The Clivus Multrum Composting Toilet

Much to my surprise the guy who invented the Clivus Multrum was neither Clivus nor Multrum.  I know, weird eh?  Guess that’s what happens when you ‘ass-u-me’. Doe!

Actually, the dude who invented it was a Swedish engineer back in 1939 by the name of Rikard Lindstrom, and the toilet was named after its unique design which translates to ‘sloping chamber’ in Swedish.

The original design has been through some face lifts as the company didn’t get lift off until 1973 in Massachusetts, however, it’s only improved upon its grey water systems and composting design.  Their aim is (in their own words) “to conserve water and keep nutrients in human waste from becoming a source of pollution.”

Well they certainly do save water.  It only takes about 3 oz per flush along with a bio-compatible soap that flushes it all away.  The guilt free part is that the water comes from recycled grey water….that is water re-routed from places like your shower, sink and laundry machine to your lavatory.  Why not use it twice?  Then of course the best part, the black water is composted in a chamber directly under the bathroom turning what was once waste into something very useful for your rose bushes…black gold…fertilizer. Happily having a composting toilet does not mean that you have to sacrifice doing something ‘green’ in exchange for a little thing called ‘smell’.  If that were the cost I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m a wuss and simply wouldn’t do it if it were gross smelling.  Luckily for me I can do something environmental AND not have to plug my nose every time I use the can.

By far the Clivus Multrum has the look and feel of a conventional system for those who like the benefits of being green, but haven’t quite wrapped their head around throwing a handful of saw dust on their ‘er’ deposits.  You don’t have to treat it like an outhouse.  This baby for the most part has the look and feel of a regular potty, but you can feel great about handling ‘your business’ in a far more productive and ecological way. The folks at Clivus Multrum are happy to send over a representative to do regular check ups and maintenance on your system so you don’t have to worry that once you buy this thing you’re completely on your own.  The only set back as I can see it (and it’s a minute one at that) is that you can’t get one of these puppies unless there is a room directly underneath the bathroom.  Fantastic if you have two floors to your house, but a bit of a challenge if you have a one floor design as I do for my future Earthship.  Still I am so knocked out by this system I’m always thinking of how I can incorporate one of their many products into my other out buildings.  Even the ‘outhouse’ with a solar panel to activate the fan to eliminate smells has gotten my attention.

Did I give you the impression they only do residential or commercial buildings?  Yeah they do, but there are also national parks using them on hiking paths in the middle of no where. No where like the Irving Eco Center in New Brunswick with their trail head model.  Thank god for privies in the middle of no where.  Nothing says gratitude like communing with nature, and then happening upon an outhouse so you can commune with nature . In case you’ve never seen one here’s a shot of the design and a look at how they work.  Since I can’t draw anything beyond a stick man I actually asked for permission from the folks at and they were happy to oblige.  I think the thought of me doing a line diagram illustrating their product scared the ____ out of them so they said yes.  Either way here it is.

If you want to know more you’ll have to go to them direct because I don’t have the price lists n’ stuff.  However, if you do wind up buying one please let them know we turned you onto them. How else am I gonna make this site grow into the ‘little Engine that could’.  Personally I’m secretly hoping that some positive word of mouth will find its way back to them and they’ll offer to play a part in sponsoring the water closet in my Middle Earth Home project.  So um, if you know a friend of a friend who works there, please feel free.

Image credtis: Clivus Multrum

2 Responses to The Clivus Multrum Composting Toilet
  1. Victoria
    March 21, 2012 | 10:56 pm

    Have you thought about having a watson wick toilet? If you’re in a cold climate you might have to incorporate it into a greenhouse, but what a boost it would be!

  2. Abe
    February 24, 2013 | 5:40 pm

    Are you still figuring out toilet options, or is your bathroom all done? There are several great manufactured composting toilets that are high-performance at an affordable price and with a small footprint (including my own Full Circle Composting Toilet.) There are also some great owner-built designs I could point you to that cost very little to construct, provided you have the time to build them.

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