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Narrowboats & Canal Boats


In order to get the best out of your sanitation equipment it is important to use the correct treatments and cleaners.

Here we have a look at the most common products available.

There is a wide variety of treatments available for dealing with both stored waste and for keeping the toilet systems in good order. There are many products out there claiming to reduce toilet odours, a subject close to the heart of many boaters trying to find the magic solution!
Rinsing Chemicals
For the traditional portable toilets with a built in flush water container there are chemicals formulated to lubricate seals, help reduce uric lime scale formation by coating the bowl & provides a fresh odour for the system.
Waste Holding Tank Chemicals
Usually blue or green in colour. Blue waste tank dosing chemicals are formulated to prevent the build up of gas, liquefy waste and provide a masking odour which is often no more pleasurable than the smell of waste.These chemicals do lose their deodorising properties after a few days though. There are treatments on the market which will deodorise and add active bacteria/enzymes to holding tanks via the toilet system. If you have a cassette system you may find yourself increasing the manufacturers recommended dosage, in the summer especially. Don’t neglect to dose a holding tank. These treatments prevent “humping” of waste near pipe outlets and enable the waste to breakdown efficiently for easy pumping out.
Green coloured waste tank chemicals usually denote a more environmentally friendly composition. These consist mainly of nitrates, an energy source that encourages good bacteria to grow in the tank, overtaking the anaerobic bacteria that generates the hydrogen sulphide gas that causes most of the unpleasant smells in a pump-out tank. 
Also on the market are Holding Tank Vent Filters, a cartridge like unit that fits in the breather hose to sewage holding tanks. They work to eliminate odours by absorbing them in to porous activated charcoal block. 
Tank Cleaners
Chemicals are available for periodic maintenance of tanks. Lime scale inhibitors are always a good idea both for dosing and for the annual deep clean.
Seal Lubricants
Can be used to revitalise dry seals, particularly on cassette toilets that are not used very often. Olive oil lightly smeared on will do the job without attacking the seal.
There are many other tried and tested alternative solutions to keeping your toilet smelling fresh which boaters will swear by, such as:
  • Washing detergent liquid
  • Sterilising liquid e.g Milton
  • Bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar
  • Yeast extracts
  • Natural enzyme based additives – these claim to aid the breakdown of solids and thus reduce the smells. As these are natural enzymes the products can be treated as sewage rather than chemical waste. 
Whatever chemical/method you use, make sure it is approved by the manufacturer of your system for use in the equipment. We’ve said before, but we’ll mention it again, often household cleaning products will destroy important seals.
Your canal boat toilet is one piece of boating kit you really want to keep in good condition!
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