Portable Toilets and Dump Points

Portable toilets are becoming increasingly popular for people who don't want to give up on facilities while travelling. This article details the various portable camping toilets available in the market today as well as advice on chemicals to use and the correct pocedures to dispose of waste when on the road.

Portable Toilets are Convenient and Eco-Friendly

Many travellers now want to have access to a toilet while on the road rather than going bush. This article highlights various portable camping toilets available in the market today, as well as ways to dispose of waste while travelling. As towns can be located hundreds of kilometres apart and not all campsites have adequate toilet facilities in the form of toilet pits, having a portable camping toilet is not only a great convenience, but they're eco-friendly as well. Most people are simply not accustomed to ablutions in the open and for them portable toilets are the answer in addition to being hygienic and environment friendly solutions. If you're camping you can either carry along a camping toilet or a portable toilet, and if you're travelling in a motor home or with a caravan it is likely that a toilet will be in-built as a part of your facilities. A number of manufacturers offer a range of extremely lightweight, modern and very easy to use toilets, such as Internal Cassette Toilets, Vacuum Toilets, Porta Potties and Portable Folding Toilets. Keep reading for a summary of the features of each of these these types of toilets.

Internal Cassette Portable Toilet

This is a simple to use yet sophisticated portable toilet used in caravans and motorhomes. Like regular toilets it has a permanent seat but the waste tank can be detached when the indicator shows that it is full. Some portable toilets have a built in water supply while others may have a pipe connection that you can attach to your motorhome’s water supply. All you have to do is detach the waste tank and empty it at the closest dump point. You will find many dumps points on your route, and these are usually indexed in road atlases and maps. This toilet can be located in a way to make the waste tank accessible from outside the caravan. It is compact, convenient, hygienic and portable.

Portable Folding Toilet For Camping

Another practical and simple option is the fold down and carry along portable camping toilet that campers will simply find very convenient when on an extended trip. These toilets use degradable toilet bags into which you sprinkle a powder that transforms the waste into a gel that is odorless. The bag can be stored until you reach a dump point, or can be buried. For further details, see product specifics for this product called the Pop-up Pooper Portable Toilet, now available from our online shop.

The Porta Pottie

The "porta pottie" is a proprietary, compact toilet device that is usually installed in motor homes and boats. However, there are many other brands and models based on the same concept, as pictured here. Since it is self-contained and compact it can be set up, used anywhere, put back into storage when not in use. The porta pottie is a great space saver. It has two sections, the bottom one for holding waste while the top portion is for the seat and the water tank, both being detachable. This is the most popular type of portable toilet used by tent and camper-trailer based campers as it is not an installed type, and is truely portable. The use of the correct environmentally friendly fluid in the waste storage tank will enable you to bury the "slurry" after it has broken down (bottom cassette) so these can be used in bush camping situations where no dump stations are available.

These toilets are readily available from major camping stores from around $100 - $300. Different manufacturers offer different sizes of waste storage cassette and physical dimensions of the unit also differ from model to model so you can shop around to find the one that best fits your needs. As you'll need to find a place to store this toilet when you're travelling, yet perhaps have it in a handy location for roadside stops, you may need to consider size and fit in your buying considerations.

Vacuum Type Portable Toilet

This portable toilet is ideal for motor homes and caravans. It has a toilet bowl and a collection cassette like the other portable toilets but includes a pipe to carry waste to the collection unit. A vacuum sucks in the waste, minimizing water use, which is imperative for trips in remote areas. Some manufacturers claim that vacuum helps breakdown the waste, eliminating the need for chemicals. Another advantage is that they are odour-free. The collection cassette is located at a distance (sometimes outside the caravan). This toilet is available in smaller and larger sizes, and uses very minimal power and water to flush. Waste can easily be emptied at dump points with the help of a push button with a small bore hose.

Gelling Agents and Chemicals

The majority of portable toilets will use chemicals or gelling agent that binds together the waste into a solid mass and prevent unpleasant smells. These chemicals are environment friendly and bio-degradable, so you needn’t worry about polluting the environment when you empty the waste at dump points along your route, and they also prevent the formation of noxious gases.

Always choose formaldehyde-free chemicals in portable camping toilets. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and should be avoided. Often used in city sewerage systems, it is not recommended for use in portable camping toilets or motor home portable toilets where waste is disposed at dump points with inadequate water supplies to dilute and break down this chemical. Use only dump point compatible systems and chemicals. Disinfectants such as pine oil are not recommended for portable toilets.

Chlorine is another chemical that is a biocide with adverse environment impact. Sodium percarbonate is said to be safer as it breaks down into harmless sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide solution is also safer and breaks down easily. Some waste chemicals also use perfumes to mask odours. Enzyme based chemical agents help in breaking down the wastes quickly.

Instead of using proprietary and branded toilet chemicals, you can also use safer and lower cost chemicals like Hydrogen Peroxide and sodium percarbonate as a way to save on costs. Another way to save on costs is to buy in bulk, as larger packs of chemicals cost less.

Pros and Cons of Portable Toilets

Both portable toilets used while caming, and those found in caravans or motor homes are very compact and self-contained units. A major advantage is that they are small, hygienic, some are foldable and can be carried along and stored when not in use. The downside is that you have to handle waste disposal and the administering of chemicals, and since they are designed to be small and portable, if you are travelling with a larger family or group, the waste container tends to fill up quickly, necessitating frequent disposals. The toilet system also has to be regularly maintained to ensure it is crack-free, clean and free of leaks at all times.

Dump Points and Sensible Waste Disposal

There are many authorised dump points around Australia which should be used if possible. Dump points are provided on caravan routes in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

There are also certain rules and etiquettes governing the use of dump points and waste disposal. If you do not have access to such a point or toilet waste disposal facility then you can bury it completely and at a distance of more than 100 metres from a water body and 1 Km away from camp sites, national parks, reserves or populated places.

At a public dump site or a toilet facility that has a provision for dumping wastes from portable toilets, make sure you clean the dump seals and nozzles with water so that the next user does not have to clean up after you. Also, keep in mind not to use this water specifically meant for cleaning to fill your water tank or for drinking water purposes. It is advisable to take care to wash and clean the portable toilet and your hands after emptying the waste into a dump point.

Points to keep in mind are that urine should not go into the waste container of portable folding camping toilets unless using in conjuntion with gelling agents. Also avoid dumping sanitary napkins or cardboard in the waste collection unit of any portable toilets.

It is advisable to have gloves, a hose and bio-degradable disinfectant handy when emptying and cleaning your portable toilet or porta pottie, however do not dispose of gloves or cleaning cloths by throwing into the dump point, as these will cause clogging.

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Created: September 2011
Revised: November 2012
Latest Feedback: January 2019


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