Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

liquid gold
January 7, 2005 6:26 PM   Subscribe

how to use your urine Every day, we urinate nutrients that can fertilize plants that could be used for beautiful landscapes, food, fuel, and fiber. Instead, these nutrients are flushed away, either to be treated at high cost or discharged to waters where they overfertilize and choke off aquatic life. Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants tells you how urine—which contains most of the nutrients in domestic wastewater and usually carries no disease risk—can be utilized as a resource.
posted by halekon (61 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Next time I see a drunk college student peeing on my front yard I'll come out and thank them for the fertilizer. I imagine the conversation would be quite bizzare...
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 6:29 PM on January 7, 2005


BTW, do you have links that have more info? I can only find links to "buy the book!" (PepsiBlue?) but I'm [morbidly?] curious about the concept of direct application. Greywater systems make a lot of sense, but this seems to take things a step further.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 6:31 PM on January 7, 2005


one should keep in mind there have been a number of studies to test for HIV antigen in urine. And this article recommends Urine (morning) - as a natural source of cortisol. Urine, herbs and plant steroids. Morning urine contains free cortisol. Some alternative physicians have successfully treated cancer by injecting the patients own urine back into their body. Some people drink a glass of their own urine daily for its health benefits. For those who cannot get past the thought or the taste, some people have reported benefits from a urine retention enema. Urine can also be absorbed topically when applied to the skin.
posted by halekon at 7:03 PM on January 7, 2005


i like pee
posted by xmutex at 7:07 PM on January 7, 2005


I love its warmth
posted by Tenuki at 7:11 PM on January 7, 2005


I too feel cheated at no step-by-step instruction for using urine, in my case, to support house plants. I would be delighted to put this into practice immediately, although at the moment I only have one plant. (I could get more!) How useful it would be to see a matrix showing how many houseplants of what size could be supported by a single, well-hydrated individual. And what risks obtain? I don't wish to drown my beloved plant in golden showers!
posted by caitlinb at 7:13 PM on January 7, 2005


This is fascinating and sorta gross at the same time...
posted by buriednexttoyou at 7:16 PM on January 7, 2005


...this is gross and sorta facinating at the same time
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:19 PM on January 7, 2005


....this is just plain awesomeness
posted by cmonkey at 7:26 PM on January 7, 2005


"Did you know that urine is sterile? You can drink it." -Tyler Durden
posted by keswick at 7:28 PM on January 7, 2005


...this is taking the piss out of me
posted by alteredcarbon at 7:30 PM on January 7, 2005


Finally, an explanation of this.
posted by Bort at 7:31 PM on January 7, 2005


I'd also be interested in details.

Once upon a time I had a tenant who drank some and had a habit of locking himself out of the house, I also had a big ass palmy thing on the porch -- it didn't go well for either of them.
posted by cedar at 7:46 PM on January 7, 2005


WTF is this?

(Found on the front page of the link)
posted by EmoChild at 7:57 PM on January 7, 2005


Oh please!!!!


Urine was imbibed in celebrations of yore.

... and by the way, urine isn't sterile. Why do you think you are supposed to wash your hands after you pee?
posted by caddis at 8:06 PM on January 7, 2005


I have a series of roses and peony bushes along my driveway.

I have selected one lucky rose and one lucky peony bush to receive my urine, from the source.

Later on this year, I will report my findings. . .you'll all be checking this thread, right? (And Matt will keep the thread alive, right?)
posted by Danf at 8:16 PM on January 7, 2005


Provided you don't have any urinary tract infections, urine is pretty much sterile. Apart from being a wonderful plant fertiliser it's also a wonderful nourishment for bacteria though, which is why you should wash your hands after peeing.

On preview: Danf: You'll regret that plan once the snow starts falling and you need to go to the loo in the middle of the night.
posted by fvw at 8:17 PM on January 7, 2005


Drinking pee? I'm not so sure of the authenticity of this article but it is interesting.
posted by andendau at 8:17 PM on January 7, 2005


On preview: Danf: You'll regret that plan once the snow starts falling and you need to go to the loo in the middle of the night.

I did not say that these lucky plants would get ALL my urine. . .
posted by Danf at 8:25 PM on January 7, 2005


caddis - wiki sez that urine is sterile.

and i wash my hands before i pee. i know where my hands have been and i don't want to get filthy on my stuff. i generally don't pee on my hands.
posted by zombiejesus at 8:28 PM on January 7, 2005


emochild: that is you're in control.
posted by neustile at 8:29 PM on January 7, 2005


I too feel cheated at no step-by-step instruction for using urine

Here you go, caitlinb:

1. Take bucket or other suitable vessel.
2. Urinate in it.
3. Shower on house plant.

Those with advanced aiming skills can also try to collapse all 3 steps into one.
posted by sour cream at 8:30 PM on January 7, 2005


The straight dope on, um, human consumption (which I realize this post was not originally about).

And Bort, I really didn't need to see that.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:31 PM on January 7, 2005


caddis, I think if you ask a doctor or biologist, you'll be surprised to hear that urine is quite sterile.

Poop, on the other hand...
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:36 PM on January 7, 2005


Caddis urine itself is sterile. It is after it leaves the body that it isn't anymore. We also use components of urine (uric acid) in skin creams. Fertility drugs use hormones found in urine etc ... The former Prime Minister of India drank his every day. Some call it 'urine therapy' [more info here] As for plant use I have a book somewhere that suggests using urine when a compost pile isn't working as it should. I don't think I'd apply it to the soil directly, might 'burn' the plant.
posted by squeak at 8:36 PM on January 7, 2005


My dog used to pee in the same spot every day, it killed the surrounding vegetation. Too much of a good thing, I guess...
posted by cali at 8:43 PM on January 7, 2005


Okay, so human urine has more nitrogen than cow shit, but much, much less than tobacco dust. Am I reading this wrong?? (See table 2.)
posted by mudpuppie at 8:58 PM on January 7, 2005


EmoChild: Here is the movie related to the front page picture.

It was an MIT Media Lab project.
posted by fluffycreature at 9:07 PM on January 7, 2005


This is information every self sufficient (or aspiring self-sufficient) hermit/recluse ought to know.

Miracle Go©
posted by ThePrawn at 9:53 PM on January 7, 2005


Urine therapy.
posted by aerify at 10:05 PM on January 7, 2005


I would imagine that some of the benefits of the nitrates would be offset by the high salt content. I'm sure anyone who lives north enough to have salt trucks come by is aware that salty water on plants =/= good.
posted by u.n. owen at 10:17 PM on January 7, 2005


Once upon a time I had a tenant ...

Eurgh. That reminds me of an episode from my past. When I first started work after university, I lodged for a time with a Methodist who disapproved of my drinking. To avoid attracting attention by repeatedly going up and down down the creaky stairs to the toilet after a pub session, I would often pee in the pots of various small plants (what looked like flowerless primulas) on the windowsill of my room. Only when we had a salad did I find out that they were.
posted by raygirvan at 10:43 PM on January 7, 2005


Urine is sterile until it hits your filthy, filthy body and all the filthy bacteria on it, you dirty thing you. But don't let that stop you from drinking those golden streams of life! Gout be damned!

EmoChild: Though I was blind, now I see.
posted by schroedinger at 11:21 PM on January 7, 2005


I am Moises Alou and I heartily endorse this product and/or service.
posted by yerfatma at 11:32 PM on January 7, 2005


You've got to be taking the piss...







I'll get me coat...
posted by robzster1977 at 12:54 AM on January 8, 2005


Urine is roughly 1.5% urea and 1.5% assorted salts. Unless you eat an unhealthy amount of sodium, those salts will be pretty much the ones that soil and plants like. Diluting urine to about 1 part in 20 (about one morning bladderfull to a garden bucket) gives you about 1500ppm total dissolved solids, which is about the concentration used for hydroponic gardening. It's not a good idea to use dilute urine in a hydroponic setup, because bacterial action will rapidly make it very stinky, but watering your soil-bound plants with 1 in 20 diluted urine will keep them very very happy.

Pissing on your lawn is an environmentally responsible act. Just don't go in the same spot all the time or you'll burn the grass. You can do this deliberately to get rid of certain weeds (I find bindii usually succumbs after two or three bladderfulls) and then dump a bucket of water on the spot when the weed is dead; lush grass growth rapidly fills the burnt spot.

A related tip: clumping kitty litter is made from bentonite clay, which has really good water retention properties. If you're already using this stuff, and it so happens that your garden soil is sandy and tends to dry out quickly, mulch with a mixture of about one part kitty-litter clumps (yes, used ones) to eight parts sawdust. Magic stuff, and nowhere near as stinky as you might expect.
posted by flabdablet at 2:46 AM on January 8, 2005


... and by the way, urine isn't sterile. Why do you think you are supposed to wash your hands after you pee?

You wash your hands after you pee because of the sweaty, germ-filled tang that can develop in between and around the peni and nads. One has to handle said peni and nads to complete "the shake". Right?

And even if it wasn't sterile, how come you get piss on your hands when you pee, caddis?! It's not that difficult, is it?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:47 AM on January 8, 2005


Silly people. Don't you realize that human urine is orgone-depleted, and hence should never, ever be used for fertilization?
posted by lodurr at 4:21 AM on January 8, 2005


The Zoroastrians use cow urine in their purification ritual. It's called gomez, and plays an antiseptic role in a lot of rituals. Sacrificial knives are washed with it, the dead are bathed in it, etc.
posted by felix betachat at 6:27 AM on January 8, 2005


An old roommate of mine had a gold book called "uropathy" all about how urine could solve basically anything. It was definitely taken to a ridiculous extreme; ie, in one chapter it could be used as birth control, while in another it would increase fertility! So apparently your pee knows what you want... Actually, that wasn't far from the thesis; the idea seemed to be that drinking it would allow your body to self-diagnose its problems according to the components in your pee. How your body knew it was self diagnosing when drinking pee and not, e.g., a cosmo, I could not say.

That basically made me put it in the bullshit camp, but I still have a copy of the book, along with "Mental Illness, Possession, Exorcism, and Life after Death" which is equally worthy of being turned into a piece of performance art.
posted by mdn at 6:38 AM on January 8, 2005


All you guys who think urine is sterile and harmless drink hearty. I am sticking with beer.
posted by caddis at 7:09 AM on January 8, 2005


I am amazed at the persistence of the urine is sterile myth. Perhaps this has been pushed by the golden shower fetishesists.

Urine is sterile at the point it clears your kidneys. On the ride out of your body it picks up whatever bacterial hitchhikers are along for the ride. It is still probably more sterile than a lot of untreated water souces but it is not sterile.

As for drinking urine..all you are doing is making your liver work harder because it now has to clear toxins a second time. This time though they are concentrated so it has to take water from your system to flush it out (so don't drink your urine when you are dying of thirst unless you want to speed up the process).
posted by srboisvert at 7:58 AM on January 8, 2005


Sacrificial knives are washed with it, the dead are bathed in it, etc.

I hope you realize these are not positive endorsements of urine usage.
posted by srboisvert at 8:03 AM on January 8, 2005


Why do you hate our urine?
posted by naomi at 8:35 AM on January 8, 2005


All this reminds me of the Dentons. "So join me then, and drink, so we may become more like him and his batrachian friends!"
posted by raygirvan at 9:02 AM on January 8, 2005


a good use of urine

(no trollbaiting/flaming was intended with the link provided)
posted by Hands of Manos at 11:46 AM on January 8, 2005


Urine is sterile at the point it clears your kidneys. On the ride out of your body it picks up whatever bacterial hitchhikers are along for the ride.

What bacteria are you packing in your bladder, srboisvert? How did it get there?

Unless you've had a bladder infection, your urinary tract is very likely bacteria-free.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2005


I can't believe some of you don't belive urine is clean. Unless you have a kidney or bladder infection, it's germ-free. Urine picks up bacteria as it exits your body, i.e. from your genitalia. You wash your hands after peeing not because of rogue drops of pee on your hands, but because you might have touched your bits.

Again, Wiki says:

Although urine is commonly believed to be 'dirty' this is not actually the case. In cases of kidney or urinary tract infection (UTI) the urine will contain bacteria, but otherwise urine is virtually sterile and nearly odorless when it leaves the body. However, after that, bacteria that contaminate the urine will convert chemicals in the urine into smelling chemicals that are responsible for the distinctive smell of stale urine; in particular, ammonia is produced from urea.


My grandfather said in WWII, they used to save buckets of it to wash wounds in, because it took too much fuel and time to boil water.

That is all.
posted by Specklet at 1:37 PM on January 8, 2005


You wash your hands after peeing not because of rogue drops of pee on your hands, but because you might have touched your bits.

Actually, I wash for both reasons. I'm just as concerned about smelling of urine as I am of having bacteria on my hands. I know, I'm too vain. :)
posted by Bort at 2:42 PM on January 8, 2005


Wiki is written by amateurs, not scientists, for the most part. I hardly consider it authoritative. I once asked a doctor this question and his response pretty much mirrored srboisvert's. You can infect yourself from your own urine, and of course that whole area down there, as different bacteria live there than inside your gut.
posted by caddis at 2:48 PM on January 8, 2005


Then take Unc' Cecil's word as authoritative, caddis.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:26 PM on January 8, 2005


Wiki is written by amateurs, not scientists, for the most part. I hardly consider it authoritative.

Wiki's answer to such objections. Its policy is strongly rooted in using secondary sources, so it's likely to be a good reflection of the mainstream consensus on medical matters.
posted by raygirvan at 4:34 PM on January 8, 2005


Yes to what caddis said. And don't forget urinary tract infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea; some things you don't want to get in your eyes. See this ooky-looking jpeg of what that looks like. (The page is here.) See, germs are carried in urine; in some cases you can clearly see gobs of gonorrheal "discharge" in a piss-filled beaker. (The doc showed me that in my sample, see.) But you don't have to see gobs of infected pus for the urine to be dirty.

But hey, settle it like I do: invite someone who insists "urine is clean!" to drink your "recycled beer". ("No really, I'll wash my wang and soak it in alcohol first so the outside will be sterile! Just like you say it should be!")
posted by davy at 4:36 PM on January 8, 2005



I like poo!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:20 PM on January 8, 2005


* Chug, Chug, Chug, Chug alug. *

* hmmmmm, funny, I feel like it's time for the power boot. *
posted by caddis at 5:47 PM on January 8, 2005


Then there is urine's time tested use in laundry
posted by IndigoJones at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2005


Hepatitis and any number of venereal diseases can be carried in urine; and as davy alludes, just because the germs are somewher in your body doesn't mean that they're everywhere in your body: Germs which could be more or less harmless in your urinary tract could cause all kinds of nastiness in your eyes. (But probably not your mouth and throat. Your saliva will afford a great deal of protection there.)
posted by lodurr at 7:01 PM on January 8, 2005


I'm sure it's medically sound, but I don't even want to think about what a urine retention enema might involve...
posted by kaemaril at 10:15 PM on January 8, 2005


Reminds me of the Retardos episode of Space Ghost.
posted by Eideteker at 9:19 PM on January 9, 2005


uh.. kaemaril, i think i've seen photos of that on the internets. it involves a catheter and some tape and ... yeah. it was one of those photos that by the time you figure out what it is, you've been looking at it for too long to be able to forget it.

i prefer making pee in the toilet. although my wife's old cat used to favor a particular houseplant. we had to put aluminum foil over the thing to keep her from making it smell like cat pee.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:11 AM on January 10, 2005


Anyone notice the largish marijuana plant hiding in the background of one of the photos on this page?!

http://liquidgoldbook.com/newstuff.html
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:17 PM on January 12, 2005


« Older Harajuku Street Style....  |  Looking for ohibitutic and pur... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments