Incinerating toilets are self-contained units typically consisting of a traditional commode-style seat, which is connected to a holding tank, and a gas-fired or electric heating system to incinerate waste products deposited in the holding tank. Such systems do not require water to operate. When properly maintained and functioning, they produce a fine, sterile ash that can easily be disposed of with other trash. Unfortunately, because the incineration process also destroys nutrients, the ash cannot be used for fertilizer.
Incinerating toilets are relatively odorless compared to typical portable toilets. They can also be used in unheated buildings, although if using propane, the EPA recommends that the propane tank be sheltered from severe winter conditions. Some incinerating toilets need to be operated after every use, so they may not be able to be used while incineration is occurring. Also, the operating costs for such products can vary widely, as they are dependent mostly upon prevailing electric or propane costs in your region.
If you are considering the use of such a product, check with your local public health authority to find out what requirements they may have governing the installation and use of incinerating toilets. Some may require that an incinerating toilet be certified in accordance with NSF Protocol P157. For a list of companies and products certified to this standard, please visit our wastewater treatment units online product database.