Cassette Toilet vs. Composting Toilet Smackdown!


Sometimes, my RV experiments turn out exactly as I had planned; and sometimes I’m surprised.  This experiment turned out to be a case of the latter.  See what I mean in this video:

So here’s the deal.  Stef and I have years of experience with a regular RV toilet and black tank.  And we’ve got two years under our belts now with a composting toilet.  But we had never used a cassette toilet in our RV.  In fact, we were downright dismissive of them given our experience with a composting toilet.  “There’s no way they could have enough capacity for us,” was our main objection.  But again, we were making that judgement without having used one, so I decided to change that.

I swapped out the toilet in our RV for a Thetford Curve.  While not a true European “through the wall” cassette with wheels, the principles were basically the same.  The curve has a 5.5 gallon waste water reservoir.  That’s about the biggest we could find.  When full, it would weigh over 40 pounds, so that’s really the practical limit for the cassette option.  I reasoned that would give us the best possible case for cassette capacity.

We took off on Friday afternoon for a biking and hiking weekend in southern Utah.  We both completed a century bike ride through Parowan, UT, and then did some camping and hiking in the forest to the east of town.  I’m happy to report we had a fantastic time, and the cassette toilet was a great partner throughout, silently doing its job without complaint.

In fact, most of the benefits we sought with a composting toilet also apply to the cassette.

  • Won’t freeze
  • Doesn’t fill your black tank
  • Doesn’t drain your fresh water tank
  • Easy to install

 

But besides just those, there are many other areas where the cassette toilet beats the composting toilet easily.  We go over more of these in the video.  Suffice to say that in most respects, the cassette toilet compares favorably to the composting toilet.

But then we got home and realized that when you put the entire experience into perspective, it looks something more or less like this.

Yeah…

And this WAS WITH THE CHEMICALS ADDED TO THE WASTE TANK EXACTLY AS PER THE MANUFACTURER’S INSTRUCTIONS.  This is what we added – it’s what the manufacturer shipped with the toilet.

So while the cassette toilet wins in every other way we can think of, it lost six hundred and forty billion points when it came to emptying.  We’re sorry, cassette toilet.  That experience alone … that ONE TIME emptying a cassette toilet was enough to kill the dream for us.  We won’t be trying that again.

So, we’re back where we started, with a composting toilet in our RV, Lance.  I have a couple ideas on how to make this work even better, and I’ll be trying those out in the months ahead.

Cheers!

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    132 thoughts on “Cassette Toilet vs. Composting Toilet Smackdown!

    1. Dave

      James & Stef,
      I saw your video on the composting toilet, and I had high hopes, but there is no way I would put up with one of those. I just watched the cassette toilet video and can only think you had bad or the wrong chemicals. I’ve had one in my pool shed for over 30 years and have never experienced what you did. The one big difference though is that I usually empty mine every 3 or 4 weeks. I think it has about a 5 gallon holding tank, and I’ve never had any bad smells, and the solids and tp are always broken down. It would be my first choice in an RV. Sorry, you had bad luck with it, but I would encourage you to try again with new chemicals, and maybe let it sit longer. Thanks for all the informative videos.

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        Hi Dave! We used the chemicals that came with the toilet and we used the amount according to directions. But you’re definitely right, it wasn’t enough chemicals! I’m hoping the manufacturer will update their directions or change the brand of chemicals they send with the toilet, because any newbies are going to do just what we did…follow the directions for their first time; and I don’t wish that on anyone!!!

        Reply
      2. Elaine

        In our first camper we had a Porta Potty, which is like the cassette, the bowl fastens onto a portable tank. We used the Aquakem blue stuff, I think it was supposed to be half a bottle. The waste ended up really dark blue. Dumping the tank was never a problem at all. It WAS socially awkward, true, but the smell was never obnoxious. Mostly we would just wait until it was mostly full, and we seldom had “chunks.”

        Reply
    2. David Dewar

      We have used a cassette toilet for many years and are about to upgrade to another cassette toilet, basically just for looks and space.
      We have never had a problem using the manufacturers chemicals and following their instructions, renewing or replenishing the chemicals after 3-4 days as they diminish in effectiveness as per the manufacturers instructions. Here in New Zealand we have public dump stations for emptying them. Using the correct chemicals also breaks down the solids making it easy to empty and clean. I wouldn’t change from a Thetford.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        The correct facility to dump makes a lot of difference, as we learned on our trip to Europe.
        Also – using way more chemical than the directions say to helped a lot… 🙂

        Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We saw the SOG fans at Caravan Salon! A brilliant idea, and it would also help with the “burping”.
        While we were in Europe, we used a different chemical than we had in the US, and it worked much better.
        (I also used 3 times the recommended amount!)

        Reply
    3. Marcus

      Not sure what happened to make that smell! We vacationed for years in a Ford Econoline factory camper van conversion with an added Thetford Portapotty. One disaster in Utah–we had no indicator for how full it is: you had to look. Dumping was always not a favorite, but only once a week was required while on the road. (2 adults, one child). Did it in campground toilets or at home.

      I tried renting a trailer and that experience of dumping was probably worse. Gotta find a “dump station”. Gotta pull a big tube outta the bumper. Hook it up. Dump/rinse/put it away. Yuck.

      We kept that van for 30+ years. Fond memories.

      Reply
    4. Vivienne Mcmullen

      Pardon me if I am repeating anything already stated. I did not have time to read all comments.
      I have been told that, in certain parts of europe, Thetford has installed cassette cleaning machines. For a few euros, place cassette in machine. Few minutes later, a sanatized cassette is returned. They even put in water and chemicals so you are ready to use it again.
      Would love to know when this is coming to US!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        WE SAW SOME OF THESE MACHINES!! At least, we think we did.
        But they weren’t in operation. We saw the machines being sold at the Caravan Salon show. I may even have a picture of one someplace.
        It seems like it would be a simple matter to install – just some water and a drain.
        But until there is a critical mass of Cassette Toilets over here, there’s not much incentive for a campground owner to install one. The payback is too long.
        My two cents anyway.

        Reply
    5. TimB

      Sorry for the lateness of this comment. I hope it’s not totally irrelevant. I’m about to embark on a 2-3 week nomadic road trip and I’ve been wrestling with whether or not I should bring along an old (but in great shape) Thetford 155s toilet. I figured I would do a trial run with it at home before I bothered to lug it out with me. I tested with a portion of a Walex Porta-Pak (since the package said it was for 40 gal holding tank and my toilet is only 5 gal)– roughly 1/4th of a tablet. I dissolve a tablet in a quart jar of water and poured in a cup. I used the toilet for 2 days (both #1 & #2), used plenty of flush water with each use, and shook the toilet when I was finished. Right before I dumped it, I added more blue liquid (so I wouldn’t have to see anything brown), shook some more, and with latex gloves and a surgical mask, poured it down the toilet. It really wasn’t that bad and the liquid was all ink blue so didn’t gross me out. Then as another video suggested, I cleaned the tank with about a gallon of fresh water poured into the pipe from a old milk jug (all this was done in my bathroom). Shook well again and dumped. I did 2 more “cleanings” by pouring a squirt of Laundry Detergent (HE, so low foaming) and it was totally clear by then. But I couldn’t help but think that I smelled the deordorizing agent, so as a final wash, I added about about 1/4 cup chlorox (through the trap), filled with warm water, let sit in laundry sink for awhile (1/2 hour), poured it out. No residual portapak odor after that. As another video maker suggested, shaking it wholeheartedly with a gallon of water after the first dump, really cleared everything out. That and shaking the toilet every time you use it.

      One last thing I learned when dumping… don’t go crazy with trying to get it over with too quickly. When you dump straight down it splatters back. I had much better success by pouring it more slowing and positioning the pipe off-center so that it would create a vortex as it drained. Nothing worse than cleaning splattered debris off the toilet, floor and walls. I saw that in a video where a guy completely flips the tank upside down over a public toilet and it went EVERYWHERE.

      Finally after reading responses, I’m going to try Aqua-Kem in my next fill up. The US version still has formaldehyde but he EU version (Aqua-Kem Blue) does not (https://www.thetford-europe.com/aqua-kem-blue-best-performing-toilet-additive-formaldehyde-free/#) but they claim it is still the best.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Best of luck with the cassette toilet!
        It wasn’t for us, but you’ve got a way to get comfortable with it, then go for it!

        Reply
    6. RiCHARD THOMAS

      lol oh my gosh you guys. Don’t rule it out just yet, you definitely had a mishap if it smelled like that. This is what I have learned about cassette toilets and I have used them a lot over the years. 1) if possible dont empty it right away after a short trip. let it sit in there for a week, the chemicals break down the poo and paper and everything so when you pour it out it doesn’t smell like poop it just has a weird but not overwhelming smell.
      2)you can leave the toilet cracked just a bit to prevent the explosion. not so much that your rv smells like toilet but juuuuust enough that pressure doesn’t build. Id say leave the trap door open about 1/8 inch with the lid down. I have a small camper van and I do this always and it never smells bad and I never get the explosion even with big altitude changes. also the more empty it is the more pressure you get just keep that in mind.
      3) IF YOU CANT GO A WEEK without emptying it, like on a longer trip or whatever then you need to use double or hell triple the suggested amount of chemical and you cant be using the organic non chemical toilet chemicals, you need to use the blue frigging formaldehyde stuff,it works brilliantly. I am lucky because at my house the master bath has a door to the outside I can open when I dump this thing but so far in the YEARS i have had it it has only been stinky once and that was because I emptied it too soon. you have to let it simmer guys!I once emptied it literally a year after , poop had been in there an entire year because we had not gone on any trips and forgot about the thing. there was zero stink. composting toilets seem to be disgusting to me, too much messing around with your own feces and urine. no thank you!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, as we’re here in Europe, that’s all we have available, so we’re having to figure it out.
        Thus far, we’ve only emptied it once. We had about 25% of the tank filled with blue formaldehyde before we started. It reduced the capacity of the tank a bit, but no smell on emptying.
        (It also helped that we’re mainly using the campground toilets.)
        Also – the chemical toilet dumps here are a much better place to empty these than in your own bathroom back home.

        Reply
        1. Anne jeremy

          My family & I live in Australia, and we currently planning a camping trip to an island, on the beach here (so facilities limited!)- thus am looking at using a cassette toilet. By the way, I loved your honest and down to earth video, highlighting possible pitfalls with these types of toilets. Of course they appear to have a place, affordability wise/and simple set up etc. Anyway, we are looking at eventually building a small camper ourselves for touring around Aust. and not long came across incinerator style toilets, namely the ‘Cinderella’ brand. They originate in Norway and don’t use water. Whilst the company makes house/workplace size units, they have also developed one for use in caravans/campers etc. They work by person putting a paper liner into the pan; person does say a 1 and no. 2.; press ‘flush’ button (waterless), which causes for a small trap door to open, the waste dropping into a steel bowl underneath. The units literally uses gas to burn the waste. If another person goes, the unit pauses briefly, as the new waste is added. When the ashtray eventually becomes full, it sends out an alarm to be emptied. The ashtray can be emptied anywhere, because it is no longer a sanitation issue. I like the idea, because it takes away the need to find a dumping point as well, and has huge capacity, say for a family. Apparently there is no smell when it burns, the unit being well made and sealed properly, and the unit having vent piping and other features, that disperse any smell. The down side is that the unit appears expensive, I think in Aust. about $4000. (so not everyone’s cup of tea!). My husband and I liked it because there is no water involved (thus no need for black water tanks etc); and the waste being totally reduced to ash, can be dumped anywhere. For something as important as toileting; and not having to carry extra water etc, perhaps for many, a worthwhile investment. For two people, this unit’s (RV ‘Motion’ series,) its ‘ashtray’ (according to their info) would on average only require emptying every month if unit used exclusively. Of course, I don’t know the ease in fitting one or not, in an established camper as the one you have, but I thought I would genuinely share this info. in case people are looking for viable alternatives. If you regularly travel to Europe etc, these units are big over there, so you might be able to get a good deal, and help with installation. I am aware that there are now Dealers in the US that sell these units, as well for the enormous RV market there. In the meantime, I guess for the beautiful luxury of camping by some of the most beautiful remote beaches of the world, using our chemical toilet for now might have to do (with regular enough trips back to a main camping station on the island, that has a dump point, to get rid of the stuff – (lots of gloves I think!) Anyway, I did enjoy your video very much; you both have a great sense of humor, which always helps in life! Cheers, and all the best! Anne

    7. Croft

      Well, found this a few months down the line, but I have to believe the issue was the chemical or not nearly enough of it.

      The chems are supposed to both control odor, prevent any gas build up and liquefy the solid waste, making dumping a one shot thing of mostly liquid, not 8 shot thing with chunks. Ie, if you have chunks and gas in there, something didn’t go as planned.

      And a few times a year, you should probably use a cleaning chemical that really dissolves anything that may or may not still be in there.

      I mean, let’s face it, if every user needed a hazmat suit to empty their toilet every 5 gallons, nobody in their right mind would buy these and there would be an outcry. So either you have turbo-disgusting poop or it was ineffective chemicals or operator error, as in not enough chemicals per poop volume.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We used the chemicals provided in the ratio that was recommended by the manufacturer.
        There may be a way, or some chemicals, that work better.
        But as first-time users producing a video that might be seen by the manufacturer, we thought it best to follow the instructions.
        Had we made our own procedures up, it would have been entirely on us.

        Reply
      2. RiCHARD THOMAS

        i agree! I think they were using “deoderants” rather than actual toilet chemicals? mine has only smelled once and it was because I tried to empty it the day after taking a dump in there. the chemicals break things down, they need a little time and a little jostling , in all the years ive had my cassette toilet only one time did it smell bad to empty, usually just a liquid with a few toilet paper lumps and a mild non offensive smell.

        Reply
    8. Matt Schwoebel

      I just found these Laveo dry flush toilets – http://www.dry-flush.com/ – during awkward web surfing. Have you considered one or researched them? The FAQ doesn’t mention the, hopefully, more frequent elimination methodology. – Matt, future van dweller

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hey Matt –
        I’ve looked into those. The cost of the bags is one downside. Considering how often we use it, it could get expensive!
        Also, if you awkwardly surf long enough, you’ll find that most people say that they leak.
        If they really wanted to have a winner, they would use some sort of urine diverting setup so that the dry flush system was only used for solids.
        THEN the cost of the bags would be minimized, and there would be no problems with leaks, and I’d be interested.
        Don’t know why they haven’t tried this. (Unless they really rely on the lucrative replacement bag business.)

        Reply
    9. Marcus Murray

      Hi, I live on a boat in England and use a cassette toilet, almost all disposal points are small indoor cubicles. I have no issues with smell when emptying the cassettes as I use a different chemical. All thetford chemicals are a poor second best and should be avoided whenever possible. I use Elsan Blue but other chemicals work just as well. I have 5 cassettes as I extensively cruise and even when they have been sat stewing for more than 3 weeks there is no more smell than someone with a poor diet. We have just had a 2 week period where the temperature was around 30°c, I just added a little more chemical, no problems.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We’ll be over on that side of the world in a month. We’re happy to hear that there are better chemicals available. (Trust us… we’re happy!)

        Reply
      2. RiCHARD THOMAS

        I think letting them stew actually reduces odor. in my experience anyway. the longer I hold off on emptying them the less stinky they are. I also use the blue chemicals.

        Reply
    10. Cary Alburn

      In 2001, I took my little boat (20′ Sea Ray) on a trip through the San Juan Islands and Canadian Gulf Islands, a 1000 mile odyssey over 28 days, just me and my Maggie dog. In preparation, I wanted a toilet on the boat, anticipating that I’d need some sort of facilities. It turned out to be not as necessary as I thought, but it sure was handy.

      At first I looked for a Thetford porta-potti of some sort, as they’re the major manufacturer of such things. I settled on a different brand (don’t recall the brand right now), because I needed one that was not as high, so it would fit under one of the back seats of the boat; none of the Thetfords would fit. But it works the same way, with a tank of fresh water, a tank for waste water, and a hand pump to spray the bowl and to put a little water in the bowl before using it.

      As a long time RVer, I just used the same Thetford toilet chemical I’d always used in the RV’s black tank. Honestly, the smell when it came time to dump just wasn’t something I’d describe nearly as colorfully as you did. In fact, it was no worse than a one time use in a home bathroom.

      Since such toilets are common on small boats, some of the marinas I stayed at had specific dump stations. The dump fixtures were like really wide toilet bowls, anticipating (I guess) that some people couldn’t hit a normal size toilet bowl. I used one of those just once. Otherwise, I used the toilets in restrooms as my dumping stations. One “secret” I learned after the first time was to start the toilet flushing before starting to dump the tank’s contents, then flush it again. That really minimizes any smell, which wasn’t all that bad anyway.

      Since that trip, the only time I’ve used that little toilet was when my Ma’s house toilet broke on a weekend when I couldn’t get her a new one. So my experience is limited to the boat trip and those couple of days. But I do think you gave up too quickly. I’ve watched your composting toilet video, too, and although you seem pretty satisfied with it, if I were to vote, I’d go for the Thetford to satisfy your concerns about being able to use the toilet for winter camping.

      I really do enjoy your videos–haven’t watched all of them, but maybe half a dozen or so. Nice–not boring, very informative, well edited. Good job!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks for watching! We’ll be trying a cassette toilet again in Germany soon. I’m gathering quite a collection of tips to try!!

        Reply
    11. Michael L. Sanders

      At one time, I used a Dometic 5 gallon portable toilet. I emptied it once in my bathroom toilet…..never again! It was awful and smelled for over a day! But then I discovered my outdoor sewer access pipe (the same one I use to dump the tanks on my current 2015 Jayco Precept) and had no further problems whatsoever with the smell. You should give just one more try.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I thought about using the clean-out, but then I’d need a giant “poo funnel” to make sure I hit the hole, so to speak.
        And that still wouldn’t solve the problem of how to dump it on the road.
        But we completely agree with you that dumping OUTSIDE would be WAY BETTER than dumping it inside a dwelling!

        Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Too funny!
        I still have that smart-tote. But getting it from the cassette dump port to a standard RV fitting… well, it didn’t seem readily apparent to me.
        And we’d still have to find ways to dump it while on the road.
        Thanks for digging up an oldie but goodie!

        Reply
    12. KirkInAustin

      Well, my goodness…people certainly have a sh*tload of opinions on this matter (pun intended). After catching your video randomly on YouTube I came here to learn a bit more. I’ve watched literally hundreds of van/rv/camping/wanderlust vids as I try to determine what will work best for me. I know there is NO WAY I could deal with the possibility of bugs, so thanks for the compost remarks about that. Your review of the Thetford surprised me a bit because they are frequently reviewed and, although odor is always mentioned, it’s usually a minor issue. Which leads me to wonder if the chemical you used had somehow degraded prior to your purchase? Do they expire over time, especially being “natural”? I don’t know but I am curios. Thanks for the quality work you do!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Interesting question, and I honestly don’t know. I don’t recall seeing an expiration date on the chemicals. But I wasn’t looking for one either.
        I suppose it’s possible that there was a breakdown of the breakdown chemicals.
        (Still not too enthused to try it again though…)

        Reply
    13. Ted

      Since we’re on the topic….. this article will probably send cyclists to new extremes to get that “competitive edge”.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/06/20/move-over-blood-doping-cyclists-might-be-poop-doping-soon/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_el-poopdoping-1040pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.96e339f47a76

      Look for Prevotella probiotics and transplants to pop up in cycling circles. Gives new meaning the the phrase “Don’t give me any of your Cr…!”

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I actually read the whole article. It’s interesting, but I’m not so sure I’d be lining up for the procedure they describe!

        Reply
        1. Ted

          There is a good chance you already have it. Prevotella tends to show up in folks eating a plant based diet. Stef’s efforts to cram carrots and veggie fiber into everything should push the selection in that direction.

          Now you guys can have fun “speculating” who’s been spiking “Landis” or “Armstrong” samples on the road.

    14. Rick Owen

      I’ve seen many videos breeze through the mention of a cassette toilet without explaining the problem you mentioned. Thanks for keeping it real. I’ve enjoyed many of your videos.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks!
        (Although, if you read through the comments, apparently many people take issue with the idea that their poo might stink!)

        Reply
    15. Dee

      Funniest video ever! James standing 10 feet away with the hose. LMAO. I love your mod videos and I have copied 2: the Obie nets and the extra USB receptacle.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Lol. If I knew then what I knew now, I would have worn pants! Or one of those haz-mat suits!
        Congrats on the mods. I’ll try to keep them coming.

        Reply
    16. Terry Lee

      I must have missed the part about “What’s so bad about a black tank?” Maybe I was on a bathroom break.

      Thanks for your very objective reviews. It always seems to me that most folks have an agenda.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Nope! No real agenda here.
        A black tank and conventional RV toilet uses up your fresh water and fills up a black tank. But more than that, it can freeze, and there are only certain places you can dump it. Those are the main reasons why we went with a composting toilet in our rig. If we could get a huge black tank, we’d consider going back. But those are very rare on class Bs.
        (But we’re pretty certain we won’t be going with the cassette option, in any case!)

        Reply
    17. Matt

      I started tent camping in 1983 or so and always used the campground restrooms. First camper trailer was 1996 and that was my first cassette toilet encounter. While I was happy not to walk back and forth to campground facilities, I always thought: There must be better ways than a cassette toilet, where you have a ridiculously small 5 Gallon waste water container, that you have to carry and dump. But when you have to carry it, you are thankful, that it is just 5 Gallons.))) Because the ways to the dump stations can be long on European campgrounds.

      From day 1, we made it a habit, to dump toilet paper in bucket closed by a lid separately to the Cassette toilet, as it is clogging up the mechanism and it is hard to clean, needing lots of rinses. That is where the Toilet chemicals come in, which I believe you forgot to use in your test, hence the “burping” and the terrible smell when dumping, because nothing has broken up the contents of the toilet.

      Since travelling to USA, I was always jealous for the huge fresh water, grey water and especially waste water capacities you have in your RV’s and especially toilets, that can be used like at home and not having to carry your own sh.. for long distances. I have always dreamed of full hookups, which are still today a rare thing in Europe. I always love the 3″ hoses, that you just hook up to an inlet in the ground, dump the black water tank and then, to flush the hose, dump the grey water tank and all is great.

      I know that US RV’s are often poorly insulated against cold and maybe it is difficult to keep these huge tanks and water lines from freezing, but that would never tempt me, to install a composting or cassette toilet in (not so) good old Europe. I’d rather try to heat the pipes and tanks, which is easier said than done, but (for me) still better than carrying a cassette toilet to a real toilet…)))

      I just recently fulfilled my dream of having a fifth wheel built according to my specifications and one of the key features it had to have was a 75 Gallon fresh water, 40 gallon grey water and 20 gallon black tank with a marine toilet.

      Took delivery in March, but the manufacturer of the fifth wheel did not manage, to get that 3″ US hose system built in, so that will be the next upgrade in fall. And never in my worst nightmares would I be tempted to go back to cassette toilet or try composting toilets.

      The manufacturer offered the option that he said is becoming most popular with his customers now, which is the Cinderella incinerating toilet. But when he told us, that this would be a 5,000.- surcharge and the burning takes about 1 hr (in which you however can still use the toilet) and you have to buy special paper bags that you have to put into the bowl, we siad thatnks, but no thanks.

      If you are interested, here is a link to the Cinderella toilet

      https://cinderellatoiletusa.com/

      Keep up the great work and looking very much forward to maybe see you in Germany.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hi Matt!
        I’ve looked at incinerating toilets before, but we’re off grid most of the time, and most of them are electric.
        The Cinderella toilet claims to be working on a propane option. THAT might actually work for us. I’ll be keeping my eye on them.
        We do hope to meet you this summer when we are at Caravan Salon!
        James

        Reply
    18. Sandra Thornberry

      This is, hands down, the FUNNIEST video ever!!! I prefer the composter, cuz I can use it in end of the world situations-like when I need a plumber and I am number 15 for the day. The coco coir is also easy to store and simple to use.I know others have spoken fondly of the cassette, but I have the routine for composters down pat.
      One thing I would like to see is how your wet bath functions. Do you ever have mold problems? Do you clean it with something like Scrubbing Bubbles, or does it require special handling? Is the bathroom mirror specially treated to be water exposed? I love the idea of a manueverable RV, so your Lance intrigues me.
      Again-thanks for the laughter!!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Perhaps it’s just that we have more experience with the composter now, but we share your preference.
        Our wet bath is pretty much a non-issue. The mirror is just a regular glass-based mirror, and all the surfaces inside it are water-safe.
        It wipes down pretty quickly after each shower. We use one of those “spray and leave it” sprays for routine, and regular cleaning products for more thorough cleaning.
        We used to think a wet bath was a deal breaker,. But after having one, it’s really no big thing.

        Reply
    19. Gregory Locke

      Hi Guys:

      My wife and I used one for years when we had our folding tent trailer without a bathroom. We even used it when another couple stayed with us. I removed the table from the dinette area and put the toilet there. Then I added snaps to the ceiling of the tent trailer and to two large shower curtains which allowed us to have some privacy between couples when the need arose. Using the Thetford chemical caused no issues with smell or cleaning. Have a great Germany trip.

      Reply
    20. Drew

      It’s strange the RV Geeks used a cassette toilet in Australia when they rented a van. In one of their videos it shows them going to a dump station to empty it- no mention of smells or anything. Funny how the same device can act so differently.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I don’t know if the device itself was acting differently. But if they used one of those outdoor dump stations… THAT would make a huge difference.
        Dealing with that in a small, enclosed bathroom was not good.
        I’ve never seen one of those types of dump stations here in the US.
        (And I can’t imagine trying to pour this thing out and hit a 3 inch hole in the ground. Not without disposable booties and pants.)

        Reply
    21. Stéphane Lavergne

      Just throwing in my 2 cents here: non-vented means roughly sealed, which means even much, much less oxygen than our already fairly enclosed RV black tanks. It sounds to me that an oxygenating additive like Happy Campers (what I use in my vented black tank) could take care of keeping aerobic bacteria alive and thus keeping the anaerobic bacteria population in check. (They’re the putrefying ones which smell other-worldly.)

      That’d be a safer approach than formaldehyde, which you can’t dump everywhere (i.e. septic systems) and which just preserves waste in pristine condition, vs the aerobic bacteria which tends to liquefy everything and are septic-friendly.

      Enzyme additives, meanwhile, are hit-and-miss. I haven’t had any luck with them.

      Good luck in Germany!

      Reply
    22. Dave

      I think the error of your ways was in trying to get by with foraldahye free chemical. I’ve used a cassette toilet for years. No problems like you had with dumping. I’ve tried probably all the chemicals and the only one that works is the old fashioned original thetford chemical WITH formaldehyde. Everyone now seems to think this chemical is bad for septic systems. Yet formaldehyde is biodegradable. Sure it may kill off some bacteria in your septic system but you are only dumping 4 oz in to the septic when emptying the toilet into a large septic tank and your not doing it every day. If foraldehyde toilet chemical is sooo bad then why aren’t there huge signs at every campground dump site saying no formaldehyde? I think this is all been cooked up by the companies that sell all the other chemicals that just don’t work. Put in the thetford original blue chemical. Use the toilet making sure to use it for both #1 and #2 so there is adequate liquid in the tank. By the time I get home from most trips just the sloshing around in the tank of the chemical and liquid has broken down all the waste and all I dump is a slurry that really has no smell. And if I’m worried about my septic I just take the tank into a rest stop bathroom inside a rolling suitcase and dump it there. I think it’s all in the chemicals. There is a reason that thetford chemical has been around for nearly a century. It just works.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, we used the chemical that was provided by the manufacturer.
        I’m sure you can guess why. Had we used something else, and then had a problem, it would have been on us.
        Everyone seems to have their own favorite product to add. Testing all of them would be impractical, and no matter what we did test, there’s just no pleasing everyone.
        I’m sure the one you suggest works better. Because let’s face it… there’s no way it could work worse! LOL!

        Reply
    23. JM

      I love my cassette toilet! Only use the tank for urine, with a TBS or two of “dead down wind” toilet enzymes. For #2 or a combo with urine, I use a black kitchen bag with a couple TBS absorbent powder (black pine sports) or soil hydration crystals (“Roots Naturally Soil Moist” are what I bought) that turn all to a gel. WAG bags or Reliance Double Doodie are same idea. I don’t know why any dry material for composting wouldn’t also work, the crystals are just very compact to carry along and hold vast quantities of liquid in a thick gel format for disopsal. If not immediately handy to a trash drop, we collect the tightly closed bag(s) in a sealed bin or bucket with a gamma seal lid, which may sit outside or in outer compartment if at all smelly (not yet). No smell, or very slight, dumping urine, and easy handling of “doodie bags”. Greater urine capacity, too! Best of both worlds!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        That’s certainly an interesting way to use the cassette.
        I’m sure if we had only used it for #1, there wouldn’t have been much of a smell. At any rate, no worse than the liquids tank in our composting toilet.

        Reply
    24. Art

      I have the same toilet. Tried it for the first time in the house, for a week. Used the included bottle of chemical, the recommended amount. Dumped into the house toilet, no problem with odor. A British RV site suggested not dumping a full tank in one try, advice I followed. Cleaning or rinsing however, I ended up adding a couple gallons of water to the waste tank, then a generous “squirt” of regular dish soap. Sat for an hour or two, got distracted, then emptied into the toilet again. No problem dumping/flushing detergent and it was super clean. Next attempt will be actual camping. No worries here. Next time I’m using the Bio-Blue self-dissolving pouches/sachets. Wish me luck ?

      Reply
    25. Angel

      Hi guys, very funny video 🙂 We RV and have a youtube channel called When In Rome Travels. We are leaving for a European Campervan trip soon and might be in Germany at the same time. Would love to catch up with your over there.
      Safe Travels!
      The Vrapis

      Reply
    26. Jeff

      My opinion… Terrible choice in chemicals (I realize you were just following directions. Obviously a company obligation to push the “crappy” stuff. Sorry for the pun). My go to is “Happy Campers.” Yes, there’s always going to be some smell but nothing as intense as you described. The convenience over the composting…? Light years. Love your videos, by the way.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Jeff. We were just following the directions, as you point out.
        We’ll probably come across something in Germany this summer that will work great… but not be available over here.
        Totally expecting some sort of irony like that.

        Reply
    27. Tsippi

      You folks are good sports. Thanks for the review, and thanks for taking the time to respond to the many comments here. I think I speak for all your fans when I wish you a wonderful visit to Europe.

      Reply
    28. Richard Kilbride

      Hi James and Steff,
      I use bio laundry sachets in my cassette toilet in my camper here in the UK. They are a fraction of the price of the marketed chems and do the job incredibly well. One sachet per tank. I also empty after a couple of days in warm weather as they do tend to increase in olfactory unpleasantness when warm.
      Also marketed here is the SOG system that does not use chems. The flush blade triggers a fan that expels the aromas out through to the outside. (Might be similar to your composting set-up) However it’s not too good for anyone pitched beside you and the emptying experience is not at all pleasant.
      I think I agree with the posts here that say you were using the wrong chems.
      When I did use them, Thetford Aqua-chem green, was my favourite for smell banishment but you need more than they instruct you to use.
      I hope that the cat has forgiven you it’s experience and returned and I also hope you have a great trip to Germany. Look forward to the blogs.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, we certainly hope to have a better experience in Germany than we did with this toilet.
        I’m not certain what type of toilet our RV will have in it. Here’s hoping the chemicals we’re provided there work better (or at all!).

        Reply
    29. Bill

      Lol! Exactly what I imagined! Thank you. Would be curious about a dry flush or Incinolet type.
      And to all who suggested using chemicals differently, seems to me you do not know you have an issue until afterwards. Lol

      Reply
    30. Ian Taylor

      Hi Stephany and James
      Being from the UK/Europe I know nothing but portapotties/cassette toilets and have never had the experience you both had in your video with a bad/!!!!! SMELL.
      I think it can only be the chemical supplied, this brings back a thought on any new units I have had over the last 40 odd years I always received two bottles of chemicals!! A pink fluid for the flush tank and a blue liquid or blue bags for the main tank.
      Please do not give up on the portapotti they are a marvellous invention and are easy to use given a few try’s,, James get some of the blue liquid or bags and please try again.
      Cheers both
      Ian from Ireland UK

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hey Ian! Thanks for the encouragement!
        Since we’re heading over to Germany later this summer, it looks like we’ll have a chance to try again.
        I’ll post back when we’ve finished “round 2”.

        Reply
    31. J. G.

      Thanks for your thorough reviews 🙂 I also follow youtubers Vantastic (Europe) and We’re the Russos (US). The ‘fix’ that the Russos implemented was to primarily not use the cassette for solid waste. Not sure how they handle remote boondocking. That strategy might work for your upcoming foreign trip.

      Reply
    32. Jacob

      We have a small one of these in our RV. At first we purchased the green solution since it was supposed to be particularly safe. My nose! The green stuff, it does nothing! (https://youtu.be/y91uHr-QW6A).

      The blue stuff with formaldehyde however works great. There is a bit of a chemical smell, but no worse then many bathroom deodorizers. I have emptied it in public bathrooms many times with no issues.

      You just used the wrong stuff.

      Reply
      1. David Dougherty

        I was concerned watching the video, that the fit rv might be overplaying the stench, but I also was concerned that I am just about to purchase an RV, and cassette was my first choice over black tank. I wondered about chemicals and now I feel better knowing that perhaps I can tolerate the cassette using blue. Composting, thus far, is a non-starter because you have to buy something else initially and rip it out yourself to install the composting.

        Reply
    33. Dano

      I can’t remember the name but I use an orange liquid toilet chemical that I buy at Walmart and use slightly more than recommended. NO odour problems.

      Reply
    34. Ted

      Poor Mel! Was that him slinking in the background avoiding the nasty Thetford :D? According to this post I found you need to be generous with water when flushing for the tank additive to work properly. I suspect the “burping” you experienced may also indicate the contents were fermenting improperly.

      Post Detail:
      Been through this. Get the Thetford Campa Chem Natural formaldehyde-free holding tank liquid. Use 4 oz. or half a small bottle for a regular porta pot holding tank, more if your holding tank is bigger. You can get the small bottles at Wal Mart and they also sell it in half-gallon size for 12 bucks. Be sure and use enough… don’t scrimp and save here. Mix it with at least a gallon of water or so in your holding tank for start-up. Use plenty of water to flush. Don’t scrimp on water… this stuff works by emulsion. I’ve used Chem Natural for years and never had a bad experience at the dump station with stink. Without going into gory detail, with enough water and enough Chem Natural in the tank, the emulsification process works and what you dump out at the dump station isn’t “scary” looking lol. I think what freaks people out the most is having to dump the tank and “see” all these “monsters” come flying out of the spout lol. Sooner or later we have to dump these things and deal with human waste… with enough water and good chemical the experience is at least bearable with no stink… and no monsters [;)]

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yes, Mel made another cameo. He still won’t enter the bathroom.
        If we were going to keep at it, we’d add more chemicals. 4.5 gallons of chemical mixed with 1 gallon of waste sounds about right…

        Reply
    35. Doug

      Great video as always. Since I know you believe in full disclosure (which is part of what makes your videos so good), you mentioned the burping but wondering if you used the cassette toilet with the trap door open or always kept it closed until after use similar to a traditional toilet?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Good question. Kept the trap door closed until after use. Just like a regular RV toilet.
        (This makes the burping all the more important. Because if you’ve used it, but forgot to burp it first, well… there’s some stuff in the bowl you probably don’t want burped back up at you.)

        Reply
    36. Bob B

      Have a smaller Thetford in our VW EVC – not much choice of what to use given the VW’s size. Now (1) we are usually in campgrounds and use the facilities there, so (2) we usually just use the Thetford for urination (but not always) in the middle of the night/rainstorm/on the highway. So OMMV from yours.

      Used the chemical that came with the unit and now use Thetford 32947 Eco-Smart Enzyme Formula Holding Tank Deodorant. Works fine for us.

      IMPORTANT! It really, really helps to dump at a dump station – outdoors! Just walk over to the little metal cap, where you usually insert the sewer hose, and dump. Use the nearby rinse hose, fill the unit a bit, make sure it is closed, and shake. Dump again. Once usually does it for us, but YMMV. Add some chemical and a bit of fresh water in the bottom tank (you are adding water to the bottom tank to dilute the chemical a bit?) and good to go. And, best practice is to dump before you hit the red zone.

      Yes, dump in an enclosed space, like your bathroom at home, and you will definitely notice the odor. Why people think that’s a good idea (we can dump in the McDonalds!) is beyond me. Stick with dump stations!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hey Bob!
        Absolutely – an outdoor dump would have been much better. But… I was following the instructions!
        (You can find the instruction manual here: http://www.thetford.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Porta-Potti-Curve-Owners-Manual.pdf.)
        It says “Carry waste tank to a permanent toilet.”
        But seriously – I don’t know who in their right mind would think it’s OK to dump one of these things in a McDonalds. Maybe if it was the first time you had ever dumped it and you just didn’t know. But after that?
        And yes, we used the toilet for everything. If you’re gonna test it, then test all of it, right?

        Reply
        1. Bob B

          I think the instructions are wrong or, at least, not complete. My 320P came with that same “starter” bottle of Eco Smart – looks exactly like your bottle. I still have it and refill it from a larger bottle. On the back – for portable toilets – it says “Pour 2 ounces (60ml) into waste holding tank……and add a small amount of water to cover tank bottom.

          Now the 320P waste tank is 3.2 gallons. The Curve waste tank is 5.5 gallons, almost 70% larger. So why do instructions on bottle say 2 oz for both; shouldn’t one use more for a higher volume tank?

          FYI – on the “RV/Marine Holding Tank Systems” instructions above, at least it give a ratio – 4oz per 40 gallons (which seems low to me)

          I think some testing is needed.

        2. James - Post author

          I used to use a whole bottle of the blue stuff (8 oz.) in a 30 gallon black tank. So 2 oz seemed about right or even a bit high.
          They even have a measuring cup printed on the inside of the drain plug.

    37. Interstate Blog

      Whenever I tell people about cassette toilets with the same amount of expressive animation, they think I’m nuts and they simply don’t believe me about how bad the smell really is. Those toilets have been around for years, especially the little marine versions, and I used to take one on our Girl Scout Daisy camping trips, because urban girls are often averse to “using the woods”. We are talking about 5 and 6 year olds using the toilet – cute little kids – and it was STILL utterly unbearable, chemicals or no chemicals. I tried bombing that toilet with whatever concoctions were available to buy, with no effect. It’s still in my attic just in case we need it during a major hurricane event, but short of a massive-scale domestic disaster, nobody will ever use it again.

      The only cassette versions I’d consider using are those that unbox themselves from the outside of the van, wheel across the ground, and then dump through a sealed hose into a regular RV dump station. In which case, what’s the point? Essentially they are black tanks that detach instead of remaining fixed in place. Might as well just have an ordinary black tank – the capacity is larger and the dumping procedure is simpler.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        All right! Someone else who gets it!!
        I’ll add that I completely agree with you: A cassette toilet that emptied through a RV sewer hose into an RV dump would have eliminated the odor issues.
        But yeah – at that point, it’s not much different from a black tank.

        Reply
    38. Stefan Søndergaard

      In Europe at least you can buy 2 kinds of Thetford chemicals: Blue and green. Green is more eco-friendly in some respect and is required to be used in some waste water systems. Blue can be used in most/normal systems/domestic toilets.
      When using the blue Thetford chemical (adding water as prescribed) you can hardly smell anything when emptying the cassette but the rather pleasant perfume of the chemical. And the toilet can be used intermittently over a long period of time without any problems.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We used the chemical that the manufacturer recommended and shipped with the toilet. And we used it according to directions.
        I’m sure there are other (and better) things to try. If we ever get the nerve to try it again, we’ll use something else.

        Reply
    39. James D.

      Too bad you don’t have a larger RV… There are composting toilets that can actually flush…

      Envirolet’s FlushSmart VF, SunMar’s Central Flush, and Clivus Multrum… That last one is installed in such public places as the Bronx Zoo…

      The Envirolet FushSmart, for example, uses just 6 ounces of water, a maserator and a vacuum flush system to send your waste to the compost bin, which can be located up to 70 feet away or up to 12 feet above… The bin can fit in something the size of a small shed, like the kind you would store bikes in…

      While composting toilets like the Nature’s head can be modified so you can channel the urine diverter to a tank for much higher capacity or straight out of the van (something to consider for the non-Winter months)…

      Caution should be taken with how close it is placed to any air vent as the tiny fan exhaust can easily be over powered by a more powerful air vent that is generating negative pressure in its proximity, causing the flow of air to reverse and draw it into the van… Modifying with separate air intake is thus recommended…

      While other alternatives like the Incineret toilet is another viable option but I’m not sure your power system is sufficient to power it and it can leave a slight burnt smell… But you basically only have to dump ashes..

      Next, the Dry Flush toilet basically makes use of a cartridge that contains 17 bags… Each use it basically vacuum seals a bag and you have up to 17 flushes before the cartridge needs to be replaced… Install includes a black bag so you simply pull that up and tie… You never have to touch the bags inside and then simply dump and install the next cartridge… So convenient and clean but cost of cartridges can add up over time, especially with heavy usage…

      I agree with most of the posters that it was likely just a problem with the chemicals you used…

      It could also be you may have flushed some other chemical that interacted badly with it… I recall one review where such a mishap occurred and resulted in a slimy gel like mess… So should really never use anything to clean it except soapy water… Porta Potties can fail and require maintenance, sometime the cost of which may warrant simply buying a new toilet rather than fix it…

      Also, sometimes you may have to use up to twice the recommended amount of chemicals…

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Being the first time we had used a cassette type toilet, we used exactly the chemicals supplied by the manufacturer. And we used them exactly according to directions.
        That’s basically the first rule of how I review any product: always follow the directions exactly.
        It may be the case that “more is better”, but if we had used 4x the the recommended chemicals, and then complained about staining or a chemical smell… Well, that would be our fault.
        Even if the smell had been half of what it was, it was still worse than our composting toilet on a bad day.

        Reply
    40. John Manson

      We just got back last month from a trip to New Zealand, most of their self contained rentals (VW and Mercedes vans) down there use the built in (floor/wall mounted) cassette toilets which use a blue jell plastic wrapped puck that gets thrown in at the beginnning, and breaks down the ‘stuff’ when you put it to use. Emptied it 2 or 3 times in the week, the smell was more like the perfume from the puck than anything else (dumped into a public toilet in a municipal park). The chemical definitely broke down the solids effectively, it was very ‘liquid’. Due to this liquefying action, I didn’t bother rinsing after as there is no advantage doing so, just shoved it back into the slot in the side door of the van (the valve automatically closes to the toilet when it is removed from the coach, and it also seals the opening in the cassette at the same time, clever design), The cassette also has an air inlet button you press when emptying it to allow the liquid to drain freely into the toilet. The RV toilet bowl gets water sprayed into it so from that point of view it works just like a regular North American black water toilet from the users perspective. The cassette itself is heavy plastic with a rotating drain snorkel that is well designed and didn’t leak. I think you will change your opinion of this system when you take your trip to EU, one advantage with these systems is you don’t have to hunt down pump out stations, you just need a toilet to drain, just like your composter! Cheers, have a great trip!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        It seems like many of the dump facilities in Europe are outdoors. That would have helped a great deal.
        The design of the unit we used is very similar to the cassettes you describe. I just didn’t feel like cutting a hole in the side of our RV for this video.
        But the air inlet valve, the rotating snorkel, all similar features. And thankfully we had no leaks either.
        Fingers crossed that our EU unit comes with the blue gel pucks you describe.

        Reply
    41. Toni

      I’ll start of by apologizing at laughing so hard at your experience – I’m sure it was terrible, but your reactions were priceless! I suppose with time and a little therapy, you’ll be fine.

      I’ve been looking at the North America Hymer Activ and didn’t like the idea of a cassette toilet, however I was pretty convinced after watching another famous RV couple’s review, it might not be so bad (interesting how the experiences can be so different!).

      But I think you’ve confirmed my worst fear – I have a touchy smell/gag reflex, so I’d hate to think in addition to emptying the cassette, I’d be puking my guts out! Guess I can cross that RV off my list…

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        It’s OK that you laughed.
        After the trauma was over, Stef and I laughed about it for an hour straight! (outside the house, of course)
        If you look on YouTube, you can find videos of people losing their lunch while emptying these things.

        Reply
    42. Angelica

      with zero experience, i offer my .02: i think it was probably the chemicals. not the best brand or not enough. unless all the people who’ve been using them are olfactorily challenged? i think a retest is definitely a good idea. 🙂

      at any rate, your video cracked me up! thanks for always sharing. good, bad & stinky!

      while abroad, if you should come across of any compact wingamm rv’s with the overhead bunks, could you please do an in debt review?

      much love!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, part of our experience will be visiting the big RV show in Düsseldorf. I’m sure we’ll get lots of RV footage there. 🙂
        (No promises on specific models though!)

        Reply
    43. Andy

      LOL, it seems in your never ending quest to avoid your black tank you guys keep stepping in deeper and deeper S******

      Reply
    44. Larry

      Hi to both of you, that video was hilarious. if ever you get the courage to try another type of toilet I would really like to see your evaluation of the waterless toilet now sold a home depot. I think their site calls it the dry-flush. it was a concept that intrigued me as a possible solution.
      Cheers,
      Larry (flyguy helo)

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’ve seen that one, and am curious about it.
        (But I think it will be a while before we try any additional experiments in this area…) 🙂

        Reply
    45. George

      Guys, I love your videos and learn a lot from them, but I have to agree with the other comments here. Forty years ago, wife and I used a cassette in, of all places, a camping tent. Yep. I’m serious. The toilet came with sealed bags of blue chemical powder (do not inhale this stuff) that you put in the bottom of the tank before adding about a quart or so (can’t remember exact amount) of water. When the waste level neared the top, the emptying process was easy. Top part was the seat with an easy to fill fresh water tank built-in all around it, along with the trap door “flusher” part. Releasing clamps separated the seat part from the waste tank, which had a neat handle for easy carrying to the campground outhouse. While being sure to have the nozzle pointing up, you just twisted off the cap, then gently lowered the plastic pipe, aiming it into the much worse smelling outhouse toilet. I would then carry this thing to a water spout, pour a little in, swish it around, and go back into the privy to dump it again, for a more thorough emptying. Then I’d add another bag of chemical, a little water, and we’d “go” from there. Neat, and no smell other than the blue chemical which was more like really strong perfume. Like the others, I think you should give this another try. Ours was inside a tent, very close to us as we slept, and we loved it, especially when nature called us at 3 am, even when we were really young! Again, I looove your videos, but this review seems somehow not fair to what I thought was a fine product.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hey George –
        Well, I’ve updated the post to indicate that we absolutely DID use chemicals. The ones provided by the manufacturer, exactly as described in the instructions.
        And we actually did like the toilet except for that one thing!
        It was just the emptying that was atrocious.
        Keep in mind that our experience compares this to a standard RV black tank, AND to a composting toilet that occasionally malfunctions.
        This was easily worse than both of those.
        I’m glad you had a good experience with a cassette-type toilet. Really, I am.
        But if you could A/B test that with a composting toilet (as I basically did to set up this experiment), it’s simply no contest when it comes to emptying.
        You can either trust us or go buy a composting toilet and see for yourself. (But I’d recommend trusting us! 🙂 )

        Reply
        1. George

          Of course I always trust your videos and writing, James, but this time, my experience from 40 years ago got in the way, and I probably have forgotten what a royal pain the cassette toilet really was. The smell wasn’t nearly as bad as you showed, but for us, the chemical stuff was strong and seemed pretty toxic.
          Anyway, I’m thinking I wouldn’t be very good at installing a composting toilet. All that venting hose and fan work you showed seemed too hard for my low mechanical aptitude, so dumping the black tank might be the way to go. We plan to buy a van later this summer. Again, I really love the work you and Stef do, and I am also a big fan of the way you weed out internet trolls.

      2. Stefany

        Hi George! Just to clarify, we didn’t have any trouble with smell while the toilet was in the RV at all. I’d be fine with a cassette toilet in a tent with me! Plus, we were pretty clear we’d only used it 3 days and aren’t long-time cassette toilet users…so if people take this as a product review coming from long-time users, they’re way off base. This video was simply our experience taking a cassette toilet out for a weekend. Sorry if it seemed unfair to you, but everything we said was our spot-on honest experience with it!

        Reply
        1. George

          Thanks Stef. I believe you. I just saw your reply after seeing the one from James and answering him. I love the work you two are doing, and always look forward to your newest video!

    46. Dan

      There’s a lot of technique involved, a little bit of get used to it, and do not skimp on the chemicals, use ONLY the campa chem ORIGINAL, not the natural, and use one of the small bottles of liquid in the tank of your porta pottie. If you can convince yourselves that dealing with tha composting monstrosity is “OK” then a porta pottie is a piece of cake

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        Thanks for the feedback, Dan. Y’all are convincing me we probably need to do a retest…it must have been our chemicals. EVERYTHING ELSE we just loved about it and it hands down beat the compost. It’s just this ONE THING!

        Reply
    47. Doug

      Sooooo. The cassette toilet threw you guys one heck of a haymaker punch. By that I mean all systems were go, no pun intended, until the dumping stage. It sounds as if the cassette toilet is a larger capacity porta poti without the benefit of masking chemicals. Thanks for the info.

      I’ve thought about buying a small class C (LTV Unity) and tying the tanks together with a Y to increase gray water capacity. The drawbacks of alternative waste collection and disposal make this option for increasing gray water capacity unrealistic at this time.

      Reply
        1. James - Post author

          We did, and I’ve updated the post to reflect this.
          A cassette toilet is the only RV waste management system that puts you in that close proximity to un-contained sewage.

      1. Steve McGrath

        I agree and i’m no hater, used one for decades and with the right chemicals, in the right concentration, they have not smelt that bad, could James do a follow up stench test at home with a couple of different chemicals? you might just find one that actually works and makes the cassette usable, if for no other reason then to make your time in Germany more tolerable.

        Reply
        1. Stefany

          Okay now that sounds sensible. You’re right; somehow bazillions of other people are doing this. It must come down to the right chemicals…

    48. Nell

      About 30 years ago we used a similar toilet in a VW camper. The tank was way less than 5 gallons, but we probably emptied it no more frequently than you, and I don’t remember such an insanely awful smell. To empty it you placed the reservoir part on the toilet with the hole side down – it covered the entire toilet bowl opening. Once in place you then pulled the trap open and it emptied into the bowl. You flushed it away and closed the trap before taking it off. Yours did use chemicals, right? All I remember is an only moderately icky bathroom + chemical/cleaner smell. I have been thinking of switching to a cassette toilet but now you have me worried!!

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        LOL! Well we certainly used chemicals, though perhaps we just need to try more powerful chemicals. Except I’m terrified of a second attempt…maybe with a little more passage of time I’ll be brave enough to try again???

        Reply
      2. James - Post author

        Something that covered the entire toilet bowl would have definitely been an improvement. But there’s no such option available today that I can see.

        Reply
      1. Stefany

        Yes, we used chemicals, I TOLD James we’d forgotten to mention that and he was supposed to put it in the write-up! #husbands

        Reply
    49. Steve

      The cassette toilet I have comes with a deodorant liquid which is added to the containment tank…I did not hear that you added this in your explanation. If you only used water …big mistake.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Guys! I’m an OCD clean freak!
        Do you really think I would have done this without adding chemicals?!?

        Reply
    50. Debra

      Hi Steph and James: LOVE your videos. I just watched your “Cassette Toilet vs. Composting Toilet” video — VERY good info on this item (looks like Thetford Curve toilet) ……..
      HOWEVER the title needs to be CHANGED as is misleading and incorrect. You actually tried a “porta-potty” NOT a cassette toilet, which is very different in how is installed. Cassette toilets install permanently into the body of the van, using water to flush from an onboard water tank, and the “waste” cassette opens to the OUTSIDE of the van (rear door or side of van) to empty it. A different emptying experience in that respect because the waste cassette is never carried through the interior of the RV. !!
      Anyway, as a former RVer, I had to point this out …. KEEP up the good work and thanks for the great info as always. By the way, Steph’s videos on Bodylastics has inspired me to try them to get more fit (65 yrs old). Thanks !!!
      Bless you guys,
      Deb

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        Thanks for the clarification! I’m learning all sorts of things! Still, whether the holding tank is inside or outside the RV, we’d still have had the same result.

        Reply
        1. Debra

          Yes, Agree the ‘dumping’ results are still the same whether is a portable toilet / cassette. Have to dump it up close and personal eventually… so the chemicals used for the cassette/portable toilets can make ALL the difference. Hope you guys give it another shot with different waste tank chemicals….once you recover!! Regarding freezing and winterizing, it’s not too complicated as the onboard fresh water tank that the cassette toilet accesses for flushing can just be drained in winter.

          By the way, I did not mean to be negative in any way, as you guys are awesome!! Your honesty and willingness to share your experiences and lives with us is such a blessing. Love the white kitty addition in the videos as well 🙂 🙂 Thanks again, Stef and James.

        2. James - Post author

          No worries. As it turns out, we HAVE to give cassette toilets another try because we’ll be RVing in Germany later this summer!
          Here’s hoping the chemicals there are better than what was supplied with our test toilet!

      2. James - Post author

        Well, the storage and dumping mechanisms on this toilet and any cassette toilet are the same, and would have made no difference in this case. The problem wasn’t carrying the tank through the RV. It was emptying it.

        Besides – a cassette toilet as you describe would negate many of the benefits we seek: protection from freezing, independence from your main water tank, etc. We wouldn’t have even looked at one.

        In any case, thanks for watching and best of luck with the bands! We’re rooting for you!

        Reply
        1. Mark

          Not quite.

          We used a true Thetford Cassette in New Zealand for one month and had nothing but positive things to say about. Certainly nothing close to the experience you had. So something is different.

          There is a spout that bends out and seems to provide a much easier mechanism to dump then what I saw on the video. And we used the drop in plastic little sacs for odor control. Turned everything blue, and didn’t really smell when dumping.

          Perhaps it was the chemical, perhaps it was the way it dumped, not really sure, but worked totally fine for us, fortunately.

          We hope to convert our Airstream Westfalia back to the European cassette toilet because of the positive experience.

          Hope to hear an update after your trip to Germany and the use of a full cassette toilet (with better chemicals!).

        2. James - Post author

          Ours did have the rotating spout and an air inlet valve. The fluid mechanics of dumping were the same as the “rolling suitcase” models.
          The major difference was that I wasn’t willing to cut a hole in the side of our RV for this test.
          We used the chemical that was provided by the manufacturer with the toilet.
          Glad you had a successful experience with yours, and I’m certain we’ll be posting something about our Germany experience.

    51. Victoria

      Do you have any experience with an incinerating toilet? If so, can you direct me to your video please
      Thank you.

      Reply

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