Understanding Camp Toilet Chemicals

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Understanding Camp Toilet Chemicals

Setting your portable camp toilet up correctly is critical to its proper functioning, and the toilet chemicals you use are a critical part of that.

When deciding what chemicals to use in your camping toilet, the way you are going to empty it, and how often you are likely to empty it, will impact the best chemicals for you.

When I first looked at all the toilet chemicals available I found it confusing.

But after taking some time to understand each one and the purpose they serve, there is an underlying logic to them the different jobs they all have, and it’s not too hard to get your head around them all. 

What Chemicals Do I Need For My Portable Toilet?

As we discussed in the portable toilet guide, chemical toilets have a top tank, which facilitates the flushing of your waste from the bowl, and a bottom tank that the waste is washed into for storage and dilution. 

Top Tank (Flushing Tank)

Given that the main job of the top tank is just to disperse water into the bowl, to wash waste into the bottom tank, you do not have to have a chemical in the top tank.

You can use plain, untreated water, and it should perform the job ok.

Pink Toilet Chemicals

However, many choose to use a pink ‘aqua rinse’ chemical in their top tank. The purpose of this chemical is to aid in a smoother flush by creating a smooth protective layer that blocks toilet build-up and bacteria.

It also lubricates the plastic and seals of your toilet to prevent things from drying out and leaves a nice fragrance to counteract the smell of your waste.

Most pink products are biodegradable and can be washed into your domestic septic system if that is how you plan to dispose of your waste.

The pink top tank chemical is not mandatory but recommended for it is ongoing benefits and fragrance. But don’t be worried if you run out, and can’t buy some more for a few days. 

Products To Choose From

Thetford sells the most popular toilet chemical products and has 1 or 2 litre versions of their Aqua Rinse Plus product for sale at most camping stores.

Dometic Waeco also has a pink product that performs the same role and this comes in a 1.5-liter bottle. 

Bottom Tank (Storage Tank)

To aid with the storage, odor, gas breakdown, and decomposition of the waste that is washed into the bottom tank, a chemical is required for its effective functioning.

There are two main options to consider for your bottom tank, and they differ in their biodegradability and how long they can stay in the tank before needing to be emptied. 

Blue Toilet Chemicals 

The blue chemicals are the most effective, in that they break down the waste very well, and also have a long ‘tank life’, and you will not need to empty the tank regularly unless it gets full.

It does a really good job but it is not biodegradable, meaning you cannot empty it into your domestic septic system. As a result, you will always need to empty into a proper waste disposal point. 

Products To Choose From

There are a variety of ways you can add blue chemicals to your tank. Thetford Aqua Blue is one of the best selling cassette toilet chemicals in the world and does its job very well.

You can buy in a 1 or 2 litre bottle, of premix or concentrate that you add in when filling your bottom tank with water. You can also buy tablets that are pre-measured so you can just drop them into the tank to save the hassle of measuring and the risk of spilling the chemical. 

Dometic Waeco also offers a blue chemical, in a 1.5-liter bottle that performs the same task. 

Green Toilet Chemicals

The green toilet chemicals perform the same job as the blue toilet chemicals, but as the name suggests, are biodegradable in nature. Though they still store and break down the waste, and help with the odor, they are biodegradable and can be emptied in your septic tank.

The trade-off with the green chemical is that it does not last for as long as the blue chemical so you need to empty your cassette more frequently. The green cassette chemical typically lasts 3-4 days before needing replacement. 

Products To Choose From

As with the blue, Thetford offers a popular Aqua Kem Green toilet chemical in 1 or 2-liter bottles. You also get the Aqua Kem Green in tablet form to reduce measuring and potential spillage. 

Dometic Waeco also offers a green chemical option, in a 1.5-liter bottle, that is competitively priced. 

Bowl Cleaner

You can also consider a specialized bowl clear for your portable toilet. If you just use your unit for occasional camping then this product may not be critical, but if you are using a toilet in a caravan or RV, then a bowl cleaner might be worth considering. 

Thetford offers a specialized portable toilet bowl cleaner because traditional bowl cleaners might rely on chemicals that are not suitable for the plastic and seals of a portable toilet, and could lead to damage.

This specialized product is designed to be plastic and rubber safe, and won’t cause any damage to your portable toilet, whereas some other domestic chemicals might. 

Tank Freshener

A Tank Freshener is a further type of portable toilet product you can consider using. It is designed for daily use to eliminate odor build-up in the tanks and pipes of your toilet systems and enhance the ongoing lubrication of your toilet bowl.

A lubricated bowl is good as it aids in the waster transition from the toilet bowl into the storage tank and minimizes the need for scrubbing or additional flushes. For purely camping purposes, this product is definitely not required.

Like the bowl cleaner, this might be worth considering if you are using a caravan or RV toilet regularly, but if your portable toilet is just for camping, this is not needed. 

Summary

In summary, the only toilet chemical you NEED for your camping toilet is a blue or green additive for your bottom tank or the storage and decomposition of the waste.

For camping purposes, I prefer and recommend the green option, as it’s better for the environment, and can be flushed into your home toilet when you get back.

Adding the pink chemical to your top tank is also worth considering, and improves the overall functioning and longevity of your portable toilet. But if you run out, or don’t want to use it, you can get away without it.

Of the other available products, the only other one I would consider using occasionally is the cassette cleaner, to give your bottom tank a really good plan a few times a year.

But if the dominant use of your portable toilet is occasional camping, then I would not worry about Bowl Cleaner or Tank Freshener. 

Happy Camping! 

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