How to Make a Portable Toilet for Camping

Understanding how to make a portable toilet for camping can be quite useful for you and your family. Understanding how to make a portable toilet for camping can be quite useful for you and your family. Whether there is something wrong with the portable toilet you purchased, or you simply forgot to take one, the knowledge of how to make a portable toilet out of a bucket, for example, can be quite helpful.

What follows are some tips on how to construct a portable toilet, the items you need, and what to do if you lack the items needed on your camping trip.

What You Need

  • Five Gallon Bucket w/90mil thickness
  • Trash Bags: 10 or 13 Gallon
  • Pool Noodle or Pipe Insulation
  • Large Trash Can: With the tight-fitting lid
  • Grocery Store Trash Bags: Several of them.
  • One of the Following: Sawdust, pine chips, peat moss, or newspapers torn into thin strips
  • Cleaning solution

You’ll also need toilet paper for cleaning purposes. Understanding how to make a portable toilet out of a bucket means putting it together in the following manner.

  • Place the 10 or 13-gallon trash bag into a five-gallon bucket
  • Put a small amount of absorbing material such as sawdust, pine chips, etc. into the bag
  • Put grocery bag over the rim
  • Place pool noodle or pipe insulation that has been pre-cut over the rim
  • Put more absorbing material into the grocery bag

Keep the extra grocery and trash bags nearby along with the toilet paper and any hand-cleaning material, such as hand sanitizers. Once the toilet has been used, tie the grocery bag and drop it into the bucket. When the bucket is full, transfer the contents to the larger trash can and close the lid. Now sanitize the five-gallon bucket with the cleaning solution and repeat.

Once your trip is completed, you can dump the contents of the larger trash bag into a designated area. Disposing of human waste means following the rules of your state, park, or locality.

Getting Rid of the Odor

One issue with this version of a portable toilet is that controlling the odors will not be easy. Unlike standard portable toilets that store the waste in water, there is no cover apart from the bags themselves which means that odors may get out.

Baking Soda: You can choose to use a standard odor eliminator which can be in powder or spray form and kept near the five-gallon bucket after each use. If you want to keep it natural, then you can use baking soda. Baking soda eliminates odors on contact and is a common ingredient in many deodorizers. 

You can use the baking soda alone or combine it with a spray bottle containing essential oils that have been diluted in water. Simply dump some of the baking soda into the bucket and then a couple of sprays of the essential oil should do the trick.

Smudge Stick: Smudging has been used for thousands of years and can clear the area of odors as well. You can purchase smudge sticks or make a few by using the right herbs such as cedar, sweetgrass, sagebrush, or thyme along with some non-toxic twine to tie the dried herbs together and light. You can blow the smoke over the area and keep it nearby in a fireproof container, such as a large tray.

Pre-Assembled Portable Toilets

If you want to step up from the five-gallon bucket, there are products which include the bucket and lid which appears just like a standard toilet. You still use the same concept of bringing grocery bags and larger trash bags along with a trash can. However, a pre-assembled model may be easier to use and clean.

Many such pre-assembled toilets come with a lid that can be removed or folded back and a large bucket that will hold the waste material until it is ready to be removed.

Dumping the Contents

You’ll need to find a designated area to get rid of the contents once you have completed your trip. There are some camping sites, but many RV, trucking, and van sites that have a dumping tank just for that purpose. Before you go on your trip, find out the locations where there are official dumping sites.

What If You are Away from Your Portable Toilet?  

Although the items needed to create a portable toilet are inexpensive, there may be situations such as being on a long hike for example that makes bringing it along impractical. Or, you may find yourself too far away from the portable toilet when you need to go. Knowing what to do can help protect you and the environment.

If you find yourself in need of going, the first thing to do is find a little shelter if possible. A bush or tree for privacy can make all the difference. If you are in a park, getting away from the trail is important. But not too far away that you get lost.

Now that you have found your spot, dig a small hole with the heel of your boot or shoe. It does not need to be very deep, but it does need to be deep enough that you can bury the fecal matter. If the soil is loose enough, it shouldn’t take you more than a minute or two to dig a deep enough hole.

Now, position yourself over the hole. It may not be the most comfortable position, but when you have to go it doesn’t matter much. If you have brought along some toilet paper or napkins for cleaning purposes, be sure to bury them in the same hole. You’ll want to kick over some additional dirt to ensure the hole is fully covered.

Having the knowledge of how to make a portable toilet for camping will be quite helpful in case you need to create one. All it takes is a little patience and the right equipment to create a portable toilet. Plus, knowing what to do in the outdoors when you lack the right tools will be quite helpful as well.