A measure of something’s significance within a culture could be the number of words in the language to describe it. It is a myth that the Inuit have over 100 words for snow, but we Brits do have rather a lot of words for Toilet. Let’s face it, in Britain, we get joy from a John, take pride in our Privies and we just LOVE the Lavvie!
Go on any caravan forum and it won’t be long before the subject of toilets crops up. But from whence does this pull of the Potty originate? Well, a Brit invented the Toilet for a start – although like the Inuit and snow, the legend that surrounds Thomas Crapper is a also bit of a myth. It was not Thomas but his predecessors, Sir John Harington who invented the flushing Loo and Joseph Bramah who patented the first Water Closet.
Thomas isn’t even the reason for the slang word for poo; ‘Crap’ is a Middle English word that was in use before Mr C even entered the Toilet tableau. However, I am delighted to tell you that Thomas WAS responsible for bringing into our lives the indispensable and gratifyingly titled Ball Cock.
But what spawns all this questioning and querying around Caravan Conveniences? Well, we love a conventional Can, but there is a bit more to a Caravan Commode than your average Home Throne. It is not just a ‘flush and forget’. It is a scary, cassette-based Chemi-Khazi that you have to prime with strange fluids and empty yourself. EEEEEK!
“Do You Poo in Yours?”
I don’t mean to be indelicate, but this is the question which crops up most frequently.
Surprisingly the answer is frequently “Not on your life! – What ARE you THINKING?!” For me, this is getting into the realms of the Silver Dinner Service. Precisely WHAT is the point of having something in your caravan that you do not use? If the Facilities are clean and close, we use them, but if it is raining, the middle of the night or we’re camped in a field, I am prepared to stand proud and admit; WE POO IN OUR LOO!
Pink, Blue & Green
The fluids that you need to use in your Caravan Cloakroom can seem as perplexing as your first ever Chemistry Set. There is Blue, Pink and Green and they all have different functions. Let me explain these to you in a simple way that is easy to remember;
1. Pink – Women of a certain age will know that if you flush, you go Pink. Therefore, if you have a separate flush tank, PINK goes in the flush water to clean and deodorise the pan.
2. Blue & Green – a Tank of water is blue, armoured Tanks are green. Blue and Green fluids are for dosing the Tank. But which should you use?
- B – for Breakdown.
- Blue breaks down the waste and prevents gas build up and odours.
- G – for, well, Green!
- Green does much the same as Blue, but is ‘environmentally friendly’ in the sense that it is suitable for disposal in Septic Tanks. Some National Parks and eco sites will require you to use Green.
Cheap Fluids and Alternatives
“A miser is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” We are very much on a budget and will go to great lengths to save a pound here and there. Some things are not worth scrimping on, however. In our view, toilet fluid is one such!
We use Elsan and will not be persuaded otherwise!
Never was the adage ‘Buy Cheap Buy Twice’ more relevant than in the realm of caravan toilet fluids. We tried cheaper alternatives. They aren’t as effective, so you have to use more. Even with the doses multiplied exponentially, they still weren’t as potent in the pan.
I am not sure that we made any savings at all because of the quantities we had to use – and we STILL earned an appraisal from a small, German child visitor, who was fascinated by our Little Boy’s Room. Even if he hadn’t held his nose, his evaluation needs no translation; “Schtink!”
Some people use biological washing powder to dose the tank. Don’t even go there! Biological powders are designed to get your laundry whiter than white. They contain enzymes, which do break things down. My worry would be that this might be the seals on my toilet!
Like Fairy Liquid, a bottle of quality toilet fluid will last you ages. In the scheme of what you pay for site fees, maintenance of your caravan and the conspicuous potential to damage a piece of built-in equipment (as well as the hygiene and odour issue) the extra cost of buying the right stuff, which was designed for the jobbie, is minimal.
Just buy the right stuff – it was designed for the jobbie!
There are other, more sensible places to make savings. For example, I use Silica Gel Kitty Litter in cheap, plastic food containers as damp traps. They work exceptionally well because damp traps are made from Silica Gel in plastic containers. We are talking exact equivalents, the only difference being that damp traps cost £14 each when I can get a bag of Silica Gel Kitty Litter for £1.50 in Home Bargains. (Note, Kitty Litter tied in a pop sock is also great for keeping caravan cupboards condensation-free and for drying and deodorising your boots and trainers!)
And £14 saved on a damp trap buys me a twin pack of Elsan twin when it’s on offer!
Special, gauze-like chemical-toilet-compatible toilet paper is available at great expense. We use normal loo roll. The only time we had a slight problem was when we found ourselves in possession of some 4 ply from Lidl in Oberwesel, which could jam in the blade if you weren’t careful, preventing the loo from sealing properly. For a more in depth review of why ordinary toilet paper is probably RV safe, click here.
I have been on enough beach cleans to know that wet wipes, cotton buds etc have no place anywhere near any kind of Toik, chemical or otherwise.
A Quick Lesson in Fluid Dynamics
What is the difference between a giraffe and a tractor?
One has hydraulics, the other has high boll****
Hydraulics work because it takes a VAST amount of pressure to compress a liquid even slightly. If your Bog is brimful, empty it. The contents will not compress and there is only one place that they can go – and trust me, you don’t want that!
The Travelling Toilet
You need to empty the Thunderbox AND the flush tank every time you tow.
- Water weighs 1kg per litre, so it is pretty heavy. Toilets are often at the back of the caravan, exactly where you don’t want heavy weights. Weight at the back can cause the caravan to swing like a weighted pendulum when you’re towing.
- Tanker drivers need a special licence because fluids are not a stable load to tow – besides being heavy, they slosh around from side to side or front to back, causing instability.
The Exploding Toilet – The Hazards of the Kamikaze Chemi-Khazi
We stayed on a campsite at 1000m in Sixt Fer-à-Cheval in the French Alps. Fortunately, I opened a bottle of water when we arrived on site and it reminded me that the air pressure changes at altitude. If you want to avoid the joys of the Exploding Toilet when gaining or losing altitude, leave the blade open slightly as you travel so that the pressure can equalise. Either that or flush very cautiously with the toilet lid firmly DOWN!Well, thank you for listening and I hope that you found my Bog Blog a blast!
I felt it was a little improper to put in the translation, but in case you were wondering, Gary Glitter is cockney rhyming slang, as in “I’m going to the Gary.”
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