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Portable Toilets

What are the different types of portable toilet systems for camping, under the bed in a caravan, rv, camper van or camper trailer?


porta-pottiSo you are off camping in an area where there are no public or pit toilets and looking for options of the various portable toilets available.Nature Bio-Toilet

There are portable toilets such as Nature Bio-Toilet that comprise simply of a seat, with legs, from which hangs a plastic bag to collect the waste.


Coleman Non-Flush Portable Toilet


Or there are the pail or drum like portable toilet such as the Hassock Portable Toilet or the Coleman Non-Flush Portable Toilet which houses a bucket which you remove to dispose of the waste.  



The Porta Potty or SaniPottie

Because these toilets are compact, lightweight and easy to use, the portable toilet is often used in caravans, motorhomes, campervans, boats and camper trailers.  The porta potty is simple to transport and really can be placed anywhere.  It is small enough to pull out from under your caravan or trailer bed and slides neatly away again when not in use.

A flushing portable toilet consists of two sections.  The upper section is a combined flush water tank and toilet bowl with detachable seat and cover. The lower section is the waste holding tank.  These two parts are easy to attach and detach using a lever at the rear of the toilet.  In this way, the waste holding tank can be simply and hygienically emptied and cleaned.  Most porta potty type toilets are equipped with a level indicator.  In this way you are warned in good time that the waste holding tank must be emptied.



Portable toilets come in various shapes and sizes as well as tank holding capacity.  If you are after a portable toilet to fit under the bed of a caravan or travel trailer then measure the space or hatch before you go shopping so you purchase one that will fit.   Another thing to bear in mind when choosing is the waste or holding tank section can be quite heavy when full and you may need to carry it some distance to empty it.

For easy emptying of a portable toilet look for one that has a permanently mounted pouring spout and a push button air release valve for quick clean tank evacuation.

Thetford Electra Magic Recirculating ToiletThetford now have the Electra Magic Recirculating Toilet which is self contained, push button quiet flushing portable toilet which they state uses very little water and can be hooked up to a remote tank for extra capacity.  Thetford also have a top of the line 465E portable toilet with a battery powered flush button and sealed valve to keep odours in the holding tank.  Flush or fresh water tank capacity is 18 Litres (4 gallon) and the waste holding tank capacity is 25 Litres (5.5 gallon).  Thetford also have the 585 Electric Porta Potti with an easy push button electric flush.

Some brand names of portable toilets are Thetford Porta Potti, SeaLand’s SaniPottie, Coleman Portable Toilet, Fiamma Bi-Pots, Century Portable Toilet, Dometic Sani Porti, Visa Potty, Companion Eziloo and Primus Deluxe Portable Loo.

Portable toilets for camping and for your RV are available from RV outlets, camping stores, online camping distributors and eBay.


Do I need to use special toilet paper in a toilet/cassette toilet?

Simple test -

Place a couple of sheets of the paper you wish to test in a screw top jar half filled with water. Replace the lid and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.  If the paper seems to fall apart then it is suitable for your portable toilet. 

Fast dissolving, clog resistance biodegradable toilet paper is also available for RV and Marine portable toilets.

Burying toilet waste

If you need to go to the toilet in the bush or bury toilet waste (faeces) you should do so at least 100m away from creeks, lakes, walking tracks and campsites.  The hole should be at least 15cm (6 inches) deep or more.  There is a human bacterial parasite, Giardia, that can live in mountain streams contaminated by faecal waste which can cause chronic diarrhoea and other conditions so please bury well away from any waterway.

Believe it or not, Dr Kerry Bridle has done a study of the breakdown of ‘poo’ buried near walking trails in the state of Tasmania.  Her studies showed it takes longer for the faeces to break down in colder climates and it broke down more efficiently where urine had been mixed in.  Her studies showed toilet paper had not broken down even after 12 months so, if possible, any toilet paper should be burnt and ladies, tampons should be taken out with you as they do not break down.

Can I empty my porta potti / toilet cassette in septic toilets ?

Before disposing of the toilet waste ensure the chemicals you have used can be deposited in septic toilets, recirculating toilets and holding tank models.  Read the label on the product carefully.

What chemicals should I use for my porta potti / portable toilet ?

Portasol Toilet ChemicalThings to consider when assessing many of the different chemicals available for your portable toilet are -

Does the chemical chosen

  • suppress unpleasant smells;
  • promote the breakdown of solids and toilet paper;
  • protect moving parts and extend the life span of your portable toilet / porta potti;
  • reduce formation of gas;
  • keep your waste tank hygienic and clean;
  • meet environmentally free standards ie: is it formaldehyde free (See article "Why should I choose formaldehyde free toilet chemicals?"

Some regional towns have CMCA/ KEA sponsored ‘dump’ points however if your toilet cassette or ‘black water’ waste contains formaldehyde it should not be disposed of in those facilities as it can de-nature the waste breakdown.  There is also considerable cost for local shire councils to remedy the problem as they often lack the availability of sufficient water to dilute the waste solutions.


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