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How to Make a Portable RV Waste Tank

Emptying out the black tank on your RV isn’t always easy or even possible – in a legal sense. While there are certainly RV parks out there with waste receptacles, and the ability to build on in your yard, there are still times when that isn’t the most convenient option.

Much like the idea of bringing fresh water in portable containers, you can also remove waste in a container with a different setup of course. The purpose of this article is to describe how to make a portable RV waste tank for when the moment comes that you need one.

The most important part of making a portable RV waste tank is to have a strong, sealed container that won’t let waste out or potentially break under weight. You’ll need to adapt something like a large drum with a connection for a sewer hose as well.

How big do I need my portable RV waste tank to be?

The first thing to talk about here is the size of your family. 

Is it just you and a partner going on your adventure for a weekend? You can probably get away with a fairly small waste tank of less than 20 gallons.

If you have a family of four kids and you’ll be gone for over a week, at the very least double that 20 gallons.

Ideally, you’ll have plenty of room and more in the tank so you can avoid having to dump it prematurely or cutting your trip short with a smelly, full RV. Adding empty tank to your weight isn’t that big of a deal, especially if you make your tank right, which we’ll talk a bit more about below.

What do I need to make a portable RV waste tank?

You will need a few material items to make a portable RV waste tank yourself, and a couple of skills.

  • A barrel or drum
  • Wheels
  • A hose or adapter to connect the drum to a waste receptacle.

This sounds reasonably easy. Let’s look at other factors in deciding what to use for our portable RV waste tank.

What kind of tank should I use?

We suggested a barrel or drum before, but let’s get more specific now. 

  • A 55 gallon steel barrel is big enough and certainly durable. A barrel might be too much for some families though it will last most groups a long time. You’ll want to modify the opening of a drum to fit a sewer hose connection. Because the drum is already heavy, you’ll want a cart or wagon for this – preferably welded together, to hold the drum in place when it’s full.
  • A 30 gallon plastic container works too. Plastic container have some of the same needs to make them easy to use: Make a hole big enough for a sewer hose connection. Attach a plastic container to a pallet with wheels to make it super easy to move.
  • An aluminum gas tank. Be sure to clean all the gas out first.

Of note, all of the above tank types should already have a hole in an appropriate spot. Depending on the material, you might want to use a drill with a hole hit to make the whole bigger without cracking the plastic or metal.

What is the best material to make a portable RV waste tank from?

The answer depends on what you have available. Plastic, aluminum, and steel are stable and sturdy, and capable of handling their share of weight. A plastic container itself might be lighter and is often used to make smaller portable RV waste tanks.

It’s up to you and your ability to store it. If you are wondering which one is going to keep smells out better – that’s more about the cap than the storage container. You should rinse the storage container out after emptying it. We might suggest a mask for this task.

Adding wheels to a portable RV waste tank

These containers themselves are already heavy. With at least several gallons of human waste inside, they will probably be more than most people can lift.

You’ll see commercially available portable RV waste tanks that simple insert an axle through one end of the waste tank, and put wheels on the axle. 

Your waste tank might up end looking like that – especially if you are going a bit smaller and don’t need a whole 55 gallon drum. 

While we can’t quite tell you how to weld, you’ll want to attach or weld an axle to either a cart for a plastic container or drum, or the container itself. Putting your waste tank on wheels will make moving it significantly easier.

You’ll also want good tread on these wheels. There’s a solid chance you’ll have to drag this container across dirt, mud, snow, and concrete. Smooth or caster wheels are not the greatest choice for the purpose.

Where can I store a portable RV waste tank?

This is a great question, and thankfully we have a couple of options.

  • Ratchet strap attach your portable RV waste tank to your RV ladder.
  • Put the waste tank in the back of a pickup truck. This is especially convenient if you are using a truck to haul your RV around when you aren’t actually using it. 

Why would I want a portable RV waste tank?

There are many benefits to having a portable RV waste tank.

  • You want to stay remote camping for longer, and not have to worry about leaving to dump your tanks at an RV station. Having a large enough waste tank can be very helpful here.
  • If an RV station has a backed up or non working receptacles, you don’t want to have to just carry your waste to another station.
  • Making your own can save you some money and get you the size you want.

Safety and portable RV waste tanks

We just have a couple of suggestions for transporting full waste tanks.

  • Just like when you empty your black tank, use gloves. We are talking about sewage here
  • Depending on how you actually store your portable RV waste tank, take driving a bit slow when you are going to empty it. Make sure the tank is fully sealed, because the tank breaking open is going to create quite the mess.


Portable RV waste tanks are great for people who really enjoy camping and don’t want to stop for a dump station.

For many do it yourselfers, the process will be relatively simple. You’ll need a container, wheels, and an axle that is attached to the tank or a cart for the tank. This could involve welding, but that is up to your abilities.

Enjoy your camping adventure and use the RV portable tank safely!

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