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Using the head treatment as a bowl cleaner

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Mar 26, 2011
2,868
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Note: if you're using one of those stinky blue treatments that contain formaldehyde or other disinfectants, this post isn't about you. But you would be better served by different treatment, practically anything.

Raritan Engineering markets CP as a no-scrub bowl cleaner that is compatible with KO and other biologically active holding tank treatments. In my limited experience, it seems to be a good product. Sure enough, all home toilet products contain some manner of disinfectants (bleach or quaternary amines), which are exactly the wrong thing for holding tank. We are trying to to encourage a healthy aerobic culture, not bomb it with biocides. They are what the home market requests. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find a cleaning product that doesn't contain some biocide in the formulation, other than borax or washing soda.

However, I've been playing with regular use of other products in the bowl (ODORLOS, Camco TST, CAMCO Enzyme) to control raw water stink and reduced staining, and they all seem to work quite well. They do not contain surfactants or cleaners per se, but they seem to get the job done. I've also done some side-by-side testing in holding tanks that suggests that adding all of the tank treatment at once doesn't give the best long-term odor control, not for sailors that only pump out a few times a year. The active ingredients (nitrate or enzymes) simply don't last that long; they are consumed or biodegraded, and the tank begins to stink again. Yes, I understand that more frequent pump-outs and treatment are recommended, but in the real world that's a fiction. Judging from the light traffic at the pump-out stations in my harbor, it ain't happening. There are several thousand docked in Deale, one of the Chesapeake Bay's few zero discharge zones.

It seems more reasonable for those that rarely pump-out to add a fresh dose, just a small amount, each time the boat is used. The easiest way to do that, and a way to get double value, is to keep a squirt bottle near the head and give her the small dose each time, perhaps just before leaving, so that it can control saltwater bowl stink as well. I would still add 30 to 50% of the recommended dose with the first use of the head after pumping out.

Since the hoses will see the treatment more often, perhaps permeation risk is somewhat reduced. Probably this is irrelevant.

Boats with vent filters don't typically use holding tank treatment chemicals. Using a bowl cleaner that reduces sulfide generation in the holding tank would have the potential to extend that filter life.

Any downside?
* It's one more thing to remember, but not if you clean the bowl once in a while anyway.
* I can't see how any of these treatments would do any harm, left sitting in the bowl for extended periods. I'm assuming that there is some water left in the bowl.
* If you buy a powdered treatment (the ones I described are available both as powder and liquid) you might dissolve it in water first for convenience. Wouldn't have to; a teaspoon would give a reasonable weekly dose.
* You'll end up using more treatment chemical than recommended, but if you're pump out interval is months, you won't be using any more than you need.

I renovated the 14-year old system on my boat this summer; it's as pristine as my house and I'd like to keep it that way. This seems to be working.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,005
- - LIttle Rock
It seems more reasonable for those that rarely pump-out to add a fresh dose, just a small amount, each time the boat is used.

Why not just use tank products according to directions? No tank product can continue to work indefinitely...Live bacteria products will work until the bacteria's food source (waste) has been exhausted, then the bacteria die. How long that takes depends on how much is in the tank. If there's very little or the boat used so rarely that the bacteria always dies between uses, it's only necessary to add a couple of ounces with the first flush when the system is used again...adding to each flush is a waste of an expensive product.

Chemicals (including Odorlos) and enzymes are diluted as more waste is added to the tank, so it's necessary to add product as quantity increases, but only after pumpout and/or with first use afterward and then every few days...adding enough to every single flush to accomplish anything would be waste of product...and besides, how much would be needed in various circumstances.

And btw, don't be deceived by claims that a toxic chemical product is "biodegradable." That's a meaningless term used to mislead the public into confusing it with "environmentally friendly." Formaldehyde, which is anything BUT enviro-friendly, is biodegradable. The other two most popular--because they're the cheapest--tank chemicals are gluteraldehyde and quanternary ammonium compounds...also "biodegradable" but lethal.

Product mfrs put directions on the packaging for a reason...try following 'em. Add the recommended dose after pumpout and/or with the first flush after being away from the boat and follow the directions for use while aboard.

As for all those boats that rarely pump out, I suspect you'll find that most of 'em have y-valves and overboard discharge pumps installed. And because Herring Bay is the only NDZ on the whole Chespeake Bay, as many as 5% of larger boats are likely to have Type I or II treatment devices installed...a few also equipped with "hold 'n' treat" that allows 'em to empty their tanks legally through the device.

Btw...Raritan C.P. is part of the sanitation and cleaning products line that my own company developed...Raritan bought me out in 1999. C.P. is not only an outstanding bowl cleaner, it's also the best sump and drain cleaner on the planet 'cuz it not only destroys odors on contact, but the enzymes in it "eat" hair, soap scrum, grease, body oils etc in drains and sumps. A couple of ounces down the shower drain into the sump once a week, or just before leaving the boat--any time it can stand at least overnight (it could stay in the sump or drain for a year without harming anything--is all that's needed to keep the sump clean and sweet smelling and the sump pump clog-free...about an ounce into each sink drain after the seacock has been close, then fill the drain with water is all that's needed to keep drains open and clean. C.P. can also remain in drain lines indefinitely without harm.
 
Nov 6, 2009
353
Hunter 37 FL
We have a low spot in our hose from holding tank to deck pump out. I found by pouring a little K.O. down the deck pump out after pumping out keeps the hose from being smelly in the low spot, which is under a cabinet in the v-berth. We flush fresh water after pumping out, too. We plan on replacing the hose eventually. Maybe I'll try CP next time and see if it works.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,005
- - LIttle Rock
C.P. is not a tank product

It's too expensive to use as a tank product. Use it to clean the bowl, sumps and drains...use K.O. in the tank.

And btw, tank products should always be flushed into the tank through the toilet...never added through the deck pumpout, for just the reason that Mary described: a low spot or a long horizontal run in the pumpout line will prevent the product from ever getting into the tank.

Mary, the solution to your low spot is either...1. shorten/reroute the hose to eliminate it (which I realize may be a LOT easier said than done)....or 2. Flush the pumpout line with clean water immediately after pump--just stick a hose (NOT one used to fill water tanks!) into the deck pumpout fitting. That should eliminate the need to waste K.O....which, since the environment is a pumpout hose is anaerobic, isn't really doing you any good anyway.
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,868
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
So really no down side....

It seems more reasonable for those that rarely pump-out to add a fresh dose, just a small amount, each time the boat is used.

Why not just use tank products according to directions? No tank product can continue to work indefinitely...Live bacteria products will work until the bacteria's food source (waste) has been exhausted, then the bacteria die. How long that takes depends on how much is in the tank. If there's very little or the boat used so rarely that the bacteria always dies between uses, it's only necessary to add a couple of ounces with the first flush when the system is used again...adding to each flush is a waste of an expensive product.

Chemicals (including Odorlos) and enzymes are diluted as more waste is added to the tank, so it's necessary to add product as quantity increases, but only after pumpout and/or with first use afterward and then every few days...adding enough to every single flush to accomplish anything would be waste of product...and besides, how much would be needed in various circumstances.

And btw, don't be deceived by claims that a toxic chemical product is "biodegradable." That's a meaningless term used to mislead the public into confusing it with "environmentally friendly." Formaldehyde, which is anything BUT enviro-friendly, is biodegradable. The other two most popular--because they're the cheapest--tank chemicals are gluteraldehyde and quanternary ammonium compounds...also "biodegradable" but lethal.

Product mfrs put directions on the packaging for a reason...try following 'em. Add the recommended dose after pumpout and/or with the first flush after being away from the boat and follow the directions for use while aboard.

As for all those boats that rarely pump out, I suspect you'll find that most of 'em have y-valves and overboard discharge pumps installed. And because Herring Bay is the only NDZ on the whole Chespeake Bay, as many as 5% of larger boats are likely to have Type I or II treatment devices installed...a few also equipped with "hold 'n' treat" that allows 'em to empty their tanks legally through the device.

Btw...Raritan C.P. is part of the sanitation and cleaning products line that my own company developed...Raritan bought me out in 1999. C.P. is not only an outstanding bowl cleaner, it's also the best sump and drain cleaner on the planet 'cuz it not only destroys odors on contact, but the enzymes in it "eat" hair, soap scrum, grease, body oils etc in drains and sumps. A couple of ounces down the shower drain into the sump once a week, or just before leaving the boat--any time it can stand at least overnight (it could stay in the sump or drain for a year without harming anything--is all that's needed to keep the sump clean and sweet smelling and the sump pump clog-free...about an ounce into each sink drain after the seacock has been close, then fill the drain with water is all that's needed to keep drains open and clean. C.P. can also remain in drain lines indefinitely without harm.
a.This sentence is unclear; "Chemicals (including Odorlos) and enzymes are diluted as more waste is added to the tank, so it's necessary to add product as quantity increases, but only after pumpout and/or with first use afterward...." If dillution requires additions, then why add AFTER the pump-out. Perhaps you misspoke.

b. I've tested a number of respected products claiming to have live cultures; while the control samples (bilge water ) grew like crazy, all but 2 (CP and Vanish Odor) were sterile, and those yielded only very few colonies, far less than plain water. Were they different in activity? Yes, I think so, but they were very few and not paarticularly fast growing. The trouble is that the products are not freshness dated and live aeobic cultures are not very stable in anerobic bottles. I've been involved in shipping waste treatment cultures for many years, and this is always a problem. It often takes weeks to revive a sample. The enzymes, on the other hand, can remain very effective. CP and Vanish Odor both excell in that department.

c. Biodegradable certainly does not equal harmless. Using formaldahyde (carcinogen) in a boat cabin doesn't seem wise at all. Gluteraldehyde is certainly degradable--we process it every day in metal cutting coolants--but not quickly.

d. I never suggested adding a full dose at every flush. I said for "those that rarely pump-out to add a fresh dose, just a small amount, each time the boat is used" which implies much less than a full dose, perhaps once each month.

So, no down side I can see. The cost will be much the same or less; perhaps a bit more than 1 dose per tank, but no more than the dose at each visit you suggested. I think I'm simply suggesting a different approach to the same problem.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,005
- - LIttle Rock
a. I didn't mis-speak, and I did say "and/or"... Unless the tank is thoroughly rinsed out after EVERY pumpout, there will be waste left in the tank. While it might not be necessary to add more K.O. till the next toilet use because the bacteria will continue to multiply. However, Odorlos exhausts itself irrespective of dilution...so it's a good idea to add a little more Odorlos immediately after pumpout to prevent the inch or so left in the tank from stinking...AND more when you return to the boat.

b. Raritan K.O. is formulated using over a BILLION specifically cultured bacteria colonies per gallon... Apparently that's either not one of the products you tested or your sample was exposed to temps above 110 F. which would have killed the bacteria in it. That wouldn't take long in a closed up vehicle or container exposed to direct sunlight...or in a retailer's warehouse in the summer heat.

c. Check out the MSDSs for Thetford's tank product line.Thetford ALL their tank products contain either formaldehyde or gluteraldehyde. Starbrite tank products are quaternary ammonium compounds. Formaldehyde is the active ingredient in SeaLand TDX--the chemical used in their "SaniX" Type I MSD, discontinued several years ago, but because many of those systems are still in use, TDX is still available.

d. Never said you did suggest a full dose with each flush. However, if you measure the volume from a trigger sprayer, you'll get about a tablespoon...from 2-3 pulls...2 adults using the toilet an avg 5x/24 hrs...that's a little over 4 oz product/DAY. The directions for Odorlos call for adding about 4 oz every FIVE days, more often in exceptionally hot weather, but nowhere near 4 oz a day. Do you spray before use, or just before flushing? Do you need more after a chili dinner than you'd need if you only pee? Simplest solution: follow the mfr's directions.

But, it's your boat...whatever floats it for you is fine with me.
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,868
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
a. I didn't mis-speak, and I did say "and/or"... Unless the tank is thoroughly rinsed out after EVERY pumpout, there will be waste left in the tank. While it might not be necessary to add more K.O. till the next toilet use because the bacteria will continue to multiply. However, Odorlos exhausts itself irrespective of dilution...so it's a good idea to add a little more Odorlos immediately after pumpout to prevent the inch or so left in the tank from stinking...AND more when you return to the boat.

b. Raritan K.O. is formulated using over a BILLION specifically cultured bacteria colonies per gallon... Apparently that's either not one of the products you tested or your sample was exposed to temps above 110 F. which would have killed the bacteria in it. That wouldn't take long in a closed up vehicle or container exposed to direct sunlight...or in a retailer's warehouse in the summer heat.

c. Check out the MSDSs for Thetford's tank product line.Thetford ALL their tank products contain either formaldehyde or gluteraldehyde. Starbrite tank products are quaternary ammonium compounds. Formaldehyde is the active ingredient in SeaLand TDX--the chemical used in their "SaniX" Type I MSD, discontinued several years ago, but because many of those systems are still in use, TDX is still available.

d. Never said you did suggest a full dose with each flush. However, if you measure the volume from a trigger sprayer, you'll get about a tablespoon...from 2-3 pulls...2 adults using the toilet an avg 5x/24 hrs...that's a little over 4 oz product/DAY. The directions for Odorlos call for adding about 4 oz every FIVE days, more often in exceptionally hot weather, but nowhere near 4 oz a day. Do you spray before use, or just before flushing? Do you need more after a chili dinner than you'd need if you only pee? Simplest solution: follow the mfr's directions.

But, it's your boat...whatever floats it for you is fine with me.

b. I did test KO and CP. I absolutely believe you, that they are cultured strong. And I believe you're right about a storage problem; 110F in a truck is nothing in the summer. ALL of the vendors had the same problem. Distributing a live product has its challenges.

c. Incorrect, I believe. Thetford Ecosmart is an enzyme/culture product.
http://www.thetford.com/Portals/0/pdf/EcoSmart Enzyme.pdf
Thetford Aqua-kem products, on the other hand, contain formaldehyde and are obnoxious, as you say.
http://www.thetford.com/Portals/0/pdf/Aqua Kem.pdf
Sea Land has a new enzyme product I have not tested. It seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. It's a pretty simple wagon, really. Some of the best products (ODORLOS, Camco TST Utra) are just nitrate.

d. I said in both my posts that it would be used once per visit, not each use and not each day. I should have been more clear; I did not mean a "visit" to the loo, I meant each visit to the boat, from home. The use is very limited, perhaps a few ounces per month, perhaps a little more if the volume is high. But never more than the mfr suggests.

Yup, it's working well for me. As I said, what I am describing is very close to mfr direction.
 
Dec 30, 2009
679
jeanneau 38 gin fizz sloop Summer- Keyport Yacht Club, Raritan Bay, NJ, Winter Viking Marina Verplanck, NY
Have u ever heard of head-o-matic tankette, the valve u add a tablet for sanitation and odors??? Red
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,005
- - LIttle Rock
Yep...don't care much for it, or any other "inline" products 'cuz they're expensive (Head-o-Matic costs about $60 for the cartridge plus another $5 each for a "puck" that lasts maybe a month), messy to change..and the chemicals in 'em--typically chlorine--are destructive to the rubber parts in toilets and also interfere with other tank products.

Teeing the head intake line into the head sink drain is a permanent solution to intake odors that needs only about $10 worth of materials and doesn't require ANY chemicals. You'll find a lot of discussion about how to do it in the Head Mistress forum and a whole bunch of people here who've done it and are very happy with the result.
 
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