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.
Blofish1 year ago
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)  Blofish1 year ago
Sounds like a clever idea. The urine would sink, and have at least some of the smell controlled, I imagine. All biodegradable.
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.
flyingpuppy2 years ago
Very Freudian and O'Keeffish at the ssme time.
NetWt4Lbs2 years ago
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.
IsZeus2 years ago
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)  IsZeus2 years ago
Yes, it is a male urinal.
yellowcatt3 years ago
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)  yellowcatt3 years ago
Good idea. One of these days I have to try my hand at making a composting toilet.
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
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.
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 3 years ago
Thanks for the feedback. It's nice to think that the world is a better place for one's contributions.
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: http://bobflowerdew.co.uk/
Valster5 years ago
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.
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
tinker2344 years ago
hey with thestorage could i get a large old tank and use that
Thinkenstein (author)  tinker2344 years ago
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.
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
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 great....as 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)
Thinkenstein (author)  IkilledKenny3 years ago
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.
GrapeApe2264 years ago
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)  GrapeApe2264 years ago
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.
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)  GrapeApe2264 years ago
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.
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)  GrapeApe2264 years ago
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.

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)  GrapeApe2264 years ago
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. .
monkeys51506 years ago
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)  monkeys51506 years ago
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. http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/humanure.html 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. http://www.solareagle.com/sunmar.html
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)  caarntedd5 years ago
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.
yep pvc is 100% recyclable
gnomedriver5 years ago
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)  gnomedriver5 years ago
Good recycling!
infinite loop of deliciousness
ebuesing4 years ago
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.

samchamb4 years ago
nice instructable , I can recomend the "liquid gold" book as good firther reading , the author has a web site : http://www.liquidgoldbook.com/
Thinkenstein (author)  samchamb4 years ago
The Humanure Handbook would make good companion reading. It is available free online at: http://www.weblife.org/humanure/
sunnycanuck5 years ago
 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)  sunnycanuck5 years ago
The oil sounds worth a try.  I have no experience with them.
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 SWV17875 years ago
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.
sonicdrive5 years ago
i say peeing on  a bush is easier and less work and ugly pipes all around but that is my thought
smokehill5 years ago
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.
juanangel5 years ago
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.
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!!

old_code5 years ago
"You had me at ... PVC  Urinal".

Great Instructable; makes me want to live somewhere 'less socialized'. I've told/kidded my wife that the next house will have to have a urinal in it.

I went to your site at www.angelfire.com/in2/manythings, and realized that my father-in-law (a cement fiend) would love your projects.

Thanks; this was a project well worth reading, for the variety of information that you've presented.
An Villain5 years ago
a urinal doubles as a hand-washing sink?
Thinkenstein (author)  An Villain5 years ago
How 'bout that?  Got to admit it is an unusual combination. 
yes it is.
Ev6 years ago
I've seen urinals that had a light oil in them, probably mineral oil. The denser urine would flow under the oil and out the trap! No odors and the oil doesn't dry out.
plumber4 Ev5 years ago
yeah, it's called a waterless urinal. People are kind of grossed out by them for some reason...they are great! No water, no valves, no maintenance. Don't be surprised if these are the standard some day. The "cartridge" needs to be changed every few months depending on use. drains don't back up either, which is the plumber or drain guy's biggest nightmare...worst stench ever, hands down. The cartridge keeps all of the calcium and other "ingredients" from the urine and allows the rest to flow through. Awesome invention by Falcon about 8-10 years ago. Sloan bought the idea or company (not sure which). The Sloan waterless urinals are the ones with a bee printed on the urinal. A rep from Sloan told me that the bee marks the best spot to hit while "going". That's the spot that tests have proven to have the least amount of splash. pee on the bee. 
Thinkenstein (author)  Ev6 years ago
Interesting. It must use the minimum amount of water for flushing.
Ev Thinkenstein6 years ago
Look up "waterless urinals"!
Thinkenstein (author)  Ev6 years ago
Yep. A good idea.
Does that spigot have testicles?
Thinkenstein (author)  spamhaterbloodboy6 years ago
I guess you are the first to notice. The first to mention it, anyway. Yes. I thought they were appropriate in that context.
I just noticed those testicles on the tap too...
Yeah, that's pretty funny. Nice work. Are there any pictures of your house online? It looks interesting. I built a 12x16 plywood cabin (with hardwood floors and electric and water pumped from the pond) to live in myself and had thought of making a PVC urinal on the second floor, so it's great to see it done with a little extra thought adding the barrel at the bottom and the s-curve rather than just an outside drain spot. I haven't implimented the urinal yet, so I'm glad I stumbled on this.
Thinkenstein (author)  spamhaterbloodboy6 years ago
Check out my website, www.angelfire.com/in2/manythings . I was living in a 12 X 16 ft. plywood cabin also in my first years here. I think a picture is among the old house photos online. Good luck with your project.
Warlrosity6 years ago
Smart, I like the 1st one
Thinkenstein (author)  Warlrosity6 years ago
Thanks. Yes, it is a little more stylish.
the one you first made, I mean, the simple piping one
Thinkenstein (author)  Warlrosity6 years ago
The one that is more flat against the wall? It does have that advantage, especially in cramped quarters.
PKM6 years ago
Kudos for tackling a subject people would rather ignore, and writing an informative instructable. We (by "we" I mean the West) would waste a lot less water of people would have urinals in their houses, but for whatever reason they don't. Perhaps it's the association with the grotty smelly ones in public toilets?
Thinkenstein (author)  PKM6 years ago
The association may be part of it. Maybe another part is space available. Many private bathrooms are pretty cramped. Ideally the urinals should be there. If space is a problem, the bathrooms should just be a little larger.