Consider Your Litter: Cover Materials for Composting Toilets

composting toilet litter material
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The key to your Trelino® doing its duty while smelling fresh is the use of a litter after each number 2. Each time you line the solids container with a new bag, you should first drop in two scoops of your litter of choice. Then, after each use, place in a scoop or two to cover your business. 


Options which create the most eco friendly and quick breakdown of solids will be carbon rich. A carbon-rich source will be able to create the energy needed to break down your compost more quickly. Additionally, your litter should serve to bind moisture, cover the solids, and then loosen the contents of your composting toilet. In short, dry it out. We will soon be offering our own litter material solution, so be sure to check our website regularly or sign up to our newsletter.

While an effective litter should be multi-tasking, we recommend it have the following qualities: absorbent, lighter in weight, and the ability to deodorize. Some examples of tried-and-true mediums are: 

  • Small Animal Litter
  • Sawdust
  • Coconut Coir
  • Organic Peat Moss
  • Soil
  • Dried Coffee Grounds

small animal litter

Small Animal Litter

Small animal litter is known to outdoors enthusiasts as one of the more commonly used covers. There are several varieties of litter available including hay, wood chips, hemp, or paper. While any of these options could work, those with a texture most similar to wood shavings have proven to be the most effective in covering all your needs. 

Why would a critter like this litter? This material is broadly accessible. No matter where your adventure leads, it can be found at any pet, craft, or even grocery store. It also does not add much weight to or take up space in your lodging. 

A bag of Full Cheeks Small Pet Aspen bedding from PetSmart can cost just $8.99 for 41 liters of material. These can also be bought online from Amazon or in other pet stores such as Petco.

Saw Dust 

With a similar texture to our most recommended small animal litter, saw dust shaved in a medium cut would be another excellent option to dry out your droppings. As it is a light, carbon-rich material, the composting process is improved by its ability to ventilate well. This quality is also helpful in masking smells. 

This product can be purchased as small animal litter, but you can also find it affordably or even free in some hardware stores or woodshops. However, if cut too finely, the saw dust may not be able to soak up as much moisture as needed for your toilet. 

Coconut Coir

Coconut Husks

Another frequently used option is coconut coir blocks. With similar advantages to the pet litter in its overall convenience, effectiveness, and size, what sets this material apart is its ability to cover smells. The exceptional absorbency which the coconut coir possesses presents a worthy challenger to your most persistent scents. 

Compressed and sold in bricks, coconut coir is convenient for storage in smaller spaces. However, in order to get this material ready for use, you must soak the brick in water to loosen and expand it and then let the resulting product dry out.  

These bricks are available in pet stores, online, or grocery stores. Petco sells a pack of three bricks, expanding to about 21 liters of material, for $7.99. Even though they are convenient to purchase, there has been debate over the ecological friendliness of these bricks as they are largely imported. Another aspect to consider is that this material typically performs best when paired with an agitator to move it and the other contents of your toilet around. Without it, the fibers are not able to aerate as well. 

Organic Peat Moss 

Another commonly used litter is organic peat moss. On the surface, this material has everything a composter could need. Its porous quality helps it soak up moisture quickly, it reduces odor, and works well as a fertilizer. 

This is another material which can be purchased at home and garden stores or grocery stores. At Wal-Mart, a 7 liter bag can cost $19.09. 

A drawback of this material is the impact its removal has on the habitats it originates from. It comes from peat bogs which host a large variety of animals and once it is harvested, it grows back very slowly.



One other option for a medium may be right under your feet. Soil (particularly a terra preta, nutrient rich option) creates the most natural composting process due to the microorganisms already present in the material. This solution also presents you with the quickest breakdown process of the alternatives as well as a significantly reduced odor formation. An organic bag is also widely available, Miracle-Grow sells a 6 liter bag for $7.59. 

Why don’t more people use soil? The issues which cause those who choose this option to split have to do with the weight of the material. It is one of the heavier options which can lead to breakage in the bag used for your waste.

We would suggest the use of this litter in situations where your toilet will be settled in one particular place such as a tiny home or cabin.

Dried Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds

Getting back on your grind after your trip to the toilet can be made easier with coffee grounds. Using used, dried coffee grounds as a litter not only gives them another purpose, but it also is the best option to cover up scents. 

However, an issue with this medium is the low amount you may have on hand. Something we can recommend is to use a little bit of these coffee grounds with one of the other solutions. A combination with this material will help with the smell and the composting process.

A No Stress Mess

Your adventures shouldn't be interrupted by inconvenient, unnecessary cleaning. At Trelino®, we are here to help with that! Our favorites, based on cost, capability, carbon-content, and ecological impact, are: small animal litters, wood shavings, and coconut coir. The litter you choose for your throne can be specific to your and your needs. Try any or all of these choices and see which works best for you! 

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