Warning, poo talk ahead:
For those keeping score:
We last dumped our composter on 11/14/10. Obviously the pee bucket has been dumped many times since then but the composter itself was dumped in mid-November. We then used it daily (2 adults) until we arrived in La Paz, BCS on 12/8/10, just under a week shy of a month. It still had at least another week or so of capacity but, since shoreside facilities were available, we chose to use them and let the compost "cook" for awhile before emptying.
Today, after sitting with only the occasional stir but with no new deposits for a month, I decided it was time to dump it.
It was totally non-objectionable. The smell was a strong organic smell. Not unpleasant but not like the smell of newly-turned soil in a garden either. Better than the smell of many fertilizers, though. The consistency was fairly dry and looked mostly like the coir we use as a drying/organic component. There was NOTHING recognizable in the bucket. No paper and no poo. The only fly in the ointment was that the stirrer on the AirHead does not reach the bottom of the bucket so there was a layer about 1-1/2" deep that had to be stirred up with a stick in order to loosen it enough to dump out. This layer was wetter than the stuff above and looked about the color and consistency of wet coffee grounds. It wasn't gross at all but just having to stop and stir meant that it was a little harder to dump and keep everything in the trash bag. The little bit that spilled was easily wiped up with a paper towel or swept up with a mini-broom. I left a little bit in the bottom to act as seed for the next batch.
So, in the best of all possible worlds, we would use our composter for a month and then let it rest while using shore facilities for a month before dumping. You don't need a full month of resting time but, if possible, it's ideal.
And, although obviously I did wash my hands afterwards, I didn't have that "ooh-ick, must wash hands before touching anything" feeling that I always had after pumping out our holding tank.
Aren't you glad you asked?