Design & DIY

Owners’ advice for alternative toilets


Whether you’re considering a composting toilet or an incinerating model, it’s worth your time to learn from cottagers who’ve had experience buying, installing, and using them. To simplify the process, we’ve compiled some of the top tips from alternative toilet owners.

For composters:

Buy extra capacity

In a four-person cottage, buy a system rated for six. “You can’t run it to the limit all the time,” says owner Bert Weichel, a University of Saskatchewan lecturer in environmental studies.

Avoid installation shortcuts

When Doug Dew bought his Parry Sound District cottage, it had a central unit jammed below. The cottage is on pilings, so the unit was flooded by snowmelt and exposed to weather. Its heating element failed. “I’ve had it working for one year out of the past 10,” Dew says.

Educate visitors

Chandos Lake cottager Tim Mitra recalls the time guests “flushed” the composter by dumping water into it. “It was horrible,” he says. “Like soup.”

Be regular—with maintenance

“Pair it with other chores,” says Weichel. “Every few days, I clean the cat litter box. It’s right next to the composter, so it’s a perfect reminder.”

For incinerators:

Meter moisture

Curbing an Incinolet’s appetite for hydro is another reason for men to empty their bladders alfresco, suggests cottager Lloyd Alter. After all, he adds, “it takes a lot of energy to evaporate liquid.” Meanwhile, a Storburn needs enough liquid for a slurry-like mix. “We’ve come to learn the right consistency,” says Lake Champlain, VT, cottager Joe Farnham. “Sometimes it can use a hit of water.”