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RV Poop Experience

This month we thought we'd share a more logistical portion of our life ~ waste management.

RV poop starts here. RV toilets are different than common toilets at home. They do not have tanks that flush the water, probably because of weight and slosh issues. So the way they work is through a toilet valve that you open with a foot pedal. It runs the water from the top of the tank down through the hole that is open directly to what is called a black water holding tank. There are also gray water tanks in most RVs designated for sink and shower water. We're talking black tank stuff today. Notice the hose next to the toilet has a shower head fitting on it. This is designed to spray out the toilet after use and does provide a better rinse with some specific pressure streams where needed.

There are massive choices for chemicals to add to the toilet tanks to help break down solids and control odor. We purchased some Aqua-Kem for this demonstration / un-schooling lesson. We also had a cut milk carton with some water in it, a bag of poop, and some single-ply toilet paper.

Sunny loves un-schooling Science lessons!

We used dog poop for this demonstration. It's always courteous and required that you pick up your dogs poop at RV parks. One of the parks in Austin (Lone Star) actually has signs giving out free nights if you help evict offenders that don't pick up dog poop. We prefer picking up our dog poop at Pecan Grove while in Austin.

We really wanted to put this to the test so we chose Timon's poop over Daisy's nuggets.

This is the poop and toilet paper mixture before chemicals. Single ply toilet paper is a must in RVs to keep the pipes flowing.

Aqua-Kem is pretty expensive but it is advised that you only put a few tablespoons per 40 gallons. Suppose it could last a long time through many treatments, but who would wanna use that spoon again? We've been using squirts of simple green after a pee and haven't had any odor or breakdown issues. The only times we have odor issues are when it is really hot during some travel. Apparently if the wind shifts into the vent pipe the 'hot' air is pushed up through the toilet seal. Gross.

The stick represents the mixing that would naturally take place driving around. It's kinda like a dead animal too, you just gotta poke it with a stick. When sitting in an RV park, it's not recommended that you open the black water valve and let it flow. It's best to fill the tank and let it flush so nothing dries up and you can't get it out.

This is the sludge after about a week or two of sitting under the RV and being forgotten. We never forget about the black tank in the RV filling because when it's full and flushed, the water and matter in the bowl bubbles and splashes up at you. Gross.

As you can see, Timon's solid poop and the toilet paper turn into a sludge that settles at the bottom of the tank.

Tastes like blue Kool-Aid.

This is where it comes out of the tank. You can see two valves, the black handle is for the black water tank. Notice the pipe is wide and the fitting is directly on the tank that is angled towards this opening. The silverish valve is for the kitchen and bathroom sinks, or gray water tank. This is on the opposite side of the RV and is routed through a 2" pipe to this side. It's illegal for RV manufacturers to put these valves and openings on the street side of the RV, we heard this is to help prevent illegal dumping. Our RV has a second gray water tank that holds the shower water only. You can barely see the valve for this tank above the black water valve.

You may have noticed the gray water valve for the sinks was open in the previous picture. We usually leave it and the shower open when sticking around because the tanks fill so quickly washing dishes, brushing teeth, and taking showers. Before opening the black water tank valve, you always want to be sure to close the other valves. A clear connector is good to use because you can see when the tank is cleared. After opening the black valve, we usually run two to three tankfuls of water through the toilet to flush out what remains. Notice the color, no Aqua-Kem blue in this tank.

The brown hose that is common in RV parks is routed from the valves into a hole in the ground that drains to the local rivers and lakes.

Just kidding. It goes to the city sewer system or septic tank.

In this picture, Jenn and the kids are seen being quite embarrassed that Dad is making them take part in this science experiment. We are preparing to dump the blue sludge into the sewer hole and the neighbors are looking at us funny for standing around the sewer hole like a campfire or something.

And there it goes. Liquids first. Notice Daisy's cool mohawk?

Sludgey solids next. Watch your toes, Jenn.


And it all starts over again. Filling and dumping, filling and dumping. How much more glam does RV life get?

If you'd like to know what happens after the poop goes in the hole in the ground, check out our Poop Tour 2002! where we toured a sewer treatment facility in Prescott, Arizona with our good friend Sam.


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