What Are The Pros And Cons Of Incinerating Toilets?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall
Incinerating toilets are a modern convenience that helps eliminate waste as efficiently as possible. They come with benefits such as odor elimination, but they are unfortunately expensive to run. Between the benefits such as lack of plumbing and downsides such as expensive bills, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of incinerating toilets.

Incinerating toilets are a clean and efficient way to eliminate waste. Whether incorporating an incinerating toilet for eco-friendly reasons or you don’t have access to sewage lines, they are incredibly useful. If you’re looking into adding an incinerating toilet to your home, research the pros and cons before making your decision.

Incinerating toilets have the benefits of being waterless, odorless, and they do not require traditional plumbing. However, high energy costs pose a disadvantage to incinerating toilets. Additionally, you must power them through electricity or some sort of fuel source.

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What Is an Incinerating Toilet?

An incinerating toilet is an alternative type of toilet that is becoming more popular. The toilet works by using extreme heat to burn liquid and solid waste into ash. Therefore, when you do this, no water is required, and the ash can be disposed of easily.

Incinerating toilets come with a variety of advantages and disadvantages. Consequently, understanding this type of toilet can help you decide if it is the right choice for you.

How Is an Incinerating Toilet Powered?

Incinerating toilets can be powered by electricity or by gas.

Electric Incinerating Toilet

As you might have guessed, electricity powers an electric incinerating toilet. When you release the foot pedal, the waste empties into a liner which then falls into a sealed chamber. Next, the waste is then incinerated into ash, the full process taking about an hour.

Electric systems are easy to install because they don’t require a plumbing connection. You’ll need to place the toilet in an area where you can connect the exhaust vent to the building’s exterior. Though the system doesn’t require a plumbing connection, it does require an electrical outlet.

Gas Incinerating Toilet

A gas incinerating toilet does not use electricity but rather operates on natural gas or propane. Basically, the toilet functions like an electric incinerating one but does not empty until the holding tank is full. When the system is in process, it may burn for one and a half to four hours, depending on load capacity.

Benefits of an Incinerating Toilet

There are several benefits of an incinerating toilet. First, they are eco-friendly as they reduce water resources. Furthermore, incinerating toilets don’t require traditional plumbing, so they’re easy to install in remote areas and don’t have an odor.

1. Incinerating Toilets Do Not Require Traditional Plumbing

The most significant advantage of incinerating toilets is their flexibility, as they are entirely free of traditional plumbing. Incinerating toilets can be moved as you see fit, and they give you more freedom when designing your bathroom.

They’re typically the same size as a traditional toilet, so although not completely portable, they aren’t fixed to the floor. Therefore, if you choose to change your bathroom design, you can easily move the toilet wherever you want.

2. Incinerating Toilets Are Waterless

Incinerating toilets do not use any water during their operation. This can greatly reduce your home’s water usage, which, in turn, reduces your impact on the environment. Consequently, it can also save you money on water bills over time, reducing the incinerating toilet’s initial cost.

3. Incinerating Toilets Are Odorless

Incinerating toilets are odorless because they incinerate the waste when it is deposited. You won’t have to worry about any lingering odors due to backed-up sewage lines or various other reasons.

Cons of an Incinerating Toilet

While incinerating toilets have a host of benefits like being waterless, odorless, and free of plumbing, there are also disadvantages.

1. Incinerating Toilets Destroy Composting Nutrients

If your purpose of having an incinerating toilet is for natural fertilizer, you’ll be disappointed. During the incineration process, the heat destroys any nutrients. So while you may be saving water, there won’t be many more environmental benefits.

2. Incinerating Toilets Have High Energy Costs

Electricity or another fuel source like propane must power incinerating toilets for them to operate. Because of this, energy costs will be high as long as you’re using the toilet. Over time, these costs will add up, and efficiency will depend on the type of toilet and what fuel source you use.

Though energy costs are high, there can be slight savings on your water bill, depending on your area. In the end, you may find that your savings on water offset the cost of powering the toilet.

Incinerating Toilets vs. Composting Toilets

When incorporating an alternative toilet into your home, you have two choices, an incinerating toilet or a composting toilet. Quite often, many people confuse these two options, so research each before purchasing.

What Is a Composting Toilet?

Composting toilets are popular, especially in tiny houses, as they naturally break down waste through decomposition. Therefore, once they break down waste, you can use it as compost.

Composting toilets use a traditional waste management technology through three main components. The three components are bulking materials, urine diverter, and ventilation.

  • Bulking materials can be a variety of natural items that help quicken the decomposition process. For example, things like coconut husks speed up decomposition by adding air gaps in the waste. 
  • A urine diverter helps to separate liquid and solid waste. This makes the decomposition process much simpler. 
  • Ventilation also helps to speed up the decomposition process. Plus, ventilation is required to dry out the waste and allows it to begin decomposition quicker.

Types of Composting Toilets

There are two types of composting toilets, slow composting toilets, and active composting toilets. A slow composting toilet is a natural or homemade composting system. Alternatively, an active composting toilet is traditional or advanced and has techniques to speed up the composting process.

Comparison of Slow Composting Toilets and Active Composting Toilets

Slow Composting ToiletActive Composting Toilet
What Is It?A five to 10-gallon bucket attached to a toilet seat; can be homemadeAdvanced composting toilet with systems to speed up decomposition
How Does It Work?Waste is manually collected and moved to a compost bin to decomposeThe toilet seat is attached to a sealed canister. Systems in place increase decomposition
ProsHomemade; there is no investment requiredDecomposition is quicker, and there is no foul odor; it has the feel of a normal toilet
ConsNo systems to speed composition process; foul odorExpensive to install, sometimes costing $1,000 or more

Comparing Incinerating Toilets and Composting Toilets

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of incinerating toilets and composting toilets in regards to some crucial aspects.


When it comes to comfort, the incinerating toilet is more beneficial. To dispose of waste, simply press a button, and it turns the waste to ash. No additional work is necessary.

When compared to an incinerating toilet, the composting toilet doesn’t afford you as much comfort. Furthermore, it does not have the same traditional toilet experience. For example, you must discard of waste daily into a compost pile, which most people would find uncomfortable.


In terms of odor, incinerating toilets also come out on top. They burn their own waste, which is less obvious than composting toilets.

However, composting toilets do have an odor. But, you can minimize the smell if you seal and wrap the toilet correctly. However, the person emptying the toilet will have to experience the full odor when cleaning every morning or night.


Unlike in the case of comfort and smell, composting toilets win when it comes to cost. For example, a composting toilet can cost between $1,000 to $2,000. However, the only additional expense will be bulking materials and power for a ventilation fan.

Alternatively, incinerating toilets can cost more upfront than a composting toilet and cost more over time. An incinerating toilet will run you anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000. Plus, you will also need to keep in mind daily fuel or power costs and installation costs for liners.

Related Questions

Where is an incinerating toilet most useful?

According to the Boards of Health, people should only consider installing incinerating toilets when other options aren’t available. Primarily, they are most useful in rural locations where there are no sewage systems. Additionally, incinerating toilets are also most useful in RVs, construction sites where toilets are not accessible, and marine crafts. Also, incinerating toilets can be useful in areas of those who are less fortunate. Examples of these locations are water-poor areas or in places where water contamination is a problem. In addition, roadside areas where there are no piping systems also benefit from incinerating toilets. 

What is the required maintenance for an incinerating toilet?

To properly maintain your incinerating toilet, empty the ash pan when the ash is about ½ inch deep. If the ash builds up, it can cause odor, shorten the heater’s life, and decrease the toilet’s efficiency. If you find that the ash is caked in the pan or hard to remove, soak the pan insert for a few minutes in warm water.Don’t be alarmed by the ash, as it is germ-free. If you’re diligent about removing the ash on a regular basis, it will extend the life of your toilet. 

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Final Thoughts

If water resources are scarce, incinerating toilets are a great alternative. The toilet is portable, waterless, odorless, and doesn’t require traditional plumbing.

The disadvantage of an incinerating toilet is that you can’t use it during the burning process and energy costs are high. However, if there are no other options, this is a suitable choice.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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