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What chemicals should I use in my marine toilet? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Carlos Alvarez   
Monday, 31 May 2010 17:09

The first time a new cruiser gets a whiff of what comes out of the vent tube when the head is flushed, they usually think something is seriously wrong.  The marine head will always have some smell, but with good maintenance you can keep them to a minimum.


First off, don't use harsh chemical-based deodorants in the system.  These will mask the odors temporarily, but will kill all the good aerobic bacteria that keep the worst smells in check.  Eventually this will just make things much worse.  Never, ever use bleach or other household bathroom cleaners.  Not only will you kill all the good bacteria, you will damage the seals and other plastics used in the marine system.


What you want is an enzyme/bacteria-based product.  It may or may not include surfactants to clean the tank, and perfumes to mask some of the smell.  In my opinion, the perfumes do little or no good, so I'd recommend avoiding these.  There are various suitable products, such as Odorlos, KO, Nature's Call, and similar.  Campa-Chem now has a non-chemical treatment, but it does have perfume, so I'm not sure how well it works.  I think given the choice I'd stick with Odorlos.

The top thing you can do to keep smells at bay is to pump out regularly.  Preferably before you leave the boat after a weekend of use.  Use a hose or flush the toilet for a while to add water and remove as much sediment as possible.  Occasionally you may want to shove a hose down into the tank and really stir up the crap, then pump the tank again.

After a cleaning, add the recommended amount of treatment or a little more, then flush a couple gallons through the head.  Make sure you use enough water to get it all into the tank, not just in the hose.  Now make sure nobody uses the toilet again until your next trip out on the boat.  A festering load will certainly not help in the smell department.

If you've already been using chemical treatments, you should do a complete system flush.  Pump out, then fill the tank about 1/3 of the way with water.  Pump out again, repeat.  Then add your treatment.  It may take a few full cycles to see any improvements.

Those of you who boat in salt water and have a raw-water flush have an additional source of smelly organics; sea life that is sucked up and dies in the tank.  There's no real solution for this other than a fresh-water retrofit system.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 June 2010 17:33
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