Content for id "text" Goes Here


There many forms of toilets that do not use water. Anaerobic systems, such as out-houses and methane digesters function on non-oxygen-breathing organisms such as leeches, flat worms and anaerobic bacteria, and they emit ammonia, methane, sulfur. Aerobic systems, such as composting toilets, emit primarily carbon dioxide and water. The simplest form of a composting toilet would be a five-gallon bucket containing sawdust; much more sophisticated versions now exist, such as the Phoenix, the CTS, the Clivus Multrum and many more. If the climate is too cold to enable composting to occur, another option is to burn up the waste. Incinerating toilets are practical in remote sites, cold regions, and for large mobile groups of people. A fourth option is dehydration toilet -- an evaporative toilet -- that dries up the waste.




Traditional Flush Sanitation

  • Original flush toilets used up to eight gallons of water per flush, with a household of four people using more than two hundred gallons a day just to flush the toilet. This was reduced to the standard five-gallon flush. The new requirement is a maximum of 1.5 gallons per flush.
  • Low-flow toilets reduce the amount of water used down to as low as a single pint, usually by increasing the velocity of the flush.
  • Holding tanks simply move the waste from a storage tank to a treatment facility. Holding tanks are large tanks sunk into the ground. They are pumped periodically and are typically used for large public facilities such as rest stops and public parks.
  • Treatment:
    • Microbiotic treatment systems organically digest the waste.
    • Lagoon systems are ponds that collect sewage. Solids settle to the bottom of the pond and the liquids evaporate. These are widely used by small towns, campgrounds, resort areas, recreation areas and clusters of homes.
    • Evapotranspiration systems put liquid waste out on top of the ground for evaporation as well as absorption by trees, shrubs, plants and grass. These systems generally require more than ten acres.
    • Drain Fields, Leach Fields, Sand Filters, Mounds, Infiltrators filter the water through the ground.
    • Digestor tanks collect and break down all waste and trash anaerobically, producing both methane gas and humus.

Waterless Toilets

  • Traditional Out-House The well-known out-house is well known for smelling because it is simply an anaerobic system that decays the material with non-oxygen-breathing organisms such as leeches and flat worms, producing ammonia, methane, sulfur. The exposed feces encourages maggots and flies. The out-house is now out-dated.
  • Chemical Toilets Portable toilets are merely a stop-gap or temporary solution for short-term events. Portable toilets/chemical toilets simply collect the waste in small tanks that have a substantial amount of liquid chemicals pre-loaded for the purpose of killing pathogens and controlling odor. The tanks are then pumped and trucked away for disposal or drained into septic systems or sewers. Variations of these are also used in RV’s, boats, trains and planes.
  • Foam Flush Foam-flush toilets use one cup of soapy foam to make the bowl slippery so the waste slides down into a depository.
  • Vacuum-Flush Vacuum-Flush toilets use air to suck the waste through evacuated tubes into a remote depository.
  • Composting Toilets are aerobic systems that collect human waste and turn it into humus.
  • Incinerating Toilets hot-burn the waste, reducing it to a fine ash without odor or polluting.
  • EvaporatingToilets dry out, sterilize and evaporate the waste.

Deciding Factors: Which Type of Toilet To Use?

Is the system appropriate?

Is the climate too cold to compost? Is it feasible to maintain supplies of propane? Is there electricity? Is there water? Does the ground perc?
How remote or inaccessible is the site? Does weight or size matter? How many people will be using the toilet per day?
If there is no running water

  • If the ground won’t perc
  • If not allowed by the local code
  • Systems too small or too large for the anticipated usage
  • Systems that cannot stand up to local conditions, such as freezing, or to intermittent use such as seasonal cabins
  • Aerobic systems that spray treated waste need a constant supply of waste to treat because otherwise the bacteria they require will not multiply sufficiently to do the job.


In computing costs of a system be sure to factor in labor and any additional material required, such as sand or gravel. With septic systems the greater the amount of leech lines required, the greater will be the amount of needed land and the cost of the leech lines.

Operational costs.

How much power, chemicals and system maintenance will be required? Are there pumping and disposal fees? Do any components need periodic replacing? How long will the system last? Can the system be left unattended and unused for extended periods of time without needing servicing to start up and resume proper functioning? Does the system need to be winterized?