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What is the Blue Stuff in Porta Potties?

by Erin Van Schepen 0 comments

Sanitation

 

I’m sure you’ve all used a portable restroom or “porta potty” in the past, and you may have noticed the blue liquid that’s in the restroom tank. Now I know you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time in portable restrooms wondering what’s in the tank, but that blue liquid plays an enormous role in making your restroom experience as pleasant and environmentally friendly as possible. Let’s explore what this blue stuff is, and how it helps you have a better experience when using porta potties.

You may not know this, but portable restrooms save around 125 million gallons of fresh water every day (statistics estimated by psai.org). This is all because you don’t have to flush the restroom every time it’s used. Because the waste isn’t being flushed away, we need to do something to make sure it doesn’t start to smell. To achieve this, portable restroom providers add that blue liquid to keep the restrooms smelling fresh over time.

What is the Blue Liquid Exactly?

It’s a deodorizer meant to help mask the smells that may be produced by a portable restroom. Every portable restroom provider is a little different, but at On Site Companies, we use a non-formaldehyde liquid deodorizer product, which we get from Satellite Industries. This deodorizer has superior odor control and a pleasant fragrance to provide our end users with a more pleasant experience when using their portable restrooms.

To get a little technical, we contacted Dean Carstens of Satellite to give us a brief overview of what the deodorizer is and a little background about the product. According to Dean, these portable restroom deodorizers contain four main components. They include:

  • Biocides

    Biocides are the “active ingredient” which inhibit the growth of odor-producing gram-positive bacteria. Gram-positive bacteria are responsible for many bad odors in our everyday life, so these biocides help to shut down the rapid growth of bacteria that can create an unpleasant smell in portable restrooms.

  • Dye

    Restroom deodorizers contain a blue dye, which gives the “blue liquid” its color. This blue color helps mask contents of the portable restroom. If a restroom isn’t over-used, most of the contents of the tank shouldn’t be visible to the user.

  • Fragrance

    The fragrance in the deodorizer masks the residual odors and provides a pleasant scent for every user. Most deodorizers can come in a range of scents, so its up to the portable restroom provider to choose which scent they like the best.

  • Surfactants

    Surfactants are hydro-tropes (solubilizing agents) used to make the fragrances miscible in water. This pretty much just means that the fragrances can be dissolved into water to create a homogeneous mixture.

A Brief History of Restroom Deodorizer

According to Dean Carstens of Satellite, “toilet deodorizer started out using formaldehyde as the main ingredient and the only ingredient to control odors. Over the year’s additional bacterial inhibitors were discovered that weren’t known carcinogens like formaldehyde. There are currently 5-6 common biocides used in the industry. Formaldehyde is still available and accepted in different areas of country but there is a movement toward safer Non-Formaldehyde products. Over the last 10-15 years a movement towards portion control (packets and tablets) has been growing, providing portable restroom operators, a convenient, non-liquid, option. Most recently Biological products have been gaining strength, as they are 100% green and environmentally friendly.

Over the year’s formaldehyde based products are gradually being replaced by more environmentally friendly, Non-Formaldehyde, liquid products. New ways to make it more environmentally & people friendly, more cost effective, and more effective in general are being discovered all the time, making the product today safer and better than at any time in the past. This has been true with some of the ancillary products as well such as Urinal blocks. Non-Para Urinal blocks are also gradually replacing Para based blocks, which have been banned in many states. Portion control products like packets and tablets have been gaining popularity over the standard liquid based products for reasons such as convenience, ease of use, less mess and even cost control. The most recent change is the introduction of biological products. With the same theme of safety and environmentally friendly leading the charge, these products have also been proving they are quite effective in odor control.”

Is the “Blue Liquid” in Portable Restrooms Toxic?

Deoderizer is not toxic when in its diluted form. This is, of course, also before the product has been used in a portable restroom setting. Once deodorizer has been used, you should at no point attempt to consume the liquid. It’s mostly a good rule of thumb to never consumer the deodorizing liquid at all, but if you accidentally consume a bit of diluted, non-used deodorizer you should be ok.

Before the deodorizer is diluted, the biocides in it could be toxic to some extent, so if you’re a portable restroom operator, you will want to use common sense safeguards during the application and dilution process of your deodorizer. Toxicity levels can vary between types of deodorizer, so it’s very important to check with the GHS SDS sheet for the type of deodorizer you’re using.

Is Deoderizer Bad for the Environment?

There has been much advancement in deodorizing technology that have made the product more environmentally friendly. Over the past few years, there’s been a major push in the portable restroom deodorizer industry to develop biological based products that are better for the environment. This means fewer chemicals, such as formaldehyde, that have to be treated at wastewater treatment plants. These products break down waste and paper to help with the waste treatment as well. This means a shorter and more efficient treatment process.

The deodorizer also doesn’t have any significant effect on the environment if minor spills occur. Like with any product, a big spill in the right place can cause environment issues, but in most cases there is no significant environmental impact. Restroom providers are also well versed on what to do when a spill occurs. To help prevent potential environmental hazards when handling portable restroom deodorizer, portable restroom providers rely on pre-measuring the solution to use as little chemical as possible.

Will Portable Restroom Deodorizer Stain Surfaces?

The dye used in portable restroom deodorizer is considered a non-staining dye, which refers to the ease of cleaning the products from your hands and clothing. However, this dye will stain porous surfaces such as concrete.

So lets say you get a portable restroom and a little bit of deodorizer gets on your driveway or the street around near your house. To get the deodorizer off of the surface, you can use a combination of bleach and water to neutralize any staining that may occur. It’s very important to flush the area with gracious amounts of water to wash away all chemicals and deodorizer. Keep in mind that the sooner you clean the surface, the less staining will occur. Be careful to keep any bleach residue out of the toilet tank, because this will decrease the effectiveness of the deodorizer.

How Long is the Deodorizer Effective in Portable Restrooms?

Most portable restroom deodorizers are manufactured to work for up to seven days before the active ingredients start to break down. This is why it’s recommended that all construction and seasonal portable restrooms are cleaned and serviced at least once a week, in order to keep the restroom from getting too smelly over time. This also allows for the waste to be dumped at the wastewater treatment plants with no effect on the water treatment facilities.

So the “blue liquid” in portable restrooms is simply there to make the restroom smell fresh and clean for up to seven days, and hide the contents of the tank. It’s non-toxic when diluted and un-used, and its also pretty non-threatening to the environment. On Site Companies is a portable restroom provider for both construction and special events. If you have more questions about portable restrooms, or you’d like to order one in the Minneapolis / St. Paul, Rochester MN, Mankato MN, or St. Louis MO area, please reach out to us through phone at 1.800.210.8407 or email at sales@onsiteco.com.

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