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, dangerous.
Today we want to make the case for using only safe products in your holding tanks. 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 safe products are more effective than their old-school counterparts!
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 safe 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 your best and not to mention safest bet!
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!
You may notice that we included “aerobic bacteria + enzyme” as a descriptor of an effective, safe product. The reason is that there are many safe products 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!
So while it’s always best to use a safe product over a dangerous one, you don’t have to sacrifice effectiveness for safety. By using a safe, aerobic bacteria + enzyme product, you can have the best of both worlds! In our humble, albeit biased, opinion, RV Digest-It is the best bacteria + enzyme product on the market, using odorless aerobic bacteria and supplemental enzymes to break down waste and eliminate odors.
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 often 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 safe, bacteria + enzyme product like RV Digest-It, on the other hand, will enhance bacteria activity!
Using safe products also applies to what type of toilet cleaner you use. If you choose to use a chemical toilet cleaner or bleach, you risk upsetting the balance of bacteria in your tank. 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 toilets while also enhancing the bacteria in your tank! Using Safe Products in Your Gray Tank
While most of this discussion has focused on using safe products in your black tank, it’s also important to use safe 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! Much of these odors come from using the wrong products that kill off the bacteria who digest the odor-creating scum and grease, which can accumulate 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 Flush, 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!
Like we mentioned above, there’s no reason to use dangerous products, because safe products actually work better! But there’s also no reason to ever deal with clogs, odors, or misreading sensor probes. Many RVers believe that it’s only the product they use that will make a difference against these persistent issues, but again, this isn’t entirely true.
In reality, proper tank maintenance requires a high-quality tank treatment coupled with the proper tank care procedures. You can’t have one without the other! That’s why we developed The Unique Method, our comprehensive system for properly caring for your holding tanks. The topic covered in this article relates to rule #9 of The Unique Method.
The Unique Method is oriented toward you—the everyday RVer. We created it from thousands of conversations we had over the years with people just like you, people looking for an all-round solution to odors, clogs, and inaccurate sensors. The Unique Method has proved successful for thousands of RVers all over the country, and if you’re tired of pesky RVing problems, it’s your answer, too!
If you have any additional questions about this article, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you solve your problem!
Many people may wonder, “Is a tank flush really that necessary?”. We recommend that you thoroughly flush out your black water holding tank for 20-30 minutes every 3-5 dumps.
Dumping your RV black water holding tank is an essential part of RV camping. Unlike home septic systems, which only need to be emptied (or “pumped”) every few years, RV black tanks need to be emptied every 3-5 days!
Today we’ll discuss why regular dumping is a crucial component of RV camping!