1. Types of Camping Toilet:
Camping toilets include three basic types:
· Bucket – can build your own, basic receptacle for waste
· Collapsible – folds up for easy transport, includes a seat and a waste bag.
· Flushable – small plumbing system with a waste holding tank.
Portable camping toilets are excellent for remote camping with a car, kayak, or other remote location. Not the best choice for backpacking.
Some wild campers may settle for digging a hole when necessary. Generally, this is an emergency measure and not suitable for heavily used campsites because one person digging a toilet hole once a year is a low impact. Many people are more of an issue. Some camping toilet arrangements rely on waste burial for disposal of the toilet contents.
1.1 Bucket Toilets
Bucket toilets are a simple, practical solution to collecting human waste. These are best for one-time use or regular changes of the waste disposal bag. You can get biodegradable waste bags that allow you to dispose of the waste in landfills or at a designated site on your campsite.
The components of a bucket toilet include:
· Lining bags
· Seat with a clip-on lid
You can use the bucket toilet without a bag, but you need to empty the contents and then wash the bucket after use. The absorbent material soaks up the liquid mess and helps neutralize odors. Some people prefer a chemical liquid fill in the bucket.
1.1.1 Bucket toilet pros:
· Portable and straightforward to deploy at your campsite
· Easy to empty and clean using a bag as a liner
· You can make your own bucket toilet out of easy to obtain plastic containers
· Cheap to buy or make
· Take up less space and are lighter than a flushing type unless you use a chemical liquid fill
· You can use standard toilet paper
1.1.2 Bucket toilet cons:
· You need liner bags and some bulk absorbent material like compost, sawdust, gel, or cat litter. Gel and cat litter are not biodegradable.
· Despite your best efforts, these smell – you are collecting human waste in a bucket.
· Toilet management requires separating liquid and solid waste.
· Seals on the bucket style toilets vary from adequate to poor and prone to leaks.
· Stability issues mean it is possible to knock over a bucket toilet and spill the contents.
1. 2. Collapsible or Folding Camping Toilets
These camping toilets operate on the bucket toilet system but have the added advantage of folding into a small space for improved portability and storage. The collapsible toilet types vary from a fold-flat bucket with a lid to a folding toilet seat on a stand intended for use with a waste disposal bag.
1.2.1 Collapsible toilet pros:
· Super portable and light to carry.
· Easy to empty and dispose of waste.
· Minimal cleaning.
· Quick to set up and dismantle.
1.2.2 Collapsible toilet cons:
· Some versions are not as stable as other camp toilets.
· Some versions don’t protect the bag leaving it vulnerable to tearing and splitting.
· Smellier than other types because of the lack of a lid in some cases.
1.3. Flushing Toilets
Alternative names include cassette toilet or chemical toilet, and they are popular with caravan and RV owners as providing a more civilized toilet experience. They are light, compact, and don’t need power, and you get a flushing action to remove your waste into a holding tank.
The components of a flushing toilet include:
- · Toilet seat and latched lid.
· Water tank for the flushing action.
· Hand water pump.
· Waste tank sitting underneath the toilet containing chemicals
You set up the toilet and fill the water tank to provide water for the flush. You use the toilet in the usual way, and the handpump lets you flush it. The waste tank underneath breaks down solid matter and neutralizes smells. When you finish camping, you empty the tank into an appropriate area or dump station.
1.3.1 Flushing toilet pros:
· The arrangement keeps smells to a minimum level.
· Flushing toilets are sturdy and robust.
· The waste tank is sealed and hard to knock over.
· Suitable for frequent use before needing attention.
· You don’t have to separate bulky and liquid waste.
1.3.2 Flushing toilet cons:
- · You need a chemical disinfectant in the waste tank, and you need to be careful about where you empty it.
· Less easy to find a place to dump the waste, and you may need to take it home.
· The water may freeze if you are camping in winter.
· You need plenty of water to fill up the flushing tank.
· A more complicated arrangement means you have more parts that can break.
· Take up more space than a bucket style camp toilet.
· Can be heavy when transporting the waste tank for emptying.
· Toilet paper can cause clogging or other problems.
Flushing Toilet Chemicals
You need toilet chemicals for a flushing tank to:
- · Reduce smells.
· Break down solid waste for disposal.
· Reduce the build-up of gas from decomposing waste.
· Keep the toilet clean.
Your options are to use standard chemicals or green chemicals with a more natural biodegradable action on the waste. Some campsites will only accept biodegradable chemicals. You add chemicals to the flushing water to add a cleaning and deodorizing action to the flush. You add a different chemical to the waste tank to break down the waste material and reduce the potential build-up of gases in the toilet.
2. About Buying a Camping Toilet:
A family of four needs a different solution to the lone camper, but the basic features and points remain the same:
2.1 How Big is the Waste Tank?
The size of the waste tank or bucket and the number of people using the toilet dictates how often you need to empty the toilet. If you need to take the toilet home with you for emptying, then you need a tank with enough capacity for your whole trip.
Your campsite may allow you to dispose of your toilet waste on-site – but that means carrying a full tank of waste to the dump site. It is essential to consider the size and weight of a full tank in managing how you dispose of your toilet waste.
2.2 Avoiding Leaks
If you need to transport the waste home, then you need a leak-proof toilet in transit. If you can always empty your toilet on-site, then a leak-proof lid is not such a vital feature. Bucket toilets with bagged waste may be a better option for the safe transport of toilet waste for disposal.
A flushing toilet needs chemicals, water, and biodegradable toilet paper to avoid issues with clogging. A bucket toilet needs lining bags (unless you choose to use the chemical fill option) and absorbent material. When selecting the best camp toilet for your needs, consider the additional effort and materials you need to maintain and clean the toilet.
Bucket toilets are inexpensive but a more primitive experience compared with a portable flushing camp toilet.
3. Setting Up a Camping Toilet:
There are some primary considerations in setting up a camp toilet:
- · Protecting the environment.
· Providing privacy.
You need to avoid polluting any watercourses, and you don’t want to position your toilet too close to a trail. Allow 200 feet of buffer zone between either of these features. Next, you need a convenient position but not too close to your sleeping and cooking area. Another consideration is the need to dig a 6-inch hole beneath the toilet in some systems.
You can use a dedicated toilet tent for privacy, a tarp as screening, or position the toilet in a bushy area and use natural screening. You provide hygienic waste disposal with the appropriate chemicals and a clean disposal system. You can use a basin with water and soap, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer as appropriate, for handwashing.
4. About Cleaning and Emptying a Camping Toilet:
The amount of work to clean and empty a camp toilet depends on the type of portable camping toilet and its frequency of use.
4.1 Bucket Toilet
Suppose you use a bucket toilet with a biodegradable liner and a compostable material like sawdust or compost. In that case, you empty the toilet by removing the liner and tying it to seal the contents inside. The inside of the bucket remains clean. You may wish to wipe out the inside of the bucket and the toilet seat with a diluted bleach solution to sanitize it before and after use.
Some people like to half fill their bucket toilet with the same chemical and water mix you find in the waste tank of a flushable toilet. You need to dispose of this bucket of water, chemical, and human waste in a designated dump site or a home septic tank.
You clean the bucket toilet by washing it out with a sanitizing solution – dilute bleach or a proprietary cleaning solution.
4.2 Flushing Toilet
You can detach and remove the waste tank and seal it for transport to a designated dump site or take it away for home disposal in most models. Flush out the tank with water to make sure you remove all waste material. You can clean out the tank with a dilute bleach solution.
When you put a flushing camp toilet into storage, empty all water tanks – both the waste tank and the flushing tank. Water can freeze, and when it freezes, it expands, which may crack the plastic and cause leaks.