Composting Vs Incinerating Toilet: Which Toilet Is the Best?

Written by

Paulk Webb


Freddie J. Hagopian

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composting vs incinerating toilet

Those who reside in suburban areas take chances in minimizing water usage. They can do it through innovative bathroom fixtures. In this matter, it is worth considering composting vs incinerating toilets.

You may think that these two kinds of toilets are the same. But you’ll be surprised to find the differences. Composting toilets work through sanitary and quick decomposition with the aid of bacteria while incinerating toilets burn the waste and turn it into ashes.

Through details on incinerating toilets vs composting toilets, you’ll understand which one works best for you. Laying down the information starts with introducing each toilet.

Composting Toilet


Tiny house composting toilet is popular as it allows the homeowner to decompose waste. It discards waste in an environmentally friendly way and the compost can be useful in some ways.

The function of Composting Toilet

Composting toilet is simple since it works with old-school waste management technology. It has only three components, as follows:

  • Bulking materials

Air gaps are essential in the waste to quicken the decomposition. This can be done by adding coconut husks.

  • Urine diverter

This is a tool that can separate urine from solid waste to make decomposing easier.

  • Ventilation

This can help quicken the drying process of waste. It’s an essential process for decomposing.

These three components work towards the same goal of securing a dry environment for solid waste. It’s the ideal setting for decomposition. Apart from the components, you have to know that there are two kinds of composting toilets.

Kinds of Composting Toilet

  • Slow composting toilet

You can make this at home as the structure is simple and basic. A large bucket (5 to 10 gallons) attached to the toilet seat rim can complete your slow composting toilet. Typically, it doesn’t have a urine diverter or ventilation.

You can just take a dump on the bucket then collect the waste by putting it inside a bag. The collected waste will be brought to the nearby compost pile. So decomposition takes place away from home.

Although it’s easy to set up, the putrid smell can linger when cleaning isn’t done properly. Also, there is no aid to speed up decomposition.

  • Active composting toilet

This is more advanced than a slow composting toilet because it’s in an enclosed system that hastens the decomposition process. It’s made up of a canister and toilet seat that are both linked to objects that increase the decomposition rate like urine diverters. Bulking materials and ventilation are also available.

When you use the active composting toilet, you’ll feel like you’re at home. You won’t have to bear the disgusting smell as decomposition becomes quick. However, installation costs more than the homemade one.

Read more: What is the difference between dry flush and composting toilets?

Incinerating Toilet


A tiny house incinerator toilet is an off-grid toilet that burns the waste right after you’ve deposited it.

Functions of an incinerating toilet

An incineration toilet can be mistaken as the regular toilet that you have at home. But the distinction can be found in the inside part of the toilet. The inside body of the incinerating toilet is metal, which doesn’t succumb to melting when incineration takes place.

Before you defecate on this toilet, you have to put a piece of paper at the bottom. After the waste goes on the paper, the user seals it by pressing the button, lever, or pump connected to the toilet.

There’s a door at the toilet’s bottom that you have to open and send the waste to the incinerator. The waste is immediately burned and turned to ashes. This process is facilitated by natural gas, propane fuel source, or electricity.

It usually takes 10 to 20 minutes and a single tablespoon of ash appears. Evaporation happens like 98% of waste is only moisture. Apart from the small amount of fuel, this is an eco-friendly cycle.

Read more: How does an incinerating toilet work?

Comparison of Composting and Incinerating Toilets

Reading composting toilet vs incinerating toilet is a way to figure out which one suits your needs. In this part, composting and incinerating toilets pros and cons will be shown to you.

  • In terms of comfort

An incinerating toilet guarantees comfort as you only need to press a button to burn the waste. You don’t need to do anything after this. On the contrary, a composting toilet is not efficient in providing comfort, especially if you use it on a daily basis. Just imagine getting rid of the waste every time you poop!

  • Smell

Although burning the waste is not odorless, it’s not as strong compared to a composting toilet. You can limit the odor when the composting toilet is wrapped and sealed correctly. But you can’t avoid the smell when cleaning the toilet every morning and evening.

  • Water consumption

Some composting toilets need a small amount of water to send the waste to the lower chamber. But most of them don’t need water like Separett Villa 9215. The incinerating toilets work without it at all.

Some use peat moss or wood chips after using the composting toilet instead of water. Whichever toilet you use, you can expect less strain in the environment and low utility expenses. Also, they’re both portable.

  • Size

When you prefer the smallest and lightest toilet, the composting type is what you should get. It’s commonly found in boats and RVs. Keep in mind that the small composting toilet has limited capacities and works with hand-cranking. There are composting toilets that have a larger capacity with a ventilation system. So, it’s larger than the incinerating toilet.

  • Power source

Both of these toilets need a power source to work. But they don’t consume much energy. A small generator can activate them as well as renewable power sources like a solar panels. Composting toilets rely on electricity most of the time due to the need for ventilation. The toilet itself can work without power but you have to eliminate odor through ventilation.

Incinerator only functions with a power source and the average energy consumption is limited. The electric type works with a natural gas or propane system. You may depend on small fuel tanks as they’re more practical for individuals who reside off-grid.

  • Sustainability

Compared to flushing toilets, these are more environmentally friendly. I know you may wonder which one is better. Based on final byproduct, fuel consumption, and single-use liners, many would agree that composting toilets are more sustainable.

  • Convenience

If you prefer a toilet that is easy to use and convenient, an incinerating toilet is a great option. You only need to push the button to process the proper disposal of waste. Just this action will send the waste to the chamber and it gets burned to ashes.

In the case of composting toilets, you’ll need different levers and cranks to stir the waste. It’s done to let the bacteria work on decomposing. The convenience of the permanent installation of an incinerating toilet is superior to the portable composting toilet.

  • Toilet Capacity

The ashes from the incinerator pile up quickly so it requires frequent emptying. Thus, it has limited capacity. For instance, daily emptying is done if there are three or four toilet users. A composting toilet can go on for six months without the need for emptying.

  • Hygienic Concern

There are no liners on composting toilets and it means that the bowl can get stained. When it happens, you’ll also be exposed to the undesirable odor specifically on hot days. There’s a special bowl liner on an incinerating toilet that catches the waste.

Therefore, the waste doesn’t touch the inside section of the toilet. It means less mess during usage. You can easily keep things clean when using an incinerating toilet.

  • Disposal of By-product

Composting toilet turns waste into humus while its incinerating version burns it into ash. These products are both odorless and sanitary. What you can get after incineration is useful to fertilize your non-edible garden but you can also put it in your household garbage.

  • Cost

You’ll find that the composting toilet is cheaper than the incinerating toilet. The affordable version is usually small without a ventilation system. But you may need to pay more for high-end models that offer huge capacity. The cost of maintenance and replacement of consumables, like bulking materials and toilet bowl liners, is similar.

  • Maintenance

On an average basis, you’ll need to empty an incinerator once a day. The composting type, based on its capacity, needs emptying weekly or even after several months. When it comes to cleaning, the former is not as demanding as the latter. There are bowl liners on the incinerating toilet so this can keep the toilet clean as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

When comparing composting vs incinerating toilets, understand that they don’t excel in everything. They both have edges and drawbacks. Some are happy with a composting toilet as they don’t mind the cleaning. This option is for those who avoid frequent emptying.

An incinerating toilet, on the other hand, suits users who are not fond of cleaning the mess after doing their business. Getting this would require you to empty it daily when there is more than one user.

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