Shit Happens

Yes, it does, and pee too. A topic that many are squeamish about discussing but which deserves greater consideration.We all know where it comes from but where does  it go after you flush?  For people like us, who choose to live in an RV, on the road, it becomes a particularly important topic.

In a modern RV like ours, the bathroom facilities are just smaller versions of what you have in your home. Even small RV’s often have a toilet and shower or wet bath.. Of coures the kitchen also  generates waste water In many RV parks you have what are known as “full” hookups with water, electric and sewer connections to your RV. You plug in, hook up the water hose, and run a big hose to the sewer outlet.  Easy-Peasey. You open your tanks and everything just flows through. The big brown hose int he picture is the sewer line running from our trailer. In the background you can see our blue water hose and the large 50 amp electrical cable.


But Bill,  what if you’re not in one of these full hookup parks, or not in a park at all, maybe out in the boondocks doing what’s known as dry camping? Shit still happens, but what do you do with it? I’ll answer with one word–tanks. Holding tanks to be precise.  Every RV generates two kinds of waste water;Grey water from the sinks, showers in bathroom and  kitchen, and black water from the toilet. Every self-contained RV has grey and black water holding tanks. The sizes of these tanks vary with the size and design of the RV in question.  Our RV has one 40 gallon black water tank, and two  40 gallon grey water tanks, one under the bathroom., and the other under the galley. We also have a 77 gallon fresh water tank so we have drinking, cooking and bathing water when we’re off the grid, so to speak. When the tanks fill up, you head for the nearest “dump station” , hook up that big brown hose, and unload, Not the most pleasant of tasks, but not  as bad as say, listening to Donald Trump for an hour.

Wait, did you say only 77 gallons of fresh water? Yes I did. Water conservation skills are highly prized in the RV world.  Gone are long leisurely showers (our water heater only holds 10 gallons, and many hold only 6). Of course toilets are low flow units, but toilet flushing  uses a lot of water.   Did you know you can flush with  left over cooking water?

Merre and I  have taken a pro-active approach to this whole, shit-happens problem.  We have purchased and installed a composting toilet which uses no water at all.  On the recommendation of  The Wynns, two full-time RVr’s and documentarians whose advice and knowledge we highly recommend ( Gone  With The Wynns ), we chose a Nature”s Head Brand  toilet, pictured here:

#1 liquids accumulate in the removable tank at the front (black strap on the tank) which is then dumped at regular intervals into a campground bathroom or sewer line. #2  solids or semi-solids  accumulate in the holding tank. A lever on the side of the unity open the trap door when needed. Surprisingly, the design is such that Liquid and solid never mix, even when the trap door is open.. When the job is done, the trap door is closed, a  star handle on the side is give a turn to agitate the holding tank. In the tank with #2 is a composting material. We use coco coir, a pressed coconut fiber, which comes in easy to handle bricks. You can also use sphagnum peat moss but it comes in bales about the size of our truck bed and isn’t really practical for rvs. There is no plumbing at all. The unit is vented out of the rv with a hose. We vented ours right into  the old sewer vent. There is a small electric fan which runs continuously, about the sie of a computer fan and can barely be heard. It runs on the rv 12v system. There is an earthy smell on occassion but not a sewer odor.  In our expereince, with two folks  using it, the unrine bottle needs emptying  every 5-7 days and the main toilet  every 2-1/2 to 3 weeks. The main unit is emptied into a large plastic bag wich is then placed in a refuse bin. Two small turn screws hold the unit in place with brackets screwed to the floor.. The top (seat) portion is held on withflip open latches. I emptied ours today in aboiut a 45 minutes, including time to prepare the coconut fibre.

Go here to learn more about Nature’s Head Self-contained Composting Toilets

If you have questions, feel free to contact Merre and me. This is, after all, how we roll.





Published by Bill and Merre Davis

Retired and living a full time RV lifestyle. We are Nomads, progressive in our politics, Bill is a vegan, Merre nearly so. Bill a secular humanist with Buddhist tendencies. Merre probably agnostic. We have been together for 48 years and planning to go forward together.

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Six Vegan Sisters

real sisters | real food | real lives

How We Roll

The adventures of a pair of retired gypsies living full time in their RV, and exploring. We go where we want and do what we enjoy. Travel with us as we move on down the road of life.


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