Everything You Need to Know About Off-Grid Toilets

by Off Grid Blog Team

Escaping the evils of the big city to live off-grid even for a few months is a stupefying idea. Just imagine a life powered by solar panels and rainwater collection systems that support a self-contained greenhouse that produces natural organic food for you throughout the year.

Who wouldn’t want that?

However, there are many factors you need to consider before you rush out to live with birds. One factor is waste management.

People don’t have a problem with rainwater systems and solar panels, but when it comes to off-grid toilets, anxiety kicks in.

But I’m here to reassure you that there’s nothing to fear.  Off-grid toilets are not what they used to be a decade ago; they’re now more advanced and available in several options.

This article covers everything you need to know about off-grid toilets options. Let it act as your guide into your environmentally sustainable dream life.

Things to consider before choosing an off-grid toilet

Human waste management is very important. Without proper disposal, it can lead to the spread of disease or attract the wrath of local law enforcers. So, you can’t just select any toilet you first lay your eyes on.  Here’s a list of things you need to consider when selecting an off-grid toilet:

1. Time

Is it short term or long term?  Are you staying off-grid temporarily? Maybe you’re bored with the city noise, and you want a place to relax and enjoy the smell of nature.

The sophistication of your off-grid toilet greatly depends on how long you’re planning to stay off-grid. If it’s for a shorter period, you’ll need a less complex off-grid toilet.

The number of people who will use it

“Our toilets will hold up with regular use,” this is what most manufacturers say. But they’re never clear about the number of people who can use it.  Make sure you research how many people can use an off-grid toilet safely and for what period.

2. Laws

Check if the toilet complies with local laws. You don’t want to be carrying your bucket of feces as law enforcement agents cart you away.  Follow the stipulated guidelines for waste disposal to avoid such scenarios.

3. Maintenance

It’s wise to learn about the maintenance of your off-grid toilet. It’s not fun to carry your feces around, trying to find a suitable place to dump it. But this is what you get with an old fashion bucket toilet. To avoid this, find suitable off-grid toilet alternatives.

off-grid toilets options

Composting toilets

Composting toilets are the most famous off-grid toilets. Because they’re safe and not smelly, they can be installed in small spaces like a tiny home, RV or cabin. They don’t need any form of plumbing, chemicals, or flushing.  There are also 100% natural and organic, and they don’t have to be emptied every day.

How do composting toilets work?

Composting toilets separate liquids from the solids.  The toilet features two tanks: the lower tank holds the compost material (poop), and the front tanks hold the urine.

This prevents the two from mixing, meaning a chemical reaction won’t occur, and the nasty sewage smell won’t get formed.

The number of people using the toilet, the amount of toilet paper you use, and the number of times you use the toilet in a day, determines the compost dumping schedule.

You can empty the compost material in the lower tank into a composting bin to be used as fertilizer. You can also spread it on your garden. The same goes for the liquids: you can sprinkle it on the garden.

When you use the toilet, you need two scoops of pine shavings or coconut husk.  It helps to absorb the water content and speed up composting.

Types of composting toilets

The most common types of off-grid composting toilets include self-contained and centralized composting toilets.  A compost toilet uses a water toilet and a compost tank to break down your waste into fertilizer.

1. Self–Contained Composting Toilets

These composting toilets feature a composter attached to the toilet seat. The entire composting process takes place in the bathroom.  Both the toilet and the composting system are self-contained, so they’re easy to install. However, the composting tank is smaller, meaning you must empty it more often.

2. Centralized Composting Toilets

The composting process for centralized composting toilets takes place outside the bathroom.  The dry, off-grid toilet is located in the bathroom while the composting tank is located on a level below the toilet.  Since the tanks are larger, they’re emptied less often.  So they’re easier to maintain, unlike in self-contained composting toilets.

Incinerating toilet

This toilet burns away the feces, leaving you with ash. It eliminates the need for plumbing and sewage, and it’s easy to install.  Incinerating toilets are more sterile than their traditional counterparts.

It can serve lots of people effectively without crashing, and law enforcement agents won’t be on your doorstep bugging you.

However, it consumes an immense amount of energy.   First, the waste needs to heat up to a certain degree before it can incinerate.  The toilet is also selective with its power source.  This is a problem considering how precious power is when you’re living off the grid.

Cheap solar systems won’t produce enough energy to power it, and getting propane would cost you lots of money. It’s therefore convenient for people with vast sums of money stashed somewhere and want to live off-grid.


An old fashion bucket toilet is the simplest and cheapest form of off-grid toilet. After using it, you add sawdust on top to get rid of the smell.  Although it can be problematic for long-term use, you can manage the waste by disposing or composting it.

When disposing of the waste, you need to find a spot on your property where you can dig and dump the waste.  Ensure the spot is far from water sources.

If you’re an environmentalist, ensure you don’t use a plastic bag since it’s non-biodegradable.   Also, remember to check with the local laws to make sure they won’t have any problem with this.

Final Thoughts

Determining the number of people the off-grid toilet will serve, the time you want to stay off-grid, and your budget will make your selection process hassle-free.

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