Introduction: PVC URINALS

Picture of PVC URINALS

We all have to pee sometime. Some go behind a bush. Some use a toilet and flush 5 gallons of water down the drain every time they pull the handle.

In this instructable I will introduce you to a simple alternative, one that uses less water than a flush toilet. Water is a resource that is becoming scarcer over time; one that we should conserve better.

PVC, polyvinyl chloride, is a thermoplastic. It softens with heat and hardens up again when it cools. It is easily available in most hardware stores in the form of pipe, and is not very expensive. Considering all the things one can make out of it, I would even call it cheap.

You will find several different urinal designs here. Grab a glass of your favorite beverage and read on.



The basic urinal is composed of a cup to catch the urine, an "S" shaped piece of 1/2 inch diameter pipe that conducts the urine to the ground, and a buried 5 gallon bucket. The inverted bucket creates an air chamber. The urine enters the air chamber and filters into the ground.

The "S" bend in the pipe creates a small reservoir that holds the last of the flush water. This is the same as the trap under a sink. It prevents vapors from beyond the water reservoir from rising in the pipe and smelling up the room. The system is basically odorless.



This is the first urinal I made. For my first 8 years I lived in a 12 X 16 ft. plywood cabin. Facilities were primitive and outdoors. When it rained, that was a slight problem, one which inspired this indoor solution.

I keep a bottle of water beside the urinal. When it comes time to flush it only takes about a cup of water or less. I repeat: a cup of water or less.

The plywood room has now been incorporated into the larger cement structure, and other urinals have been incorporated into the design, both indoors and outdoors. You never have to run far to take care of business.

Note how the large pipe which is the cup was cut and heat formed to adapt to the 1/2 inch drain pipe. I used a paste epoxy to seal any leaks.



This is one of the outdoor urinals. The lid helps to keep leaves out of it. Plus, it was fun to make the hinge; a piece of stainless steel welding rod going through a sleeve of folded-over PVC.

To flatten PVC for making a lid: 1. Cut a section of pipe with a wood saw. 2. Cut the section down one side. 3. Heat it over a gas stove until it softens. 4. Put it on the floor with a piece of plywood over it and stand on it until it cools and hardens.

To fold the edge for the hinge: 1. Heat the edge with a propane torch. 2. Fold it over, with the hinge rod in place. 3. Hold it with a piece of wood until it cools and hardens.

Looking down into the urinal cup, you can see how it is formed. I heated the end of the large pipe, inserted the smaller diameter drain pipe, and pinched the large pipe between two pieces of wood to close the end around the drain pipe. I think I used a little white cement to seal any leaks around the drain pipe.

A bottle with a hole drilled in the lid is used for the flush water.



These use the same basic design as the previous urinal. They are sections of 4 inch pipe, cut at an angle at the receiving end and heat formed at the drain end.

The higher one is for the men and the lower one is for the women. The women squat and back in. There are two doors at either end of this bathroom area that provide privacy.

The garden hose is used for flushing.



This is the urinal in the upstairs bedroom. It's nice to have one handy for night use without having to go downstairs.

As you can see, you can get rather fancy and decorative with the heat forming if you care to. This also doubles as a hand-washing sink, and as a faucet for a hose.



The ladies have not been forgotten.

This is a hand-held urinal cup, with a molded PVC bottom. It is filled, emptied into the man's urinal and then rinsed out.



Three drain pipes are shown here. Each has a heat formed "S" bend in it which traps water and prevents odors from rising in the pipe.

Try to make the "S" bend with the minimum amount of curvature necessary to create a water trap. The more exaggerated the bend is, the more water it will take to flush the system.


Picture of BENDING THE TRAP - 1

Without something inside the pipe to keep the passage open when you bend it, the pipe will pinch closed. The first step in bending the pipe is to fill it with sand.

Use masking tape to cover one end of the pipe. Fill the pipe with sand using a funnel. Tamp the pipe on the ground to compact the sand. Fill and tamp repeatedly until the pipe will hold no more sand. Cover the other end of the pipe with tape.

You are now ready to heat and bend the pipe.


Picture of BENDING THE TRAP - 2

You want the ends of the pipe to stay cold, so that they will fit into standard plumbing fittings. Hold the pipe ends with your hands and heat the center area, where the "S" bend will go.

Keep turning the pipe, and moving it from side to side to keep from over-heating and burning the pipe.

As the plastic softens, the pipe will sag. When it is nice and flexible, set it on the floor and bend it into the "S" shape you want.

You can speed cooling and hardening by spraying the pipe with water, or using a water-soaked sponge.


Picture of BENDING THE TRAP - 3

When the pipe has cooled, take the tape off the ends and empty the sand out of the pipe. Flush the last of the sand out with water.

Just for the sake of showing what is possible with this pipe bending technique, see the photo of the pretzel below.



The air chamber, and reservoir for urine and flush water, is a plastic bucket turned upside-down without a lid.

Make an entry hole in the bottom of the bucket for the drain pipe. A large drill, X-acto knife, and half-round file are what I used to make the holes in mine. Keep the hole tight, if you can. It helps everything stay in place while you assemble it.

Dig a hole, assemble the parts and bury the bucket.


Urine is not full of toxic bacteria like excrement is, so there is no health risk to pumping it into the ground around your home in small quantities like this.

Urine even has fertilizer value for plants. Pure urine, like concentrated fertilizer, can burn plants, but if it is diluted with water, at least three parts water to one part urine, plants like it.

Don't worry about plants dying around the buried buckets, or spreading disease. It won't happen.

I live in the country, and this system works fine for me. I realize that urban environments create special limitations. Personally, I think the world is over-populated and our freedom is too often limited by that.

You can always dump your waste water in public sewers, but try to conserve flush water. Remember, I do it with a cup or less. Urinals in private bathrooms are not a bad idea.


BluTiger (author)2013-09-21

Ive used vegetable oil for a bucket urinal once when our well went dry. It worked quite well. I was going to do an instructable on it one day. Dont empty oil into any waterways! toilet or other wise

Thinkenstein (author)BluTiger2013-09-21

Sounds like a clever idea. The urine would sink, and have at least some of the smell controlled, I imagine. All biodegradable.

BluTiger (author)Thinkenstein2013-09-22

It didnt smell for sometime. I did want to see how long it would take before it did and with 2 people using it. It had to be emptied every 7 or 8 days. I used a 3 gal pail and used about 1/2 a bottle of veg oil, cause you loose some oil as the urine fills in the bucket the oil is lost to the insides of the wall. Im working on another instructable, but working on the draft for my urinal.

flyingpuppy (author)2013-07-04

Very Freudian and O'Keeffish at the ssme time.

foobear (author)flyingpuppy2013-07-11


NetWt4Lbs (author)2012-12-21

An ex co-worker of my dads got a hold of an old telephone booth and installed a urinal similar to this inside the phone booth. it would probably be fairly simple to rig some sort of lean-to with the urinal in it out of scrap wood, for those of you worried about where to 'hide' the urinal in an outdoor setting. it would probably also be fairly easy to build a 'public bathroom stall' of sorts inside a garage/shed.

IsZeus (author)2012-11-12

Wonderful project, I love environmentally friendly homes, one day when I build my home it will surely have a system like yours! I was wandering in the picture for step 5, does your faucet have balls or is that a Venus figurine? Got a good laugh nevertheless. Anyways, thanks for the idea and looking out for our mother earth!

Thinkenstein (author)IsZeus2012-11-13

Yes, it is a male urinal.

yellowcatt (author)2012-04-14

Urine makes a good compost activator, particularly useful if you are trying to compost things like wood chips.
A friend had an allotment with a small tool shed on it, his compost bin was near the shed and he had a diy urinal in the shed with a pipe going to the compost bin.

Thinkenstein (author)yellowcatt2012-04-15

Good idea. One of these days I have to try my hand at making a composting toilet.

2 stroke (author)Thinkenstein2012-08-26

thanks to you i have a urinal in my workshop shed it works well now i can spend more time building stuff working on my scooter, than i would have to walk very far to the house or wait till the nighbours arent looking and go in the yard lol
thanks to your invention you have my workshop a better place

teamsturz (author)2 stroke 2012-10-20

THANK YOU! Moved last month and 1st thing I did was added a 16x17 shop out the back wall of the Standard 2-car garage. When was in planning stages, intended to have it plumbed for a toilet, garage-floor heat, insulated, drywalled, etc........... UNTIL I received the bids! Pisser was the 1st thing that went, followed by others that I could do myself as $$ came available.When I found your site, the question now becomes "Where do I place my urinal so that when my wife unexpectantly opens the interior door to the main garage,she has no clue that I am busy expelling the beverage of my choice, since she will have NO knowledge of my installation of your GRAND plan?" (I am considering installing a motion detector pointed at that door that turns on a lamp near the urinal) Further, since I am now a city dweller (previously used to just stepping out & whipping out), I must position it on a wall that produces the least amount of inquireys from the neighbors as to what the purpose is of the pvc that is protruding from the wall. To help with this issue I plan to install sliding doors on the standard garage door entrance to my shop area using 3-36' doors on tracks - 2 connected sliding right & 1 sliding left. If anyone has any lines on CHEAP sliding door hardware to support a relatively light door, I would appreciate the info.

2 stroke (author)teamsturz2012-10-26

nice shop a urinal is a necessity of every shop i have a sink in the garage which works fine for now lol its one of those plastic tub sink and no one uses it i just use it for peeing in lol

Thinkenstein (author)2 stroke 2012-08-27

Thanks for the feedback. It's nice to think that the world is a better place for one's contributions.

yellowcatt (author)Thinkenstein2012-04-15

One of the presenters on a BBC radio gardening programme recommends the use of 'recycled beer' on compost, particularly on slow to compost nitrogen poor materials.
Here is his site:

Valster (author)2010-07-06

I drilled a hole in my shed floor, inserted a length of PVC pipe, topped it off with a funnel and, voila! A private place to pee without tracking mud into the house. I have to admit yours is more attractive.

2 stroke (author)Valster2012-08-26

thats what i did its very useful but mine has a elbow and the pee is diected through the pvc pipe into the grass lol

tinker234 (author)2011-08-20

hey with thestorage could i get a large old tank and use that

Thinkenstein (author)tinker2342011-08-21

I don't think one wants to just fill containers with urine. The underground bucket is open at the bottom, so the urine leeches into the ground, being attacked by bacteria, and fertilizing nature. It doesn't have high toxicity, like excrement.

I have read that one can mix one part urine with three parts water and use it directly on plants without burning them.

There should be no odor problem, due to the water trap in the line.

2 stroke (author)Thinkenstein2012-08-26

i dident do the bucket thing mine just empties right into the grass. the grass dies their in the summer but in the rest os the year its fine due to the rain washing away or diluting the pee

tinker234 (author)Thinkenstein2011-08-21


IkilledKenny (author)2011-10-12

I LOVE THESE INSTRUCTABLES!.....aaaand here it comes....However, this eco freakout about how we are running out of water is getting a bit ridiculous, even though in'stables like these are is this one. But unless we are shipping water off this planet we are not ever going to run out of it, no matter how much those in power try to brainwash us into believing it. The only place it can go that would make it difficult for use to get it back is the poles.....but the much loved global warming kinda stops that....or climate change...or global cooling (1970's panic fest).

How about we just say that these great instables are made for use to better our lives by giving ourselves something to do....Now I must do as the wife demands and look at her puzzle.....good day. (sigh)

I wasn't aware that a shortage of water in general was forecast. I think they are mostly talking about a shortage of clean drinking water in the future. That makes perfect sense because we keep contaminating the environment and polluting our ground water.

A small water distillation unit might be a good addition to the home, to handle whatever water might come one's way in the future.

GrapeApe226 (author)2011-06-22

I live in the city and I wanted a way to let the guys that come by to talk car talk, get rid of some coffee or "beverage of your choice" without running in the house every 5 minutes. Same idea on saving water, plus my 'better half' was threatening to install a parking meter over the toilet and charge a quarter to flush :p

I was fortunate enough to have a previous owner try to build a patio BBQ and leave a 3 in. ABS pipe underground that lead from the side of the garage under the patio roof to the back bathroom on the house and danged if he didn't tie it into the cast iron pipe elbow under the back toilet (he also left a natural gas pipe and cold water pipe; it must have been one heck of a BBQ going in)!

I fashioned a foot deep locker over the urinal with twin doors that open into a privacy stall. I used an old urinal from a trash dump I found in great shape and plumbed it with a trap. So mine is actually going into the sewer. I used a self closing faucet above the urinal to flush enough water to clear the bowl.

Most sewer pipes under your home end at a clean out. My 1952 house has these clean outs aimed at a vent hole in the crawl space.

Maybe you can insert a threaded pipe into one of the clean outs, outside the bathroom and have it go through the vent to the outside of the house. Then build a sort of old fashioned 'water closet'. A out house with a half moon cut in the door would be a riot and visitors would think it fun to use.

Another tip for saving water is to keep a 5 gallon bucket in the tub. My water heater is on the back porch at the opposite end of the house as my tub. I open the hot water valve and let it run until I get hot water. Then shut it off and open the shower valve. It only takes two showers to fill the bucket and you can use it 2 to 4 flushes depending on whether you just stood or sat.

As for the upside down bucket, that's brilliant! You could use leach line rock for a filler if you think your pit would crush in. I did this method years ago and just put a little bleach down it once a month in the summer months. You could also buy septic tank enzyme from the market or RV supply store to keep it sanitary as need be. I had termites in the area and also put malathion down the hole now and then to kill any termites using the water as a drinking source. Please take caution if you have fruit trees or the like near by.

Thinkenstein (author)GrapeApe2262011-06-22

Good idea reusing the shower water. Mine feeds trees when it surface drains.

I try to avoid chemicals, like bleach and malathion, but I recognize the temptation. Given the water traps in the urinal drain pipes, there is never any malodorous gas from the system.

GrapeApe226 (author)Thinkenstein2011-06-23

There are some great natural/organic pesticides at the gardening center. You can use natural methods with no chemicals. Like to keep aphids off your roses, you're supposed to plant marigolds in-between.

When I do put bleach or insecticides in the ground, its just a few drops per gallon, I don't go overboard. Just enough to taint the water to them underground bugs. As for bleach its self, it is in all green plants; chlorine. There are herb and natural remedies books that tell you to put a few drops of bleach in a glass of water and drink it to kill a body fungus you can get. Wikipedia says it's element 17 on the chart & "it is abundant in nature and necessary to most forms of life, including humans."

Yes, it's a "chemical" by definition, but in drop by drop use it will just kill bacteria on a "as needed" basis. It will neutralize and cancel out and not harm nature or your earth in your yard. As a pool owner I can attest to chlorine and algae doing battle and in the end, the algae is dead, and so is the chlorine. Test shows zero and time to add more. It's a salt, that's why you have to add acid to the pool after. Out of the bottle it can eat the hair out of your nostrils, but in correct amounts it is safe as anything.

Thinkenstein (author)GrapeApe2262011-06-24

I don't understand the nutritional need for chlorine, but I do know it can be deadly, like mustard gas in World War I. I suppose that chlorine from pools just finds its way up into the atmosphere and contributes to acid rain. It's kind of like the ocean that we once thought was too big for us to damage with our contaminants. It's OK if we each just dump a little toxic waste into it, I suppose.

Chemotherapy can save lives, but it sure can wreak havoc, too. I guess proper action depends a lot on priorities, too.

GrapeApe226 (author)Thinkenstein2011-06-25

got cancer? go to mexico, LAITRIL works. Chemo kills.

chlorine is not a nutritional need... "Importance of chlorine in human body?
In: Human Anatomy

Read more:

"Sodium chloride literally keeps our bodies from drying up, moves our muscles, makes our meals matter, and attacks germs to keep us healthy."

There's more... much more. Google it.

Ice cream has deadly chemicals in it. We should ban that; I suppose.

I'm not going to get rid of my pool but, I am going to go out and pee in my pack yard now :)

Thinkenstein (author)GrapeApe2262011-06-26

Thanks for the info, GrapeApe226. I apparently used to consume too much salt, judging by a cracked and burning red tongue. That improved when I started washing the salt off all the salted nuts I was eating. Anyway, I probably went too far in the other direction, eliminating salt. I'll have to try to find a new balance now. How to judge the optimum balance, I wonder?

If animals need salt, I wonder where they get it? I suppose that carnivores would probably pick up some chlorine from the meat they consume. I'm vegetarian. Maybe plants don't have the same salt content as animal products.

Anyway, thanks for the chlorine info.

GrapeApe226 (author)Thinkenstein2011-06-29

Exaaaaaactally what I have been pointing out, TOO much of anything will kill you. I'm not trying to pick a fight here, just trying to answer the questions YOU posed earlier.

Hey, how am I supposed to take it when I expand on what I see in your pages here and you come back that pool owners contribute to acid rain. That's a weird comment anyway since all I said to put a few drops down your urinal. I think toxic waste would build up there as anywhere. Especially since your upside down bucket is a dead end.

Have you ever seen the 20/20 where they looked into the spreading grounds in large cities that feed their own underground reservoirs? They found out that there was an incredible amount of toxic and bacteria build up in the soil for thousands of feet outside the area, leaking into peoples fruit trees and gardens. People were showing up at the hospital with all kinds of cronic illnesses far above the average. And that was clean water! They have to now pump extra water so there is overflow so there is a place for things to run off. They can't let it just sit and fester.

What you have here is a small cesspit. They were outlawed decades ago for the very same reasons. Toxins seep up to the surface over time and cause much damage to property as well as humans. They are far from "green". It would be better to study up on septic systems and build and properly maintain small version if you are worried about chemicals that can kill you. Because just as salt and carrots, too much human waste in a concentrated area can....

k-i-l-l y-o-u

Thinkenstein (author)GrapeApe2262011-06-30

Interesting. I don't watch TV, and didn't see 20/20. I had read that urine was different from excrement. It's not so bacteria loaded. There are even medicinal uses for drinking it. Dilute it 1 part urine to 3 parts water and you can apparently fertilize plants with it directly without burning them. Anyway, I don't think there is a great problem with urine. Of course, anything that pollutes ground water deserves a good second look.

Acid rain is mostly sulfuric acid, I think. My comment on pool owners was probably a wild idea, but I still don't see where the chlorine goes, except into the atmosphere, and hydrochloric acid seems like a likely form for it to take.

It just seems out of control sometimes, like we don't know what we're doing, and our population keeps growing. Reduce our population and we would automatically reduce all of our negative impacts from the things we do. .

monkeys5150 (author)2009-07-31

Very nice, in fact I will be doing the same when me and my buddies buy some land here in a few years. Just curious, do you have a system to take care of the other waste or just urine? I've seen some off the grid type toilets online but they are a bit on the expensive side.

Thinkenstein (author)monkeys51502009-07-31

I have a cement flush toilet I made, with a septic tank.

Ecologically, I think composting is the way to go. Try to find The Humanure Handbook. You don't need much more than a bucket to use his system. It's not "waste" anymore when you can put it to good use.

Here's one link for composting toilets.

caarntedd (author)Thinkenstein2010-06-18

Ecologically speaking, I think the production processes of cement and PVC have pretty large carbon footprints. I can understand a waterless or 1 cup flush setup for indoors, but an outdoor urinal? Composting? Just pee on a tree.

Thinkenstein (author)caarntedd2010-06-18

I'm all in favor of peeing on trees. Unfortunately, most people have neighbors watching and get inhibited. I love cement. I imagine it's carbon footprint probably is high, since they have to crush and heat rock. Once done, however, it lasts a long time. The longevity of the material would have to be factored into any comparisons. I don't know the PVC carbon footprint, nor have any way of gauging it. It is recyclable, I believe, since the factory said defective pipe was never available because it always just got run through the system again, whatever the system is that they are using. I would like to know the manufacturing system better.

Arano (author)Thinkenstein2011-03-04

yep pvc is 100% recyclable

gnomedriver (author)2010-08-10

Lemons are said to grow well when fertilised with urine. One idea could be to feed the line out to the lemon tree and place the sump near the roots tree’s roots. Then have great lemons for one’s gin and tonic.

Thinkenstein (author)gnomedriver2010-08-11

Good recycling!

infinite loop of deliciousness

ebuesing (author)2010-09-24

Actually a standard commode flushes with 1.6 gallons per flush, and lots of urinals, and new water efficient toilets flush with less.

Still a nice idea for a deer lease, or treehouse. Someone should forward this to Tarzan, and Gilligan.


samchamb (author)2010-09-13

nice instructable , I can recomend the "liquid gold" book as good firther reading , the author has a web site :

Thinkenstein (author)samchamb2010-09-13

The Humanure Handbook would make good companion reading. It is available free online at:

sunnycanuck (author)2010-01-21

 Have you looked into a waterless trap. You use a liquid less dense then water in the 'S' trap. The less dense liquid sits on top of the water so that flushing is not needed (effectively a grease trap). The companies that make these sell a liquid for the job, but I've been wondering if oil would work as well. 

Thinkenstein (author)sunnycanuck2010-01-21

The oil sounds worth a try.  I have no experience with them.

SWV1787 (author)Thinkenstein2010-05-08

I found a website that says it's "Sealant" liquid is oil so I don't believepeanut oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil would be at all out of the realm of possibilities and it is all natural so no worries about spillage... Plus building a waterless trap out of PVC would be easy... a weekend project at most. Toss in a hydrolic ram pump and you could have an all PVC Second story lavatory.

jgood4u (author)SWV17872010-05-16
While the above illustration for a commercial waterless trap is suitable, it should be just as feasible to use your 'S' trap design. Start by pouring water into the trap to fill it to overflowing, which shouldn't take much. Then add a liquid that is lighter then urine (water), such as an oil, perhaps like mineral oil. You want something that won't turn rancid, won't evaporate, is non-flammable, and won't stink now or later. You will have to replace it from time to time depending on use, a few times per year. The commercial cups are replaceable because of a build up a crystals, but for your design, a flush of water, and maybe a cleaning brush should keep it working for a good, long time. Now that's saving water, and you don't need to plumb or carry water anymore!

Apparently, you were not planing to have the drain accept toilet paper in the first place, so the women who wish to wipe, will need a basket near by to toss the waste paper.

It is also interesting to note that if urine can be keep separate from the poop, the poop will not stink near as badly as when they get mixed as they do in most pit toilets. Therefore, if your solid collection device can separate the solid from the liquid, you can reduce the odor significantly.
sonicdrive (author)2010-02-09

i say peeing on  a bush is easier and less work and ugly pipes all around but that is my thought

smokehill (author)2010-02-02

Excellent instructable !

For those that live in an urban environment where this may not be practical, I suggest you consider urinating in your bathtub, where "flushing" takes only a couple of cups of water, and the faucet is (usually) right above the drain/urinal.

Even though I live on a farm, I did this as a temporary measure when I had drainfield problems in the winter and was desperately trying to put the absolute minimum liquid into the system.  Sounded a bit strange & unsanitary at first, but it really isn't.

I figured I was saving almost the whole 5-gallon flush each time, and since I was on Lasix, I was hitting the bathroom almost hourly.  Massive water savings, when you add it up.

After I sorted out the leaky connection in the distribution box, I just kept using the bathtub since it seemed like a good idea anyhow.  When I'm outside, of course, I use the same system as my dogs do ... and no flush necessary.  Just don't hit the same spot every time, or it will "burn" the grass eventually.

Certainly a more practical way of saving water than Al Gore's worthless "two-gallon flush" toilets.  Every one I've ever used has been a piece of .... well, you get the idea.

Ideally, I'd figure out a way to use the gray water from the sink to "flush" the bathtub drain ... but I haven't figured a practical way to do that yet.  And it's a minor savings in water anyhow compared to skipping the flush-toilet.

juanangel (author)2010-01-21

Excellent. Just round the edges, in case a a drunk drop or bow, or a kid running by. In case that water is not avaliable for flushing, use those detergent jugs with a push button and a piece of hose. Water will last long since no one likes to push the buttom for long. Great idea for the outdoors.

the rural independent (author)2010-01-21

Great Instrucatble and some really great tips fro other commenters.

One could place one of these adjacent to an area where you have a problem with deer gnawing away at your plants and it should be a nice deterrent.  (well maybe not all that nice!)

Thanks to all!!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a refugee from Los Angeles, living in backwoods Puerto Rico for about 35 years now and loving it. I built my own home ... More »
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