If composting your solid waste and dumping your liquid waste sounds less than desirable, we have good news! A composting toilet is not your only waterless toilet option. Today, we’d like to introduce you to the dry flush toilet, a waterless toilet that’s as effortless as it is sanitary. Read on to learn more.
What Is a Dry Flush Toilet?
The term “dry toilet” can refer to any toilet that does not use water to flush – like a composting toilet or incinerator toilet. You can even make your own dry flush toilet by simply using a bag or plastic liner on the inside of your toilet instead of using the plumbing functionality.
However, a “dry flush toilet” generally refers more to a portable, container-based design. Specifically, the Laveo by Dry-Flush.
Instead of flushing, it collects waste in a bag-like liner that you can remove and throw away when full. These toilets are fully self-contained and don’t require plumbing, venting, or even electricity.
They’re also cheaper compared to other waterless models. Dry flush commodes currently sell for $685 while their composting and incinerator counterparts can sell for well over $1,000.
How Does a Dry Flush Toilet Work?
When you use a dry flush toilet, all waste drops into a double-layered liner. After that, you press a small button on the back of the toilet to engage the flushing mechanism. The liner then pulls the waste down into an airtight compartment and seals it off in a twisting motion, leaving a fresh liner in the bowl.
Dry flush toilets are 12-volt battery-operated and come with a 7-foot charging cable. AC adapters and solar chargers are also available. What’s more, you can flush the toilet up to 300 times on a single charge. That’s pretty impressive if you ask us!
Do Dry Flush Toilets Smell?
This depends on what kind of dry flush toilet you’re using. If you’re using a DIY dry flush toilet, the answer is likely yes. Fortunately, these set ups are typically for short-term use and you dispose of the waste pretty quickly, if not after each use.
If using one of the official Dry Flush toilets, then not really. One of the best features of these toilets is the zero-odor technology. There’s no need to cut holes in your RV for vents or use air fresheners to mask the smell. Each disposable liner cartridge fully encapsulates waste into a double-lined bag that’s odor-free.
The double-lined bag also means you don’t have to worry about leaks, spills, or using heavy chemicals to clean the bowl. There are no odors or messes to worry about before, during, or after removing the cartridge.
How Often Do You Have to Empty a Dry Flush Toilet?
Thanks to the dry flush’s unique liner system, “dumping” an RV toilet has never been more pleasant! A red line will appear on the liner approximately two flushes before the cartridge needs to be changed.
When the liner runs out, typically around 17 flushes, remove it and toss it in the trash. The sealed bag is also opaque, so you’ll never see the waste.
Pros and Cons of Dry Flush Toilets
No RV toilet is perfect. If you’re thinking about purchasing a dry flush unit, here are a few pros and cons to consider.
Uses No Water
For many RVers, saving water is their first consideration, and we can’t blame them! As avid boondockers, we know the dance of water conservation well. The good news is, the dry flush toilet uses no water. Unlike gravity-fed and cassette toilets, dry flush units do not utilize fresh water or black water holding tanks.
Dry flush models are portable, so you can move them with little effort and place them anywhere inside (or outside!) your RV. The toilet weighs only 27 lbs, which most RVers find beneficial for overall rig weight.
You can also easily remove it for other purposes. For instance, if you’re leaving your RV behind to spend a weekend tent camping without facilities, you can bring your dry flush with you. No more roughing it!
Everything about this toilet is self-contained. Because the unit is waterless and battery-powered, you don’t need water or power sources (except for the occasional charge). And again, the liner cartridge ensures all waste is out of sight and out of mind until ready for removal.
If you’ve ever taken out the trash (who hasn’t!), then the process of emptying your dry flush toilet will be familiar. Just lift the seat up, remove the waste bag, and toss it into a trash can. Then, insert a new liner cartridge, and you’re done. It’s that easy!
To be clear, tossing waste in this manner is legal, just as throwing away diapers is legal. According to Laveo, the primary dry flush toilet manufacturer, “Standard regulations require that waste be contained in plastic bags.” (Dumping black tanks on the ground or in a trash can, however, is not legal.)
Typically Less than 20 Uses Per Cartridge
Here’s a fun fact for you: The average person goes to the bathroom 4-7 times per day. Unfortunately, this fact is not so fun when you’re using a dry flush latrine. Why? Again, users only get about 17 flushes per cartridge.
For a single user, this would mean emptying and replacing the liner cartridge every two to three days. For two or more people, the toilet would need emptying every one to two days. While it’s easy to empty and certainly preferable to dumping a black tank, some people may find it burdensome to change the cartridges so often.
Cartridges Not Compostable
Another drawback to owning a dry flush toilet is the environmental impact. Sadly, the cartridges are not compostable. With every flush you’re adding more plastic to the landfills.
Laveo is working on developing a biodegradable liner. But, as of this writing, plastic liners are your only option.
Cartridges Expensive to Replace
The last and perhaps most problematic feature of the dry flush toilet is the cartridge price. A refill pack containing 3 cartridges costs $54.95 on their website. With multiple users, you could easily spend over $100 on liners every week!
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If you started full-time RVing to save on monthly expenses, this toilet might not be for you, simply because the cartridges will deplete your RV budget in no time. On the other hand, weekend campers or single users might find the convenience outweighs the expense.
Are Dry Flush Toilets Worth It?
As we just mentioned, dry flush units may be worth it for some but not all RVers. The weight and portability alone make this toilet a standout. Not to mention, people love the ease of use and lack of stinky toilet odors.
On the other hand, the overall cost tends to be a hindrance. Yes, the dry flush is cheaper upfront, but you’ll quickly eat through those savings when you start purchasing cartridge refills.
Ultimately, you have to decide what’s most important to you. RVers hoping to eliminate the “foul factor” of other toilet types will certainly appreciate this toilet. However, frugal or environmentally conscious folk might pass on this model.
All around, the dry flush toilet is an interesting advance in waterless toilet technology. Whether you decide this toilet is right for your rig or not, it’s always nice to know you have the option.
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