Porta Potty Flashback: A Brief History of the Portable Restroom

Let’s face it, portable restrooms —or as they are often known, porta-potties, jiffy-johns, porta-loos—might not often be the topic of conversation at the dinner table. You might not discuss it on a date or birthday parties, but chances are you have used portable restrooms at some point in your life. At Brunson’s Pump Service we provide an essential service for many public events and construction sites, but this very essential and convenient service has a very special role in history as it emerged out of unique necessity.

You’ve likely seen them at events, fairs, concerts, or other public gatherings, but how does a porta-potty actually work? These are self-contained units that use sophisticated chemical compounds that help break down waste. Porta-potties will use biocides to kill bacteria and microbes, as well as enzymes that help break up bacteria that causes odor. At the same time, the porta potty is quite beneficial to public health, as they collect waste and dispose of it safely and effectively. Not to mention the fact that they are green, as they save thousands of gallons of water.

It Begins in a Time of Need

During World War II, a massive military machine had to be mobilized. This meant that people had to improvise and innovate to meet the sanitation needs of growing military bases, industrial operations, and war operations. This led the way to some new innovations in the restroom industry. For example, the shipbuilding docks in Long Beach during World War II are an often cited origin point for the beginnings of the portable restroom. Shipbuilders and engineers working on building the ships would often have to hop on a rowboat and head back to the dock just to use the restroom. So, it was here that an early version of the portable loo was built on top of the ship.

Similarly, World War II fighter pilots—often up in the air for 14 hours at a time—would be the initial users of the first versions of a chemical toilet. These were called the Elson toilets, which began experimenting with chemicals to help break down waste. These Elson toilets, in fact, served another purpose as well; while uncomfortable to use in the air and amidst heavy turbulence, they were also said to be dropped on occasion, as a gesture of goodwill, on enemy German soldiers.

Advancements to the Original Idea

It was not until the 1960’s that the more modern versions of the portable restroom started to materialize. They went from fiberglass to polyethylene, to developing a ventilation system, and becoming lighter in weight. One early version of the portable toilet was called a strong box and it was not very versatile, it had no light, and was not very convenient to travel. Not long after that, the roof of the structure would be made translucent white, so as to let in some natural light and the floors were improved. From there, the innovations and adjustments continued and today we have well-constructed and convenient portable restrooms to meet most needs.

Choose the Best in the Business — Choose Brunson’s Pump Service

Today portable restrooms continue to be a great way to ensure public health in construction sites and other public events. Technology and advancement have made the service and use of these self-contained units much more effective and safe. Whether you’re having a small event or hosting a music festival, Brunson’s Pump Service provides the cleanest and best porta-potties in the area. Contact us today!

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