Ever dared to look inside the bowels of a porta-potty? If so, no doubt you’ve seen various elements of human waste products floating around in a mysterious blue juice. But what is that stuff? And why is it blue?
History of Blue Juice
Outhouses were the precursor to the portable toilet. During those times, people would sprinkle a little lye over their “business” to suppress odors and deter flies. However lye was known to burn skin and produce fumes that were harmful to the lungs. As we touched upon in our history of the porta-potty, the first portable toilets were heavy and smelly. So formaldehyde based chemicals were used to mask odors and keep flies away. Formaldehyde, used in embalming, helps slow down decomposition similar to lye. It also was good for killing bacteria and fungi helping to slow down the production of foul smelling odors. But, formaldehyde came with its own problems. It’s a known carcinogen and many waste treatment plans will no longer accept it.
Over the years, bacterial inhibitors were discovered that could do the job just as well as formaldehyde without the same carcinogenic effects. These biocides are the key ingredient in deodorizers that inhibit the growth of odor-producing bacteria. Today, there are currently 5-6 biocides that are commonly used in the industry. These biocides are one of the key components of the blue liquid in portable toilets.
The Role of Blue Juice
The blue liquid you find in portable toilets has three main functions: kill bacteria, hide waste products, and deodorize. Let’s talk a little about each function.
We’ve already spoken about the role of biocides in reducing odor-producing bacteria. But did you know there are other “green” ways to reduce bacteria in portable toilets. Some portable toilet technicians introduce beneficial enzymes and microbes into the tanks that can speed up decomposition of organic matter, including toilet paper.
The blue liquid you see in porta-potties also serves an important role in hiding the contents of the portable toilet. Dyes are added to the deodorizer to reduce the visibility of the contents. Not that we recommend you look into a porta-potty but can you imagine if there was no color inside? Every user’s business would be visible for the world to see. But why blue? Well, blue is one of the least offensive colors that sufficiently hide the contents of the bowl. Some deodorizers even have a special additive that will turn the contents of the bowl green letting technicians know that the bowl is ready to be serviced.
Although the odor-eating biocides are hard at work reducing the “stink” sometimes it’s nice to have something else to smell inside the porta-potty besides partially decomposed human waste. As a result, many blue juices contain fragrances to further help reduce the smells inside the toilet. When it’s hot outside, the bacteria inside the tank can go into overdrive so having these fragrances can go a long way in reducing smells inside the porta-potty.
Because portable toilets aren’t flushed like regular toilets, the odors can build up pretty quickly. At American SaniCan we use a non-formaldehyde based deodorizer for all of our portable restrooms. It is safer for our crews, and the environment and provides a better smelling and reliable experience that keeps our toilets cleans and our customers happy. We owe a lot to the “blue juice” without it, portable toilets wouldn’t be as user friendly as they are.
American SaniCan serves Portland and Salem, Oregon and surrounding areas in Washington and Oregon. Contact us today to find out more about our different types of portable restroom rentals, or visit our portable restroom products page to learn more!