September 16, 2015
Everyone has experienced this particular emergency before, whether they were at a music festival, a construction site, an auto race, or on a camping trip. Sometimes when you have to go, you just have to go. There isn’t going to be any holding it in or waiting. Like it or not, it is time to use a porta-pottie.
Portable toilets have not been around forever. As few as 70 years ago if someone was experiencing a sudden biological imperative and had no access to standard bathroom facilities, they were forced to do their business right there in the great outdoors.
In the 1950’s a patent was issued to one Harvey Heather for the first ever polyethylene plastic portable restroom. Harvey called his invention the “strong box.” The rest is history. Portable toilets are now nearly ubiquitous. No large outdoor event or gathering of individuals can be had without trucking in a few (hundred) portable toilets.
Lucky for us, technology has progress since Harvey debuted his first crude “strong box,” which was just a simple molded, stand-alone chemical toilet. Modern portable toilets are often outfitted with both a urinal and standard seated toilet in hopes of keep things a little more neat and clean. They are also equipped with toilet paper rolls, something Harvey’s horrifying invention lacked. Some event organizers place large handwashing/sanitation stands near large banks of portable toilets.
Unlike common household toilets, portable toilets do not have the ability to flush. Without the ability to install plumbing, porta-potties rely on chemicals to keep things sanitized and smelling (relatively) good. A formaldehyde based chemical is standard in most portable toilets. Older portable toilets used lye, which was a little more dangerous as lye is known for its ability to be corrosive and eat away at the skin!
Remember, next time you are crouched tentatively above a dubiously cleaned porta-pottie seat, things could be worse. You could be using one of Harvey Heathers crude portable-johns, or even be forced to go outside!