How Camping Toilets Work

Setting Up Camping Toilets

When setting up your camping toilet, you'll want to make sure that your site is at least 150 to 200 feet (45.72 to 60.9 meters) away from trails or water sources. If your portable toilet system requires waste burial, you'll need to dig a hole at least 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) below the toilet. You also can set up a privacy screen or tent around the toilet using anything from a piece of tarp to a manufactured privacy tent. A privacy tent will give you an added sense of comfort even in the most remote of locations.

To make your own camping toilet, you'll need a sturdy re-sealable can and some heavy duty garbage bags that you'll fold over the rim. You can even place a seat on top of the can if you'd like. Before and after using your camping toilet, place powdered bleach, quicklime or holding tank deodorant in the bag to eliminate odor and slow the decomposition of the waste. You can place any toilet paper that you use in the bag as well. "Wag bags" often include "pooh powder," a solution that will help to eliminate odor and make the waste safe for disposal. You can also purchase "pooh powder" separately from camping toilet systems.

Most manufactured camping toilets are very easy to set up and disassemble. While some come in suitcaselike cases, others require digging holes for waste burial. Some require you to collect waste in bags to dispose of later. When transporting the bag, squeeze the air out and tie it off to close the bag or seal the bag if it's of the self-sealing variety. After your trip, dispose of the waste down a flush toilet or, if the bag is biodegradable and land fill approved, you can chuck the bag when you're leaving the campsite. Some campsites have waste disposal sites where you can also get rid of the waste.

Bucket and collapsible toilets are pretty basic and easy to set up. But what about more elaborate camping toilets that can actually flush? On the next page, we'll see how camping toilet plumbing works.