How Incinerating Toilets Work

By HomeAdvisor

Updated October 18, 2016

Incinerating Toilets

An incinerating toilet is a boudoir that does exactly what you’d expect it to do. Electric heating elements in the base of the toilet heat up to a balmy 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing any human waste that has been deposited into the chamber to an easily manageable ash within about an hour’s time.


An incinerating toilet is one of those inventions that initially has you asking yourself, “Why?” Rest assured, for certain applications these toilets are very attractive alternatives. For starters, they work independent of any existing plumbing or septic systems, meaning you can install them anywhere without redirecting your water supply, or your waste drainage systems, to accommodate them. That means big savings when it comes to plumbing costs and installation. And, since these toilets use no water, they can also be installed in cabins, trailers, and other structures where heat isn’t always present, since freezing isn’t an issue. In fact, all an incinerating toilet needs to operate is an electrical hookup to supply the energy it takes to transform your waste into germ-free, easily disposable ash.

How Does it Work?

The incinerating toilet is a fascinating invention. It’s a solid steel unit that sits just a little bit higher than the average toilet. The seat looks the same, though because there’s no water needed for flushing, you won’t find a tank anywhere in sight. As for use, you’re required to place a small, paper insert, somewhat resembling a coffee filter, into the bottom of the toilet before you do your business. Then, it’s all about the fires of Mt. Doom. Once you’ve finished using the toilet, you step on a small pedal that releases the paper and waste into a small compartment at the bottom of the toilet. Press the start button to activate the cooling fan and the electric heating element, and POOF! After an hour your waste has been reduced to an ash pile about the size of a tablespoon. All you need to do is remember to empty the germ-free ash into a trashcan once it accumulates to a depth of about ? inch. Ignoring this maintenance task can result in failure of your heating element, drastically shortening the lifespan of your toilet. If you’re diligent about removing the ash on a regular basis, however, you’re sure to enjoy your new toilet for years to come.

Incinerating Toilets vs. Composting Toilets

A lot of owners of cabins, trailers, and other more rustic structures, are sure to be wondering what the difference is between a composting toilet and an incinerating one. The easy answer here is two fold: convenience and time. A composting toilet requires a lot of attention, upkeep, and patience to operate correctly. To begin with, a composting toilet takes up to 3 to 6 months to get rid of human waste, while an incinerating model takes less than an hour.

Second, an incinerating toilet only requires you to step on the pedal and push a button, while a composting toilet requires you to lay down layers of peat moss or lime over the waste, and to stir the mess beneath the toilet occasionally to speed up composting.

Finally, electric composting toilets draw and waste more electricity than incinerating models, thanks to their continually running heating element. About the only downside to an incinerating toilet is if you suffer a power outage. Both the cooling fan and the heating element rely on a constant source of electricity to do their job. If the electricity cuts out right after somebody does their business, you’re in for some unpleasant odors until things get back up and running. Other than that, there really is no comparison. Incineration wins out every time.

If you’re interesting in having an incinerating toilet installed in your home, talk to a supplier of these innovative toilets about which model is right for you, and which service professionals you’ll require to get your new toilet installed. If you’re looking for a low maintenance, easy to install toilet, you can’t beat incinerating models for your human waste disposal needs.


  1. Bbenedict, February 5:

    Question. How much is the incinerator toilet
    Where does the liquid go?

  2. Ralph, July 13:

    The liquid waste evaporates and is turned into steam.

  3. Miz M, October 3:

    My application would be in a full mobile tiny house built in a 26′ box truck, ideally full off grid though must be able to able to hook in as needed. Use would be fulltime for myself. what is the power useage on average for an electric system? And for propane? What are the unit’s space requirements? Do I need to be concerned with heat or can I place it other than near a wall and disguised as a the base of a fold down table/desk? Could it be put where the passenger’s seat ordinarily is and also made useful as a passenger’s seat when mobile?

  4. Miz M, October 3:

    My application would be in a full mobile tiny house built in a 26′ box truck, ideally full off grid though must be able to able to hook in as needed. Use would be fulltime for myself. What is the power usage on average for an electric system? And for propane? Space requirements? Do I need to be concerned with heat or will I need a prepared floor and wall place it other than near a prepared wall? Could it be disguised as the base of a fold down table/desk or, Ideally for me, put where the passenger’s seat ordinarily is and still be useful as seat when mobile?

  5. Scott P., February 18:

    The article although good is missing some key factors. What are the power requirements for this type of toilet? Heating to 1200 degrees to incinerate must require a huge amount of power. Is there a vent required to the great outdoors? Where does the steam from liquids go?

  6. Rachelle, March 21:

    Where would I hire someone locally that can install this & the flue that is required.? 64089 area

  7. John Barr, July 11:

    I had one of these Electric Incinerating Toilets in the 70’s. The Advertising said there was no smell with that type of toilet, but there was. Has this problem been fixed? It lasted 11 years before the toilet started to disintegrate. Very much over priced. Much like anything that has “Eco” on it.

  8. RAYMOND F NACHREINER, October 23:

    I’ve got one at my hunting camp. I love it. It’s much nicer than an outhouse and since I have electricity there I can have a little heater to turn on for comfort when it is near 0 outside. The only thing I’ve had to repair so far is the ash pan. No big deal.

  9. Cherie, August 24:

    Are you able to use a bidet seat attachment with an incinerating toilet?

Are You Familiar With This Topic? Share Your Experience.

Compare quotes from local pros Compare Quotes
Return to Top