or in a sewer connection.

  4. Give it a good rinse before reinstalling.

Pro Tip: Add some sugar to the urine container to reduce smells even more!

Emptying the Solids Container

With a 5-gallon capacity, the toilet requires regular compost bin emptying. Depending on use, the solids tank typically needs emptying every few weeks or even longer.

You should be able to get at least one month out of it before emptying it.

The emptying process for the solids tank involves:

  1. Remove the liquid container if you have not already.

  2. Loosen the bolts near the floor.

  3. Disconnect the vent hose.

  4. Grab the handles and take the toilet outside.

  5. Loosen the toilet lid section and remove it.

  6. Turn the solids container over to empty into a compostable trash bag.

  7. You can use a small shovel to loosen up anything not coming out.

  8. There is no need to scrub the solids bin as there are good bacteria in it you want to keep.

  9. Add more compost material and reinstall the base, lid, and liquids container.

  10. Ensure the vent house is replaced in the correct position.

Pro Tip: Throw #1 toilet paper into a separate trash bin instead of the solids part so it doesn’t fill up as fast, but you can throw #2 paper in the solids container.

Composting Toilet Cleaning

The liquid container must be rinsed with water and a little dish soap.

The solids container doesn’t necessarily need a full spray down, but if you do, let it dry completely before reinstalling.

The screen on the fan should also be cleaned at least once per season.

-–> Here is a more thorough guide on cleaning a composting toilet

Pro Tip: Wear compostable gloves to clean, and you can throw them right in with the solids you empty.

Troubleshooting

If you have any issues with the toilet, it will most likely be a smell because the liquids got into the solids or are too wet and need more compost material.

If the agitator handle is hard to turn, it could be toilet paper getting knotted around the bar or the bin getting too full.

The overflow issue is also if you wait too long to empty the liquid.

Then there is the issue of BUGS! Some composting toilets can attract bugs. EWWW.

Luckily, this toilet has some nifty features to prevent those suckers.

  • Both the inlet and outlet on the tank have a bug screen

  • The exhaust hose also has a bug screen

  • The toilet lid has a seal that prevents the little friends from getting in through the top

Pro Tip: Keep the toilet lid down!

Alternatives to the Air Head Composting Toilet

question mark, think, question

If the Air Head Composting Toilet isn’t what you’re looking for, other composting toilet models exist, such as Nature’s Head, Separett, Sun Mar GTG, or OGO. There is also a DIY toilet, a dry flush, and a cassette toilet.

  • The Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is also urine-diverting, but the toilet seat is built in, so there are fewer things to break.

  • The Separett offers a little more residential feel and less maintenance. The liquids are connected to your gray water tank, and solids collect in a bucket, which is a little easier to empty and refill.

  • The Sun Mar GTG is more budget-friendly than the Air Head toilet.

  • The OGO composting toilet is shorter, so it will fit better under a seat but has a more square toilet base.

  • A DIY toilet is a bucket with a toilet seat on the top. It’s the cheapest option you will find and is more of a temporary option.

  • A Dry flush toilet is quite similar to an adult diaper genie. These inserts catch the waste and then wrap it up to contain the waste.

  • A Cassette Toilet does not use compost material and is often seen in many Camper Vans.

My Experience Using Air Head Composting Toilet

Last summer, our family of five rented a cozy cabin in the Tennessee woods, where we encountered the Air Head Composting Toilet.

The cabin owner had very thorough and complete written instructions and even a QR code (with a video link) of her emptying it if someone staying there would need to do it.

Initially, the kids were fascinated by the novelty of a toilet that didn’t flush—they thought it was the coolest thing ever!

I found it slightly taller than our home toilet and was so paranoid the guys would forget to sit.

I must have said, “Make sure you sit” about 30 times that week. We quickly got the hang of using the toilet, which became pretty second nature.

The process was straightforward and surprisingly odor-free, a relief given our initial concerns about having a composting toilet in a small living space. When I said a cabin earlier – it was a mere 600 feet.

The emptying routine was not bad, and we emptied the liquid daily. I was worried about it overflowing. During this trip, we did not have to empty the solid container.

But fear not, I have made friends with a few users for the Air Head for their feedback and even convinced someone at a tiny house festival we attended to let me assist her with emptying her toilet.

The things we do in the name of research and experience!

Should You Buy Air Head Composting Toilet?

In conclusion, this Composting Toilet is an innovative and eco-friendly solution for off-grid living, camping, and situations without traditional plumbing.

Its waterless and odorless design, easy installation, and sustainable waste management make it an ideal choice for those seeking an environmentally friendly toilet system.

I have yet to talk to anyone who has said this toilet purchase is not worth the money. You’ll need to decide if this is the toilet you need in your space.

It is reliable and easy to use, so is the Air Head Composting Toilet worth considering for your next off-grid adventure?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do composting toilets need a fan?

You don’t need to install a fan for small composting toilets since the short emptying cycles reduce moisture collection in the body, and small cabinets cannot fit a fan. A fan is ideal, and some come with it built in.

What are the disadvantages of composting toilets?

Composting toilets need regular maintenance and additional accessories like venting and drainage systems.

How does the Air Head Composting Toilet control odors?

The Air Head Composting Toilet separates urine and solids to help reduce unpleasant odors. A fan helps remove moisture, and the composting material neutralizes the nitrogen in solids.

Is it gross to empty a composting toilet?

Nope, not really. If you are using it properly and maintaining it properly, it’s just another chore.

Can I throw feminine hygiene products in a composting toilet?

Some products may not be biodegradable, so it is ideal to dispose of them in a separate waste basket.

Author
  • Erin Hybart

    Meet Erin, a real estate enthusiast with a wealth of knowledge and an insatiable curiosity for all things Real Estate and living with intention. She passionately advocates for alternative, affordable, and eco-friendly housing solutions. She believes in pushing the industry's innovation boundaries and thinking outside the box. As a licensed real estate agent in Louisiana, Erin dedicates herself to assisting clients in buying and selling properties and mentoring fellow agents to succeed in their own Real Estate businesses. In addition to her professional pursuits, Erin channels her expertise into captivating house-flipping adventures.

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