A trap toilet (also known as a pour down or PVC toilet) is made from a 5-gallon bucket and blue poly/vinyl liner. Also sometimes referred to as a “bucket latrine”, the term “trap toilet” refers to the sloped bottom of the bucket which traps liquid below it, allowing it to drain outside of the bucket.
What does a Trap Do?
A trap, or bucket valve, is a mini plumbing system consisting of a floor flange with a screw-on cover and a tube leading outside of the bucket. The trap siphons liquids from below the bucket down to the bottom of the tube.
This allows you to immediately pour wastewater into your toilet without going outside for long periods of time. It also keeps flies from going into your container while it’s open. A nice addition is a lid over your container, which may prevent rainwater from entering it while it’s open/empty.
Why Should I Use One?
Using an s trap toilet rather than just throwing all waste in your compost pile can reduce smell and keep rodents away from your outdoor kitchen by containing them better than an open compost container. They are also a good backup option if the power goes out for your flushable plumbing system.
In general, they work well when there is no nearby water source and you don’t have the ability to transport clean water into your camp.
What is S-trap? How does It work?
An S trap is a method of tying two PVC pipes together in such a way that when you flush, the water (and everything else) goes down the first pipe and into the second pipe. Because it’s below the level of your toilet seat or floor, nothing can go directly back up into the toilet bowl which makes it virtually stink-free.
This enables you to pour clean water and chemicals (downward) onto your waste after each use. This not only keeps odours at bay but also helps keep smells from entering your living space since all of the urination goes straight outside. If handled with care, this bucket system may provide one person with semi-frequent access to an odour-free place to relieve themselves.
What is P Trap? How does It work?
A P trap is a curved section of pipe that traps water in the bottom, preventing smells and potential leaking. It is usually found on the waste lines between your toilet and your main sewer line (also known as a “wet vent”).
The purpose of a p trap is to create a barrier of water that ensures any foul odours created by waste are not evacuated into your home. Because it requires water to operate properly, this system may stop working in times of drought since there won’t be enough H20 in the pipes to create a proper seal. A couple of ways you can solve this problem include adding an electric pump or placing buckets of water inside/outside the bucket toilet area so when they get low, someone can add more until they can empty it out and refill it with clean water.
The Benefit of an S-trap Toilet?
No running water is needed.
Waterless toilets or composting toilets dry out the solids and liquids which results in, you guessed it, odours or sewer gases. The same way a P-trap toilet does, an S-trap bucket toilet keeps smells to a minimum by having water below your waste so any odours are easily pushed down the pipe. If you decide to use chemical additives with your p trap toilet, these may also be diluted throughout the water so they don’t become overwhelmingly pungent before they can complete their duties.
What are Some Ways I can Handle My Waste?
There are many different disposal methods that work well for single person living spaces that have no access to clean water or plumbing lines. A few of them include:
- Draining greywater onto the ground. If you are a flushable toilet user, make sure to avoid polluting any standing water sources with your leachate.
- Pour boiling hot water on it after use to keep smells at bay. Add a few drops of dish soap for double duty cleaning.
- Add chemicals like which may eat away at solids and grease in your waste. The downside is that if someone ever gets into the disposal area accidentally, they could become seriously ill or die by drinking the concoction. Use this method sparingly, once per month should be enough to destroy bacteria in normal living conditions.
- Dig a hole (~1m deep) where you want to dispose of your waste. Place a two-sided bucket on top of it. Cover the hole once you are done with your business to keep flies out of your living area, then use the bucket system to transport the waste away from camp each day to be buried elsewhere.
Think About Water Efficiency
Think about the average amount of water spent when using this method. You don’t want to be hauling urine and greywater out of your living space and dumping it somewhere else, so you can collect it and pour it on top of the waste in the hole instead.
Collecting waste with a bucket-on-a-stick. This is exactly what it sounds like, you scoop up whatever is in the pit with a bucket, pour out whatever liquid has accumulated (to use as fertiliser elsewhere), then take everything outside where you mix 1 part Calcium Hypochlorite or Chlorine Bleach into 9 parts water, then use that solution to soak your waste for 10 minutes before burying it elsewhere away from camp.
What is a Toilet Suite?
A toilet suite can be used with a bucket-on-a-stick system to reduce the amount of water needed for this method. You can build a honey bucket toilet suite or use a large plastic drum that is elevated above the ground with a seat on top.
The Benefits of Storing Humanure
If you don’t have access to your own greywater source, collecting solids and liquids separately means one container may always be clean, while the other contains all your waste. This is useful if you ever want to move camp. If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation where you need to relocate quickly, being able to pick up and go without worrying about organising another place for waste disposal beforehand can be a big help. It also reduces the weight of your pack when hiking, making your way through the bush faster and with less effort.
Bottle Trap vs P-traps
Bottle trap toilets are a more streamlined version of a bucket on a stick system. They usually have containers that hang from the roof of a house over a drain, and all you have to do is remove them regularly and clean them out according to their instructions.
The benefit of bottle traps vs a traditional p-trap is that they use less water per flush, so it’s easier to maintain during droughts or seasons where there isn’t as much rain. Also, because there is no water stored above the waste, if someone were ever able to get into your storage area by accident, there would be no contamination from chemicals or cross-contamination from old solids that haven’t been removed yet (like with greywater). This method is also used in some parts of Africa to store faeces for fuel. You can read more about it here.
Toilet Suites from a Plastic Drum
If you can’t find or make a bottle trap, I suggest getting a large plastic drum and cutting it in half to make toilet suites. Make the bottom section into your toilet suite by putting a seat on top, then using thin plywood around the edge to hide any rough edges and create a smooth area that won’t cut people walking barefoot over it. Drill holes into the side of the drum near the top for ventilation, then turn it upright so most of the hole is covered with boards/pieces of wood so it’s easy to remove later on when you need to empty your waste out. Be sure to keep this up off the ground during heavy rain so water doesn’t splash back inside. You could also use an upturned bucket as a toilet for this method, just cover it first with something like a big plastic bag and poke some holes in the bottom.
The Skew trap is a fantastic option for those without access to greywater or a p-trap, as it only requires a small amount of water and minimal labour.
A simple way to make a skew would be to dig a hole about half a metre deep somewhere at least 10 metres from your living space, then collect a bowl or container that may fit inside the hole. Dig out an area under where the container sits so water has somewhere to drain through after you pour it in from above instead of pooling up around the base of the container. Put something underneath this drainage area (like upturned buckets) to catch the excess liquid, then build walls around it made from rocks or logs/branches to stop the liquid from escaping out of the sides.
Back to Wall Toilet
If you have the option to make the compost out of sight, this is probably your best bet to make a back to wall toilet. A version of this type of toilet with a dry flush has been used since 1848 in some parts of Europe where they didn’t have easy access to water for flushing. It’s made by digging a pit in the ground behind your house, putting up some planks to make a back wall, then placing smaller rocks or gravel in-between the gaps before topping it off with an even layer of dirt. When people need to use it, they can either dig out their own little hole in the corner or do one of two things: build a little wooden box to sit on top or line it with plastic and shovel the contents into one of your storage drums.