Incinerating Toilets As An Alternative
To Flushing Toilets
By: Ezra Plank
How does an incinerating toilet work? Incinerating toilets don't use water to flush human waste. They burn the waste into ashes, so there is no need to worry about personal contamination. They are a waterless toilet, but they can't really be considered eco-friendly, since burning the solid waste has some unfortunate side-effects.
Incinerating toilets can be either electric or gas powered
Electric incinerating toilet
In the electric incinerator, a bowl liner is put in place to catch the waste matter. A foot pedal releases the waste-containing liner, which falls into a sealed chamber. Then the waste is incinerated into a sterile ash. The ash must be disposed of in an appropriate location. The full process takes about an hour, but the toilet can be used even during incineration.
Gas incinerator toilets use no electricity, and can be run on either natural gas or propane. This version waits until the holding tank is full before it incinerates the waste. There is never a need to clean or sterilize the chamber, as the process is self-sterilizing.
The pros and cons of using incinerator toilets
Pros - Incinerating toilets do not use water, resulting in no waste of water. The ash left behind after incineration is sterile, and safe for disposal. They are portable, easy to install and use, and work no matter how cold the weather. And they are ideal for isolated locations, where there may be no water, sewage lines, or power.
Cons – The incineration process demolishes any nutrients found in human waste - meaning it cannot be used for nourishing soil. It saves water, but uses more energy.
Electric versions leave a "carbon footprint", since in most cases the plant producing the electricity emits carbon dioxide exhaust. Gas versions definitely produce pollutants.
Gas incinerating toilet
Places where incinerating toilets are most useful
The most common applications for using these toilets include rural locations where there are no sewage systems, RVs, construction sites where toilets are not accessible, marine craft where releasing waste is not allowed, water poor areas, and locations where water contamination is a problem.
Manufacturers of incinerator toilets
- Incinolet - a Texas-based company, offering several electric models priced at about $2000.
- EcoJohn - a California company, offering both residential and commercial gas models.
The incinerating toilet has its place, but is certainly not a very energy efficient choice for areas where a regular water flushing toilet can be used.
COMMENTS: Comments to date: 5. Page 1 of 1
Freddie St Thomas, VI
10:26am on Sunday, August 4th, 2013
I don't know what they do at parties in America, Florene, but here in the Virgin Islands, the old saying goes, "It's more polite to pee outside."
Paul New Iberia, LA
1:22pm on Friday, June 21st, 2013
Larry, if you read the review as well as the product information on the incinolet brand, you may use continuously while it is in process of taking care of the first doody. These are great for summer cottages and RV's. My neighbor bought one for his c... read more »
Florene Hot Springs, AR
2:50pm on Thursday, June 20th, 2013
I don't think you have to wait an hour to use the toilet. When you lift the lid, the fire shuts off. So it's OK to have one of these toilets in a bathroom used by guests at parties.
Tonette Pocatello, ID
5:21pm on Friday, June 14th, 2013
This incinerating toilet sounds like the best solution for an RV toilet. It would make it a lot easier to camp in wilderness areas where there aren't any facilities available.
Larry Castle, DE
9:36am on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
I certainly hope that there is some way to shut off the incinerator if someone else wants to use the toilet before it is finished burning up the waste. An hour is a long time for the next person to have to wait.