Did you know that it is nearly impossible to dump untreated waste in a safe manner?
Most days, the sewerage system in our homes and city takes care of this. So, we don't have to worry about how our toilet trips affect the world around us.
However, when we are out camping, or RVing this is something we really need to think about. Many people don't realize how dangerous dumping untreated waste can actually be.
Viruses, bacteria, and parasites in our waste for over 10 days. E-coli can survive for even longer. It only takes a little bit of waste getting into the water system to make a lot of people ill.
Can't I bury my waste in the woods? Well, research shows that you would have to bury your waste between 3-4 ft down to prevent any repercussions on the animals in the area and other campers.
Surely, there has to be an alternative to this? Let us introduce you to composting, portable toilets.
These toilets cover the range of what is currently on the market and this list features five of the best options out there.
OUR TOP PICK
Our number one choice is Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet.
Whether you are looking for a resource-saving WC, or want a porcelain (plastic in this case) throne that you can install with no hassle… this option from Nature's Head is the one for you. It even comes with multiple handle options!
The Nature's Head toilet is one of those rare water-free compostable and portable toilets. By installing one of these toilets you can save yourself up to 20 gallons of water a day*. So, not only is this toilet good for the environment but it's good for your wallets too.
Its waterless design is based around a cranking system. After you have done your business, use the handle (either the crank handle or the spider handle - this one is much better if you haven't got a lot of room) to mix your toilet waste and kick start the composting process.
Nature's Head has really nailed the little details of their designs. Despite being a travel-friendly stainless steel, NH has colored the steel to match the mock granite of the rest of the unit.
The entire thing fits together perfectly, and you don't have to worry about corrosion. The toilet seat is also longer and thinner than the traditional toilet seat. This helps with user stability, whilst making the toilet easier to fit into small spaces.
How does the Nature's Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet smell? Great! There's a reason it has nabbed the top spot on this list. This toilet comes with its own hose, fan, and vent.
And unlike lots of other portable toilets, these parts run on a very low voltage (12 volts to be exact). So, you don't have to worry about your toilet killing your RV's battery.
Like all good portable and compostable toilets, the Nature's Head unit stores urine and solid waste separately. This is good because it means slower decomposition and more days between the dread emptying on the solid waste.
The storage of waste in this toilet requires either peat moss or sawdust. This may seem like an issue with your first compostable toilet. But, trust us this really is the best option out there.
This toilet is very easy to install. Notably, it can also be installed in two ways. It can be plugged directly into a sewerage system, or it can be installed to pump its waste into another location. It is easy to change where you have it set up.
On top of all of this Nature's Head offers a 5-year limited warranty on this toilet.
We have one small quibble with the Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet. The size difference between the urine bottle and solid waste container is quite frankly too big. The solid waste container is a perfect size. However, the urine bottle is a little on the small side.
What effect does this have on your trip? Only that you'll find yourself emptying your urine bottle every 2-3 days, and your solid waste every 8-12 days.
It is not a huge issue and doesn't take away from how fantastic this toilet is, but it is worth bearing this issue in mind before you purchase it.
- Comes with a 5-year warranty
- Flexible installation - you can either install over sewer holes or choose a different location to pump waste into
- Easy to clean - only gather surface dirt. A small spray bottle and toilet brush are all that is required to clean this piece
- Dry toilet - no water needed to use this toilet (and very little power too)!
- The urine bottle and solid waste storage are very different sizes. You will have to empty the urine bottle 3-4 times for every 1 time you empty the solid waste container.
- Needs peat moss or sawdust to function.
*Numbers based on an average flush using 4 gallons of water, multiplied by the average daily toilet use of a couple.
Ranking at number two (pun intended) is the Camco 41541 Portable Travel Toilet. This could be the stand-out toilet on the portable and compostable toilet market if it wasn't for one thing. This toilet comes with joint urine and solid waste tanks.
If you are happy to empty and completely disinfect your waste tank every day then this might be the toilet of your dreams. However, if you can't bear the thought of doing that then you are going to want to skip over to choice #3.
Why has Camco made the unusual choice of storing urine and solid waste together? We're not sure, what we can say is that they have done something very clever to make it less of a big deal (however, it doesn't prevent the regular cleaning).
They have two separate flush and waste tanks, that are sealed by air-tight latches. This prevents any cross-contamination.
Whilst this isn't a dry toilet, like our number one choice, it does flush with a severely reduced capacity. The tank of this toilet holds 2.3 gallons of water (the average toilet flush is around 4 gallons). This is a great way of saving water.
But after large deposits, it may take several flushes to move the solid waste into the waste tank. If you need to get to the flush tank, the toilet seat can easily be removed to provide access. The toilet seat is compact (is not slightly oddly shaped) and is easy to clean.
Before being dumped out, the waste is partially treated in this toilet. By purchasing Camco TST you can also deodorize most of the waste in the waste tank. This TST is septic tank safe and has been approved for disposal outdoors.
Thanks to its world-class seals, and interlocking latch system, it is possible to move this toilet and waste tank. And it is possible to do this without any spills.
As we mentioned, the tank on this toilet is very small and requires emptying and disinfecting once a day. It needs disinfecting because the solid waste and urine are left to mix in the tank.
The other reason it needs to be regularly cleaned is because of the material the tank is made out of. This plastic is ultra-absorbent and if the waste is left to stand in it for too long then it will develop a smell that is very tricky and unpleasant to remove.
- Easy to clean - strong, glazed plastic. Do pack a toilet brush.
- Cleverly designed handle - this handle is lightweight, sturdy, and well built. It works perfectly in small spaces
- Seal - the Camco has one of the best seals on the market that is perfect for stopping smells escaping and for stopping unwanted visitors from entering your waste tank.
- Storage - the urine and the solid wastes are stored together in this toilet. This leads to faster decomposition
- Requires daily emptying
- The plastic of said waste tank is very absorbent, and if left for a long time will begin to smell. Regular disinfecting is required.
Our third choice is the Porta Potti White Thetford Corp. This is something a little different from everything else on this list.
It's completely portable, battery-powered, and there was a composting toilet version of vogue this gentleman would be on the cover every month. However, it does come at a significantly higher cost than any of the other toilets on this list.
Wonder what a large investment in the world of portable and composting toilets can get you? Read on…
The Porta Potti is completely self-sufficient. Not only does it run on battery power (giving your RV battery the day off), but it also comes with its own toilet roll holder, seat, cistern, lid, and flushing system.
It also comes with branded deodorant. The toilet has a front handle to make transportation easier.
The toilet comprises two halves. These scent-tight and cleanly separated for easier storage. The bottom half has air and scent-tight seals. The toilet even comes with a water gauge, so you'll never unexpectedly run out of water.
The Porta Potti comes with an 'add water' or small flush system that should be used before visiting the toilet. This prevents the majority of staining and is also very effective at preventing smells from building up. This is a nice touch that tells you the designers really thought everything through.
If you need any spare parts it is possible to import them from Europe. Whilst this does take a long time, you will usually get a really good price for them.
There are two minor problems with the Porta Potti, the emptying process and the battery life of the toilet.
This toilet runs on 6AA batteries. Yes, you're right those too sound like very small batteries for such a powerful toilet. These batteries will run down very quickly.
However, if you turn the flusher dial anti-clockwise (backward on itself) you can effectively turn the toilet off between uses. This will vastly extend the life of your batteries.
If the batteries die the toilet won't flush. So we recommend you always have a pack handy.
The second issue with this toilet is the way the waste container is sealed. Whist, this prevents any nasty smells or spillages from leaving the toilet. It does also prevent the natural gasses caused by decomposition from escaping as well.
The long-story-short the waste tends to spurt out when you try to empty it. If you've got good aim, this might not be that much of an issue for you. Remember to point it away from yourself.
- Can be locked onto the ground
- Portable - by far the most portable option on this list
- Really aesthetically pleasing toilet
- Large and small flush options
- Completely battery-powered
- The most expensive toilet on this list
- Pressure builds up very quickly in this toilet. If not emptied correctly you could end up covered in waste
- Batteries can run down very quickly
Our fourth portable toilet is the STANSPORT Portable Camp Toilet. This toilet has earned its place on our list because of its portability, rather than its ability to compost waste.
If you're looking to save both water and electricity with your portable toilet then look no further.
The STANSPORT features a really clever design that allows you to take the whole toilet into a bathroom stall and empty it directly into a pre-existing toilet and sewer system. This toilet takes up less than 1 cubic foot of space.
This is a bin-shaped toilet. To use, line with a STANSPORT brand, biodegradable liner. The toilet can hold up to 350 pounds of waste. When the lining is full the bag can be flushed away in a regular toilet (see above) or can be dumped in a landfill.
This toilet stores its urine and solid waste together so it will need to be emptied regularly. However, its plastic body does a great job at not absorbing smells.
This toilet stores waste in a way that it can be composted at a later date, but doesn't compost it itself. This means that you will need very heavy disinfectants and thick gloves when dealing with this raw waste. Stomach bugs and diseases like E-coli can live in solid waste for up to 10 days.
- Compact - perfect for users of all ages
- No handles - fewer places for dirt to hide, making it easier to clean
- Dry toilet - no power or water needed!
- Composting requires an extra treatment step after it leaves the toilet
- Urine and solid waste are stored together
Our final pick of the day is the Luggable Loo by Reliance. Our final choice is a little bit of a wild card, but it might just tick all the boxes for a few of you. We want to give you as good an idea as possible of what's on the market.
We're going to have to set your expectations with this toilet. We found a review that described it as a fancy bucket… This was a 5-star review.
Some of you will have looked at every other option on this list and thought, I just don't need something that fancy. Well, this might just be the solution to all your problems.
This is an incredibly affordable toilet that comes with a 5-year warranty that just sounds too good to be true. This warranty would bring your investment in at $4-6 for the first five years.
It can hold up to 5 gallons of waste and weighs only 3 pounds when it's empty. This toilet can be fitted with biodegradable bags that make disposal clean and easy.
The main issue with this toilet is that the solid waste and urine are stored together. Whilst means it will require regular emptying and cleaning. This toilet does make the best emergency travel toilet.
It even comes in camo…
- Comes at an amazing price
- Easy to store and carry. It is also very discreet.
- 5-year warranty (on a toilet that can be regularly found for less than $30… it's hard to believe)
Best Portable Composting Toilet Buying Guide
The world of composting and portable toilets is deceptively complex. Many of us have learned that the hard way.
Luckily for you, we have used all the lessons we have learned over the years to put together this buyer's guide.
This guide will talk you through everything you need to consider when purchasing a compostable toilet. Both beginners and experienced portable toilet users will find this guide helpful.
The first thing to consider when it comes to composting toilets is how much space you have to store or install them.
There is nothing worse than investing in a large item like a toilet, only to find it doesn't fit. Before you even begin to shop for a composting toilet make sure to gather all your required measurements. You should also make note of any fittings you have in your RV's bathroom.
When picking out your composting toilet, make sure to cross-reference all the fittings and measurements to avoid disappointment. You'd be surprised by how many oddly shaped composting toilets there are out there.
Don't forget that most compostable toilets require a small amount of power to run. Many models can either be hooked up to your RV or run using solar power.
Many people are drawn to the idea of composting toilets because they don't have to be emptied regularly. But did you know that composting toilets have a secret that makes them even more desirable?
Composting toilets are great for the environment!
Composting toilets don't use any nasty chemicals. Instead, they use a mixture of peat moss and sawdust to neutralize the orders of the waste.
These ingredients also catalyze the decomposition process. This treatment prevents any nasty bacteria from living on in the waste. This means that waste can be disposed of anywhere, as it is not harmful.
Composting or Portable?
The ideal answer to this question is both. But that is not always possible.
If you are looking for the safest, most environmentally-friendly way to dispose of waste then get a composting toilet.
If you're looking for convenience on the road, get yourself a portable toilet.
Capacity affects how often you will have to empty your toilet.
However, how the waste is stored has an equal impact on how often you have to change the septic tank. If solid waste and urine are stored together in the toilet then you are looking at having to empty it daily.
If the two types of waste are stored separately you will only have to empty your urine bottle every 3-4 days, and can often go a fortnight between changing solid waste containers.
Keeping the flush tank of your toilet full can consume a lot of water. The average flush uses around 4 gallons of water. Large flushes also lead to the waste tank being filled up a lot quicker.
There are a few options when it comes to portable and composting toilets. Many toilets will have a reduced flush capacity. This means less filling up on your part, but their waste tanks still fill up fairly quickly.
Our favorite option is a Dry toilet. These toilets usually require some manual cranking, but use no water at all. They have to be changed very rarely and are a lot easier to move about.
Is it legal where you live?
Using a compostable toilet, and/or dumping waste is not legal in all states.
When you are traveling make sure to brush up on the local laws of anywhere you are visiting.
The world of composting toilets can be confusing when you're first introduced to it.
Where does the pee go? What do I do with my toilet paper? We've been asked about it all over the years.
Below are comprehensive answers to the five questions we are most frequently asked about composting and portable toilets.
Where does the toilet paper go in a composting toilet?
Many people worry about how to dispose of their toilet paper if they are using a composting toilet. But there is no need to.
Toilet paper breaks down much faster than our solid waste. The best thing to do with toilet paper is to keep it in the solid waste container.
Where do you dump composting toilet waste?
Disposing of urine -
There are few different places where you can dispose of the urine stored in your composting toilet.
You can empty the urine into your own garden. Many plants like tomatoes and cucumbers can get a lot of nutrients from human urine. If you are traveling then you should get someone's permission before emptying your urine on their land.
You can empty it in a public bathroom. Simply take your urine container into a public bathroom - this can be at a rest stop, a coffee shop, or anywhere that lets you use their toilets. Once in the bathroom, you can pour your urine into the toilet and flush it away.
Finally, RV dump stations are a great place to dispose of your urine. Many dump stations have an area for disposing of human waste.
Disposing of 'solid waste' -
Disposing of solid waste is slightly more complicated than disposing of urine.
Composting toilets do not actually fully compost out waste. This means that the majority of the bacteria in our body will still survive in a composting toilet. For this reason, it is not safe to dump or bury your solid waste in the woods.
When it comes to disposing of solid waste the safest option is to bag it and throw it into your general trash. There are no laws against doing this, and it really isn't that different from putting used diapers in the trash.
How do you dispose of human waste from portable toilets?
Removing waste from most portable toilets requires specialist equipment. The waste is removed from the toilet using a large, high-pressure vacuum.
It is then stored in a thick-rimmed vat whilst it is transported to a water treatment plant. At the water treatment plant, the waste is broken apart and filtered before being fed into the sewer system.
If you live in an urban area it is possible to set up a portable toilet to feed directly into the sewer system. This is not very feasible in rural areas as they are not enough sewer pipes that can be easily accessed.
Do composting toilets smell bad?
Composting toilets will only smell bad if they are not properly cleaned or maintained.
If you are diligent with your toilet maintenance and clean it regularly then you will have no issue with smell.
Can I pee in a composting toilet?
Yes, you can pee in a composting toilet. Composting toilets deal with urine in two main ways.
Some toilets have a separate vat that the urine is funneled into. This can then be emptied when disposing of the solid waste.
Other composting toilets funnel the urine outside and allow it to drain away naturally. Typical human urine has no negative effect on the surrounding environment.
Urine should not be used when attempting to break up solid waste.