Updated September 2020
Have you ever wondered what The Geo Method is? In this article, we will cover all the aspects of The Geo Method: how it works, its pros and cons, how waste digestion and odor elimination fit into the picture, and our recommendations.
Created in the 80's by Charles Bruni, The Geo Method uses a combination of powdered Calgon (i.e., water softener), laundry detergent (i.e., soap/surfactant), plenty of water, and often bleach or chlorine (to attempt to control odor). Through his extensive experience as an RVer, Bruni created The Geo Method as a homemade system for treating holding tanks that many people swear by and believe to be an effective and cheap treatment method. As you will see in this article, we agree with many aspects of The Geo Method, but we also believe that in many ways it does not adequately address all the holding tank issues that can present themselves while RVing.
But first, what does it mean to maintain a holding tank? Bruni argued that maintaining a holding tank means keeping the tank sensors, walls, and base clear of debris. We don't disagree! However, we also believe that proper tank maintenance should go beyond just keeping the interior of the tank clean (covered more below).
The core of the The Geo Method system is based off the following concept: a washing machine’s interior is never dirty because soft water and detergent not only clean your clothes, but also the interior of the washing machine. The Geo Method simply applies this logic to RV holding tanks.
Through the process of water softening (using Calgon), organic and inorganic waste are made to not stick to the walls of your holding tank. Additionally, laundry detergent or dish soap is used to penetrate any solid waste that may still get stuck to the walls or sensors in your RV and help rinse it away. Broken down into steps, The Geo Method goes like this:
All in all, The Geo Method is a decent solution for cleaning the interior walls and sensors in your RV black water holding tank, but like we said earlier, it doesn't provide an all-inclusive solution to wastewater treatment. As we will examine below, The Geo Method does very little to digest solid waste, which is a crucial component of a comprehensive wastewater treatment process, nor does it control odors at all. Remember, The Geo Method is designed only to keep the walls and floor of your tank clean.
We will mention this in other sections of this blog, but we strongly suggest that you consider both waste digestion and odor elimination in your wastewater treatment regiment, which means you must use a method that addresses these issues. And because bacteria-based holding tank treatments (like those used to digest solid waste) do not work well with The Geo Method, you're left with somewhat of a conundrum: how can you both use The Geo Method and digest waste and eliminate odors? We address this topic more below!
With this information in mind, let's dig a little deeper into The Geo Method.
Calcium and magnesium—minerals that are found in the water in your holding tank—can cling to your tank sensors, causing them to misread. Therefore, the process of water softening works by removing the calcium and magnesium from the water in your holding tank.
This is a good thing in the context of the Geo Method!
However, this process can also make the water inside your tank uninhabitable for bacteria, which you would ordinarily add to your tank via a high-quality, bacteria-based holding tank treatment to digest waste. This is because the ingredients in Powdered Calgon cause a chemical reaction with hard water that raises the water’s PH levels. Higher PH levels kill off good bacteria. In addition, Powdered Calgon also creates sodium bicarbonate (i.e., baking soda) as a byproduct of the chemical reaction with hard water. All this can cause quite a headache for you! Without bacteria, which would normally digest solid waste, you will likely have issues with clogs and backups.
In all honesty, many people don't fully understand that bacteria and enzymes are crucial to maintaining a clog-and-odor free holding tank. We understand! That’s why we’re here! If you aren't familiar with this concept, you can easily learn more about how bacteria and enzymes digest waste by checking out this article we wrote a while back. Once you see the bigger picture, you’ll be able to see more clearly how The Geo Method interferes with the breakdown of waste and the elimination of odors.
In our opinion, it's not worth it to use The Geo Method. The Geo Method only addresses one of the key issues RVers face: misreading sensors. There's way more to proper tank maintenance than this, and since you cannot use The Geo Method while also using a high-quality waste digester to liquefy waste and eliminate odors, we suggest that you adopt an entirely new method. As we cover more below, The Unique Method is our comprehensive process for proper holding tank care that not only addresses misreading sensors, but also provides solutions for waste digestion and odor elimination.
A quick note on bacteria: anaerobic bacteria (which is already in your gut and is present in human waste), is much more resilient to chemicals and may often survive treatment with the The Geo Method. At first glance this sounds great! Unfortunately, though anaerobes are helpful in digesting solid waste, they also release methane and hydrogen sulfide gas, which creates that all-too-familiar sewer smell.
Unfortunately, aerobic bacteria (which do effectively break down solid waste and eliminate odors by releasing carbon dioxide and oxygen—the kind you really want in your tank) will likely die off in the high PH environment created by Calgon.
Simply put, with The Geo Method, you are reducing the chances that your solid waste will get adequately digested. Furthermore, if used as a regular treatment, it is likely that you will actually increase the ability of anaerobic bacteria to create strong toilet odors.
If you are someone who boondocks or otherwise has issues keeping water in your tank, you will also likely have problems with odors and clogs. The fact is that the water used by The Geo Method is the only thing keeping odors under control. Needless to say, water alone is not a foolproof solution to preventing nasty odors!
If you insist on using the The Geo Method while dry camping, here are your only viable options for using water as an odor control:
Even these steps can only do so much to reduce tank odors. When you're dry camping, the odors will build up, because, as many dry campers will say, even in the best-case scenario, you can still get odors. Water softener and soap simply can't cover all the bases.
Instead of using The Geo Method while dry camping, we encourage you to check out The Unique Method in the context of our very thorough article on Dry Camping! We may be a bit biased, but we believe that The Unique Method is truly the best all-round option out there for dry campers!
As we covered above, bacteria and enzymes are crucial to maintaining clog-and-odor free tanks. We have also discussed how Calgon can kill the beneficial bacteria. For people who use bacteria holding tank treatments, this is a major detractor from The Geo Method!
Now we move into another problem: adding bleach or chlorine to your holding tank in order to eliminate odors. This is specifically prescribed by The Geo Method.
The problem is that bleach and chlorine are also specially designed to kill bacteria! The logic here is simple: if you wish to keep the bacteria in your tank alive, you cannot use bleach and chlorine!
Since we have discussed this already at length, we won't go into this any further. Needless to say, killing the bacteria in your tank is almost always a bad idea. While it may eliminate some of the odors, it is only a matter of time before you get a backup or compacted tank.
Many people who choose to use the Geo Method are able to do so affordably; however, based on what we have found, between Calgon and Tide laundry detergent, the ingredients come out to be roughly $3.68 per treatment. Moreover, this doesn't account for added bleach or chlorine.
To put that in perspective, Unique RV Digest-It Holding Tank Treatment is only $0.87 per treatment (or lower if you use the larger sizes). Though The Geo Method feels inexpensive at first glance, it is actually one of the most expensive ways to treat your tanks if you use it regularly, and it only addresses one of the three most important aspects of tank care: misreading sensors. RV Digest-It, on the other hand, digests waste, eliminates odors, and cleans sensors!
Unfortunately, due to increased PH levels, the process of softening water can and often will damage bacteria; therefore, many of our products aren't a great option to use in conjunction with The Geo Method. (If you would like to learn more about how to use Unique Camping + Marine products, check out this article.) For many people, The Geo Method is effective for cleaning sensors and preventing waste build up on the inside of a holding tank. Consequently, occasionally using the The Geo Method can be a good way to prevent sensor issues. However, if you choose to do this, you'll need to thoroughly rinse your tank after performing The Geo Method. After rinsing your tank, you should be able to resume bacterial treatments.
Once again, however, we strongly recommend that you choose a method that addresses all three of the most important keys to tank care: waste digestion, odor elimination, and sensor restoration. As we'll examine in detail in the next section, The Unique Method does all of this!
Waste break down can become a monster of a problem very quickly if not handled properly, and The Geo Method probably isn't the best all-around solution.
With that said, like we've mentioned throughout this article, we recommend an alternative treatment method that will solve both your waste breakdown issues and your odors: The Unique Method. If you follow The Unique Method, clogs, odors, and misreading sensors will become a thing of the past!
The Unique Method is a proven holding tank treatment process that we have meticulously developed over the years through in-depth conversations with campers of all types. Our process is easy to follow and will virtually eliminate all problematic tank odors, prevent clogs and pyramid plugs, and ensure that your tank sensors continue to read properly. With The Unique Method, we've taken the confusion out of tank maintenance by developing a very simple yet robust program that is hands-down the most effective process available today.
Read in-depth about The Unique Method here!
In conclusion, many people believe that The Geo Method is a good solution to sensor problems and that it can be used to successfully ensure that your tanks remain clean and free from residue. This is true to some extent. However, it is not a perfect nor complete solution to treating your RV holding tanks; indeed, it may present you with additional problems.
The Geo Method, in our opinion, is only one solution to a complex problem. By only addressing one of the key issues that come with holding tank care, The Geo Method fails to provide an all-inclusive tank maintenance process. Considering The Geo Method's inability to effectively break down solid waste, the complications that come with not having enough water to suppress odors while dry camping, the cost of the ingredients, and the inability of The Geo Method to eliminate odors, it is difficult for us to recommend this process as a regular tank treatment. Instead, as we covered above, we recommend The Unique Method.
Of course, this is just our opinion—though it is well-researched and thought out. We would love to hear your thoughts on The Geo Method! If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to answer your questions or chat with you about The Geo Method!