Building a wooden toilet

September 11, 2021

I haven’t owned a toilet for more than four and a half years. I always found ways to do my business. I either used public toilets, toilets in bars and restaurants or dug holes with a shovel in remote areas (and took the used toilet paper with me). That system has worked pretty well, but for sure there were moments when I would have preferred my own private toilet. I forgot where I read this quote, but somehow it stuck with me:

Home is where you can take a shit as long as you want

Having to find a suitable place or depending on others when you want to do your business can be annoying sometimes, so I finally decided to build my own toilet that I could use wherever and whenever I wanted.

I didn’t like toilets that required chemical products. I always thought it was weird to mix organic waste that can be recycled naturally with chemical products that will require additional effort to get disposed. I’ve already seen a lot of toilets in alpine cabins, in the Swedish woods and in other vans that worked without the addition of any products. The concept was pretty simple: a separator routed the urine and feces into separate contains. Keeping the materials separated avoided strong smell and made the disposal much simpler.

Building the toilet

I started building the box for the containers using 4mm birch plywood and thicker but very light Paulownia wood to enforce the construction.

Building the toilet box

Inside the box I installed mounting points that would make sure the containers wouldn’t move while driving.

Toilet box without containers

I bought the separator from It was surprisingly expensive but it made the best impression on me when I compared products online. I used 14mm birch plywood to build the toilet seat and nicely routed the edges to make it comfortable.

Open toilet lid

The whole seat including the lid were placed on the box and connected with two strong magnets on both sides. With a little bit of force the top part could be removed to reach the containers.

Open toilet box

The urine container is placed right in front of the fecal that is covered by a compostable bag filled with sawdust.

Urine and fecal containers

The whole box was very light and could easily be put into and moved out of the shower to gain more space.

Toilet in the shower

When I tried the toilet for the very first time it felt a little weird.

Open toilet in the shower

But I quickly got used to it and after a couple of days I was really happy about my new toilet. Having my own toilet definitely increased the level of comfort in my van. I guess now I really can call my van “home”?! :laughing: :hankey: