Photo of an incinerating toilet - the Incinolet incinerting toilet from Incinolet.com Buyer's Guide to Incinerating Toilets as Components of Alternative Septic Systems for Difficult Sites
     


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Incinerating toilets: this document describes the brands, properties, installation, and maintenance of incinerating toilets - a waterless system for onsite waste disposal where a septic system cannot be installed. Incinerating toilets use electricity or gas to produce heat which literally incinerates the waste. Here we list suppliers of incinerating toilets and compare models, features, and prices.

We add advice on choosing among incinerating toilets and on how to use incinerating toilets. The photo above shows an Eco John Sr - "A highly efficient, waterless toilet that incinerates the waste with propane." [The photograph above is of one of our favorite incinerating toilets, an Incinolet, from that company's product literature.]

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Guide to Incinerating Toilets: where to buy, how to install, how to use, how to maintain incinerating toilets

Photo of the EcoJohn waterless incinerating toilet

What are Incinerating Toilets?

Incinerator Toilet Septic Systems: incinerator toilets use electricity or gas to burn the waste placed into these systems. Like chemical toilets and holding tanks they have limited capacity, are used where water is not available or must be conserved, and they do not address the handling of remaining graywater from sinks and showers.

Incinerating toilet models include waterless-versions of incinerating toilets which produce a small amount of ash, and low-water toilet systems that are combined with an incinerator that can reduce gray water as well as sewage.

Typically no plumbing, no water, no digging, no drains, are required, though an energy source is necessary, such as electricity, natural gas, or LP gas. A vent is also required for incinerating toilets, either out through a side wall or up through the building roof.

Incinerating toilets can be used in un-heated buildings, though if LP gas is used as the energy source, it should be protected from very cold conditions. My favorite product name among toilets of this type was the "Destroylet" incinerating toilet which was electric/propane fueled and which is no longer on the market in its original form. Each flush resulted in a more than 10-minute burn cycle which produced a pretty smelly exhaust.

I'd consider installing an incinerating toilet but I'd be sure to review all of its specifications first, including energy use, overall size and installation costs, storage capacity, incinerating frequency, and the length of the incinerating cycle.

I expect that properly installed, odors, noise, and explosions are not an issue. Some models require that the incinerating cycle be run after each use. As this can take some time the toilet may be unavailable during that interval. I'm not sure this is the whole story but some sources (NSF) argue that because the process consumes all of the nutrients in the waste, the ash cannot be used for fertilizer. As long as the ash can be disposed of conveniently in a suitable location, it is sanitary and may not be an issue. Some manufacturers (Incinolet) recommend disposing of the ash in the household garbage.

According to the US EPA "Anti-foam agents, catalysts or other additives are typically required for use" though at least for some products such as the Incinolet the manufacturer notes that no addities are needed.

Incinerator Toilets [Gas, Electric Toilets] Regulations and Sanitary Codes

These units accept human waste into a chamber where the wastes are burned. They have a very limited capacity and require a source of electricity or gas. The ash remains must be periodically removed. They must be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

The previous quote is from: New York State Appendix 75-A.10 Other systems. In sum, other than stating that the product must be installed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, many codes and jurisdictions are silent on this topic.

Sources for Incinerating Toilets and Model Comparisons

The Eco John Incinerating Toilet

Photo of the EcoJohn waterless incinerating toilet
  • EcoJohn, a California company, provides several incinerating toilet models including the SR series waterless incinerating toilet (photo at left). Here is a copy of the Eco John company's catalog of waterless incinerating toilets, separating composting toilets, and incinerating waste control systems for use with low-flush toilets.

    This is a toilet that is ideal for cabins, pool houses, guest rooms, or other remote areas where a conventional toilet is not available or too costly to install." "This is a new revolutionary system that incinerates gray/black water from a holding tank. "

    The company reports that "These products have been carefully tested and are designed to solve the problems with toilets in remote applications. ECOJOHN is superior where there is no power or water available, or where septic tanks are restricted, or simply in situations where a regular toilet is too costly or difficult to install. In addition to our self contained toilets, we also build upscale portable restrooms that include our own ECOJOHN toilet solutions that don’t need unsanitary and costly pump outs the ECOJOHN restrooms provide hygienic, logistical, and economical benefits."

    This system is perfect in areas where a water toilet is needed, but pumping out the waste is problematic or too costly." The company previously offered an interesting waterless toilet system that includes an incinerator for graywater that marries with a low-water toilet, the the EcoJohn Jr which is includes a sewage and graywater incinerating unit.

    Contact the ECOJOHN company at their website, Eco John or at Global Inventive Industries, 17150 Newhope St. Ste 707, Fountain Valley, CA 92708, Tel:866.ECOJOHN Fax: 714.568.1068 or by email to info@ECOJOHN.com

The Incinolet Electric Incinerating Toilet

Photo of an incinerating toilet - the Incinolet incinerting toilet from Incinolet.com * Incinolet™ Electric incinerating toilet products, operate at 120V on a 15A circuit or at 204V for some models. This toilet line "... uses electric heat to reduce human waste (urine, solids, paper) to a small amount of clean ash, which is dumped periodically into the garbage.

A toilet bowl liner, dropped into the bowl prior to use, captures the waste, then both liner and its content drop into the incinerator chamber when the foot pedal is pushed
." - $1800.-$2100. U.S.

[Click to enlarge any image]

The manufacturer says the unit is odor free "A platinum type catalyst, similar to that used in automobile emission systems, controls smoke and odor." The length of the incineration cycle was not specified but the manufacturer says that several people may use the toilet in rapid succession and that the toilet can be used while it is in its incineration cycle. When you push the start button, heater and blower both come on. The toilet's incinerating heater alternates on and off for an hour. The blower stays on for an additional 30 to 55 minutes. The ash pan is emptied weekly, more often under condtions of heavy use.

This toilet may be a key choice for use in cold and freezing climates as the Incinolet toilet "can be used in any climate and can be left in an unheated environment for long periods of time." Electrical energy use is about 1.5 KWH per incinerating cycle. The incinerating toilet unit uses no water and no additives.

Incinolet WB marine use incinerating toilet (C) InspectApediaIncinolet toilets draw electricity (120V or 240V for some models) only when the toilet is in use, unlike some composting toilets where electricity may be needed at all times, even during "off seasons" since the composting toilet unit includes a heater and ventilation fan. Electrical consumption for these components, as we are just running a small vent fan or small heater, will of generally be much less than that the current used by an incinerating toilet (for the combined incinerator heater and vent fan features) used during an incineration cycle.

Incinolet model specifiations are not readily accessible on the company's website.

We have also found advertisements for a Marine version of this incinerating toilet, the Incinolet Model WB / TR-III listed as a Type III MSD Certified toilet for use on inspected & uninspected vessels.

Details are at MARINE TOILETS.

  • Incinolet Contact Information: Research Products/Blankenship, 2639 Andjon, Dallas, Texas 75220, USA, Tel: 800-527-5551 Email: sales@incinolet.com, Website http://www.incinolet.com/ - The company has produced this incinerating toilet for more than 40 years.

Incinolet Toilet Safety - some exciting photographs courtesy of WombatNation

The Incinolet product specification [http://ssl3.adhost.com/incinolet/] includes this safety information:

"We equip INCINOLET with the highest quality temperature controllers, thermostats, and time limiters to assure you years of safe operation. INCINOLET is an appliance and, as with any other appliance, it must be used carefully in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.

Young children, when using the INCINOLET toilet, must be supervised by a responsible adult. INCINOLET is intended for use by persons familiar with its operation and responsible for its proper use. Not recommended for use by general public or in rental property.

Thanks to reader Paul McClelland for technical editing 02/20/2010

Ininolet incinerating toilet front view (C) WombatNation.com used with permissionReally? Robert Stewart at WombatNation [ http://www.wombatnation.com ] has provided a lengthy, detailed and critical description of installation, testing, and use of the Incinolet at www.wombatnation.com/essays/incinolet.html from which we include these stunning excerpts (used with permission):

Mr. Stewart explains the Incinolet's operation and has generously shared his remarkable photographs of the Incinolet in action or perhaps, dis-action:

The toilet is actually kind of cool. You first press a button to start the heating system and then put a special purpose coated paper bowl liner [photo at below left] down between two sloping pieces of steel. ... You then poop or pee into the paper filter, step onto a lever, and wave goodbye to your human by-products and any toilet paper.

An important feature is the lever sticking out to the right near the bottom of the toilet [blue arrow, photo above]. This activates the trap door which provides access to the incineration compartment. The lever is shielded by a slanted metal plate so you don't accidentally open the steel doors before you are ready to [use the toilet] ...

The gateway to Hades opens up and everything within a couple inches is sucked into its gaping maw. The toilet then incinerates your thoughtful gifts at a very high temperature. ... The manual says 1,200 degrees F. For those of you recipe freaks, that's 1,200 degrees for one hour, then cooled to 130 degrees over the next 45 minutes.

Photo of the Incinolet waterless incinerating toilet

... Side note to those of a litigious bent - I have never, not even once, felt a tingly sensation while using the incinerating toilet. ...

When it comes time to pay the toilet a visit, the first thing you want to do is press the Start button, which does two very important things.

1. Begins to heat the incinerator compartment [and]

2. Starts the ventilation fan.

Watch out: The ... instructions tell you not to press the Start button until you have ... [used the toilet]. But, hey, I'll gladly trade off a reduction in odor for the slightly increased danger of sitting on a metal toilet while it heats up internally to 1200 degrees F.

Now, it's time to lift the lid and insert a bowl liner, just like the instructions on the inside of the top lid call out to you. [Photo at left]

Since it is quite possible that small children and dim witted, yet overly sensitive, heads of recording industry associations may have continued to read this shocking tale of wonder and woe, I decided not to photograph an actual inicineration event, whether it involved fecal matter or ...[other material]. ...

If this had been a real visit to the incinerator toilet, I would have followed up the standard deposit and self cleaning process by stepping on this same lever. The now weighted down bowl liner would be overcome by the force of gravity and plummet into the maw of the incineration compartment, which doubles as an ash pan.

Melted copper rod dropped into incinerating toilet (C) WombatNation.com used with permission InspectAPedia.com

... what would happen if a non-human by-product were to go through the trap door during a burn cycle? ... Well, the [Robert Stewart] scientific research staff at the cabin have conducted this experiment for you.

Note: the manufacturer indicates that "You can use INCINOLET at any time-even while it is in cycle." making Stewart's test reasonable - Ed.

... The purpose of the [copper] rod is to ensure that the bowl liner drops completely through the steel doors. If not, you poke the paper with the rod until it does.

When our researcher stepped on the lever to aid the process, the flames that were consuming the bottom part of the bowl liner raced upwards.

In a snap decision of selfishly choosing hand safety over tool protection, our researcher promptly released the rod.

The rod vanished into Hades and the steel doors slammed shut.

Incinolet incinerating toilet in action - abnormal condition with fire and flame exposed (C) Wombatnation.com used with permission InspectApedia.com

Four hours later, a HazMat team retrieved the remains of the rod and its former metal attachments. [Photo, above left]

Learning from this experience, we constructed "Copper Rod Number 2" from a much longer length of copper rod and without any frivolous attachments of unknown composition.

As my wife ignored me safely from the living room, I managed to capture this rare photo [ at left of the incinerating toilet at work, flames in view].

Watch out: ... well I'm just not sure what to write here. Somehow, just warning to follow the manufacturer's instructions doesn't seem to do justice to Mr. Stewart's research. - Editor.

Thanks again to Rob Stewart, a software architect and eclectic invesitative blogger whose notes appear at his website: wombatnation.com for sharing text and phtographs of the incinerating toilet undergoing this exciting field test.

The Destroilet Incinerating Toilet from LaMere Industries

  • Destroilet, LaMere Industries, 227 N. Main St., Walworth, Wis. 53184, about $600.

* marks units that looked good to me on first review of their specifications, or which have received positive reviews from other sources I respect such as Real Goods.

The Scanlet Incinerating Toilet - propane fueled from Storburn

  • Scanlet - a Danish incinerating toilet fueled by propane.
Photo of the Storburn waterless incinerating toilet
  • * Storburn is a "natural gas" fired (actually propane fired or perhaps either) incinerating toilet. The toilet can be used 40-60 times before an incineration cycle is required. The company says that "a full 100 lb. propane cylinder will burn 16 maximum capacity loads (approximately 960 uses."

    All gas-fired incinerating toilets will require a gas flue to vent combustion products. Incineration cycle time was not obvious at the website. Incinerating toilet prices: $2980 - $3200. U.S. plus possibly some extra costs for vent kits and of course the propane tank and gas piping installation.

    This is the brand name that popped up the most during my web research on this topic.

 

The Sunbio Electric Toilet from Eco Toilets in New Zealand

  • Eco Toilets offers Sunbio Electric Toilets which use 240 watts and require 2-3 hours to completely incinerate waste. Eco Toilets is in Hamilton, New Zealand and also produces composting toilets and other products.

General Comments about Incinerating Toilets

Watch out: besides the Stewart review of the Incinolet, a scan of product comments across a number of websites made between 2001 and 2014 found the following types of consumer complaints or concerns about incinerating toilets:

  • Energy consumption [US EPA, others]
  • Noise - "sounds like a roaring freight train" [various sources]
  • Odors [various sources]
  • I have been around one at work. I refused to use it. When I first started in that area the vent would back draft. Imagine that smell. When we had heavy use it backed and the element burned out. Now we bring in portapotties when there is a work group that can't go back across the levee. They have found scorch marks on the ceiling where is exits the roof. The smell down wind stinks, the blower is noisy, and it pulls a lot of amps. This is a unit of last resort were nothing else is feasible. - airstream trailer forums at airforums.com retrieved 3/6/2014 original source: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f446/ anyone-use-incinolet-incinerator-toilet-62782.html

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