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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A porta potty for camping, natural disasters, and renovations

"How can you stay somewhere without a bathroom?" That's almost always the first question people ask when I tell them about my teardrop trailer.

But I'm in the know. I conducted extensive online research to be able to have some creature comforts in my tiny trailer. What I learned is that not only are porta potties modernized, they can be odor proof, flush like a household toilet, and are good for much more than camping.

If, in an earthquake, flood, ice storm, or any type of natural disaster, you lose water service for more than a day, where will you go to the bathroom? What about when you're having your bathroom remodeled and lose access to your toilet for several days or weeks? In an emergency you can only use a toilet so many times without flushing before you'll clog it up when your water service is restored. Not to mention the emanating odors will be less than pleasant.

Luggable Loo on the left, a Thetford Porta Potti® on the right.

Years ago after the Loma Prieta earthquake I lost power for about a week and water for around three days. Not a pleasant situation. After that I purchased what is known as a Luggable Loo. It's a bucket with a toilet seat and lid that snap over the top. You fill the bottom with water and enzymes that break everything down over time. That was 23 years ago. Now there are porta potties that are designed to replicate a much more civilized bathroom experience.

In my trailer I'll have a Thetford brand Porta Potti®. They have several models to choose from. They're compact, easy to clean, leak proof, and odor free. When I travel it seemed like a good idea to have one if I'm in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of the night when I don't feel it's safe to walk alone in the dark to use a public restroom at a campground or rv park.

As soon as I saw the Thetford brand online I was sold.

Here's how they work. The toilet is comprised of two sections, the upper section includes a fresh water tank, the lid, seat, bowl, and flusher.

The bottom includes the lever you pull to open the trap door to the lower black water (waste) tank and the emptying spout and lid.

It's that easy. If you're using it for urine only it's literally no muss no fuss. When you flush the toilet fresh water shoots out of a small nozzle along the top rear corner of the bowl, circles, and rinses the entire bowl clean. If you use it for bowel movements there's a nifty "Happy Bowl" liner product to keep the bowl clean. They've literally thought of everything.

You do need to add 4 ounces of water and an ounce of enzymes to the black water tank before you begin using the toilet. And you have to use special toilet paper the enzymes are able to quickly dissolve to prevent the emptying spout from clogging.

When it's time to empty the tank you simply swing the spout away from the base, screw off the cap, and pour the liquified contents into an RV dump station or a toilet. When you do it's not going to as icky as you're probably thinking it will be. The enzymes will have done their job and the great design of the toilet will make the whole process surprisingly simple and clean.

Be sure to view the "New and Improved" models on the Thetford website.

I purchased the 320P model at a local (brick and mortar) Camping World store but you can also view or buy them at Camping World online. The 320P can hold 4 gallons (33 flushes) of fresh water and 3.2 gallons of waste. It's a step up from their base model so there's also an indicator to let you know when it's time to empty the black water tank.

I really think everyone should have one of these that they keep at home just for emergencies. In case you face an extended period of time without access to plumbing to empty the black water tank just having a few extra 5 gallon buckets with lids handy in your garage will give you somewhere to store the contents until plumbing is restored and you can dispose of them in a convenient manner. Hopefully you'll never need to use it. But if you do, I'm pretty sure you'll be thankful you were prepared.

ETA: I did make a cute cozy for the porta potty in my travel trailer. . .

Once Fred built my countertop and shelves for me I ended up tucking it in beneath the counter. On the rare occasion I need to use it, I think I used it three times on my latest four week trip, I simply fold back the sleeping mattress and pull it out to the main cabin area. It's a perfect and safe solution to not having to leave the safety, and in the winter time warmth, of the trailer in the middle of the night to wander to a public restroom on my own.

To follow the entire build thread from beginning to end just click on the "Trailer - Build" category on the side bar or CLICK HERE.

To view all of my trailer gear and decorating posts CLICK HERE.

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