If you are camping on a modern camp or caravan site, then you can take advantage of the communal facilities offered on the site. However, if you are going camping in the wilderness or at a “primitive” camp site that has limited facilities, then you will need to purchase some form of camping toilet. There are several different kinds of camping toilet, ranging from simple box toilets to more sophisticated ones that even have a flushing feature.
Porta-Potty by latca, on FlickrThe most basic form of camping toilet is the chemical toilet, which is basically a large bucket with a seat on top. The toilet is kept hygienic, and relatively odor free, through the use of chemicals. A large tank toiled can meet the needs of the average couple for about three days, after which time you will need to take it to safely dispose of the waste it contains.
The plain bucket toilets are not exactly the most pleasant kind of camping toilet to use, and while the chemicals do keep the odors in check while the lid is closed, you still would not want to have one too close to you in your tent. There are some more sophisticated portable toilets that have a slightly nicer flushing system, so the waste is transported out of the main part of the toilet and into a secondary tank.
No matter what kind of camping toilet you choose, you will need to purchase some chemicals to go with them. In general, pink chemicals are intended for use with the flushing water, while blue and green chemicals are used to fill the waste tank and break down any solid matter in the bowl. Read the ingredients of the chemicals you buy, to make sure they are safe and environmentally friendly. Some older chemical formulations contain formaldehyde, which can be toxic to the environment, and can also be harmful to humans if you are exposed to it for prolonged periods of time.
Some camping vendors also sell fold-up cardboard “potties” which are designed for emergency use at concerts, or for parents to use on long walks with their children. These toilets are not proper camping toilets, and should not be used as such. They are OK for emergency use on short trips, but you should not use them if you are not confident that you will be able to get back to civilization to dispose of the waste in the box in a timely fashion.