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Best Cassette Toilet | Chemical Portable Toilet Reviews

Imagine that you’re parked in the city. It’s the middle of the night, freezing outside and you have to take an emergency bathroom break, but you don’t have a traditional RV toilet. This is a nightmare situation for anyone living in a van.

However, it doesn’t have to be – you can easily avoid a situation in which you have to get out of your van or RV to find a public restroom, and the solution is called a portable toilet. Portable camping toilets are a relief and something you’ll definitely be glad to have.

If you’ve already done your research on RV toilets and decided a cassette toilet is the way to go, we’ve got you covered. We’ve pulled together a list of the top-rated brands of chemical toilets to help you pick the perfect one for you.

Benefits Of A Cassette Toilet

If you tend to use your RV quite often, then a cassette toilet might be exactly what you need – cassette toilets combine the comfort of traditional RV toilets and the convenience that portable toilets provide you with.

Although a cassette toilet is technically a permanent toilet, it comes with a removable waste tank – also known as a black tank or holding tank – that you can easily empty at one of the dump stations or public restrooms.

And while an ordinary bucket toilet will do the job just fine, a portable cassette toilet comes with a multitude of added benefits. The biggest selling point is the lack of smell. A chemical reservoir breaks down waste and hides the odor under a drain valve.

Chemical toilets are also familiar to use. They have a pump flush that doesn’t require you to separate liquid from solid waste. In the middle of the night, this is a convenient feature that also requires less action on your part.

Fortunately, a cassette toilet doesn’t need to be cleaned as frequently as a bucket toilet. The chemical tanks can go more than a week without emptying. This gives you more freedom to travel without having to look for a waste station.

How Does A Cassette Toilet Work?

How a cassette toilet works

A cassette toilet looks and operates much like your home toilet. In order to set it up, you simply pour fresh water into the upper tank. A chemical solution or disinfectant goes into the cassette toilet’s waste-holding tank. Once it’s ready to go there is very little ongoing maintenance that will have to be performed to keep the toilet in pristine condition.

A pump flush uses fresh water to wash waste down into the chemically treated reservoir. The chemical reservoir breaks down waste to reduce the smell. To empty a cassette toilet, the waste-holding tank can be removed from the upper section with a lever. All the waste can then be emptied into an RV dump station, marina, or standard toilet.

How To Empty A Cassette Toilet

While chemical toilets do come with a list of recommended disinfectants to use in the waste water tank, you will most likely be able to get by with a simple mix of water and bio-liquid detergent.

Since the waste will be disposed of in liquid form, dumping the contents of a cassette toilet is an easy and clean task to perform. Afterward, you can swish around a combination of water and ammonia around the cassette toilet’s holding tank to keep it smelling fresh.

Here is a slightly more detailed instruction on how to empty a cassette toilet:

  1. Clear the toilet bowl and close the valve blade.
  2. Open the panel to access the waste tank – depending on the model of cassette toilet you purchased, the panel might be located on the side or at the front of the toilet. Additionally, in some camper vans, the portable black tank can be accessed from an exterior storage compartment.
  3. Remove the cassette toilet holding tank and carry it to a dump station, a hook at an RV park, or a public restroom.
  4. Open the pour spout. Some portable tanks have a rotating pour out spout that you can move around, which makes the whole process even easier and cleaner.
  5. Empty the cassette toilet holding tank. If yours came with a pressure release valve, make sure to depress it.
  6. Clean the black tank and put it back in its place.

Purchasing a toilet with a tight seal and emptying it often will do wonders for keeping the odors at bay and your vehicle smelling fresh.

Cassette Toilet vs Composting Toilet

Cassette toilets and composting toilets are both great alternatives to a traditional RV toilet. However, there are significant differences between them – the main being the way in which the waste is kept.

In cassette toilets, there is only one portable tank, which holds both solid waste and liquid waste. In composting toilets, on the other hand, both types of waste are separated – there is one compartment for solid waste and one for liquid waste.

Another difference between the two is the fact that a composting toilet doesn’t use water. In this particular toilet system, a composting material of your choice is placed at the bottom of the waste tank. Composting toilets use a fan that blows air on the solid waste, drying it out and keeping the odors outside of the vehicle.

Both have their pros and cons, but there’s one thing you need to be particularly careful about when it comes to composting toilets – that is the temperature. When temperatures fall below 50° Fahrenheit, the bacteria that help break down the waste in the holding tank slow down and, if kept in the cold for too long, can die completely.

This means that you’ll have to deal with the smells you most likely wanted to avoid by choosing one of these portable camping toilets. So, you need to make sure that your composting toilet isn’t exposed to cold for too long.

Tips To Make Your Cassette Toilet Last

Once you purchase a brand new cassette toilet, you probably want it to last you a good few years – and that’s not exactly possible if you don’t take good care of it. So, here are some tips that help keep cassette toilets in great condition.

Learn How to Winterize Cassette Toilets

Even though a cassette toilet comes with a variety of benefits, there are also some downsides to it. One of the most important downsides to owning a cassette toilet is that the liquids could freeze up in winter. And since you probably don’t want to have to purchase a bunch of replacement parts each year, knowing how to winterize it is a big deal. Environmentally safe anti-freeze is inexpensive and can be bought at any RV dealer or online.

Consider the Toilet Paper

As far as the toilet paper goes, we wouldn’t recommend using regular toilet paper, as it doesn’t dissolve as quickly in a portable waste tank as it does in a regular toilet. An alternative would be to use quick-dissolve toilet papers that can be purchased in most shops with RV equipment and that can be used with a chemical toilet. However, we recommend using a separate waste basket for toilet paper to help your chemical toilet avoid backups.

Remember about Emptying Portable Toilets

Make sure to empty the contents of the waste tank as often as possible – ideally, if you’re traveling alone, you should visit the dump hole every four to five days. If you’re with more people, that should be shortened to every two to three days. Of course, it’s not always possible to find a dump station or a public restroom, so it isn’t a big deal if you leave it for a day or two longer – just make sure that you don’t leave the portable holding tank full for too long.

Clean the Cassette Toilet Regularly

Another thing you should do in order to make your cassette toilet last as long as possible (and that it keeps a fresh smell) is to clean it – once you empty the waste tank, just use some distilled white vinegar or ammonia and a bit of water. It will do wonders for your cassette toilet.

Also, every once in a while you should take some time to deep clean the cassette toilet – you can do it by using dedicated cassette toilet chemicals. While you don’t have to do it every time you empty the holding tank, it would be a wise idea to do it between trips.

Things To Look For In A Cassette Toilet

Choosing the right cassette toilet for your RV is not an easy task – after all, there are so many of them, that picking just one requires research and understanding of your needs. Below, you will find some things that you should take into consideration when choosing the right cassette toilet for your van or RV.

In the confined space of a van or an RV, size matters, which is why a portable toilet should be small enough to fit into a tiny camper van bathroom. A toilet with a sturdy lid can also be used as extra seating for a desk or table. This makes appropriate height an important thing to look for.

If the toilet will only be brought out for emergencies, opt for something short and squat. For dual-purpose seating, on the other hand, a taller chemical toilet might be more comfortable.

Consider how long you want to go between finding a dump station. Do you have more than one traveler? A 5-gallon cassette toilet from SereneLife for example will last about 50 flushes. Having access to dump stations on a frequent basis might lead you to a smaller toilet setup. On the other hand, if you want to be out in the wilderness for long periods of time it might be best to choose an RV cassette toilet with a larger holding tank.

Appropriate sizing and storage capacity

In the confined space of a van, size matters. A portable toilet should be small enough to fit into a tiny camper van bathroom. A toilet with a sturdy lid can also be used as extra seating for a desk or table. This makes appropriate height an important thing to look for.

If the toilet will only be brought out for emergencies, choose something short and squat. For dual-purpose seating, a taller chemical toilet might be more comfortable.

Consider how long you want to go between finding a dump station. Do you have more than one traveler? A 5-gallon cassette toilet from SereneLife for example will last about 50 flushes. Having access to dump stations on a frequent basis might lead you to a smaller toilet setup. On the other hand, if you want to be out in the wilderness for long periods of time it might be best to choose something larger.

Cassette Toilet Weight

A bigger chemical toilet is going to weigh more than a smaller one. One thing to remember is that you should deliberate the weight of the toilet when it is full, not the weight of the product itself. A 5-gallon toilet filled with chemicals will weigh up to 40lbs. When it comes time to empty the cassette toilet’s holding tank, it will be necessary to carry that weight and dump it in a dump location.

For this reason, you should pick a cassette toilet that you will have no problem emptying. If you are unwilling or unable to lift a toilet that weighs close to 40lbs, opt for a smaller 2.5 or 3-gallon toilet.

Cassette Toilet Features

  • Some chemical cassette toilets come with a pump flush, and some come with a battery-powered flush.
  • It can be difficult to see when a portable camping toilet is getting full. For this reason, some cassette toilets have colored indicators that tell you when it’s time to visit a dump station.
  • Lid lock: be sure to choose a toilet with a tight lid lock and gasket between the upper and lower tanks to reduce the smell.
  • Carry handles: when choosing a cassette toilet for your RV bathroom you’ll want to look for a brand that can easily be carried to the dump station.
  • Emptying spout: to steer clear of the waste during cleaning, be sure to pick a brand that features an easy-to-pour spout.
  • Flush Nozzle: choose a three-way nozzle over a single sprout to keep things cleaner.

Best Cassette Toilet Reviews

Our Top Pick: #1 SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet

The SereneLife outdoor portable toilet comes with one of the largest waste water tanks on our list at 5.3-gallons. This gives the product roughly 50 flushes in between cleanings. The exterior measurements are approximately 16.5in tall, 13in wide, and 16in deep.

This is a manual flush toilet that does have an indicator when it’s getting full. That means no batteries to upkeep and no guessing overfill. A 3.5-gallon clean water reservoir feeds the piston pump flush.

SereneLife Toilet Parts

This product is sturdy and closes tight with a double-sealed drain valve. That makes it an ideal portable toilet to use as secondary seating within a van. The wastewater tank has a rotating pour spout that makes the dumping process clean and easy.

It’s difficult to find a negative SereneLife cassette toilet review. The piston pump flush is very powerful and will do a great job of washing down waste. However, if it’s pushed too aggressively, there may be some splash back.

  • Large Reservoir – Approximately 50 Flushes
  • Waste Level Indicator
  • Double Sealed Drain Valve
  • Rotating Waste Water Pour Spout
  • Waste Reservoir Carry Handle
  • Piston Flush Pump

Runner Up: Thetford Porta Potti 260B

Thetford is a popular travel brand with two portable toilets on our list. The Thetford 260B is the smallest portable toilet on our list with a 2.6-gallon waste water tank, which makes it an ideal choice for someone who does not want to lift a lot of weight or has less space inside their van. The exterior dimensions of the toilet are 14in tall, 13.4 long and 15in wide giving it a much squattier appearance.

A manual bellows flush pump means less parts to break and ease of use. It holds 2.6-gallons of clean water and does not require batteries. A single sealed valve keeps the odors low.

Because the waste water tank is so small, you can expect about 27 flushes between cleaning. As a con, the product does not come with a waste level indicator. You will have to keep track of this so the bottom tank does not overfill. Finally, there is no carry handle on the waste reservoir. It will have to be kept level during transportation. Luckily, the tank is small so it should not be too difficult to carry.

  • Small, Compact Design
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Bellows Flush Pump
  • Rotating Waste Water Pour Spout
  • Sealed Drain Valve

Camco Standard Portable Travel Toilet

The Camco Standard cassette toilet has been around for a long time and is the most reviewed item on our lineup. Its portable tank has the same size as the SereneLife (5.3-gallons), but is slightly shorter and wider measuring in at 15.5in tall, 14in wide, and 16in deep.

Many favorable features are present in the Camco. Its size and sturdiness make it ideal for long trips and extra seating. The bellow pump gives a controlled flush without extra parts. It also has a robust sealed valve to lock in odors.

While this portable toilet is definitely measureable with the SereneLife but there are a few key differences. No waste water level indicator is present on the Camco Model. There is also no rotating pour spout.

Because this product lacks a waste level indicator, it will be more difficult to tell when it is full. The pour spout is simply a cap on the end of the reservoir which means you’ll have to be a little more careful when dumping.

  • Large Reservoir – Approximately 50 Flushes
  • Bellow Flush Pump
  • Waste Reservoir Carry Handle
  • Single Sealed Drain Valve

Dometic Portable Toilet

Similar to what we’ve seen in our refrigerator reviews, Dometic consistently delivers feature-packed products. Of course, these benefits come with a price. The Dometic portable toilet is the most expensive one on our list of the best cassette toilets on the market.

This portable toilet is constructed with ABS and high-density polyethylene which means that you can easily sit, stand or climb on it without having to worry about your cassette toilet breaking under your body weight. Besides the great looks, the Dometic 5-gallon portable toilet comes with stainless steel hold-downs. This is perfect for driving around and securing the toilet firmly to your vehicle. Handles on both the top and bottom reservoirs make it easy to move around as well.

The Dometic toilet comes with a push-button pressurized flush. It will make you feel more at home, but of course, comes with more parts and the potential to malfunction. The button flush does need to be occasionally pressurized to work seamlessly.

One of the biggest complaints we’ve seen with this toilet is the small toilet seat. Even though the external dimensions fall in the range of other toilets (13.5” x 15.5” x 16.5”) the seat of this cassette toilet is significantly smaller.

  • Large Reservoir
  • Push Button Flush
  • Tie Down Brackets
  • Rotating Waste Water Pour Spout
  • Sealed Drain Valve

Zimmer Comfort Portable Toilet

Based on the Zimmer comfort portable reviews, this is all-around a good toilet to own. It is reasonably priced and hits most of the boxes checked. Measuring in at 16.5” x 16” x 14.5” it is on the shorter side of cassette toilets with the 5-gallon tank. Combined with the large waste reservoir this makes it a great long-term travel choice.

This cassette toilet comes with a bellows flush pump which is one of the best rated we’ve come across. A bellows flush doesn’t contain that many parts, making it a reliable pump. There is also a sturdy handle built right into the bottom reservoir.

As far as the cons go, there is no pour spout and no waste level indicator on the bottom tank. This means you will need to do a little guess work when it comes to determining the fill level. Fortunately, instead of a pour spout there is a very large screw cap. This should make it relatively easy and quick to empty out waste from this cassette toilet.

  • Large Reservoir – Approximately 50 Flushes
  • Sealed Slide Drain Valve
  • Bellows Flush Pump
  • Waste Reservoir Carry Handle

Thetford Porta Potti Curve 550E

The Thetford Porta Potti Curve has the most unique and appealing design in our lineup. This product is the largest toilet on our list at 18” x 18” x 16” and also has the biggest waste reservoir at 5.5-gallons. Those features make it a good choice for long-haul trips during which you don’t want to have to make a pit stop at a dump station often.

This cassette toilet is the only toilet we’ve reviewed with water level indicators for both the top and bottom water tanks. It also has the unique feature of a toilet paper holder tucked under the bottom. Cleaning the toilet out should be a breeze with the rotating pour spout and sturdy carry handle.

The reason the Thetford Curve is not higher up on our list is the battery-powered flush. 6 AA batteries come included with the unit but you will want to keep a few extras on hand in case they run out of juice. With no battery power or a damaged pump, there will be no way to flush the toilet. Surprisingly, a replacement electric pump will cost nearly as much as the toilet to repair!

  • Large Reservoir – Approximately 56 Flushes
  • Integrated Toilet Paper Holder
  • Indicator for both upper and lower water reservoirs
  • Rotating Pour Spout
  • Sealed Drain Valve

Our Pick For The Best Cassette Toilet

From all the cassette toilets we reviewed, the SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet has little in the way of cons. In our opinion, it beats out the rest because of the reasonable price, large size, waste level indicator and simplicity of cleanup.

While other portable toilets are lacking in one area or another, SereneLife checks all of the boxes. We think this makes a great cassette toilet for van life.

So, if you have decided on getting a cassette toilet for your RV or van but haven’t decided which one will be the best one for your needs, you should definitely consider the SereneLife cassette toilet to your vehicle’s equipment.

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Kate And Ian Moore, Authors At Parked In Paradise

Kate is the lead content creator for ParkedInParadise.com and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.