Where's the Water?

Why Waterless Urinals Work Just Fine Without Water

Billions of gallons of water are used annually in this country and countries around the world to flush urinals and toilets. To deliver, remove, and treat all this water requires the construction of thousands of miles of infrastructure, millions of tax dollars, and the consumption of vast amounts of energy, typically produced from fossil fuels.


The use of waterless urinals is helping to mitigate these effects, saving water, reducing the need for water infrastructure, and along with it, saving tax dollars and protecting the environment.

However, frequently manufacturers of no-water urinals receive questions like these:

·         Don't you need water to remove urine from the urinal?

·         And, if there is no water used to remove the urine they ask, won't it result in malodors?

Let's address these two questions, one at a time. The first one is easy. Urine is more than 95 percent liquid. No additional water is needed to carry it down the drain. Gravity is at the controls, and the urine makes its way to the cylinder (also known as a cartridge or trap) placed at the base of most no-water urinals. From here, the waste drains below the cylinder and into the waste pipe below.

As to no-water urinals causing restroom malodors, there are a variety of reasons why this is not the case. Among them are the following:

The sealant at work. Most no-water urinals have a sealant poured into the cylinder we just mentioned. This sealant is composed of oils that are lighter than water - or in this case – urine. As a result, urine passes through this liquid and goes down the drain. While that's how the system works, the benefit is that the sealant also blocks sewer odors from rising into the restroom. This helps prevent malodors, one of the ways waterless urinals keep restrooms odor-free.

Hostile to bacteria. No-water urinals are what some scientists call "hostile to bacteria." This is because the interior of the urinal is dry between uses. For bacteria to survive, it needs moisture. Why this is important is that different forms of bacteria are often the source of restroom odors. With no or minimal bacteria in the urinal, if restroom odors are present, this eliminates the waterless urinal as a source.

No flying microbes. Every time a toilet or a urinal is flushed, germs, bacteria, and other contaminants in the water become airborne. Once this happens, they can land on walls and floors where these contaminants flourish, often producing odors. Therefore, the University of Arizona scientist Dr. Charles Gerba, advises closing the lid on toilets before flushing.  "Polluted water vapor erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl, and it can take several hours for these particles to finally settle -- not to mention where." The same problem can occur with traditional, water-using urinals. However, there is no lid to cover these urinals. So, when they are flushed, "water vapor erupts" spreading odor-causing contaminants around the restroom. Because waterless urinals are not flushed, this is one more way no-water urinals prevent restroom odors, and in so doing, keep restrooms fresh smelling and more hygienically clean.

The Waterless Co blog is where building owners and managers find expert, practical advice on ways to reduce water consumption and to help use water more efficiently.  Our goal is to protect our most valuable of natural resources, help facilities reduce their water consumption and water-related costs, and operate in a more environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. For more information, contact us at 1-800-244-6264