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How does a Chemical Toilet Work

Chemical toilets are the best alternatives to traditional ones, in places where constructing the latter is not practical. Here is a brief overview about such portable toilets.
Sonia Nair
You might have seen colorful portable plastic enclosures that are used as toilets, in parks, stadiums, construction sites, etc. These are nothing other than chemical toilets that use chemicals to deodorize and breakdown human waste. Such toilets are really convenient in places where installation of a full-fledged septic system is not practically possible, due to factors like non-availability of water or space constraints. Almost all portable toilets are chemical toilets that deodorize and breakdown human waste, instead of storing or transferring it to a septic tank. Chemical toilets are used in recreational vehicles (RV), caravans, parks, construction sites, trains, airplanes, and houseboats.
Working Mechanism
Use Chemicals: So portable toilets are waterless toilets that require very little or no water to flush out the waste. Special chemicals are used with a small amount of water to deodorize and breakdown the waste, before storing it in a waste tank. Most of these chemical toilets come with indicators that help us to understand the level of waste in the tank. The waste has to be disposed as per the manufacturer's instructions. In some regions, there are special laws with regard to use of chemical toilets and disposal of waste from such toilets. This is because of the use of chemicals in them. You may also find special dumping sites for waste produced by these toilets. Formaldehyde and bromine are among the commonly used chemicals in such portable toilets. Nowadays, even nitrate-based formulas are used.
Different Models: The working mechanism of this toilet may vary from type to another. In some types, waste can be flushed out with chemicals mixed with a small amount of water. In some others (as those used in airplanes), waste, along with a small amount of water, is sucked into the waste tank with the help of a vacuum flush. The waste is then stored in the tank with chemicals. These toilets store human waste after reducing it into almost 2% of the total volume. The stored waste has to be emptied and disposed properly, at regular intervals. The storage capacity and other features may vary from one model to another. You may either buy a chemical toilet that is best suited for your needs, or else rent one from companies that undertake regular maintenance of such toilets.
As in case of a traditional toilet, a chemical toilet too consists of a toilet seat with a commode (the shape and size vary with different models). It may have a reservoir that is meant for flushing out the waste. The reservoir will be filled with special chemicals and some water. This mixture flushes out the waste to the tank meant for storing waste. Even the waste storage tank contains chemicals that are meant for deodorizing, disintegrating, and partially disinfecting the waste.
In short, these toilets are advantageous in many ways. They are portable and can be easily shifted from one location to another. Chemical toilets are useful while traveling, or while camping in areas without any toilet facility. They are also useful in places where there is water shortage or space constraint for making traditional toilets. Another advantage is that they rarely clog. However, as the waste contains chemicals, its disposal must be done properly. You have to adhere to the manufacturer's instructions, as well as the law of the land, so as to dispose such waste. In some regions, you may find special dumping sites for such waste.