Toilets in our homes are connected to sewer lines and drainage pipes so that we find no difficulty in handling or disposing of the waste. Toilets in our homes are connected to drain pipes, sewer pipes and septic tanks to handle waste disposal with ease. This is not the case for every bathroom.

Can you imagine a bathroom or a toilet that has no supply of water and no sewage system? Can you imagine a place where there is no possibility of sewer system or drainage lines? How would you survive at these places without water in the toilet?

When there is no possibility of plumbing or water supply, there comes a waterless solution that is called a vault or a pit toilet. A vault or a pit toilet is a toilet that needs no water or plumbing. Places like remote residential areas, far campgrounds or far away recreational areas are places that utilize the concept of pit toilet or vault toilet. These toilets are a best solution for places with no clear water facility and no sewage.

What is a Vault Toilet?

A container or a vault is placed inside the ground. This vault is sealed from every side. This is called a vault toilet. A vault toilet is a non flush toilet. The container buried in the ground is placed there to collect human waste.

The material used for making a vault is usually concrete or plastic. When the vault becomes full of waste, it is then pumped out and emptied in a dump yard. Vault toilets are mostly built in parks and campgrounds where there is no sewer or water facility available.

The capacity of a vault is big enough to store 750-1000 gallons of waste. There are also vaults with bigger capacities. Vaults with a storage capacity of 13000 gallons are also available. A small room like structure or a cubicle is made above the vault to provide privacy to the users. A toilet seat is placed inside above the vault.

What is a Pit Toilet?

A toilet seat is built under which a hole in the ground is made to hold human waste. This is called a pit toilet. A slab is made to hold the toilet seat above the pit hole. This slab is often made of concrete. A shelter is made around to give privacy to users.

Unlike a pit toilet, there is no container or vault placed underground. The waste that goes into the pit hole remains there till it decomposes and mixes with soil. The drawback is that if you use the pit toilet more often and it gets filled quickly then you have to remove the whole structure, fill sawdust or dirt and then start all over again. This toilet is also known as pit latrine. It is a very inexpensive solution.

Pit Toilet vs Vault Toilet – Pros, Cons, & Comparisons

Pit and vault toilets are waterless solutions. They do not need any plumbing or water facility to operate. Both of these toilets provide facility for places that are not near to water resource or sewage lines. They are a temporary kind of toilets. Both pit and vault toilets have advantages as well as some drawbacks. The following section will discuss the differences between a pit and a vault toilet to help you understand the concept clearly.

Waste Disposal:

Pit and vault toilets serve the same purpose. Both of them provide solution for places that have no water facility available but there is a big difference in the method by which a pit and a vault toilet do the waste disposal process.

A vault toilet has a vault or container that is placed inside the ground and all the waste goes into that vault until it becomes full. This causes the vault toilet to smell very bad. Emptying the vault is another gruesome task that needs special efforts.

A pit toilet has hole that is dig deep in the ground. All the human waste goes into that pit. It does not need to be emptied. The human waste mixes with the soil in the ground and decomposes. A pit toilet is therefore better than a vault toilet when waste disposal is concerned.


A vault toilet needs maintenance as it needs to be emptied more often. The container or vault containing all the waste emits very bad odors. Therefore emptying the vault is not an easy task.

In case of a pit toilet, there is no vault for containing waste. The waste directly goes in the pit in ground and mixes with soil. It then decomposes and does not need to be emptied at all. Therefore we can say that a pit toilet is better regarding maintenance. It requires zero maintenance.


Both pit and vault toilets are inexpensive solutions but if we consider the cost of building a cubicle and a vault then we find that a vault toilet is expensive as compared to a pit toilet. A vault is built of concrete or plastic. A cubicle is also made around the setup which also adds to the cost.

A pit toilet is much cheaper. You only have to dig a hole. There is no need for a vault as the waste goes down to the ground and decomposes. Therefore a pit toilet costs you much less than a vault toilet.


A vault toilet needs a proper ventilation to avoid bad odors. The vault containing the waste produces very foul smells and if a vent is not added, the smell becomes unbearable especially at the time of emptying.

In case of a pit toilet, there is no need for any kind of ventilation. The waste goes and mixes in the ground thus preventing bad smells and odor. If there is some smell, it can be easily avoided by throwing some sawdust after every use.


A pit toilet and a vault toilet are a great waterless solution. They can provide a toilet facility for faraway places and remote areas with no facility of water, sewage and plumbing. They can be easily built with simple material and equipment. They are easily maintained and are very less expensive.

Sarah Michelle is a passionate writer and digital strategist interested in the evolving landscape of online content and user experience. Having closely followed the developments in digital marketing and search algorithms, Sarah brings a unique blend of insights into the marketing world and is committed to helping both creators and consumers navigate the digital realm with confidence.

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