Incinerating toilets use either electricity or gas to heat human waste and convert it to sterile ash. The systems do not require connection to a plumbing system, as they are waterless. They require an exhaust for any smoke they create and may require a catalytic converter to reduce emissions.
The electric incinerating toilet requires the user to place a liner in the bowl before each use. When he finishes, he pushes the flush valve, which drops the liner and its contents into a chamber below the bowl. After three to four uses, the user presses the start button, which heats the holding chamber to 1400 degrees F. The process takes about an hour to complete and the waste, now reduced to about a tablespoon, is ready for disposal.
Natural gas or propane incinerating toilets do not have a bowl, but waste drops into a holding chamber like that of a portable toilet. The manufacturer rates these toilets for eight to 10 workers for an eight to 10-hour work shift. After each use, the worker sprays a layer of foam over the waste to control odors. At the end of the shift, the worker turns a valve to ignite a burner, which incinerates the waste. The incineration process with these units requires about four hours.