Everyone is familiar with the standard toilet design where your toilet is hooked up to a water supply and a sewage system so when you flush, the water washes your waste into the sewer.
But what if there was a different way to get rid of your waste?
Is there a type of toilet in existence that, instead of washing your poop away to slowly degrade, could break it down instantly into something less unpleasant, like dust?
A toilet that turns poop into dust doesn’t currently exist, but there are incineration toilets that can turn it into ash! These water-free toilets burn human waste, creating a nearly odorless ash that is much easier to transport and dispose of than waste in a septic tank.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about incineration toilets, namely how they work, the pros and cons of owning them, and the answer to other common questions relating to this alternative toilet design.
How Does An Incinerator Toilet Work?
There might not be a toilet that turns human poop into dust yet, but you can get relatively the same results with an incineration toilet.
If you’re wondering what the difference is: dust is a collection of particles predominantly made of skin cells, fibers, dirt, and other matter whereas ash is a powdery residue that remains when matter is burned.
So how does this toilet that burns waste work?
An incineration toilet is built with a sealed incineration chamber where your excrement and other waste are channeled into using a bowel liner. Once there, it is reduced to a bacteria-free ash by using electricity, natural gas, or propane gas to heat the waste to temperatures ranging from 970 and 1400°F (500-750°C). (Link)
This process is known as pyrolysis and it’s what’s used in garbage incinerators. When the ash stored in the incineration toilet reaches ½ inch (about one cup) (Link) it should be disposed of. An easy way to do this is to simply throw it away in your general trash.
Because of the type of feces and the process used to incinerate it, it is not recommended to re-use these ashes like you would wood or vegetable ashes of fertilizer.
Pros And Cons Of Owning An Incineration Toilet
If you’re looking for an alternative to your standard toilet, you might be considering investing in an incineration toilet instead.
While there are benefits to opting for this toilet design, there are also important cons to consider, as they are not ideal for everyone.
The primary pros and cons of incineration toilets include:
Looking at this table, you might think that the pros and cons of owning an incineration toilet are fairly balanced, but what this decision really comes down to is what you prioritize in this piece of sanitary hardware. To help, we have discussed them in more detail below.
Pros Of Incineration Toilets
There are several advantages of owning an incineration toilet over alternatives, like the standard model you’d connect to a sewer or septic tank through plumbing, or a compost toilet, which is another highly considered option for its eco-friendliness.
Minimal to Water-free Design
One of the primary reasons why people opt for incineration toilets is that they can function without water, making them ideal for individuals living in cold climates where their water source and plumbing has a high risk of freezing or is in limited supply.
No Waste Tank
It’s also great for people who want to install a toilet in their camper van, but don’t want to deal with a waste tank. With an incineration toilet, all you have to do is toss the ashes.
Not only do incineration toilets have limited needs for disposal, but their overall design means they are also much cleaner than other designs, since anything inside is exposed to extremely high temperatures that kill any and all bacteria.
Cons Of Incineration Toilets
As tempting as it might seem to get an incineration toilet, there are cons to this design that contribute to why they aren’t the most popular choice.
Arguably the most influential con of these toilets is their cost. Installing an incineration toilet can easily cost anywhere from $1,200-$5,000 (Link), depending on the model you choose. This is significantly higher than the standard toilet you can buy for $100 or a composting toilet, which ranges from $700-$3,000.
Maintenance costs are also a factor you’ll have to consider. For example, bowl liners for incineration toilets can cost $20-$200.
Additionally, incineration toilets are far less common than other designs, so there are accessibility limits regarding where to purchase them as well as any specialty parts you might need for repairs.
Apart from cost, the other cons of incineration toilets might seem minor. For instance, these toilets often require electricity and/or fuel to operate.
Therefore, if you don’t have an electricity supply or don’t want to see your utility bill increase, then you’re better off avoiding them.
In terms of maintenance, their needs are fairly minimal in the cleaning department, but these toilets create about a cup of ash per person per week or a tablespoon of ash per use.
While this measurement is small, the fact that the toilet’s capacity is also small means you’re likely disposing of these ashes daily.
Odor is also a factor. While you’re unlikely to smell the most recent bowel movement after using an incineration toilet, some are better than others at masking the burning smell that emits when your waste is incinerated, so you’ll have to decide if that trade is worthwhile as well.
If you were looking for an eco-friendly toilet that will instantly turn your poop into dust, we’re sorry to say that one does not exist yet, but the incineration toilet will get you fairly close.
These are great alternatives to the standard toilet if you want to reduce your water use or maintenance. Of course, there are cons you’ll need to consider before determining if this switch is for you.