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Urine Diverting vs Self-Contained Batch Composting Toilets: What’s the Difference?

Managing human waste sustainably is necessary for preserving our planet’s precious resources. With a focus on reducing our environmental impact, composting toilet systems are gaining popularity among eco-conscious homeowners, campers, and off-grid enthusiasts. But when it comes to choosing the right composting toilet, you might find yourself weighing the pros and cons of urine-diverting vs. batch-composting toilets


What is a Urine Diverting Toilet?

A urine-diverting toilet separates urine from solid waste at the source, reducing water usage and providing valuable resources for composting. Benefits include efficient composting, reduced odor, water conservation, nutrient-rich fertilizer production, and less frequent maintenance.

What is a Self-Contained Batch Composting Toilet?

A self-contained batch composting toilet converts human waste into compost using integrated systems and processes waste in separate batches. Advantages include compact design, ease of use, portability, efficient waste management, and minimal installation requirements.

Urine Diverting vs Batch Composting Toilet

Urine-diverting toilets are compact and efficient for small spaces, while batch composting toilets require more space and careful waste management.

Who Benefits from Each Type of Composting Toilet System?

Environmentally conscious homeowners, off-grid living enthusiasts, and eco-friendly communities benefit from urine-diverting toilets. Meanwhile, tiny house owners, RV travelers, and seasonal cabin dwellers find self-contained composting toilets ideal for their needs.

What is a Urine Diverting Toilet?

Separett Most Composting Toilet Systems are Best for Managing Human Waste

A urine-diverting toilet is a type of waterless toilet designed to separate urine from solid waste at the source. Separation is essential for improving the efficiency of compost toilet systems. Unlike conventional flush toilets that use water to transport toilet waste to a septic tank or sewer system, urine-diverting toilets manage human waste on-site, reducing water usage and providing valuable resources for composting.

How Urine Diversion Improves Composting Toilet

Urine diversion significantly enhances the composting process by addressing several key factors:

  • Moisture Control: Excess moisture can hinder the aerobic composting process. Diverting urine, which is rich in nitrogen and moisture, maintains an optimal balance of carbon-rich materials like wood chips, ensuring sufficient oxygen for aerobic bacteria.

  • Odor Reduction: Separating urine from solid waste helps reduce odor. Urine can cause unpleasant smells when mixed with solid waste, but when diverted, it can be processed separately, reducing the odor in composting toilets.

  • Nutrient Management: Urine is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, making it an excellent fertilizer. Diverting urine allows these nutrients to be harnessed more effectively, enhancing soil conditioning and plant growth.

Examples of Urine Diverting Systems

Urine Diversion Toilet Systems


Several urine-diverting toilet systems are available, ranging from simple DIY setups to advanced commercial systems:

  • Separett Villa: A self-contained composting toilet system featuring a urine diversion design. User-friendly and ideal for both residential and off-grid applications.

  • Nature’s Head: Another popular self-contained unit that separates urine and solid waste. Compact, easy to install, and requires less frequent maintenance.

  • Clivus Multrum: A split system composting toilet for larger systems, where multiple toilets are connected to a central composting chamber. Efficiently handles waste from multiple toilets and ensures proper composting.

  • EcoDry: A batch system that separates urine and solid waste, ensuring efficient composting of solid waste while the urine is diverted for external composting or use as fertilizer.

List of Benefits

The following are the benefits of urine diverting system:

  • Efficient Composting Process: Separation of urine helps maintain the right moisture level and provides necessary nitrogen for the compost waste material.

  • Reduced Odor: By keeping urine separate, there’s less risk of the composting chamber becoming anaerobic, which reduces unpleasant odors.

  • Water Conservation: These systems are waterless, making them perfect for areas with limited water supply.

  • Nutrient-Rich Fertilizer: Urine is a great source of nitrogen and can be directly applied to soil as a fertilizer.

  • Less Frequent Maintenance: The separation of waste makes managing the compost pile easier and less frequent.

Maintenance and Care

Maintaining a urine-diverting toilet involves a few routine tasks to ensure optimal performance:

  1. Emptying the Urine Container: Depending on the usage, the urine container should be emptied regularly. Diluting this urine with water provides a nutrient-rich fertilizer for plants.

  2. Managing the Composting Chamber: The composting chamber should be monitored to ensure the right balance of moisture, oxygen, and carbon-rich materials. Regularly adding cover material like sawdust or wood chips helps maintain this balance.

  3. Cleaning: Regular cleaning of the toilet seat and urine diversion system prevents any build-up of residue and ensures hygienic operation.

  4. Routine Maintenance: Check the drainage system for any blockages and ensure sufficient space in the compost chamber for the composting material to decompose properly.

What is a Self-Contained Batch Composting Toilet?

Waterless Toilets | Composting Toilet Consists of a Bucket

A self-contained batch composting toilet is a dry toilet system designed to convert human waste into compost. The term “self-contained” indicates that the toilet has all necessary components integrated into self-contained units, including the composting chamber, ventilation system, and drainage system.

The “batch” aspect refers to the process of composting toilet waste in separate batches, which allows for better management than most composting toilets. Plus, it ensures that the composting process is complete before the compost is used.

Batch Compost Process and Benefits

The batch composting process involves collecting waste in separate containers or chambers. When one container is full, it is sealed and left to compost while a new container is used.

Benefits of batch compost toilets include:

  • Odor Control: Properly managed batch systems have a minimal odor as the aerobic bacteria break down waste efficiently.

  • Nutrient Recycling: The compost produced is a valuable soil conditioner rich in nutrients, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

  • Water Conservation: Using no water makes these toilets ideal for areas with limited water supply.

  • Environmental Impact: By reducing the load on septic systems and sewage treatment plants, they contribute to less pollution.

  • Cost Savings: Without the need for extensive plumbing and water supply, installation and maintenance costs are lower.

Examples of Self-Contained Composting Toilet Systems

GL 90 Composting Toilet


Several models of self-contained composting toilets cater to various needs and preferences, such as:

  • Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet: Durable and popular among boaters, RV owners, and off-grid homeowners. It features a urine diversion system and a manual agitator to mix the compost.

  • Sun-Mar Excel: High-capacity unit for homes and cottages that has a unique Bio-drum system that ensures continuous mixing and aeration of the compost, speeding up the decomposition process.

  • Separett Villa 9215: A waterless toilet that uses a urine diversion and a ventilation fan to keep the composting chamber dry and odor-free.

  • BioLet 65: Ideal for residential use, the BioLet 65 has an automated mixing and ventilation system, ensuring optimal conditions for aerobic composting.

List of Benefits

Advantages include:

  • Compact Design: Ideal for small spaces like tiny houses, RVs, and boats.

  • Ease of Use: These systems are straightforward to use and maintain, making them perfect for people new to composting toilets.

  • Portability: Many self-contained units are portable, allowing them to be moved or relocated as needed.

  • Efficient Waste Management: By composting in batches, users can easily manage and dispose of composted material.

  • Minimal Installation Requirements: These toilets do not require extensive plumbing or drainage systems, making installation simple.

Waterless Composting Toilets Buying Options

Maintenance and Care

Proper maintenance in accordance with state and local regulations is necessary for the efficient operation of self-contained batch composting toilets. Here are some essential tips:

  1. Regular Emptying: Once a composting chamber is full, it should be sealed and left to compost for several months. A new container should be put in place to continue the process.

  2. Adding Cover Material: Sprinkling a layer of carbon-rich material like sawdust over waste each time it is added helps maintain the right balance for composting and controls odor.

  3. Monitoring Moisture Levels: Ensuring that the compost is not too wet is essential. When excess moisture is a problem, adding dry materials or improving ventilation can help.

  4. Routine Inspection: Regularly checking the ventilation and drainage systems to ensure they are functioning correctly is essential. Clear any blockages and replace worn-out parts as needed.

  5. Compost Removal: After the composting process is complete (typically 6 to 12 months), the finished compost can be removed and used as a soil conditioner in gardens, avoiding direct use of edible plants.

Urine Diverting vs Batch Composting Toilet

Urine Diverting vs Batch Composting Toilet


Below are the differences between the two. 

Factors Urine Diverting Toilet Self-Contained Batch Composting Toilet
Design Differences Separate urine from solids (feces and toilet paper) using a divided toilet seat, reducing odor and aiding efficient composting. Use multiple composting chambers, sealing off each one when full to allow complete composting.
Structural Elements and Space Requirements Compact, often self-contained units suitable for small spaces like RVs and boats. Installation involves a urine drainage system. Need more space due to their multiple chambers, requiring careful installation and more floor space.
Handling Waste Excel at managing waste by separating urine and solids controlling odor and moisture. Urine is either diverted to a greywater system or collected as fertilizer. Isolate waste in separate chambers for thorough composting, which is suitable for larger households.
Efficiency and Effectiveness Promote faster decomposition by reducing liquid in the composting chamber, supporting aerobic bacteria. Ensure complete composting over time, handling larger waste volumes but requiring more time for usable compost.
Maintenance Requirements Need less frequent maintenance, focusing on the urine drainage system and aeration. Require regular monitoring and rotation of chambers, plus periodic removal of finished compost and adding cover materials.
Long-term Upkeep Involve maintaining the urine diversion system and replacing components like separators and pipes. Demand more intensive upkeep, including inspecting and managing multiple chambers.
Environmental Benefits and Drawbacks Reduce waste volume and recycle nutrients, though safe urine management is necessary. Ensure fully composted waste, minimizing pathogen risk and producing safe soil conditioner, but require more space and complex maintenance.
Sustainability Reduce water usage and recycle nutrients efficiently. Provide thorough composting suitable for larger households.

Who Benefits from Each Type of Composting Toilet System?

Waterless Toilet Composting System


Among many composting toilets, urine-diverting and self-contained batch composting toilets stand out for various people.

Ideal Users for Urine Diverting System

These toilets are particularly advantageous for:

Environmentally Conscious Homeowners

Homeowners who are passionate about sustainability and reducing their ecological footprint will find urine-diverting toilets ideal. Separating urine, which can be used directly as a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, contributes to more efficient composting and nutrient recycling.

Off-Grid Living Enthusiasts

Those living off the grid or in remote areas without access to traditional sewer systems benefit immensely. These toilets reduce reliance on water and eliminate the need for a septic tank or flush toilet system.

Eco-Friendly Communities

Communities focused on sustainable living and eco-friendly practices can integrate these systems to manage human waste effectively while producing valuable compost.

Ideal Users for Self-Contained Composting Toilets

Self-contained composting toilets are designed to compost waste in batches, making them easy to manage and ideal for specific user groups:

Tiny House Owners

Space is a premium in tiny houses, and these self-contained units fit perfectly without requiring extensive plumbing or a large composting chamber.

RV Travelers

For those who travel in RVs, a self-contained batch composting toilet is a convenient and eco-friendly solution to manage waste on the go.

Seasonal Cabin Dwellers

People with seasonal cabins can benefit from these toilets as they provide a low-maintenance solution during their stays and can be easily managed when the cabin is not in use.


When it comes to choosing between urine-diverting and self-contained batch toilets, it’s all about finding the right fit for your lifestyle and environment. Urine-diverting excels in water conservation and creating nutrient-rich fertilizers, making them ideal for eco-friendly homes and off-grid cabins. Self-contained composting toilets are perfect for tiny houses and RVs, ensuring sustainable sanitation on the go.

Have any questions or would like to place an order? We'd love to help! Chat with our friendly customer service team by calling 1-844-945-3625, chatting in on our website or email us at customersupport@wildoaktrail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Patricia Turla
Patricia Turla

Patricia, a seasoned writer and editor, brings a wealth of experience and a pinch of flair to the world of off-grid living. With a sharp pen and an ever-curious mind, Patricia has collaborated on and edited various publications covering off-grid solar power, prepper's canning and preserving, and water purification. These numerous publications under her belt have been instrumental in shaping how-to guides and educational material for those keen on being off the grid. Beyond that, her commitment to empowering others with knowledge and her hands-on experience make her a trusted voice in the community of sustainable living advocates.

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