Incinerating toilets are self-contained units consisting of a traditional commode-type seat connected to a holding tank and a gas-fired or electric heating system to incinerate waste products deposited in the holding tank. The incineration products are primarily water and a fine, nonhazardous ash that can be disposed of easily and without infection hazard.
Though traditional water-flushing toilets are widely used throughout developed regions of the world, their use is not always feasible. For example:
- In rural areas where no municipal sewage system exists, or where installation of septic systems is impractical or prohibitively expensive due to shallow soils, steep slopes, high groundwater levels, or extreme cold weather conditions.
- For remotely located roadside rest areas, where connection to a piped sanitary system is impractical and the cost unjustifiable.
- For work crews operating in areas where permanent toilets are not available.
- In marine vessels, for which discharge of untreated waste into bodies of water is prohibited; human wastes must either be stored in tanks while at sea or be treated prior to discharge.
- In areas where water is scarce due to drought or other environmental conditions and the need to conserve water motivates consideration of alternative, water-free toilet systems.
- Where community, environmental, and health organizations have concerns regarding existing sewage disposal practices, especially seepage of contaminants into local water supplies from improperly functioning septic or other treatment systems, or exposure of residents to improperly dumped waste products from rudimentary collection pails called “honey buckets.”
All of these situations are potentially suited to the use of incinerating toilets which are portable, waterfree, and sanitizing.