How Does an Incinerator Toilet Work? Replace Flushing With Burning Your Waste

Did you know that there is a type of toilet that will burn your waste after you flush? An incinerator toilet could be a sustainable solution.

Eva Hagan - Author

Apr. 25 2024, Published 10:57 a.m. ET

A woman wearing a pink dress sits on a toilet and grabs for some toilet paper.
Source: iStock

Instead of flushing waste down the drain, an incinerator toilet burns your waste all within your home. If you have a limited water supply, no sewage system, and aren’t quite at the point of taking a shovel to the ground and digging a hole, this could be a reason to use an incinerator toilet.

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This toilet reduces the waste you must dispose of — breaking it down into nothing more than a pile of ash — and doesn’t need any water to function. So, if you are thinking of switching from a regular toilet to an incinerator toilet, here is what you should know.

Ash scattered inside a compost enclosure.
Source: iStock
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What is an incinerator toilet?

An incinerator toilet is one that gets rid of human waste by burning it, and is a way to reduce the hassle of transporting and disposing of solid and liquid waste.

According to HomeBiogas, an incineration-style toilet often won’t look any different than a regular drainage toilet; it’s just the process that differs. The incinerator toilet automatically burns the waste after flushing and using the bathroom as you normally would. The toilet’s quick turnaround of turning your waste into ash also effectively reduces odors. However, you do have to dispose of the ash in the end, but luckily, it doesn’t smell and is much lighter than when disposing of waste.

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An incinerator toilet is also not a composting toilet, which requires storing waste until it becomes organic fertilizer, but you can use the burned waste as fertilizer if you want to, per HomeBiogas.

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How does an incinerator toilet work?

Most incinerator toilets will look like regular toilets, but instead of your waste being flushed with water, a screw turns and pushes the waste to a reservoir at the bottom of the bowl where it is burned. The burning starts when someone presses the flush button but will stop when someone else opens the lid, per How Stuff Works.

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An incinerating toilet needs to produce a lot of heat in order to burn the waste—up to 1400 degrees! However, not all incinerator toilets do this the same way. Some use electricity, while others operate on gas and diesel, per HomeBiogas.

According to Family Handyman, an electric incinerator toilet has a radiating heat element that initiates the burn cycle and uses around 1.5-2 kilowatt-hours of electricity. A gas-powered incinerator toilet requires a natural or propane gas source, and a diesel incinerator toilet requires diesel gas. The fuel tanks are usually attached behind the toilet and burn waste only when the toilet is full or after around 40 to 60 flushes.

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Although all types of incinerator toilets use some energy, they save a lot of water. According to HomeBiogas, toilet flushing accounts for 24 percent of the total water Americans use each day, meaning using a toilet that requires no water could drastically cut that down. However, remember that an electric incinerator toilet will not work during a power outage, so you may want a backup plan.

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