In today’s eco-conscious world, an off grid toilet is gaining popularity as a practical and sustainable wastewater management solution.
If you’re considering going off-grid or simply want to reduce your water footprint, an off grid toilet or eco toilet, specifically, an incinerating toilet, might be your best bet.
It’s a clean, waterless, and convenient way to manage human waste, particularly in water-scarce areas or places without a functioning sewer system.
Understanding Incinerating Toilets
An incinerating toilet, essentially, is an off grid toilet that uses high temperatures to convert human waste into sterile ash.
It’s a standalone system that doesn’t require a connection to a sewer or even a water supply, making installation relatively straightforward.
At first glance, an incinerating toilet resembles a regular toilet. However, it’s far from ordinary.
The toilet features a trap door at the bottom of the bowl that opens to a waste reservoir housing the incinerator.
Some models require you to insert a paper liner into the bowl beforehand, while others feature a small water reservoir for cleaning the bowl.
When you “flush,” the waste and liner (if one is used) fall into the reservoir. Here, a burn cycle reduces the waste to ash.
Each use produces about a teaspoon of ash, or approximately one cup of ash per person per week.
This ash is free of bacteria and pathogens, and can even act as a fertiliser due to its rich potassium and phosphorus content.
The burn cycle typically stops when you lift the lid and is reactivated by pushing the flush button, allowing multiple people to use the toilet in succession.
Types of Incinerating Toilets
Incinerating toilets can be electric or gas-powered.
Both types require electricity to operate, but gas-powered models use gas or diesel to incinerate the waste.
Electric Incinerating Toilets
Electric incinerating toilets use a radiant heat element in the incinerator.
Each burn cycle consumes approximately 1.5 to 2 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which can be a consideration for your energy bills.
Gas Incinerating Toilets
Gas-powered incinerating toilets feature a burn chamber typically mounted behind the unit.
These toilets only burn waste when the reservoir is full, which takes about 40 to 60 uses.
They require a connection to a gas source and an electrical circuit to power the gears and burner.
Pros and Cons of Incinerating Toilets
Like any product, incinerating toilets come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
- Provides sanitary waste disposal using minimal or no water.
- No plumbing required.
- Easy to install.
- Leaves minimal waste behind.
- Clean and odorless operation.
- Can increase your energy bill.
- Requires regular supply of paper liners (for some models).
- Ash produced by burning has fewer nutrients than compost.
- Potential to release pollutants into the atmosphere.
- Expensive upfront cost.
Legalities and Best Models of Incinerating Toilets
The legality of incinerating toilets varies depending on local laws and regulations.
Some states in the U.S., for example, provide regulations for composting toilets but not for incinerating toilets.
Therefore, it’s essential to check with local authorities before installing an incinerating toilet.
Installation and Maintenance
Installing an incinerating toilet involves placing the toilet, connecting a vent pipe, and hooking it up to a power source.
While the installation process is relatively simple, it should ideally be carried out by a professional to ensure safety and compliance with local regulations.
Maintenance involves the regular cleaning of the bowl and periodic emptying of the ash reservoir.
Furthermore, the exhaust pipe and venting system require annual cleaning to remove dust and ash particles that could hinder the system’s operation.
Eco Toilet: A Sustainable Approach to Waste Management
The rise of eco toilets represents a shift towards sustainable living and waste management practices.
Incinerating toilets, in particular, are gaining popularity as an off grid toilet solution due to their water-saving, low-maintenance, and eco-friendly attributes.
However, it’s worth noting that while incinerating toilets are a step in the right direction, they aren’t without their drawbacks.
High upfront costs and substantial energy consumption are significant considerations when opting for this waste management solution.
The Future of Incinerating Toilets
As sustainability continues to influence our lifestyle choices, incinerating toilets are likely to become a more common sight, particularly in off-grid homes.
They offer a viable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional flush toilets and can help significantly reduce water consumption.
While the high upfront cost and energy consumption might limit widespread adoption, incinerating toilets remain a promising solution for those seeking to minimise their environmental impact and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
An off grid toilet, specifically an incinerating toilet, offers a practical and eco-friendly solution to waste management.
However, be sure to weigh the pros and cons, and consult with local authorities and professional installers before making a decision.