How to Make a DIY Camping Toilet

Written by: Jamie

Updated on: September 12, 2022

Bring some home comfort on your next camping trip with a portable camping toilet. Follow our simple guide to making your own in no time!

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An expedition into nature can be an exciting time and take us back to our caveman roots. Ridding ourselves of technology and sleeping in the wild, even just for a weekend, can be great for our physical and mental health.

Yet, one thing stops many of us from joining the next family camping outing – the toilet situation.

The thought of having to get up in the middle of the cold night to do your business in the woods – and then clean it up in the light of day – does not sound appealing.

Let’s be honest, it also sounds a little scary too.

The good news is that there is a more pleasant way to go to the toilet by making a DIY camping toilet.

So, read our guide below on how to make a portable toilet for camping – and say yes to the next wild adventure invitation!

Introducing the 5 Gallon Bucket Toilet

Getting hold of a five-gallon bucket is easy and inexpensive.

But were you aware that these buckets can be remastered and engineered to transform in many different DIY projects that aid gardens, homes and even camping adventurers?

A five-gallon bucket is all that is required – and our instructions to follow – to create a toilet that is perfect for camping and is effortless to transport.

But first, why go out of your way to make a camping toilet – isn’t there plenty of space and privacy up the mountain anyway?

outside toilet

Why a DIY Camping Toilet is Always Better

As you toast marshmallows around the campfire, it can be difficult to see anything negative about going camping.

That is until a few hours after you have digested the camp food. Unless you own a sophisticated RV or are parked up in a well-equipped campsite, the bathroom becomes any place you find with some privacy.

Yet, most people don’t find a quick squat behind a bush convenient or pleasant – even for the most experienced adventurer.

What happy campers really want is a portable toilet that affords a more comfortable position and convenience. Not to forget a toilet that doesn’t leave nasty smells or harm the environment. What a difficult ask…

The solution, of course, is a bucket – a five-gallon one to be exact.

Below we describe how you can make a portable, lightweight, convenient for all the family, and environmentally considerate portable camping toilet.

Naturally, you shouldn’t be expecting a flushing toilet, so the secret to making this toilet the best it can be lies with recyclable materials and absorbing powers.

Here are two materials that are really important, giving you an early insight into how it will function:

  1. Sawdust – using sawdust has multiple benefits, most notably its ability to reduce any unpleasant odors and thus stop insects from becoming interested in your collection. For those without easy access to sawdust, you can use used coffee grounds instead.
  2. Compostable bags – the bucket will also be lined with a compostable and biodegradable trash bag. With this bag, the bucket remains clean and you can bury the collection in the ground with the peace of mind that you are not harming the beautiful surroundings and environment. The waste and the bag will break down in time and not cause damage to wildlife.

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A Word on Disposing of Your Waste

The compostable bag you will use has a special name amongst the traveling community. Grey nomads and campers will tell you that they call this bag a night fertilizer.

The waste can be just as beneficial as animal manure to enrich soil. However, before disposing of your waste it is crucial that you consult local regulators about what is and is not allowed.

Try to keep deposits away from food sources and never dispose of it on private property.

Materials & Tools You’ll Need

Your Tool Checklist:

  • Utility knife
  • Wire cutters (heavy-duty)
  • Clamp

Material Checklist:

  • 0.5-inch pipe wrap polyethylene insulation
  • 10 gallon + compostable trash bags
  • Sawdust (enough sawdust to fill a 2lb plastic coffee container)
  • Five-gallon bucket (with lid)
  • Toilet paper

Making the Camping Toilet

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Step One

Grab your utility knife and cut the insulation equal to the length (approx.) of the bucket’s circumference at the rim. Apply the insulation to the rim while making adjustments as needed to give a good fit.

Step Two

Place the plastic handles on either side and then cut the wire as close to the center as you can.

Step Three

When setting up the toilet, you will need to pull apart the cut aspect of the handle. Then add the toilet paper onto the plastic tube of the handle – followed by placing the tube onto the cut. Next, line the bucket with your large compostable trash bag.

When somebody wants to use the toilet, they will need to clamp down the makeshift seat onto the rim of the bucket as this will secure the trash bag in place.

After use of the toilet, the individual will need to add sawdust (or campsite dirt) into the camping toilet and remove the insulation to secure the lid again.

Once the toilet is full, simply remove the compostable bag and dispose of it considerably.

Upgrade Your DIY Bucket Toilet

The pipe-wrap insulation is there to enhance the comfort, as sitting on a rim of a bucket may be even more uncomfortable than squatting behind the bush.

Admittedly, it is still not as comfortable as sitting on your own throne. You can always make the toilet more comfortable by adding more layers of the insulation as needed. This will need to be secured together using adhesives.

Going to the toilet when camping is never going to be as comfortable as going back home, but this easy-to-make camping toilet is a nice addition to your outdoor arsenal and will certainly make the trip a little easier.

About the Author Jamie

I'm an English teacher and writer. I'm passionate about the environment and love the tiny house movement!

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