Build a Homemade Camping Toilet

Follow these plans and build a homemade camping toilet that can provide comfort as well as convenience.

  • Camping trips are a bit more comfortable when you bring a composting toilet.
    Photo courtesy Voyageur Press
  • In "5-Gallon Bucket Book," Chris Peterson offers projects that are wonderful additions to your yard and garden, tools to care for your animals, useful innovations, handy home helpers, and even family-oriented designs!
    Cover courtesy Voyageur Press

Five-gallon buckets are ubiquitous and cheap. But did you know they can also be hacked, hod-rodded, reengineered, and upcycled to create dozens of useful DIY project for homeowners, gardeners, small-scale farmers and preppers? The 5-Gallon Bucket Book (Voyageur Press, 2015) contains over 60 ideas that help keep these buckets from ending up in landfills. With simple step-by-step instructions as well as parts lists and images of the completed projects, this book makes certain that you'll have fun and love the results.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Five-Gallon Bucket Book.

Camping and Composting Toilet

Camping can be incredibly fun, but the least fun part of any outdoor adventure is going to the bathroom. That’s because there isn’t any bathroom. Unless you happen to be car camping in a campground equipped with facilities, or driving your own well-appointed RV, the bathroom is going to be wherever you can find a private place. But let’s face it: squatting behind a tree, even for the experienced outdoorsman, is anything but pleasant. What you need is a toilet you can bring with you. Ideally, that fixture should be comfortable, convenient, and have no impact on the environment, and it must not add unpleasant smells to the campsite. That’s an awfully tall order to fill.

The answer, of course, lies inside a five-gallon bucket.

The toilet described in the steps that follow is light and portable, simple to construct or break down, comfortable and easy to use — for children as well as adults — and is environmentally friendly to boot. Because you can’t flush it, the secret lies in the absorbing power of recyclable elements. A container of sawdust takes care of most of the smells and ensures the toilet doesn’t draw insects or create an unpleasant odor. If you don’t happen to have access to sawdust, you can just as easily use a large amount of used coffee grounds.

In any case, by using a biodegradable, compostable trash bag to line the toilet, you ensure that the bucket is kept clean and that the waste can be placed in a hole and covered. It’s the guilt-free water closet because the waste, including the bag, will naturally break down over time.

8/7/2017 5:05:00 AM

Thanks for your tips and I know the simplest way of making a DIY composting toilet. I am going to share my tips. Just purchase a medical toilet seat and set up a 5 gallon bucket beneath the seat to collect the deposits... Sharon



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


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