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Caravan Built-In Toilet and Porta Potti

Discussing portable toilet systems for caravans and RV's including the best chemicals to use.



What are the different types of toilet systems for a caravan / motorhome?

        The Internal Cassette Type ToiletCaravan Cassette Toilet

The toilet consists of two parts: a permanently installed toilet seat and a waste cassette tank that you can access and easily remove from the outside hatch. To prepare the toilet for use, you simply add the toilet fluid and water mix to the cassette waste tank. The flush water tank also requires filling although there are models that draw the flush water from the RV's main water tank supply.

Caravan Toilet Cassette The timing of emptying the toilet cassette varies due to the capacity/size of the cassette and the amount of usage. Toilet cassette sizes range from 17 litres to around 20 litres and can be quite heavy to lift when full of waste so we recommend obtaining a toilet cassette with wheels for easy transportation from your RV to the Dump-Ezy black water waste dump.

The various models, with either rotating or fixed toilet bowls, blend in seamlessly with your bathroom, making the best use of the limited space.


                The Porta Potti Porta Potti

Want to take a porta potti camping? Because these toilets are compact, lightweight and easy to use, the porta potti is often used to take camping, in caravans, motorhomes, boats and camper trailers. The porta potti is simple to transport and really can be placed anywhere.  It is small enough to pull out from under your caravan bed and slides neatly away again when not in use.

The porta potti consists of two sections. The upper section is a combined flush water tank and toilet bowl with detachable seat and cover. The lower section is the waste holding tank. These two parts are easy to attach and detach using a lever at the rear of the toilet. In this way, the waste holding tank can be simply and hygienically emptied and cleaned.  Most porta pottis are equipped with a level indicator. In this way you are warned in good time that the waste holding tank must be emptied.




Emptying a Porta Potti

Emptying a Porta Potti

Emptying a Porta Potti

Emptying a Porta Potti

Emptying a Porta Potti

Can I empty my porta potti / toilet cassette in septic toilets ?

Thetford Australia advises "Both Aqua Kem Green and Premium Aqua Kem Green can be disposed of into a septic system"


What chemicals should I use for my porta potti / toilet ?

Things to consider when assessing many of the different chemicals available for your caravan's toilet / porta potti are -

Does the chemical chosen

  • suppress unpleasant smells;
  • promote the breakdown of solids and toilet paper;
  • protect moving parts and extend the life span of your toilet / porta potti;
  • reduce formation of gas;
  • keep your waste tank hygienic and clean;
  • meet environmentally free standards ie: is it formaldehyde free?


Why should I choose formaldehyde free toilet chemicals ?

What is formaldehyde ?

It is defined as ‘a chemical used in manufacturing and chemical industries, and as a preservative by anatomists, embalmers, and pathologists. Being exposed to formaldehyde may increase the risk of developing leukaemia and brain cancer.’

Formaldehyde is toxic to animals, plants and humans and exposure may cause irritation to the eyes, throat and nose and can cause lung and skin allergies.  It is often used as an active ingredient in toilet chemicals to break down and sterilize the ‘black water’ or toilet waste.

Toilet waste containing the formaldehyde chemical is really only suitable for disposing of in sewerage systems in the city where there is sufficient water and other wastes to break down or dilute the formaldehyde.  When travelling in regional or remote areas it is not suitable to dispose of in drop toilets, country town septic toilets or even buried in the bush.

Some regional towns have CMCA/ KEA sponsored ‘dump’ points however if your toilet cassette or ‘black water’ waste contains formaldehyde it should not be disposed of in those facilities as it can de-nature the waste breakdown.  There is also considerable cost for local shire councils to remedy the problem as they often lack the availability of sufficient water to dilute the waste solutions.

Some toilet products may also be formaldehyde free but unsuitable for recirculating toilets and holding tank models.

Vacuum Toilets

What is a vacuum toilet ?

A vacuum toilet is a toilet system developed for caravans and motor homes.  It comprises a toilet bowl from which extends a pipe to the cassette.  It operates similar to a toilet on an aircraft so when you flush, the vacuum in the line sucks the contents in the toilet bowl, using very little water, to the tank.  

One manufacturer, Dometic, supplies ceramic toilet bowls with a vacuum toilet for caravan, motorhomes and marine sailing and power craft.  The manufacturer claims the action of the vacuum breaks the waste down so no chemicals are required.  They promote the benefits as odour free, extremely low energy and water consumption, as well as allowing greater design flexibility due to the remote cassette installation.

The vacuum pump requires power to operate and if by chance your battery is flat it will not operate.

One point to consider though would be not to locate the remote cassette under your bed as the pump runs for about 60 seconds to reset the vacuum and this may be inconvenient, for the sleeping partner, if it is used during the night.

Another of the Dometic models has a holding tank system suitable for coaches and motorhomes.  These holding tanks are available, depending on the manufacture of your vehicle, in 35, 60 and 90 litre capacity. Dumping is at the push of a button with a small bore hose to a nearby dumping station.

vacuum toilet

Composting Toilets

A composting toilet is vented to the outside of the RV, has no holding tank and does not use water in it's operation. A 12V fan is the only power to the unit and an agitator hand is attached for manual use. The liquid waste (urine) and solid waste ('poo') are kept separated and it is necessary to add compost material (such as pre-moistened peat moss or coconut fibre) to the base of the unit. After each solid waste addition the compost material must be agitated 2-3 revolutions with the handle to mix the waste into the compost. Published material indicates about 80 uses for solids before emptying.

An 8 litre sterile liquid (urine) waste canister can be emptied every few days into any public toilet bowl.

Two brand names are 'Natures Head' and 'Air Head' and Natures Head comes with a five year warranty. Google their websites for full details on the operation and installation of these composting toilets.

SOG Toilet Ventilator

The SOG toilet ventilation system is a 12V fan kit system that can be connected to the toilet cassette holding tanks.  There are 4 kit types - Type A kit system is for the C2, C3 and C4 models.  Type B for C200, Type D for C400 and Type F for C250/C620 cassette model.  Installation instructions are included with the SOG kit and it comes with a 2 year warranty.

The SOG toilet ventilation system comprises a 90 degree connecting elbow which is inserted into a 35mm hole drilled into the elbow of the pour out spout of the cassette toilet and an exhaust hose that connects from the elbow of the pour out spout to a 36mm hole in the cassette door where an air exit hole is covered by a filter housing containing a carbon filter.  Replacement carbon filters are available and it is recommended the carbon filter be changed once a year depending upon use. 

SOG toilet ventilationCables are connected to the 12V caravan supply and once the blade valve is opened the ventilator will run.  The unit will stop as soon as you close the blade valve.  The power current consumption is stated at 0.43 Watts and only uses this while the toilet is in use.

Information available with the SOG toilet ventilation system states no toilet chemicals are needed as decomposition is optimum due to the increased oxygen flow.  There are no smells as the fresh air acts as a seal and prevents smells from rising with the smell ventilated outside the RV through the carbon filter. It states that you can use normal commercial toilet paper and this is fully decomposed and the toilet cassette can be emptied every 5 days (or when full).

To empty the toilet cassette the hose from the connecting elbow needs to be removed and a stopper is provided to plug the elbow.  If removing the hose is difficult spray the stopper and plastic parts with silicone spray. 

SOG Toilet Ventilators are available from Aussie Traveller, caravan accessory stores and online caravan, motorhome & RV accessory stores.

See also our pages on Sanitation Products/Toilet Chemicals and Home Made Portable Toilet Chemicals.




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