How to deal with going to, and emptying your campervan toilet on a self-contained off grid campervan holiday.
Wild and Off Grid Camping
One of the absolute attractions to a self-contained campervan holiday is that you have the freedom to travel where you want.
We’ve already discussed the laws and etiquette of wild camping in a couple of other blogs that also include how to find the best park ups. For a brief recap – you should remember to leave nothing but footprints. Take everything with you and leave no trace that you’ve enjoyed a night of wild camping freedom.
Self-contained camping means that you have everything with you in the camper van to be totally off grid. Toilet, shower, solar power and a fully equipped kitchen. With freedom, comes responsibility. The responsibilities around toilet management are a pretty big part of that.
In a Covid-world, the capacity to separate yourself from shared facilities is something that makes a family campervan holiday a pretty good option. For first time campers, or seasoned off-gridders, it’s always handy to be clear on the rules around what you can and cannot do with emptying your loo!
Types of Campervan Toilets
There are a few types of toilet/bathroom set ups depending on the budget and eco mindedness of the campervan converter. Some campervans have wholly integrated indoor bathrooms, and some have ingenious “pop up” bathroom solutions that include a stow away toilet.
We love Dora’s clever pop up bathroom!
This style of loo tends to be the most popular, or commonly found in many campervan conversions. They vary in size and are a free-standing unit devoid of any sort of permanent plumbing connection.
Built in Loo
A built-in toilet has a cassette for holding the waste which you normally access to empty from the side of the camper. These are often more commonly found in motorhomes or caravans but they do make an appearance in a campervan conversion. The flush is often powered by the leisure battery.
Tor has a pretty swanky built in toilet and shower set up!
These are permanent installations in the campervan and work by separating the pee and the poop. They basically work like your garden composter, and are a larger bathroom installation that includes a 12v fan to waft away unwanted odours!
Well, there are more sophisticated names and styles, but essentially you can opt for a bucket style affair where you hook a bag around the rim, do your business, and collect the bag for disposal.
It’s really unlikely that you’ll ever be caught totally short! Many places have public toilets for you to use. Fuel stations, camping sites, larger food stores, McDonalds…. the cleanliness and standard of them will vary, but it’s comforting to know you’ve always got options!
How and Where to Empty your Campervan Toilet
Beautiful Hunter has a fabulous internal shower and toilet room!
Disposing of the contents of your toilet depends on what you’ve put in it. By which we are referring primarily to the chemicals used in them!
The Porta Potti, or built-in loo, requires a fairly potent mix of chemicals to keep bad smells at bay, and to break any solids down before emptying.
Any chemical toilet will use two types of chemical. One goes in the toilet bowl (usually blue or green) to break down the deposits. The other (usually pink) acts as the flush and goes in the top of the loo. These are all concentrated chemicals, so make sure you read the instructions to get the correct water to concentrate ratio!
You can buy (and we recommend you do) environmentally friendly, organic toilet chemicals. They cost the same as, and work just as well as the non-environmentally friendly ones. The bonus being you get good karma points!
Disposing of Chemical Campervan Toilet Waste
Magnificent 6-berth Frida even manages to fit a toilet in!
You should dispose of the contents of a chemical toilet in an appropriately designated place. It’s really important that chemicals don’t go directly into the sewerage system. Many out of the way public toilets use septic tanks, and the ‘normal’ toilet chemicals will kill the required bacteria in these tanks. Typically, you will see places marked as a Chemical Disposal Point (CPD). If you cannot locate one of these, your only option is to flush the contents down a normal WC. Wherever you are emptying it, be super sure that it is kept well away from any fresh water points.
One point to note – just because you can use chemicals in your Porta Potti, doesn’t mean you have to. If you are only going to use water or an eco-washing up liquid to flush, then you no longer have a chemical toilet, and the places you can empty them suddenly become more available!
Emptying a Composting Campervan Toilet
A composting toilet will separate the solids and liquids in to two separate compartments. The liquid cassette will likely need emptying fairly frequently (about every three or four days) but the solids go into a receptacle which houses coco coir (or soil) which fertilises it down into a peaty, powdery substance.
You can keep the solid section in operation for a fair length of time; in fact, emptying it about once a month or so. This means that it is much easier to locate a suitable disposable spot for that side of things.
Many models of composting toilets will have a Biobag in the composting section. This can be disposed of in a general waste bin facility. Unlike the chemical toilets, emptying a composting toilet isn’t a messy job. If you’ve ever dealt with a garden compost heap, you won’t have any issues with dealing with this!
The wee bit – well that’s just wee. Without any chemicals in it, there’s no problem emptying that in a normal WC.
What about hiring Big Blue for a totally cool self contained campervan holiday?