What Is A Vault Toilet – The Best Facts, Pros, Cons 2023

What is a vault toilet? Vault toilets are toilets that do not have water and collect waste inside the underground vault or tank. They are typically found in remote areas such as campgrounds and national parks. Vault toilets can also be known as “camping toilets” or “vault privies.”

Although the underground vault typically ranges between 1000 and 750 gallons in size, however, it could go as high as 13,000 gallons. The vaults are cleaned frequently and the waste is taken to wastewater treatment facilities in the municipal area.

What is a Vault Toilet?

What Is A Vault Toilet - The Best Facts, Pros, Cons 2023

The vault toilet can be described as a waterless toilet that is installed in areas inaccessible to the public sewer system that does not connect to the sewerage system. The vault toilet can be described as a form of pit toilet that allows human waste to be deposited underground.

You might have come across vaulted toilets in forest service campgrounds. The majority of park services have vaults that are private. These are single units, and can only be used by one person at one time.

Most vault toilets include the hand sanitizer dispenser that is filled inside the unit. There are sinks that have running water.

How Does A Vault Toilet Work?

How Does A Vault Toilet Work?

Vault toilets do not have plumbing or water supply. The toilets don’t flush and are attached to a vault for holding that can be filled with waste. The tank, also known as a container can hold more than 10000 Gallons of waste. Vault toilets are identical to port-a-johns. As the storage tank gets full the tank, a vacuum truck arrives and pumps it out. This is why having access to a vehicle is essential.

The container for waste, a.k.a. vault, is dug underneath, with a concrete slab laid on top to make it in place. The vault is typically placed on a slope to ensure that it is easy for waste to flow. A structure that connects to the vent pipe is constructed over the slab of concrete. The structure is in essence the bathroom space.

The trash that’s stored inside the vault is kept there until a waste management firm removes it. Vaults needn’t be regularly pumped when the proper size is constructed for their use. In general vault toilets are regularly pumped once or twice a week.

How Does A Vault Toilet Work?

Vault toilets generally are non-odorless, however, that’s not always the situation. To be odorless it must have air to be able to remove the smell. If there’s no breeze then the smell will develop. The wind can remove the smell from the bathroom. Winds create pressure. When air enters an area, it boosts the pressure in the air causing air out. The result is the release of smell.

The sun can also help control the smells. When the vent is heated the smell is pushed out through the pipe so that it doesn’t come out. In the absence of sun then stagnant air is trapped in the pipe and could detect it.

Types of Vault Toilets

Types of Vault Toilets

There are many kinds of vault toilets. These include plastic and concrete vault toilets. The most well-known type of vault is constructed of polyethylene reinforced cross-linked. It is a material that will not break or leak, and therefore is in compliance with all environmental standards.

In the case of a typical vault toilet setup, the vault is dug underground with a concrete slab laid directly on top. The majority of vault toilets are five feet in depth. The structure is built on the slab and has connections to the vault to accommodate ventilation pipe as well as the toilet. This kind of toilet provides an odor-free, permanent, and easily accessible toilet for a fraction of the price of the building on site.

The options for prefabricated vault toilets are available from structures made of polyethylene cross-linked (which is exactly the same as the vault) as well as wood-framed construction, which can be constructed in concrete reinforced structures. Single, unisex, and double vaults are available. Concrete designs are typically selected due to their durability in areas that are prone to vandalism.

Vault Toilet Vs Pit Toilet

Vault Toilet Vs Pit Toilet

Pit toilets, also known as pit toilets or pit latrines (or a pit latrine), are basically digging a hole into the soil. Pit toilets, similar to composting toilets aren’t water-based. The primary function of pit toilets is the same as that of a vault toilet – to store waste – there are some distinct distinctions between both.

Unlike vault toilets, pit toilets don’t come with an airtight underground container that is large enough to be sealed and flushed out regularly. When a pit toilet is used, the waste is left in the pit, and over several years, the garbage accumulates into a heap that fills the pit.

If enough moisture is present and the soil is moist enough, the natural bacteria in the waste begin the process of fermentation. Amoebas, earthworms, and other organisms living in the soil surrounding it and flying insects that enter the pit also consume the nutrients contained in the waste, gradually breaking down the waste and creating an organic compost pile at the pit’s bottom.

Pit latrines are now less widespread in American parks than they used to be. Because of environmental regulations as well as the better sanitary advantages of vault toilets pit toilets are slowly replacing them with the comparable but better vault.

Within the realm of waterless toilets the vault toilet is definitely an improvement over the pit. It makes the vault toilet a symbol of significance and distinctiveness.

Do Vault Toilets Smell?

Do Vault Toilets Smell?

The majority of vault toilets remove odors off the premises. The smells are eliminated by venting the pipe, as hot air rises, then flows out.

But the hot atmosphere has tougher to escape on wet and cold days. This is the time when vault toilets start to smell.

How to Reduce Odors From a Vault Toilet

A key aspect of maintaining the vault toilet is working out the best way to get it to smell less. Because vault toilets do not use water, the high concentration of human waste could become very odorous.

When the waste is broken down it releases gasses into the air, creating an increase in hydrogen sulfur. To reduce vault toilet odors, you can add an organic filler that transforms hydrogen sulfide into odorless nitrogen gas.

You can also add huge amounts of activated charcoal to the waste. Activated carbon will trap gasses in the spaces between the carbon, and helps in reducing the smells.

There is also the option of running long underground pipes to the bottom of your tank, which will move the odor away from the structure.

Vault Toilet Facts

Vault Toilet Facts

Though often thought of as an outhouse vault toilet, it’s not moveable. Outhouses are portable. when the hole has filled up, it’s moved to another site.

They are permanent constructions however they are also portable and becoming popular. They need to be emptied regularly by professional waste management companies.

Vault toilets are made for use by both genders, but there may be the possibility of a urinal draining into the same tank.

Double vault toilets come with two tanks for waste that can be larger and can hold more waste in highly-traffic places. There are double vault toilets in areas that are crowded.

Vault Toilet Pros

There are many advantages of making vault toilets. One of the most significant is location. There aren’t many toilets in remote areas, like campsites. A vault toilet is a functional toilet located in nowhere, with four walls, a roof, and an unlocked door. It’s a better choice for some than a trip into the woods.

Here are a few additional pros:

  • Bathrooms: Vault toilets are constructed inside an enclosed bathroom, with doors. It’s an enormous benefit for those who are camping on the campsite in the countryside.
  • Privacy The toilets at Vault are tiny, self-contained bathrooms with a door. This allows one person to use the toilet at a time, which ensures security.
  • Easy MaintenanceVault toilets are less difficult to keep clean than standard toilets since they don’t have plumbing.
  • Cheap: They’re cheaper to construct than regular bathrooms because there’s no plumbing or water supply. However, there’s the long-term cost of pumping that needs to be considered.
  • Comfort: Vault toilets are readily available in rural areas of recreation. There is no need to walk back to your home or out into the woods in order to get to the toilet.
  • Portable Toilets in vaults constructed of plastic can be moved which means you can use them in many different places.
  • Extra Features A few vault toilets come with battery-powered lighting, making them much more comfortable to use in dark conditions. They also have dispensers to clean the toilet after each use.
  • Cost-Effective: Vault toilets don’t require water, therefore there is no requirement to flush. This reduces water costs and helps keep costs for construction down.
  • The smell: Vault toilets are constructed to not emit a smell. However, sometimes they do.

Vault Toilet Cons

Despite the numerous advantages of constructing vault toilets, however, they aren’t perfect and have some negatives. The most significant is that they don’t have running water. Yes, not having water can be a good thing as you can create bathrooms almost everywhere, but it’s great to have a flushing toilet and hand basin for washing your hands after you’re finished.

  • The heat: In order for the vent pipe to be able to take the odor out, it requires sunlight to heat it. When it’s cloudy, vault toilets will begin to smell. Also, they’re not heated which is a problem during winter.
  • waste: Garbage can cause obstructions in the vault. It’s important not to dispose of anything that isn’t there.
  • Ventilation When the ventilation of the vault system doesn’t function properly, the bathroom may begin to smell.
  • Moving: Plastic vault toilets are the only toilet type that is able to move. They’re also not easily moved around. If you’re in search of an in-between bathroom that can be moved around, you’ll probably be better off with a porta-john.
  • Sanitation Because vault toilets do not have water and do not require regular cleaning, they must be maintained.

What is The Best Way to Prepare For The Use of Vault Toilets

If you’re camping and need to use vault toilets it is essential to consider the following elements to consideration:

There are insects in the toilet.

A few insects like spiders, bees, and fly species frequent vault toilets. But, this is unusual and you could just see only a few flies. When you have the right quality of sanitation insects and flies are extremely rare in these toilets.

Do not throw the trash into the toilets in vaults.

Vault toilets are made for excrement and are not used for anything else. If you dump objects that are solid in the vault, such as diapers, tampons as well as wet towels, it blocks the toilet and could need to be removed from the toilet in order to free it. It’s even worse, it renders the toilet unusable, forcing you and others to find a different toilet.

Make sure your items are secure

If you don’t have a vehicle around or a companion to look after your possessions while you handle any other business that you have in your vault, it is best to be sure to take your bag. In the event of theft, it could be taken. Even with your car, secure it before going into the vault for the toilet.

Utilize to make your own toilet paper roll

In the majority of camps and events, There is toilet paper in the toilets in vaults. Due to the huge volume of people who use the toilets, it is very quickly. This is why you may be in a state of shock when you use the bathroom and can’t find your toilet roll. To avoid this, take some of the toilet paper to a vault toilet.

Use hand sanitizer in close proximity when you using a vault toilet

If you’re lucky enough to have a vault toilet with an area for hand washing or sanitizing Some may not have these. Instead, you can walk around with an antibacterial hand wash that you can wash your hands after you use the toilet.

Look also – 13 Types Of Urinals Reviews 2022


Vault toilets are incredibly practical and economical sanitation facilities, especially in areas without access to sewer and water pipelines. One cannot imagine what would happen if they did not have the possibility of running these facilities.

It’s even better to know the fact that legislation was passed to ensure their design and use are restricted to prevent abuse. I think vault toilets will remain.


What Is Difference Between Vault Toilet And Pit Toilet?

Pit toilets or pit latrines are an opening in the ground just like a vault toilet. The difference is that it is different in that the waste from the vault toilet is dumped in a concrete tank while the waste from a pit latrine is dumped in an unlined pit beneath the ground.

Do vault toilets have sinks?

Vault toilets aren’t equipped with an outlet for water or a sink so you’ll need to bring hand sanitizer, or even water of your own to clean your hands once you’re finished. Things to bring: You are able to bring things to the vault toilet however, there’s typically no place to store any of it, other than the floor.

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