Enzyme-only RV treatments are a popular solution because they act fast in almost all temperatures and climates and are very effective at waste breakdown. Unlike bacteria, enzymes are not living organisms and their effectiveness will not be severely diluted by high heat or too little water (though there still needs to be a certain amount of liquid for enzymes to work most effectively). The enzymes themselves actually work to break waste into smaller pieces, which can help prevent clogs in the tank or plumbing lines and keep solid waste close to liquified. And since enzymes are non-living proteins, the zinc or chemicals from deodorizers that might make it into the tanks will not halt their breakdown process. Many people opt for enzyme-only treatments because enzymes break down waste very quickly, but they don’t digest waste or eliminate odors, whereas aerobic bacteria has a more complete breakdown ability and eliminates odors but is just a bit slower in the digestion process.
For full-time RVers or those dry camping/boondocking for extended periods of time, enzyme-only treatments may not be the best option since they don’t control odors and you may not dump for many days. Odors can still occur even with phenomenal waste breakdown by enzymes, and when your tank fills higher even with near-liquified waste, odor problems are possible. When camping for extended periods of time, bacteria and enzyme products are the better option to control both odors and waste breakdown.
The next article will lay out our reasons for why you should never use harsh chemicals in your RV holding tanks.