how to make a compost toilet for camping


Toilet facilities are often limited or non-existent when camping in remote areas. In such situations, a compost toilet can be a practical and eco-friendly solution. Composting toilets are relatively simple to construct, cost-effective, and can help preserve the environment by minimizing waste. In this article, we will guide you through the process of building a compost toilet for camping.

What is a Compost Toilet?

A compost toilet is a type of dry toilet that converts human waste into compost, which can then be used as fertilizer. Unlike traditional flush toilets, compost toilets do not require water for flushing. Instead, they utilize natural processes to break down waste materials and transform them into a useful product.

Materials Needed:

- A sturdy wooden box with a hinged lid or a portable toilet chair. - A removable toilet seat or a toilet seat cover. - A bucket or compost container with a lid. - Sawdust or untreated wood shavings. - A small shovel or trowel. - Biodegradable waste bags (optional).

Step 1: Find a Suitable Location

Choose a location for your compost toilet that is set away from your campsite, water sources, and food preparation areas. It should be in an area with good soil drainage and preferably receives sunlight. Selecting the right spot is essential to prevent any contamination or odor issues.

Step 2: Construct the Toilet Structure

If you are using a wooden box, ensure it is the appropriate height and width. Attach a hinged lid to the box, which can be opened and closed easily. Attach a toilet seat securely on top of the box to provide comfort and convenience. Alternatively, if you have a portable toilet chair, you can skip this step.

Step 3: Set up the Bucket or Compost Container

Place a bucket or a compost container with a lid inside the wooden box or under the portable toilet chair. Make sure it fits snugly and that the lid can be easily opened and closed. This container will store the waste until it can be properly composted later.

Step 4: Start Composting

For each use, add a handful of sawdust or wood shavings to the container to help absorb moisture and control odor. After every use, sprinkle a layer of sawdust or wood shavings on top of the waste. The carbon-rich materials help with the decomposition process, neutralize odors, and create airflow within the container.

Step 5: Maintaining the Compost Toilet

Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure the proper functioning of your compost toilet. Every few days or as needed, empty the contents of the container into a designated compost pile. If you're using biodegradable waste bags, tie them up and deposit them in a designated waste disposal area. Cover the waste with a layer of dry leaves or more sawdust to aid decomposition and reduce odors.

Step 6: Composting the Waste

Ideally, the waste should be composted for at least a year before it is safe to handle or use as fertilizer. Create a compost pile in a separate location, away from your campsite. Layer the waste with organic materials such as dry leaves, grass clippings, or kitchen scraps. Turn the pile occasionally to ensure proper aeration and decomposition.

Remember to follow local regulations and guidelines for composting human waste. Some areas may require specific permits or have restrictions on the use of composted waste.


Building a compost toilet for camping is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional toilet facilities. By following these steps, you can create a simple compost toilet that helps minimize waste and contribute to a sustainable camping experience. Remember to practice proper hygiene and always respect the environment by disposing of waste responsibly. Happy camping!