Porta potties, Porta Johns®, and Porta Loos® all have something in common: they are all types of portable toilets. Often these are simply rough enclosures that hold a chemical toilet, making it easy for people to do their business when there is not a permanent bathroom nearby. No matter what name is given to these portable toilets the purpose is always the same. Initially the only porta potties available were very basic and rough but that is no longer true today.

The name used for portable toilets depends on the country where these are located and any trademark names that have been patented by companies that make these patents. Porta Loo® is the common name for porta potties in England, and in the USA the names Porta John® and porta potty are more common.

The History of Porta Potties

Portable toilets were unheard of until the 1940s, and the first models were created out of necessity. Long Beach shipyards in the 1940s realized that productivity was low because dock workers were required to walk all the way back to the main dock to use the bathroom, wasting considerable time walking back and forth. The idea for portable toilets was born, although the first models were rough cabanas that were temporarily erected on the ships being worked on.

Over the next two decades the appeal and convenience of porta potties were realized. Event coordinators, construction companies, and may others realized that portable toilets were the way to go, and companies started to build porta potties for their workers to use. In the beginning these portable toilets were heavy, constructed from steel and wood, and that made moving them frequently problematic.

In the 1960s George Harding applied for and was issued a patent for a portable toilet constructed from polyethylene plastic. The advantages included lighter weight, better portability, and easier cleaning. During the 1970s fiberglass was commonly used but eventually plastic became the top material for portable toilets.

Today there are a number of companies which sell or rent out porta potties for events and locations. Rentals usually include delivery, cleaning, maintenance, and then removal of the porta potty units. The biggest collection of porta potties ever gathered was more than 5,000 units, and they were provided for the inauguration of President Barack Obama in the year 2009.

Where are Porta Potties Used?

Porta potties are used in a variety of locations and venues. The actual name of the portable toilets can vary widely, depending on the company that makes the units. The term porta potty is a generic name that is used to describe portable toilets, there is not a product that carries this brand name. Porta potty units can be found at concerts, construction sites, weddings, family reunions, movie and video sets, and many other types of events and locations.

Porta Potty Types Today

The porta potty units that can be found to rent or purchase today can be basic or upscale. Trailers may be used to provide several units on one platform, and luxury Porta Johns® can be found with many amenities and features. Upscale portable toilets are generally mounted on large trailers or converted from shipping containers, and they can include any amenity that an installed bathroom can have. Luxury units are typically far more expensive to rent or own than standard units which are more basic, but the extra expense can be worth it. Even more basic porta potty units may include either a hand washing station or a chemical sanitizer that does not require water.

Porta John Advantages

Porta potties, Porta Johns®, and Porta Loos® all have a number of advantages. These units are incredibly portable, they can be placed almost anywhere, and they are self contained. When portable toilets are rented then the rental company is usually responsible for cleaning, sanitizing, deodorizing, and emptying the waste in the unit. In addition the units will be set up and taken away for you. On average, porta potty units can typically hold about seven days worth of waste for 10 people before the unit needs to be emptied or becomes unsanitary. Since there is usually no plumbing involved there is no risk of clogs in the drains or overflowing toilets because something is stuck in the pipes.

How Do Most Porta Potties Work?

Portable toilets use chemicals rather than water, and these chemicals help to eliminate odor and prevent unsanitary conditions. Most of the time the chemical used is blue, and when the color of the liquid turns green this indicates that it is time to drain the unit and that the deodorizing component is no longer working. Formaldehyde is typically used, but in certain areas and states including California this is illegal because this option is not allowed in the sewage treatment process. Today most Porta Johns® have toilet paper installed for cleaning purposes, and the chemical will help to break down the toilet paper after it is used as well.

Should You Rent or Purchase A Porta John®?

Porta potty units can be rented or purchased, but which method is right for you? The answer depends on many factors. How often will you use the Porta John®? How many people will need to use the porta potty on a regular basis? If you plan on needing a Porta John® on a full time basis then you may want to purchase one because rental fees could add up quickly. On the other hand the cleaning and maintenance needed will fall on you if you buy a porta potty rather than renting one when it is needed. Once you have considered all of these questions and factors then you will be able to make an informed decision based on all the facts in your individual situation.