Thursday 6 April 2023

The Waterless Flush

What to do when you don't want to install a full septic system (whether for cost, location, lack of water, or just personal preference) but also want something a little more high tech than a simple pit toilet?

There are three waterless (dry) options for toilets that property owners can consider. These can be inside a cabin or in an outhouse-style building.

Composting Toilets
These toilets use aerobic processing through composting. This is a controlled composting system, usually with added organic materials to aid in decomposition. The benefit over pit toilets is that they are contained, so no soil contamination or site contamination and it allows them to be used indoors. Most models are designed to contain odour so that they are usable in a small space. They require little set up and are easily emptied. Composting toilets are becoming increasingly popular thanks to the van life movement, and readily available in many countries. 
Here is more detail on how they work:

a composting toilet in an outhouse

Incinerating Toilets 
As the name implies these toilets burn waste. This can be done in a few ways depending on the system's design but generally the waste is reduced to an ash in a holding tank and the ash can then can be safely disposed of.  These toilets do require an outside power source, so are not as popular as the composting toilets. But the ash end product can be easier to dispose of and nicer to deal with, making it an option for those with power. 
This information sheet from 1999 created by the EPA in the US is still used as a reference in most online information: 

Evaporating Toilets
These systems actually dry-out the waste and create a sterile, compact waste that can be safely disposed of in the trash system. There are both passive systems that require no outside electricity and systems that do require some energy input. Evaporating toilets are very low maintenance. 
This is a popular model that requires a small amount of electricity to operate:
This is a model that requires no electricity:

These three types of toilets provide the ability to enhance the livability of a cabin or remote residence, without the need for digging pits or installing septic systems. 

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