Traditional, “old-school” RVing advice has often promoted information and RV maintenance products that are ineffective, and more importantly, can be harmful to your health. But with the advent of new research into the topic, many RVers have started to realize that a lot of the RV products on the shelves today are either really bad at their job, or even worse, can lead to adverse effects on humans and the environment.
Today we want to make the case for using products that will pose as little risk as possible to humans and the environment and still treat your holding tanks well. In today’s day and age, there’s no reason you should have to put you or your loved ones’ health at risk to keep your holding tanks clean and clear of waste. In fact, many products that include nature-derived ingredients are more effective than the old-school chemical-based products!
Not harmful to your health
It may seem like an obvious first point, but this topic is worth examining briefly. The bottom line is that there’s simply no reason to put you, your family, or your pets health at risk by using dangerous chemical products when other, chemical-free products work just as well if not better.
In the past (and still today), many people implicitly believed that if they wanted to keep their holding tank clean, they had to use at least some type of chemical product, like for instance, a formaldehyde treatment. In other words, they risked their health for the sake of maintaining their holding tanks with a holding tank treatment that is less effective and can even cause issues inside your holding tanks.
Products that use formaldehyde and bronopol are dangerous. These products are starting to be banned in some states due to their adverse health effects, and we think that staying away from them altogether is the best way to adhere to your personal safety standards when it comes to holding tank treatments!
Best at addressing the two main concerns of proper holding tank care:
- Eliminating odors
- Preventing clogs
Some products out there, while not necessarily dangerous, only mask odors. And, very often, they don’t even do this naturally. Instead, they use powerful fragrances to basically cover up the poop smell. The worst part is that these fragrances are sometimes worse than the poop odor itself!
The most effective, low-risk product that we recommend using is specifically an aerobic bacteria and enzyme tank treatment. We make this distinction because there are many products claiming to be safe that do only part of the work. For example, enzyme products only do half the job, breaking down some of the waste into smaller pieces but doing nothing to eliminate odors. Enzymes can be helpful, but the best product will use both aerobic bacteria and enzymes, allowing each ingredient to play off each other’s strengths to both completely digest waste and eliminate odors. Aerobic bacteria, as opposed to anaerobic bacteria, release only carbon dioxide and water as byproducts of waste breakdown, leaving your tanks odor-free! We wrote a previous article related to the topic of the best type of bacteria, which we use in our products, and if you’re interested, you can check it out here!
By using an aerobic bacteria and enzyme product, you can have the best of both worlds: low-risk and highly effective at reducing odors and breaking down waste. In our humble, albeit biased, opinion, RV Digest-It is the best bacteria and enzyme product on the market, using odorless aerobic bacteria and supplemental enzymes to break down waste and eliminate odors.
Don’t Kill the Bacteria in Your Tank; Boost It
The simple truth is that you need bacteria of some kind in your holding tank. Bacteria break down waste, keeping clogs from forming. Killing off bacteria (which chemical treatments do) will inevitably lead to more clogs and often more odors. As the bacteria die, waste stops getting digested. This means that it will start to “coagulate,” likely clogging your outlet port or forming into a pyramid plug. A bacteria and enzyme product like RV Digest-It, on the other hand, will enhance bacteria activity!
Using bacteria and enzyme products also applies to what type of toilet bowl cleaner you use. If you choose to use a chemical toilet bowl cleaner or bleach, you risk upsetting the balance of bacteria in your tank because the toilet bowl cleaner gets flushed into the tank when you’re done cleaning. Again, there’s no need to compromise. You can have both an effective product and one that boosts the bacteria in your tank. Unique RV Toilet Cleaner, for example, will clean your toilet bowl while also enhancing the bacteria in your tank!
Using Bacteria an Enzyme Products in Your Gray Tank
While most of this discussion has focused on using products in your black tank that are effective and pose little risk to humans and the environment, it’s also important to use these products in your gray tank. The RVers we hear from every day often report that odors can be worse in their gray tank as opposed to their black tank! Many of these odors come from using the wrong products that kill off the bacteria which digest the odor-creating scum and grease that accumulates in your gray tank. If any of the products that come in contact with your RV drains are killing off bacteria in your tank, you will likely experience disgusting odors!
In light of these considerations, it’s crucial to understand what items can safely go into your gray tank and what sorts of products to use. Our previous article, What to Allow in Your RV Holding Tanks, will give you a great overview of what items are allowed in your gray tank, and our article, Deep Cleaning RV Holding Tanks, will show you how to remove existing odors from your gray tank!
If you have any additional questions about this article, you can reach us here. We’d love to help you solve your problem!
Adopt The Unique Method
You bought your RV so you could enjoy life and spend time with family and friends. The last thing you want to do is waste precious time and money on fixing wastewater holding tank problems. Keeping your tanks in peak operating condition doesn’t have to be hard, confusing, or expensive if you follow our proven process: The Unique Method.
The Unique Method is a comprehensive tank care plan that we developed after years of conversations with real customers facing real problems. The Unique Method provides you with simple, preventative steps to stop odors, clogs, and sensor problems before they start so you can spend less time worrying about your holding tanks and more time enjoying the freedom and adventure of RVing. Try it yourself and see why thousands of campers trust their RVs with The Unique Method every day.
If you need more help with anything covered in this guide or simply have a comment, we’re here to help you anytime!