Pit Toilet vs Vault Toilet – How Does it Work?

An abandoned building, vaulted toilet, or pit toilet is the most incredible waste disposal technique when not have access to clean water or sewage. So, firstly, we will discuss the difference between a pit and a vault toilet, then furthermore, we will talk about each of them individually.

Difference Between Pit Toilet and Vault Toilet

A pit toilet is a form of toilet in which human waste is collected in a hole in the ground. All around the hole is generally a toilet seat or a squatted pan. The hole, the cement slab (floor with a small hole), and the cover are the three main components. At the same time, the vault-type toilet is a non-flush toilet that gathers human waste in vault latrines or enclosed storage buried underground. The wastes will be kept underneath until they are drained out.

Vault toilets and pit toilets operate on the same concept and are frequently mistaken for one another. Since they do not need water to flush, they are typically found in campers and rural neighborhoods. Pit toilets, also known as pit latrines, are made by excavating a hole beneath the ground and allowing the user to just crouch on the seat to use it. Some modern toilets feature roofs, while others are constructed with holes in the benches.

Pit latrines, unlike vault toilets, which collect waste in a container or tanks, collect waste directly beneath the soil. They are simple to operate, need minimal maintenance, and are inexpensive to build. They are, nevertheless, less sanitary than utilizing vault toilets. Large pits take a long time to fill up, but once they do, the odor escaping from beneath makes them unsafe to use.

Related: Best Flushing Toilets

Pit Toilet


Pit toilets are a type of sanitary equipment that is used to handle waste on-site. They are made up of an untreated or lined hole in the bottom with a strengthening material to hold waste material. These toilets can last 10 to 30 years, based on their construction and regularity of use, though most are being used for less than 5 years before needing to be evacuated or buried. 

Pit toilets can have a pit or dual pits, be poorly ventilated or ventilated, and be designed for small families or social use. Although the feces waste trapped in the pit degrades over time, a pit toilet is meant to collect waste material and restrict health and ecological exposure, not to decrease pathogen concentrations.

On the other hand, Bacterium elimination can take place within the pit’s limits in the adjacent unconfined aquifer or the adjacent saturated soil. However, given the reality of unfavorable temperature and relative humidity levels in the pit, initial concentration in the pit is thought to have the most significant impact on pathogen elimination.

In many circumstances, feces gunk from pit toilets must be cleared, and the emptying operation, even after extended storage, can be hazardous to human health. In addition, sensitivity to helminths, particularly Ascaris, is of particular concern.

However, because there are no observations for non-indicator organisms in the groundwater uterine muscle of pit toilets, there is ambiguity about pathogen transfer leading to a shortage of data, and subsurface microorganism transport is contingent on many site-specific features, caution should be exercised when pit toilets and underground water supply systems are co-located.

Considerations for the Design

During use, the user positions themselves over the little drip hole. To avoid youngsters from falling in, the size of the feces drop hole in the ground or slab should not exceed 25 centimeters (9.8 inches). To keep flies out of the pit, the light should be prohibited from entering.

A cap on the drop hole prevents light out of the pit and prevents flies and odors from getting into the toilet’s substructure. When the pit toilet is not in use, the lid, which can be constructed of plastic or wood, is used to conceal the hole in the ground. In actuality, such a cover is only utilized for sitting-type toilet facilities with a toilet seat, not for plunging-type drainage systems.

A sitting pan, seat (pedestal), or bench surrounded by concrete, ceramics, plastics, or wood can be placed on top of the drop hole.

The squatting pan or toilet seat is housed in a shelter, shed, designated area, or “super-structure” that provides privacy and sound insulation for the user. In an ideal world, the shelter or small facility would offer sanitizing services on the inside or outdoors, but this is regrettably not always the case.

Consideration of Costs

Pit toilets are among the most straightforward and best methods to install, despite providing no sanitation. First, however, the costs of relocating the pits to be emptied must be addressed. 


Pathogen reduction and organic breakdown are not considered when contrasted to composted, or dehydration toilets since treatment activities in a single pit are limited. Furthermore, due to penetration, there is considerable potential for groundwater. Pathogen transfer to the user is reduced, however, because the feces are confined.

Single pits are best for rural and peri-urban settings because they are tough to drain and have inadequate space for penetration in highly inhabited areas. In addition, single holes are handy when resources are scarce and the groundwater table is low.

They are not suitable for rocky or packed soils (which are difficult to dig) or flood-prone areas. Arborloo could be a good solution for regions where digging is problematic. Urine diversion dry toilets might be an option for areas with a high groundwater table or regular flooding. you can also read Best compost toilets.

The Ease of Using a Pit Toilet

Start by choosing a good location and excavating a large pit if you’d like to build a simple outbuilding. Wrap it with a wooden bench with a hole in the middle, then make a little shelter around this one. Waste that is deposited in the pit remains there until it breaks down and has become part of the natural environment. It’s a relatively straightforward strategy. However, it has a few flaws:

  • It stinks, but if you add sawdust after use, it shouldn’t smell as awful, and if you install a ventilation pipe that runs through the rescue’s roof, the scents can be nearly completely eliminated.
  • If you use it too much and it fills up, you’ll have to take it down, fill in the hole with earth, and start over elsewhere.
  • If you dig a hole too near to the groundwater, liquid trash can seep into the groundwater.

Vault Toilet

Vault toilets are non-flush toilets that store waste in a big sealed underground tank without using water (vault). This vault bathroom toilet differs from regular flushing toilets in that it is built in locations where water is scarce, such as leisure and public areas, campground, and other shared spaces.


Vaulted bathrooms sometimes are known as campground toilets since they are commonly found at campgrounds. Water-Based toilets also include pit toilets, ecological toilets, and bag toilets. The decline in water costs and contamination are the two most prominent advantages of these toilets. In addition, these toilets use the least amount of energy and are excellent small toilets for tiny settings.

The toilets are ADA-compliant in terms of toilets and user comfort. In addition, unless a strong wind is present, they are odorless. So you can literally sit out around it without breathing dirty air. Single and double vault toilets are available, as well as unisex toilets. Wooden frames, strengthened cement, plastic, and pass polyethylene can all be used.

Concrete vault toilets are incredibly long-lasting, and cross-linked polyethylene vaults are the most common. This is because the substance will not split or leak into the floor, posing no pollution danger. Plastic vault toilets are a good choice because they are movable, unlike other vault toilets.

How Does it Work?

This cylinder or tank may hold up to 1,000 gallons of excrement. Based on the manufacturer and intended application, some can hold up to 13,000 gallons of garbage. It is sunk underground and covered with a concrete floor to make the vessel strong. The vault is built on a slope to allow the waste to flow freely. A structure that links to the valve stem is ultimately installed on the concrete floor.

The garbage in the vault is kept there until the municipality pumps it out. If the vaults are the right size, they won’t need to be filled as often. It is usually pumped once every week or two weeks. For the most part, vault toilets are odorless, although this may not always be the case. The wind must carry away the stench for it to be odorless. The stink will cloud from around the toilet if there is no wind, spreading to surrounding structures.

When there is a strong wind, the stink is forced to settle in isolated areas. The wind creates pressure. When air is admitted into a facility, the air pressure rises, creating a forced route for the air to depart into a less pressured environment, removing the stink from the vault.

How to Care for Vault Toilet?

Every style of toilet, including vault toilets, is susceptible to bacterial infection organisms. It can become a breeding place for microorganisms to multiply and produce germs if it isn’t sterilized and emptied regularly.

Emptying your vault toilet regularly is the first step in keeping it in good shape. You can also sanitize the region after using effective sewage treatments like RTB 760. 


Although most people mistake vault toilets for outbuildings, the former is more sanitary. Vault toilets are cost-effective and are an excellent solution for individuals looking for waterless toilets because of their design. Vault toilets are considered safe to use since they follow ADA guidelines.

They are long-lasting, simple to maintain, and have a well-designed ventilation system. If necessary, you will have no regrets about putting this system in your home as long as it is sterilized and the tank is emptied regularly.

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