Why our Composting Toilets do not Need an Agitator

van parked in front of beautiful scenery
Table of Contents

No Agitators, Keeping it Simple

One of the most frequent questions we have gotten overtime is “How can you not have an agitator??”. Our answer is short: we don't need one! We choose to put simplicity, ease, and innovation over just refashioning the prototype set by other composting toilets. As we developed our portable toilet, we wanted to make sure you truly could take it with you anywhere and that meant knocking off some of the unnecessary bits that were keeping it down. So, same ideas and functions as a toilet with an agitator just executed in a way that provides effortless maintenance and versatile applications.

In case you have any questions, we have compiled the three main issues we considered most when taking off the crank and how we have worked with those to create a more simple, easy to use composting toilet. 

Dropping the Weight: Toilet Size

Compact Compost Toilet

Almost every composting toilet on the market has an agitator, but how are you supposed to fit a whole toilet with an inconveniently shaped crank jutting out into an already tightly packed camper vehicle? We thought, let's take it off! Removing the handle and rod has helped us create a smoother shape with a more adaptable body. Stowed away in a drawer or set up in a wet bath, it can fit almost anywhere. 

That removal has also allowed for us to play around with the sizes of our models. What would a small toilet with a large waste capacity look like? How could we get a loo built for a family's use to fit into a van already straining to hold 4+ people? Without the agitator bar in the way, we were able to resize solids containers based on the model we designed for the scenario we wanted it to fit into. 

No Nooks and Crannies: Cleaning your Trelino

One of our other issues was with the idea of cleaning a composting toilet. You are already having to travel around, so anything to do with your toilet should be quick, easy, and clean.

With the agitator, you are looking at a more difficult, time consuming cleaning cycle. In order to clean, you need to disassemble the entire toilet. First, you unhinge the top, bowl section of the toilet and slide it to the side to remove it entirely. After you have found a spot to set the top part, you get to the solids bin. Due to the bar on the inside, you are not able to line the solids area with a bag. So, when it comes time for you to empty it, you are looking at either needing to turn it upside down to dump it into your compost or waste bag. This can lead to potential spillage and a mess that we were looking at avoiding in the design of our toilet. 

By taking out the agitator, we made the process cleaner and quicker. Now all you need is to line your solids container with a bag, we recommend one made of a compostable material. Then when it comes time to clean, you will be able to just pick it out and tie it up. This cleaning process takes less than a minute and doesn't require any heavy lifting or create any mess. If done correctly, you won’t even need to wipe down the bucket! 

Trelino Interior 
Interior Toilet with Agitator
Trelino® Interior   
Compost Toilet with Agitator Interior


Additionally, the disposal of toilet paper is another factor. For our toilet, we recommend a compostable TP. You can throw it straight into the solids bin whether you use it for #1 or #2. With an agitator, there is the possibility that some toilet paper gets caught in the bar, making the cleaning process a bit tougher. Most companies suggest disposing of the toilet paper into a separate container. 

*It should be noted that some of the larger toilets that come with an agitator rod are made to hold more waste for longer periods of time and that the cleaning cycles will differ based on regularity of use.

Optional: Start the Cycle of Composting

For those of you that are actually composting the waste, this section is for you. Not wanting to sacrifice the quality of the humus, we did some research and found that you do not need an agitator to compost! While the rotation may help to dry out contents, the real composting process takes months. Much longer than your waste would be in the toilet.

So, why would these be called composting toilets in the first place if they aren't meant to hold the resulting compost? Holding it for the long term would create a more difficult and bulky disposal process. The toilets do initiate the process though. By separating #1 from #2, they do two things. First, they keep the waste dry. When it is dry, the composting can begin more quickly. Second, they keep the material actually suitable to add to compost piles. As long as you use compostable toilet paper, you can just add the (full) bag of your solids container to your compost. 

We also discovered some alternatives to get that composting process kick started. The main one is the type of litter you use. While coconut coir has become a more popular litter option, we have found that this is a material which would benefit from the stirring an agitator provides. A different material that is great for our toilets has been sawdust! This is also a more affordable option which can be found in any local grocery or pet supplies store. 

Questions about Composting Toilets?

In taking out the agitating rod, we aimed to make your travels easier, your load lighter, and your cleaning faster. While there may be pros and cons to this approach, we are aiming to answer any questions you may have about it and our resulting products. For more information, be sure to read some of our other informative blog posts. You can also feel free to chat with us online or email us with questions at hello@mytrelino.com. 

Composting toilet without agitator in van

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