The stuff of outdoor potty training dreams. A child sized and air tight bucket with a comfortable, easy to clean seat. Perfectly fits plastic grocery bags (as a liner) when there is going to be a mess. Unfortunately such a durable and compact product did not exist when I started this project.

I plan to parent out of the house while avoiding public indoor spaces as much as I can (due to the spread of the Coronavirus). I am going to need a potty training solution that can handle a bit of abuse.

To get started, I looked for at what I had around the house for ideas:

The standard toddler potty just won’t cut it for use away from home. It works great if you can dump the contents right away, but it has no seal, and is made of flimsy plastic. If stored in a moving boat or car, it could cause a nasty spill.

This marine porta potty is air tight and portable, but a little bulky and a pain to clean. It is great for several days of continuous use, but not ideal for day trips.

On my boat, I actually replaced this thing with a bucket, some bio-degradable liners, and a comfortable snap-on seat. This outfit is air tight, easy to move/clean, and compact. If I could scale this solution down to toddler size, we will be in business.

This video features something more like what I need. It is a child sized 2 gallon bucket with a fool proof, air tight Gamma seal lid. The little bucket easily fits in my kayak’s storage compartment. Unfortunately without a seat, my daughter sort of falls in. It can’t be very comfortable to sit on the rim either. I will need to fabricate a little seat.

I bought a large sheet of HDPE Marine board for another project. These sheets of thick plastic are often used to fabricate parts/stuff for boats. It would make an easy to clean surface for a potty seat.

I searched the house for circles to trace until I ended up with the right pattern.

I used my handheld jigsaw to cut the outside circle from the large sheet. A bench-top scroll saw is better for interior cuts, you just drill a whole to insert the blade before reattaching to the machine. I then used a bench-top disk sander to clean up the outside edges.

The donut shape fits the bucket well, but the corners are still rough and it slides off easily.

A hand-held router is a great tool to round the edges and to cut a channel for the seat to grip the bucket lid with. In the DIY spirit of this project, I cut this channel by hand.

The fit only has a millimeter or so of play despite the crudeness of the channel.

Here is the finished product with the edges cleaned and rounded off. Grocery bags fit inside perfectly and are held in place firmly by the seat’s lip. Biodegradable liners, or simply cleaning the bucket daily are great alternatives to grocery bags.

One Last note: for bucket toilets, gelling agents are useful to have on hand. These turn liquid waste to gel for easier handling and less smell. You probably won’t want to gel the mess without also using a liner.

Our first trip using the potty was a complete success. It stores nicely in the bow of my Hobie Tandem Island. There were no accidents despite being miles away from restrooms.

This was our first time on the Potomac upstream of Great Falls. The water is nice and clean here and calmer than I expected. It was relaxing floating back down the river after traveling a few miles against the current.

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