Life of Pee

The word “urine” wasn’t invented until the 14th century. Before that, people just called it “piss” because that’s what it sounded like coming out.

But people had been trying ways to use this mysterious fluid long before the 14th century.

Until the efficient Germans invented soap, people used fermented pee (called lant) to clean grease stains out of their clothes and wash their floors. Lant was also used to freshen breath, flavour ale and glaze hard pastries.

Aztec doctors used pee to disinfect wounds and prescribed it as a drink to relieve stomach and intestinal problems.

In India,  ancient ayurvedic medicine uses pee (or shivambu) therapy for all sort of ailments from cancer, diabetes, arthritis and heart diseases to herpes and psoriasis.

The Chinese also used boys’ urine as a remedy when the usual herbal medicines were scarce.

Urine has been used in the manufacture of gunpowder since it’s high in nitrogen and saltpeter. Gunpowder is 75% saltpeter finely ground, 15% charcoal and 10% sulfur (In case you want to make some now).

Pee’s high nitrogen content, along with its significant quantities of dissolved phosphates and potassium, also makes it an excellent fertilizer for your garden when diluted 8:1 with water. This solution can be poured directly onto the soil.

In Scotland, urine is used to prepare textiles (especially wools/tweeds) for dyeing and stretching.

Some people drink their own morning urine. They believe it boosts their immune system by reintroducing their own waste back into their systems. It apparently works much like immunization and seems to last for decades.

Urine contains zinc, vitamins B12, B6, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, inositol, folic acid, biotin, ascorbic acid, potassium, iron, calcium, iodine, manganese, magnesium, nitrogen, lysine, arginine, allantoin, bicarbonate, creatinine, cystine, dopamine, epinephrine, glucose, glutamic acid, glycine, lysine, methionine, orinthine, phenylalanine, phosphorus, tryptophan, tyrosine and water. It can sustain life for several days in times of deprivation.

Urine makes an excellent bleaching agent for fabrics and teeth, and is much more natural that whatever you’re using now.

Urine is also good for your skin. It helps soften skin and it’s therapeutic for rashes, eczema, fungus, poisonous bites and stings and athlete’s foot. And your tired, dry feet will be relieved with a good daily soak in a tub of urine. (Forget the peroxide, Geewits!)

But wait! That’s not all!!

Last year, science guys in Ohio figured out a way to use urine to power a fuel-cell that could run a car – getting up to 90 miles to the gallon!

A molecule of urea is composed of four hydrogen atoms and two nitrogen atoms. Applying an electric current using a special nickel electrode causes those hydrogen atoms to pop right off. The trick is that it requires about 97 percent less electricity to release the hydrogen from the urea molecules than from a water molecule–specifically 0.037 volt for urine versus 1.23 volts for water. Pee Power  

Science guys in Singapore have developed a small cell battery that is fueled by pee useful for powering disposable medical test kits – like kits used by diabetics.

Now, science guys at the UK’s Bristol Robotics Lab are using bacteria from a variety of compostable waste mixed with urine to create waste material rife with hydrogen ions, carbon dioxide, and electrons. The electrons are turned into electricity or are electricity or something.

The Bristol science guys are building (as we speak) a prototype urinal that will generate power. They’re thinking it could be used at music festivals, sporting and other outdoor events. The urine power would be used to provide all the electricity for the event!

I think this is pretty exciting. Livestock farms, for instance,  could easily generate their own and most of their neighbour’s electricity from their animals’ urnine. One cow can provide enough energy to supply hot water for 19 houses!

Don’t you feel silly now for flushing your liquid gold away all these years when you could be using it in so many beneficial and cost-saving ways? I know I do!

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50 responses to “Life of Pee

  1. How do you come up with these topics? Amazing and informative. Coincidentally, I had dinner at a place called Mannekapis just two days ago. It serves Belgian food in Bali and the name is actually derived from the pissing mannekin which refers to the statue of the little boy relieving himself which is the symbol of Brussels. Hmm, I hope it has nothing to do with ingredients of the meal.

  2. When I was in my late teens I had some sort of problem down there and I remember my doctor saying something about my high uric acid content. A few years later I noticed that uric acid is a common ingredient in shampoo. I’ve often wondered whose or what’s uric acid the shampoo manufacturers were using. Apparently now most shampoos use citric acid which seems like a waste of good citrus.
    I would love for someone to reconfigure urine as an energy source and make it workable. Do it people!

    @Linda: urine is pure as it leaves the body, it is only upon mixing with the air or toilet water that it begins to grow bacteria and produce the smells. (Except for Asparapee which is something else altogether.)

  3. Great, we’re going to go back to medieval times in England and have some poor guy who has the fun job of collecting everyones urine, aren’t we?

    Ugh, the thought of eating a pastry with a urine coating is really quite nasty. And I definitely don’t think I could use urine to bleach my teeth, no matter how movie star white it would get them.

  4. Thought I’d put on my “Doctor Friar” science-geek hat and clarify some of the articles you refer to.

    1. Regarding Pee Power.

    Fuel celled-cars need hydrogen gas (H2) to operate. And it takes energy to extract pure H2.

    While it takes less electrochemical energy to extract H2 from urea than from water, it still takes ENERGY (using electricity to break it down, or bacteria, or the sun…etc.).

    It’s not like you can suddenly put piss in a fuel-cell car and make it go. You can’t get something for nothing.

    But it’s step in the right direction. It’s a way of extracting H2 from biochemical waste, rather than H2 from water, which in the long-run is more energy-efficient.

    2. Regarding the battery fueled by pee.

    Not really. Rather, the pee is used as the electrolyte to complete the electrical connection between the two different metals in the battery.

    An electrolyte can be any liquid that conducts electricity (pee, salt water, orange juice..). It’s not a fuel, rather a medium allowing the electrochemical reaction in a battery to take place.

    Kind of like that Grade-9 science experiment, how you jam two strips of different metal into a potato and connect a wire to them to get a crude battery. In the case, the potato is the electrolyte.

    But you still need to have the two different pieces of metal in the first place. (Which takes more energy to make than you’ll get out of the battery).

    3. Using bacteria to break down pee into hydrogen

    Yes. This is correct. The bacteria breaks down the urea into hydrogen for us, instead of us having to do it ourselves with expensive electricity.

    This still takes energy, but comes from the bacteria themselves, and is fueled by whatever food(s) those critters like to eat.

    This ties in well with #1: We use bacteria to break down the pee into H2, then use the H2 to power fuel cells.

    That would be an excellent source of renewable energy.

    – Dr. Friar

  5. whoa! that’s a whole lot of pee-geekness from Dr. Friar.

    I think it would be humanity’s salvation if we could figure something useful for pee, considering the gallons of it that we make. As long as it goes in the direction of renewable resources and not teeth whitening agents. That I just can’t do. And does the pee need to be “pure”? As in, only organic foods, no alcohol, no junk food? If so, we might be in trouble.

  6. I do not bleach my teeth. And no one could convince me to do it with pee. Evah.

    The urine power thing is cool… though how will they make all those cows pee in a urinal? Will the hook them up in pee barns from whence they will never again emerge into the light of day?

    How do you come up with this stuff. Fascinating though, I’ll grant you that.

  7. @ Friar,
    Oh yuck you can’t seriously think any civilized society would use cars that depend on bacteria for creating the fuel. That’s just icky.

  8. Well, as always, I learned a lot from your post. Fascinating. (I also had to stop drinking my chamomile tea!) My Mom used to pour urine around the perimeter of our garden to keep the deer and critters out. We made fun of her, but it worked. I think your enthusiasm for the wonders of urine will make friends pause next time you invite them over for a drink. 🙂

  9. @Dave

    Well, we eat bacteria with our fancy-schmancy yogurts.

    You know..the ones where they show a woman belly-dancing and they sing “La-la la-la-LAAAAH”.

  10. I’ve heard about drinking urine, but the idea of it sickens me. As a hard glaze for pastries? Ew.

    Apparently normal, healthy urine has virtually no flavour, unless you have an infection or kidney problems; then it tastes like acid. And, here’s a plug for artificial sweeteners; they sweeten the urine.

  11. Ha ha, when I got to your list of chemicals in pee I thought I would have the pleasure of telling you that you missed out the imaginitively-named ‘urea’ but you had that covered, along with many other unrinary factoids – impressive research.

    I think that the reasons why we’ve not been doing these things already have less to do with the ‘ick’ factor than powerful coporate interests and the way productivity is organized. There’s always some businessman, politician or labour union with vested interests, unwilling to support an initiative that will change the shape of a pyramid they’re currently riding high on.

    I don’t think that’s a particularly paranoid point of view; we’ve all seen similar resistance to change and new good ideas in more everyday, small-scale circumstances – our workplaces. You think of a better way of doing things, and unless you work with Silicon Valley geniuses or something, chances are no one will thank you for it.

    But I think we will adopt all this good environmentally-sane stuff in the end. Stupidity can only be hammered with the obvious so long before it caves in.

    I just read a long interview with Noam Chomsky and as a result I’ve responded in this highly politicized way to an article on pee. LOL.

  12. OMG! I’ll start saving some pisssssssssss from now on!

    Awesome writing as usual XUP!

    Have a great weekend

    (Yes, I’m trying a new blog in English, hopefully this will last longer than the last one!)

  13. LGS – I might be a tad reluctant to eat in that pissing place. Buty hey- as long as you enjoyed it, right?

    Linda – Maybe you could flavour it with that flavouring stuff they sell for water now…because no one wants to drink yucky water-flavoured water either apparently.

    Geewits – People used to mix their pee with fireplace ashes to rinse their hair and make it soft. The uric acid that used to be in shampoos was synthetic though. I suspect the citric acid in shampoos is synthetic, too. Also, I think if you let the pee ferment before soaking your feet in it, it might have bubbles, too!!

    Dr. Monkey – No, sir, I am not. It’s all true.

    Kimberly – Never say never, Kimberly. If they started selling 10 gallon jugs of urine at Costco for $2.99, I’m sure you’d be first in line.

    Sean – I strive to be educational above all else. Always. Ha ha ha

    Friar – Thanks for explaining that doc. I don’t pretend to be a science guy. I’m just telling it as I read it with my simplistic English major brain

    Smothermother – I don’t think the pee needs to be pure, does it? Surely, they can extract what they need from any old pee. And yes, it would be amazing if we could make some good use from all this waste.

    Jazz- The cows don’t pee in the urinal – people do. People will power their own outdoor rock concerts with pee. Beer tents. Urinals. Pee powered amplifiers. Rock on! And thanks – no one ever notices my clever titles.

    Dave1949 – It’s more civilized than going to war and killing people for their oil. Or maybe we’ll be invading 3rd world countries and force feeding them cheap beer and tapping them for urine to power our cars??

    MM – Fine. Don’t come over for drinks. Whose urine did your mom use? Or did she just straight out pee around the perimeter of your property?

    Amy – Yay, from now on my first response when I have an ear infection is going to be: Quick, somebody pee in my ear!!” Pee is really miraculous, isn’t it?

    Davina – For someone who pretends to be grossed out by the idea of drinking urine, you sure are well informed about how it’s best served.

    G – I think you’re absolutely right. There’s been no reason why an electric car could not have been put on the market decades ago — except for this corporate pushback you mention. I could see your paranoia and raise you a couple of conspiracy theories in the big pharma area. But I won’t. Not right now anyway.

    Linsey – Thank you. I hope everyone has taken note of the fact that you dislike this particular word and will take extra care not to use it in your presence. Do you have anything against other onomatopoeic words?

    Mr. G – Way cool, dude! Shall I tell everyone to hurry over and see what you have to say?

  14. LOL. On account of this post, I learned something new today. Was curious to know what pee tasted like so I Googled it 🙂 Now what I wonder is if you’re dehydrated and you drink your urine, (which is saltier than normal), if that contributes to your dehydration.

  15. @Davina: You have to evaporate it and collect the water, leaving the salts. Yeah, if you only drink pure urine in say, a desert, it will do you more harm than good. Not quite sure why this is, as rehydration-kits have salt and sugar in them. But for sure, survival-training in hot dry climates involves using some clear plastic and making a kind of moisture-trap to catch evaporating pee.

  16. Shall I tell everyone to hurry over and see what you have to say?

    Yeah! Sure!

    By the way… while reading your post I remembered an old friend of my wife that while being a teenager used to wash her face with her own pee because someone told her it could be good for her skin.

    Yaaaaaakkkkkkkk!!!!

  17. AND according to the geniuses on “Survivor” – I think it was in the 2nd or third season – urine is great for mild burns. Or maybe it was jellyfish stings…
    I can’t remember which… I was too distracted by the hot contestant in the bikini…hmmm… Jenna…
    Um, what was I talking about?
    Guys? Help me out here!

  18. I have heard of people drinking urine in the other parts of the world as a way of strengthening their body. I also know that they use it for getting the sting out from a jellyfish bite or something. But I still don’t have the heart to save it lol!

  19. Hey, thanks G. That is interesting. Maybe the pH level in pee is less favourable than the sugars and salt combination in rehydration kits. One day (famous last words), I’d love to take a survival course.

  20. @XUP, I don’t care if Costco is selling bulk urine, I’m not buying it! Yech! I don’t buy everything that Costco sells, just the stuff I’m interested in & urine is not on that list.

  21. Davina – Is “googled it” a euphemism for “tried a little bit”?? How can you tell what something tastes like by googling it otherwise?

    G – Thanks. You never know when info like this will come in handy.

    Mr. G. – Go read Mr. G’s new blog everybody. (Don’t worry. They’ll find it). I’ve heard of people washing their face with pee. And women who wash their faces with their baby’s pee diaper (of course you have to use cloth diapers). Baby’s pee is supposed to be especially good for the complexion.

    Trashee – I’ve read that this is not a good idea. That the ammonia or something in the pee can actually make the wound worse.

    Jane – Well it makes as much sense as injecting animal pus and viruses into you to strengthen your system. I find that kind of yucky, too. Just seems a shame that we waste all that urine. Centuries from now human are going to look back in amazement at how foolish we were.

    Davina & G – Ha ha ha

    Kimberly – Okay, okay – I was just yankin’ your Costco chain.

  22. I think it bears noting that “people treat X by pouring urine on themselves” is not equivalent to “urine successfully and safely treats X.”

    There’s a lot of stuff people used to do to try to treat ailments, which ended up causing more harm than good (hence why homeopathy seemed so promising at the time–because doing nothing was better than the contemporary alternative).

    – RG>

  23. G,
    Ha, ha. Now that I’ve been properly educated, I don’t think there will be a problem.

    XUP, I’m not going to taste my own pee.

  24. Alright; I tried some pee (my own) that was almost completely clear. It almost made me gag and I couldn’t get much of it down. So… I would not recommend drinking your dark first-thing-in-the-morning pee, nooo…

    If you still want to try it – baby steps, like me… Good luck…

  25. Grouchy – A lot of survival tips include peeing on yourself when you get stung by something. The best thing is to stay away from jellyfish, but if you’re stung you should try to remove the stinger with a towel or something so your fingers don’t get stung and then rinsing the wound with salt water – not fresh water. Fresh water makes the poison spread faster, much like drinking water with spicy foods will make the spiciness worse. That’s what I’ve read anyhow.

    Davina – And here I thought you were a woman of adventure and intrigue.

    Lebowski – Yes, you seem to let Google do all your talking for you lately.

    G – AHHHH!! Just now? Like, since this blog post or some time in the past? You rock. That’s crazy awesome. I wish everyone read all the comments so they could see what a star you are and then go and fall in love with your blog! (But don’t expect them to kiss you)

    MM – Ha ha.

  26. I was managing to keep a moderately straight face until I hit “But wait! That’s not all!!” 🙂

  27. Pingback: Sunday Reading #1 | The Zieglers Blog

  28. Pee and Doodie, I just don’t know about the kaka humour these days – so I know doodie was not doodie but still you make me roll my eyes sometimes. I have nothing relevant to add to this conversation I just wanna be heard

  29. Yes XUP, you prompted me to try the unthinkable. Truthfully I had thought of it before because the notion’s pee’s good for you has been around forever, but I’d never been sufficiently motivated until I got into this in-depth conversation about it.

    I figure, if it doesn’t harm you, why just restrict it to theory and not practice… But believe me, you’re gonna want it to be like… a once every five years thing, like an innoculation – it’s not pleasant and I might never do it again, ha ha ha.

    I told my friend about it just twenty minutes ago and she was almost scandalised – she had a good laugh at my expense! Heh.

  30. I was just sitting here mindng my own business drinking my morning apple juice flipping through blogs….

  31. I could never bring myself to drink apple juice. The kind I was served as a young child always managed to remind me of pee. Probably from being in a can for too long.

    – RG>

  32. Sorry, XUP. Are we gonna talk about poop next? 🙂

    Oh “G” — ewwww. Did you er… let it cool to room temperature or have it fresh at body temperature? OMG! I can’t believe you did this. 🙂 Maybe if you filled up on artificial sweeteners you could get it down.

    Now, I’m tempted. Maybe I could manage a quick tongue dip in a cup. Or not.

    @Cedarflame. Don’t you just love synchronicity? 🙂

  33. Daniel – Yup this info blog follows in the fine tradition of its infomercial brethren.

    Jay – I hear ya! I promise to behave from now on. Just for you.

    G – Above and beyond my friend. Really. It’s on thing to actually do it based on a blog post, it’s quite another to actually tell people you know about it. She must be a very good friend.

    Cedar – You shouldn’t drink apple juice. It’s very bad for you. Go look it up – one of the worst things you can drink on a regular basis. And that’s even before you take into consideration that it looks like pee.

    Grouchy – That probably saved your life. Apple juice is evil.

    Davina – Okay, now stop it. I never intended for you all to go out and start slurping down your pee. And no, I will definitely NOT be talking about poop next. Jeepers.

  34. Hey, well, I once saw Bjork on the TV talking about how everyone from her part of the world eats fish preserved in urine… I figure, if Bjork can say she does it on TV, it’s more cool than icky.

    And Davina – body-temperature. Like lukewarm tea. I did not think of dressing it up as anything else with sweeteners or whatever; not like I was ever planning on making it a regular thing. 🙂

    Seriously though – it’s just a taboo of no substance. I’ve tasted worse medicine and I pretty much know it’s not dirty or harmful.

    Like I said though, I would say that this idea that it has a long-term benefit per portion is the only good argument for it, cos I sure as hell wouldn’t do it every morning. It’s kinda like… it tastes kinda like… chemistry. Like photographic development chemicals got into your glass of water. Noooot nice.

    As for telling my friend, XUP – well, I don’t like to have friends who would judge me for something that’s not really bad, just maybe weird, and I think that the least stressful way of life is candour – and that you can only be candid if you don’t do anything you’re ashamed of. I guess that entails being a good boy scout and also knowing what acts are blameless even when they are out of fashion. 🙂

  35. Oh my- I just reread my comment and it didn’t come across at all as I intended it to !

    Rolling my eyes is NOT a bad thing! You keep on keeping on! (As if *I* could, or would want to, stop you) I had nothing to add to the conversation I just wanted to let you know you keep me coming back even though I am busy ; very, very busy!You can ask me why I am so busy but then it might sound like a blantant promotion for a certain community festival in O-town;o)

  36. It’s nice to meet like-minded people on the Internet! I could almost forget that 62% of web-users are organ-stealing sex-offenders! (true statistic)

  37. Jay – Go ahead and tell us all about the festival. Nobody comes back to read old comments anyway. Except me, of course and if you’re involved in a local festival I might just come and see you.

    G – Wow. So, almost a third of my blogger friends are organ-stealing sex offenders?

    Savanvleck – Seriously. A piddle-mobile sounds perfect. Then we can really start complaining about the exhaust fumes!