Elephant Cove, Denmark, Western Australia.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Camping Toilets.

Because I want to do a bit of free or independent camping and I believe that we should "leave no trace" I need to find a toilet solution.  I know lots of people take a shovel and dig a hole but I don't really think that is the best way too go. (haha)    I find it totally disgusting how some people just go anywhere and leave their toilet mess all over the place.  Using a hole would be better than that but these people have no manners.

I have been looking online to get some ideas and it seems that there are 3 main types of camping toilets.

1.Bucket.  Just a bucket with a seat attached and a lid.  Simple and cheap.  There are different products that can be bought to put in them or they can be lined with plastic bags then the contents/bags are binned.  Not sure how I feel about everyone binning their business but left unlined the contents would be messy and smelly.

2. Collapsible.  These fold up so don't take up a lot of space.  They are made to be used with plastic bags or over a hole.  Not my cup of tea.  But as I drink coffee...something to think about still.  But you still need to bin or dig a hole...

3. Chemical..  These are chemical toilets that flush.  You need to add the chemicals to the bottom tank then use as you would at home.  We actually have one of these but it is bulky and would be hard to hide if you were worried about other people knowing that you had to use a toilet.  It does work but needs emptying and cleaning after camping is finished.  Depending on what chemicals you use some cannot be emptied into a septic system.  We have a septic system here at home.  Chemicals can be expensive.  There are recipes to make your own but you need to make sure they are safe for your way of disposing of them.

I have for some time be interested in Joe Jenkins and his sawdust toilet.  You need to look up Humanure or sawdust toilets but basically it's a bucket with a seat attached that you use with sawdust.  You could probably go without the seat and put the lid back on when finished.  Other stuff besides the sawdust can be used, I read that some people use grass clippings, others use woodchips. The contents are composted.
Would these work as a camping toilet?  What would be the bad things about using one of these?  This could be emptied into a compost pile when we get home and left for a couple of years.  Probably not for long term as it would need to be emptied and it shouldn't be emptied out bush or down a dump point.  May be OK for 1 or 2 nights.  If each person had their own bucket that might save on some squeamishness.

Some people will still think that digging a hole will be the best for them.  With this they will need to have a shovel and be able to dig.  Sometimes the ground will be hard or it could be real sandy and hard to dig a decent depth.  I don't think that the 6inches depth that I have read about is deep enough but read that not being too deep, and in a sunny spot, the sun helps it decompose quicker. Some sites advice against burying paper as there is the chance that it won't rot away and will end up messing up the Earth.
Lots of campers, hikers, etc think that everything should be taken out with you.  I *kinda* agree with this but...
The bucket method is looking like a better choice to me.

There is also the issue of toilet paper.
Is the sort you use suitable for chemical toilets if that is the option you choose. 
Should you bury your waste but burn the paper?  Some places don't allow fires so not always an option.
One option for women is to use *wee wipes*  These are cloth squares that females can use after urination and would greatly cut down on paper usage. They are washed and reused.   A great idea for at home and could be used while camping.

I am still unsure as to which way to go but will need to make up my mind before we are out bush with no toilets anywhere near.  I will do some more reading and will ask more people.

Whatever way you choose to go you might want a bit of privacy so a toilet tent or screen would be needed.  More stuff to carry with you.  But that could also be used with your shower if you take one.
I have seen some that fold out with a quick flick but have heard that they are not always easy to fold up again.
There are types that need poles and ropes to keep them up.  Some look quite bulky.
Hand washing.
We all know that we need to wash our hands after going to the toilet and just because we are out bush doesn't mean we can forgo this.  So when water is scarce what can we do.  There is always the antiseptic handwash.  We could have a bottle of that in the *bathroom*  Or a separate bottle of water with a tap and some soap.  Hand wipes could be used then binned or burned.

No posting about toilets would be complete without mentioning FUDs.  Female Urination Devices.  These things will amuse some of you, interest some of you or disgust some of you.  Doesn't matter.  It needs to be said.
There are devices out there that allows a female to pee like a man.  How cool is that!
*Shewee*, *Go-Girl*, WhizBiz are three that I have read about but there may be more out there.  Go have a look and if you already have one of these please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.
If females are worried about being bit on the bum then these thinge may be what you need.

I have to laugh though.  This is something that everyone needs to use but the reactions that you get from some people really are funny.  Even I find it a bit iffy to discuss and some people think I'm a tad feral.  But anyone who wants to go camping away from civilization needs to use something other than toilets.

What do you use?  Are you happy with the way that you have chosen?  Please leave a comment and let me know.

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