When we first purchased our caravan toilet over a decade ago things were completely different, luckily technology even in the caravan toilet industry has come a long way which has allowed these caravan accessories to be more versatile than ever.
You can poop in a caravan toilet, as they work in a similar way to the toilet in your house just with smaller and less permanent plumbing. You’ll need to empty and clean your caravan toilet every 2 to 3 days. However, this should be more frequent if you poop in the caravan toilet.
The internal makeup of a caravan toilet is such that it doesn’t let directly into a sewer, of course. Instead, any waste that ends up in the toilet of your caravan gets washed down into the septic tank which is attached to your caravan. As gross as that might sound, as long as you’re using the correct chemicals in your tank, you shouldn’t notice a smell at all.
Things To Consider When Pooping In A Caravan
Of course, we understand that this is a little delicate, so we’re just going to get over this first (admittedly gross and a little embarrassing) one quickly and maturely, like the adults we are.
Something you need to consider is the size of the solids that you’ll be excreting into the toilet. At home, u-bends and internal plumbing is designed to err on the side of caution: if in doubt, make the pipe bigger. In a caravan, however, it is designed with space-saving in mind. This means that you might need to have two separate flushes (one for waste and one for paper), or perhaps have to go slightly more often to reduce the average size.
Another thing that you need to consider when using the toilet in a caravan is the paper that you’re using. There’s a huge variety of different types of paper on the market, from the super-rich and thick to (essentially) tracing paper. You’re free to use whatever you like, of course, but you need to bear in mind how the chemicals in the septic tank will interact with the paper you’re putting in there.
The chemicals are designed to break down the waste and paper so that it can be emptied quickly, easily, and effectively. To make sure this happens, you can err on the side of caution, and pick a paper that’s more likely to break down easily. Biodegradable paper (often labeled as ‘eco’ toilet paper) is a favourite of caravanners and is sure to break down well. If you’re really not sure, you can actually buy septic safe toilet paper, which will definitely be okay for use with a septic tank. As a rule of thumb, while the normal paper is fine, the more people that are using the loo, the more concerned you should be with the consistency of the paper.
While we’re on the subject of flushing things down the toilet, try to make sure that it’s only waste and paper that go into the system. Under no circumstances should disposable nappies or other disposable bathroom items enter the system. As I said above, the system is designed with space-saving in mind, so it’s always worth considering the size and relative softness of what you’re flushing.
To aid with the flush, there is a wide variety of chemicals available to add to the flush tank of your toilet. Often referred to as ‘pink’ chemicals, this can help to break down solids as they’re on the way to the septic tank, often meaning that the flush simply goes down more easily. These chemicals often lose their effectiveness after two-to-three days, so you may need to add more at that point. Of course, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Another thing to consider is how long the drive will be from the moment you’re using the toilet to the moment you’re emptying the tank. Generally speaking, the septic tanks in caravans can hold roughly two to three days worth of waste, but what people may forget is that it takes a short while for the chemicals to actually take effect. If you’re going to use the toilet and then get to an emptying spot shortly later that day, you may have trouble. As gross as it may sound, a slightly longer journey may actually help with the breakdown of waste. As well as having a slightly longer time for the chemicals to reduce the waste to part of a solution, the movement of the caravan can speed things up too. It’s the same as those chemistry experiments that you may have done in high-school where stirring massively sped up the process. That said, stirring your septic tank is definitely inadvisable.
Where & When To Empty Your Caravan Toilet
Emptying your caravan toilet is equal parts gross and necessary.
In terms of where to empty your caravan toilet, you only really have one option: only empty them in a specifically designated place. Aside from the obvious hygiene issues that would arise from emptying the tank just anywhere, septic tank chemicals shouldn’t really go directly into the sewer system: they need to be processed first.
If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that you should always empty the tank as a Chemical Disposal Point, or CDP. It will be labeled as such on the signage at campsites, or it may appear as an ‘Elsan Point’.
If you’re in a pinch and you really can’t find a CDP, then you can empty your waste tank into a standard toilet, though this isn’t advised. While it’s okay every now and then, don’t make it a habit, and definitely don’t empty black waste (toilet waste) into a standard wastewater disposal point such as a sink.
In terms of when you should empty your caravan toilet, the answer is simply: as often as you’re able. If in doubt, most caravans have an indicator light to tell you when the tank is full, but it’s often preferable to empty it long before that. A sensible time frame to empty your caravan toilet is roughly every two to three days.