Toiletsguide is audience-supported. When you buy through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission that we use for site maintenance. Learn more


Incinerating Toilets Pros and Cons | Should You Get One?

Incinerating Toilets Pros and Cons
Written by Elizabeth Fincher

We are all (for the most part) familiar with traditional toilets – the conventional porcelain throne. You go about your business, flush, and a strong stream of water takes care of the rest. It is of no concern to you where the waste goes. Out of sight, out of mind.

Incinerating toilets work a little bit differently, and are slowly carving out a niche in the marketplace. It can effectively remove human excrement in water-scare areas, and is held in high regard by residents who don’t really have the option to eliminate waste the traditional way.

Those who consider changing their lavatory lifestyle need to have a firm understanding of what an incinerating toilet is, and how it works.

You need to be aware of incinerating pros and cons. They do have their drawbacks, but do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

Let’s take a look.

What Is an Incinerating Toilet?

What Is an Incinerating Toilet

As the name implies, this waterless system literally incinerates/burns human waste at high temperatures. It can run on electricity or gas, and looks almost exactly like a conventional toilet, with a few exceptions, of course.

After use, you will press a button that will carry the waste to an enclosed chamber. Here, the waste is ignited, leaving behind only a small amount of odorless ash.

The combustion gasses are released through a special ventilation pipe. It equates to about one teacup of ash per week for a household of four.

Once the compartment gets full, you will need to dispose of the ash, but since it is sterile, no special waste elimination is needed.

It is worth a mention that electric incinerating toilets will burn waste after every use, but the gas versions will collect waste until the chamber is full. Luckily, this will happen at night when the toilet is not in use.

Types of Incinerating Toilets

Split Systems

This type of toilet splits into two sections, called the pedestal above the floor (the piece you will use) and the tank below the floor to store the waste.

They are versatile enough to suit homes, outhouses, clubs – pretty much anywhere with space to spare under the floor.

The tanks have a larger capacity and are ideal where multiple people have to use the facilities.

Self-Contained Systems

These are all-in-one systems where the pedestal and the tank are built into one piece. They are perfect for smaller areas, motorhomes, and even boats. In principle, all other features remain the same.

Continuous vs Batch

Both systems can be further broken down in either of these two categories, depending on whether you are using an electric or fuel incinerating source.

In a continuous system, waste gets burned as soon as it reaches the chamber, whereas a batch system will only incinerate waste when the chamber has reached its capacity.

Pros of Incinerating Toilets

Does Not Need Traditional Plumbing

Obviously, these toilets don’t use water, so you don’t have to worry about expensive plumbing plans. They are ideal for all areas of the home that doesn’t have access to traditional plumbing.

Saves Space

Incinerating toilets are more compact than conventional ones, and self-contained systems even more so. In small spaces like camper vans, you are afforded more space to move around without bumping into something.

No Odor

It may be difficult to get your head around the concept at first, but incinerating toilets give off hardly any odor. Electric models especially are the ideal choice where a bad smell would be catastrophic – like at a wedding.

Easy to Clean

When you use the loo, you will lay down a liner, which collects the waste and traps it neatly in the incinerating chamber. When you clean the tank, you will only have to scoop out sterile ash that can be disposed of in the garden. Granted, using a liner every time is a bit inconvenient, but it will result in having to clean the unit less frequently.

Adapts to Any Climate

Toilets in colder regions have a tendency to freeze the water in pipes, rendering them useless. Incinerating toilets have no such issues, making them ideal in cold weather.

Cons of Incinerating Toilets

Distasteful Concept

The very idea of disposing of your own waste is distasteful to many, let alone disposing the waste of someone else, even if the waste is odorless and sterile.

Expensive Purchase

The biggest drawback is the costly purchase price. Incinerating toilets can cost up to four times as much as regular toilets! They come with hefty price tags ranging between approximately $1500 on the lower end, and up to $4000 for higher models.

High Energy Cost

With the hike in both fuel and energy costs, your monthly energy costs will inevitably go up. These little costs will add up over time, and the efficiency of the system will depend on the source of fuel you use. Electric units might be more convenient, but the gas variants could prove to be more economical in the long run.

Requires Ventilation

While you are spared the pain of plumbing, incinerating toilets do require vents to expel the combustion gas. The vent either needs to run out through a wall or up through the roof.

Where Is an Incinerating Toilet Most Useful?

Where Is an Incinerating Toilet Most Useful

Incinerating toilets really come into their own where there is a need to handle biological waste innovatively. There are numerous examples we’ve used where a traditional toilet simply isn’t suitable.

They are especially useful in camper vans or RVs, areas without access to running water, or regions where water pipes frequently freeze solid.

How Incinerating Toilets Work

How to Install an Incinerating Toilet?


1. Do incinerating toilets smell?

Ans: bo because they use electric heat to burn waste into bacteria-free ash. The process is virtually odor-free, but you need to install and use it correctly to stay odor-free.

2. How to clean my toilet incinerator?

Ans: You need to clean various parts of the incinerator in different times. Most come with a cleaning kit and instructions for convenience.

3. What US states allow incinerating toilets?

Ans: Washington, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Idaho, Florida, Montana, and Massachusetts are some of the states that allow personal use.

About the author

Elizabeth Fincher

Elizabeth started her career as an interior design artist at a multinational interior design farm. She completed her masters degree from the University of North Texas back in 2010. She was also a Spelling Bee runner-up when she was 14. She took interest in bathroom interior designing after joining her first job. Later she started her own firm as an independent artist. She’s been one of the founding members of Toiletsguide. She examines the design and ergonomics of the units we review and directs the interior decoration team of our in-house research facility. Elizabeth plays piano masterfully and always finds time to entertain us in between our busy schedules.

Leave a Comment