How Does a Portable Chemical Toilet Work?

Explore America's Campgrounds

Portable Chemical Toilets

A portable chemical toilet is designed for use when plumbing is unavailable. Portable chemical toilets are used as outhouses, on boats, in recreational vehicles and in cabins that lack plumbing.

Holding Tank and Chemicals

Portable chemical toilets have a holding tank that holds human waste. Chemicals are placed in the holding tank prior to use to minimize odor and break down waste. Formaldehyde and bromine are two common chemicals used in portable chemical toilets. The chemicals are diluted with water before being placed in the portable toilets holding tank.

Using a Portable Chemical Toilet

There are two main types of portable chemical toilets--those that flush and those that do not. The toilets that flush look similar to a regular house toilet. Instead of water being used during flushing, the toilet chemicals are recirculated during the flush cycle. Portable toilets that do not flush look like outhouses in that they have an open design where you can see directly into the tank.

Emptying a Portable Chemical Toilet

Portable chemical toilets require regular emptying to remove human waste and to prevent bad odor. To empty the portable toilets, a hose is hooked up to a connection on the toilet and the toilet connection is opened allowing the waste and chemicals to exit. For health safety reasons and to avoid groundwater contamination, toilet waste must be emptied in a proper disposal facility such as a RV dump station.