A Brief History of Porta Potties

January 22, 2021 12:33 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Porta potties are seen pretty much everywhere these days—construction sites, event grounds, outdoor gatherings, all over the place! It’s easy to take them for granted. However, portable toilets were not always so easy to come by, and their convenience was not always so readily available.

Here’s a quick overview of the history of the portable toilet in Reading, PA and how we got to where we are with the porta potty today.

Ancient editions

There have been some ancient versions of portable toilets, but nothing quite resembling what we have today with the porta potty. In 14th century B.C. in ancient Egypt, there is evidence of portable toilets due to one found in the Kha tomb. It featured a wooden stool with a hole cut in the center, with a vase-like feature attached to it. This appears to have been a luxury feature, one that would have been easy to transport around as needed.

In ancient Greece, the chamber pot was the first portable “toilet” that was more commonly used. It was basically a small pot into which the user would urinate or defecate. They were usually made out of stone or tin, and most frequently used at night.

Arrival and development in the 20th century

It wasn’t until the 20th century that the idea of a portable toilet or restroom in the more traditional sense became a widespread concept. During World War II, a loading dock supervisor saw his workers were losing productivity because of having to travel a long distance to shore to use the restroom. He decided to develop the first modern porta potty, which featured wood panels and a metal storage tank.

While it was relatively primitive in terms of technology, it was effective. Soon after, other industries started to catch on, developing portable toilets of their own to place at job sites, particularly in remote work areas and at construction sites. For the most part, these portable toilets were made of wood and were akin to outhouses.

From the 1960s to 1980s, fiberglass versions of these portable toilets became more common. Fiberglass was seen as being a superior option due to its lighter weight and greater portability. By the late 20th century, fiberglass gave way to plastic as the most popular porta potty material due to its even lighter weight, and thus even easier transportability. The plastic most commonly used was polyethylene, which is still one of the most frequently used materials.

Today, there are much more sophisticated portable toilet options, including portable trailers that feature plastic and metal, and have all of the amenities you’d find in a standard restroom (heating, running water, sinks and toilets, lighting, vinyl flooring, electricity). While there are still the standard single-person plastic toilets you’ll see at job sites, there’s a much wider range of option than there’s ever been before.

Interested in learning more about portable toilets, or have questions about how often you should empty a porta potty in Reading, PA? Contact Scotties Potties today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

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