A Plumber’s Story: The History of the Toilet!

Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we deal with toilets every day. Sometimes it’s the incoming water that’s causing problems and we have to provide plumbing services. Other times it’s the blackwater we’re dealing with and have to deal with some drain cleaning. Still other times the toilet has seen better days (because it’s seen a lot of decades), and it’s time for it to be replaced by our plumbing company.

We deal with toilets a lot, and yet even we don’t think about the history much. After all, every one of us uses the toilet multiple times a day, and yet we don’t think about how wonderful it is and how bad it used to be. Are you ready to take a ride through history with Garvin’s and learn about the history of the toilet? Read on!

Toilet #1 — On Top Of The Ground

Why bury it? Humans were much more nomadic, so why get rid of your waste when all you have to do is walk away from it?

Fun Fact: Don’t try walking away from your waste in today’s world.

Toilet #2 — Bury It In The Ground

Okay, so humanity found agriculture, and we started sticking around in one place to take care of their plants. When you stay in one place, you want to get your waste away from you. This means digging a hole and burying it. After all, our waste smells displeasing to us because it contains the pathogens that our bodies wanted to get rid of. Burying it makes sure that it’s kept far away from us.

Fun Fact: Burying your poop helps that agriculture we were talking about up above!

Pit Latrine

A pit latrine came next, essentially a place where everyone could do their business (so that everyone knew where not to step). Pit latrines would eventually provide some sort of shelter, an over centuries became what we know as outhouses. The most important part of pit latrines is to keep them as far away your water sources as possible as not to contaminate the freshwater supply.

Fun Fact: To paraphrase a sign at the History Colorado Center in Denver, “An outhouse is located about 100 yards from the house. In winter it’s 100 yards too far, and in summer it’s a 100 yards too close.”

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The Pig Toilet

Here’s one that most of us in the modern world never knew. The Pig Toilet (and yes, we feel like capitalizing it) was a system in which the toilet would connect to a trough. The excretia would be fed to animals, usually pigs or fish. Knowing what we know today about disease (and having plumbing services and better ways to feed animals), we’ve seen this practice disappear. Except it hasn’t…

Fun Fact: Fish pond toilets are still in use today! All you have to do is visit rural areas in east-Asian countries such as Vietnam.

Like this, but utterly disgusting.

Like this, but utterly disgusting.

The end. But wait, that can’t be the end! Are we seriously going to leave you on The Pig Toilet?! We probably shouldn’t. Check back next week for a quick look at the modern toilet and where it came from. Until then, enjoy your flushing!