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hardeng

Human Urine

hardeng
17 years ago

One of those "I just gotta ask" questions...

I know that human urine is supposed to be an excellent source of organic nitrogen, but is it's use as a fertlizer safe for vegetables/plants that will bear fruit and be consumed by humans?

Comments (70)

  • dejw
    17 years ago

    OK, as an MD, I hate to watch medical misinformation go by. As stated a couple of times above, unless someone has a urinary tract infection, urine most certainly IS sterile when it comes out. SARS, typhoid, cholera, and a host of other diseases are present in POOP!!! That's right, stool, not urine. So as long as you pee directly on/into something, rather than scooping it out of the mixed contents of a toilet, you really don't need to worry about fecal contamination (unless your hygeine is really, really bad). Herpes is spread by direct contact from oral or genital lesions or infected saliva or genital secretions (which, particularly for men, may well mix with urine). But if you're using your own urine, it's a moot point anway, because you either do, or don't have herpes, and you can't very well give it back to yourself, since you already have it for life.

  • dejw
    17 years ago

    Left one out. West Nile is spread by infected mosquitos. Birds can act as a reservoir. It is NOT spread directly person-to-person, through urine or otherwise.

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  • paulaj
    17 years ago

    I just saw something interesting on an old neighbor-rant post, about dogs pooing on neighbor's lawn. Several people used their own urine to make an invisible fence, just poured it from a watering can along the boundaries of their yard. One woman says dogs take just one sniff and learn to stay out.
    I'm going to use that on my boundaries and in the garden paths this summer. It should keep my dog in the yard too.
    Many questions about urine as fert are answered by Jenkin's Humanure Handbook and by his forums.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Jenkins Publishing Message Board

  • recluse
    17 years ago

    I've been using urine since I read this and other threads. I dilute it 1:1 (50% water) or 2:1 (66% water). Two days after I poured it around a small transplanted tree, buds appeared, and within one week I had new leaves all over the tree.

    I transplanted this tree last May. It just wouldn't seem to grow, no matter how much I watered or mulched it. I even added coffee grounds in an attempt to stimulate worm activity, but I never saw any indication of budding or any kind of leaf growth on the tree until I used urine water.

    When I used it on my transplanted (from seedling pot to the ground) flowering plants, they all rooted well and began to grow immediately.

    I'm a convert now and use yellow water (my name for it) on all my outdoor plants/trees. This stuff works like a miracle!

    How often it can be used?

  • Violet_Z6
    17 years ago

    Urine is 95 percent water. The other five percent of our urine is made of dissolved and suspended solids, none of which are toxic. The two main components are simple salt and a compound called urea. In addition to salt and urea, other elements include hormones, proteins, antibodies and other beneficial agents.

    "Urine is 95 percent water, with less than five percent urea, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, hormones, proteins, antibodies, and other beneficial pharmacological agents. Contrary to popular belief, urine is actually a by-product of blood filtration and not waste filtration. Medically, it is referred to as "plasma ultrafiltrate." It is a purified derivative of the blood itself, made by the kidneys whose principal function is regulation of all the elements and their concentrations in the blood. Nutrient-filled blood passes through the liver where toxins are removed to be excreted as solid waste. Eventually, this purified blood undergoes a more extensive filtering process in the kidneys, where excess components not usable at that time by the body are collected in the form of the sterile, watery solution that is urine."

  • paulns
    17 years ago

    Thanks violet that was easy to understand and interesting, and thanks dejw for the medical viewpoint.
    Recluse congratulations on your results. I would be concerned about a buildup of salt/s. We don't throw pee in the same spot more than once a year. That's undiluted but broadcast well.

  • bean_counter_z4
    17 years ago

    This concerns me, maybe no one else. What my neighbor does in his back yard may affect my health and the health of everyone around him.

    dejw, urine is not necessarily sterile. I don't know how that got started. Below taken from fema's website. There is a lot of stuff on the net including info from the CDC about virus and bacteria spread by urine. Check out the CDC site.

    SARS Could Spread Through Coughs, Sweat, Urine
    Excerpt from the article:

    The deadly SARS virus might be more contagious than previously thought and possibly transmitted by contaminated food or water, droplets of mucus, urine, feces and sweat, scientists reported on Friday. Researchers at the Groningen University Hospital in the Netherlands and the First Military Medical University in Guangzhou, China, said their findings emphasized the need for more stringent infection-control measures.

    From the NCBI web site:
    Persistent shedding of viable SARS-CoV in urine and stool of SARS patients during the convalescent phase. (4 wks or more)

  • pablo_nh
    17 years ago

    That doesn't make it a vector when a neighbor pees in a compost pile, unless you happen to go eating some of it.

    Really, if you ingest or inhale enough aerosolized urine to contract SARS- then I suspect that you have made lifestyle choices that put you at risk anyway :)

  • bean_counter_z4
    17 years ago

    OK Pablo, I hate it when someone gets personally ugly like that. No reason for it in a discussion. My lifestyle choices donÂt include peeing outside, so Ânuf said. And I donÂt work for the health department (thatÂs my sisterÂs job). She was kind enough to comment that public health officials look down upon this practice, but then what do they know?

    ItÂs a simple fact that disease could be spread this way. If youÂre really into this idea of open air peeing, probably no amount of reasoning is going to dissuade you, soÂ

    Carry on.

  • pablo_nh
    17 years ago

    "OK Pablo, I hate it when someone gets personally ugly like that."

    I did put a smiley in there... I was trying to make an off color joke...

    "ItÂs a simple fact that disease could be spread this way."

    I'd think you're at a MUCH higher risk using a public restroom where urine could be aerosolized, and is in a contained space. If you have an example of how it has been spread this way outdoors in a garden situation- I would be very interested to see it.

    I took a course offered by the American Biological Safety Association last year at MIT. Many instances of aeroslized urine causing disease in animal testing workers were discussed. That requires that you breathe the aerosolized urine- a condition that is SUPER unlikely, and I'm guessing, unrecorded in cases like we are talking about outside. I've presented models of vapor dispersal in narcotics and explosives contraband scenarios- this would follow the same patterns. In short- aerosolized urine would disperse incredibly quickly, and few diseases would remain viable in compost. Then you'd have to get the disease from the neighbor's compost into your body.

    I'm just not seeing it happen.

  • Violet_Z6
    17 years ago

    bean_counter,

    You're referring to people who don't wash their hands after using a bathroom, touch toilet handles to flush, touch bathroom stall handles, open bathroom door handles then go about their business of picking up a pencil, shaking your hand, using a keyboard, handing you money, giving you an object, etc.

    Unless the owner of the urine has something like a urinary tract infection or other infection, it is a fact that urine is sterile. It is not a "false assumption" it is fact. See my post above yours and see the other posts which also respond to your first mention of the concern. That urine is sterile can be verified by anyone in the medical profession. What makes it not sterile is exposure to bacteria when it comes out of the body that may be around the genetalia or as mentione for at least the third time in this thread, someone with an infection.

    If your neighbor has SARS, then you have more to worry about then them urinating in their compost.

    It is a fact that you are much more at risk at picking up something as a direct result of someone not washing their hands after using a bathroom by picking up a piece of candy from a basket near the cash register of a restaurant the you would be from a neighbor using urine in their compost pile.

    You've stated your opinion and we know where you stand, we hear you.

  • Violet_Z6
    17 years ago

    Oh, and I know you're wanting a source on the candy info. It was on Dateline NBC - lab tested the restrooms, door handles, etc., the candy bowl was just about the worst place in the restaurant! EWWWW!

  • pablo_nh
    17 years ago

    Ya, being indoors around people is the best way to get sick.

    My research team at work is getting into biological threat detection methods. Indoors is a lot easier. When you get outdoors you usuall need a lot of sensitivity to even see an intentional release. The real scary scenario is where they infect a room full of terrorists with a contagious disease (smallpox), send them out in NY, and they just walk around spitting on handrails and eating in public restaurants.

    I'll stay outside with my compost pile and doggies, thanks :)

  • paulns
    17 years ago

    A single teaspoon of topsoil contains more than a billion (1,000,000,000) bacteria. I don't know how many bacteria in a teaspoon of compost. Not to mention fungi, actinomycetes, mycorrhiza etc. A very competitive envrionment. That's the environment the urine is going in or onto. Not metal or plastic or human tissue.

    (Jeez you're a good sport Pablo.)

  • pablo_nh
    17 years ago

    I had a starter marriage- it "tenderized" me

    heh heh

  • led_zep_rules
    17 years ago

    Bean counter, is it possible that you are just squeamish about this idea of pee as fertilizer, and that is why you are trying to make it sound dangerous? Because I don't see how you would catch a disease from a neighbor's compost pile even it if was uphill from you. Seems highly improbably to say the least.

    Neighbors using pesticides and herbicides is a lot more hazardous to everyone's health than someone peeing on their plants or compost. Certainly where hubby has peed outside the grass is really green! Being female I can't manage the aiming, so I don't try it. :-) The person who said it is a crime to waste gallons of water to flush a little bit of 'liquid fertilizer' away has a really good point.

    Marcia

  • good_gardening1
    17 years ago

    Let's just suppose for a moment that the urine source is indeed contaminated with SARS, or West Nile, or Flying Heebie-Jeebies, or whatever.

    Once added to the compost bin or diluted and used as fertilizer around plants and, thus, exposed to the effects of the outdoor environment (sunlight, oxygen, micro-organisms, etc.) how long will the pathogens of concern survive this exposure?

    As I said in my previous posts I am only adding my own stuff to the compost bin or to the garden so I am not concerned with infecting myself with something I already have.

    If my neighbor has a terrible case of the Heebies then how long will those pathogens survive exposure to the environment?

    My guess is that survival time would be very short indeed.

    PS: My neighbors don't compost at their house (they bring their stuff to me) but I have seen their sons peeing in the yard on occasion.

  • Violet_Z6
    17 years ago

    Depends on that "pathogen". Have you tried to do online research it?

    Aside from restaurants, anyone who lives near a drinking establishment with parking lots and pedestrian walkways runs a much greater risk of litterally running into randon human urine.

  • paulns
    17 years ago

    (paraphrasing a little)

    After reading various posts in the SCM 'Human Urine' thread regarding the ubiquity of pathogens in the urban environment Paulns's extreme germophobia led him to a life of complete reclusion. After suffering a nervous breakdown in 2006, Paulns moved to a bungalow in the desert near Las Vegas where he employed local Mormons to protect him from contamination. Nonetheless, fearing that his home had become infected (and something of a tourist attraction), he began living in a succession of anonymous hotel rooms, moving secretly in the dead of night while strapped to a stretcher.

    The windows of his rooms were taped over and its furnishings and fixtures reportedly draped in plastic. (By 2007, Paulns had stopped bathing and ate only cake and candy.) Visitors (there were fewer than a dozen between 2006 and his death in 2036) were rarely allowed and his only company was the newspaper (served in stacks of three so that Paulns could read the middle copy) and his television, upon which he watched the film Ice Station Zebra (1968), starring Rock Hudson and Ernest Borgnine, some 150 times...

  • Violet_Z6
    17 years ago

    lol...

    "...anonymous hotel rooms..."

    Oh boy... should have stayed home instead.

    ;)

  • paulns
    17 years ago

    Yes. Definitely staying home now.
    So, no guesses about what was being paraphrased? Big prizes to be won.

  • joepyeweed
    17 years ago

    Another point that I think is an important part of this type of discussion is that one should always thoroughly wash their food before they eat it. Which if done properly makes any issues of what was used to fertilize the food a non-issue.

    Whenever I see a discussion like this it reminds me of the humanure handbook. (Thanks for the link Polly.)

    Here is a link that might be useful: The humanure handbook

  • pablo_nh
    17 years ago

    That was Howard Hughes. He actually owned a TV station that he made play the movie over 100 times.

  • paulns
    17 years ago

    The correct answer is, "What is the biography of Howard Hughes?" Oh, so close Pablo! You would have won one of those blacklight detectors described in violet's link.
    http://www.budgetlighting.com/black_light_stain_detector.html
    But you do win (virtual) second prize: the newspaper of your choice,served in stacks of three.

  • paulaj
    17 years ago

    Darn! Pablo beat me to it by just a few hours. I want to use that blacklight detector to amuse people at parties-at other people's houses. "Let's all go into Sally's bathroom! You'll love this!"

    Back to the biography-was the candy he lived on from the restaurant candy bowl? Should I go round to the local establishments to collect anything that lights up with the black light, for the compost pile?

    Violet's link is so gross. I am wrapping myself in plastic next time I have to stay in a hotel.

    Chatting about soil is so much fun!

  • girlndocs
    17 years ago

    Hey, did y'all know that every time you flush your toilet you release an aerosol-fine spray of toilet water that settles on things as far away as 6 feet?

    Sounds like bean_counter would actually be better off encouraging his neighbors to stay home and pee on their compost piles, instead of going out to flush the toilets in the same public restrooms he might use :)

    Kristin

  • Violet_Z6
    17 years ago

    Ah... I love this forum. It's the only place you can talk about these topics, learn, share, and be entertained.

  • Violet_Z6
    17 years ago

    Oh... did you guys catch this one?

    Primetime even found traces of urine on a hotel room bible.

    From the first link provided at the page I posted above.

  • good_gardening1
    17 years ago

    Violet,

    Stop That....Right Now....

    You'll have me not wanting to ever go on a trip again.

    :)

    Anyone see the recent study comparing the cleanliness of ice in fast food restaurants to the water in the toilets of the same establishments?

    Yuck.

  • Violet_Z6
    17 years ago

    good_gardening1,

    LOL...!

    m i n d over m a t t e r ...

    I hope it puts things in perspective about proximity to the stuff. Chances are higher in "public places" vs. "neighbor and their compost pile".

    Uh... haven't seen that study... don't know if I want to. As many a nurse says... "bacteria is good for you. It's possible to be too clean."

    But now that you mention it... "You'd be better off eating a carrot stick that fell in your toilet than one that fell in your sink," says Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist who measured germ levels in 15 well tended homes."

    Source: Emerging Infectious Diseases: Prevention and Control

    Ah... life. I'm more worried about the squirrels eating my strawberries before I get to them...

  • whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio
    17 years ago

    After reading about hotels, I'm really thinking abuot an RV. My own "CLEAN" bed!

  • dianescat
    17 years ago

    I have heard that human urine will keep away moles/voles if you pour it in their holes. Anyone know about this?

  • patty4150
    17 years ago

    Open air peeing? Eeeewww! (I suppose it comes with having a penis.)

    The (ahem) *correct* way to add urine to compost is to pee in a bucket in your bathroom, and then gently add the fluid to your compost with as little splashing as possible.

    Men. They have no sense of decorum, at all.

  • good_gardening1
    17 years ago

    Patty,

    Where's your sense of adventure?

    It is best to add it to the compost directly while still warm.

    :)

  • pablo_nh
    17 years ago

    I was at a buddy's house when I was in grad school. We were outside and his 3 year old said he had to go- walks over to a bush, undoes himself, and pees right there. Turns out that he just prefers to go outside. My buddy says "You see why I love this kid so much?"

    Heh- a proud moment :)

  • girlndocs
    17 years ago

    Pablo, my son (now 7) still does that. He'll even go outside on purpose to pee!

    I've trained him to go where he sees "browns". Not on the lawn, on that straw over there!

    Thank god we have a privacy fence.

    Kristin

  • Violet_Z6
    16 years ago

    Reviving this for maureensnc.

    ;)

  • organic_farmer_bob
    15 years ago

    Free mints are free mints. I will have yours!! If George Carlin can survive swimming in the Hudson River then I don't think anything short of a yellow swimming pool should be a big deal...come to think of it that is pretty accurate description of the Hudson! :)

  • lilacs_of_may
    15 years ago

    I have long since stopped eating loose candy from candy bowls, and those free peanuts in bars. Studies have found so much incredibly yucky disgusting stuff on them that I'm convinced that cleaning my cats' litter pans is safer and healthier (which reminds me....).

    For my money, the best way to fend off a toxic and germy universe is to build up a healthy immune system and to wash your hands -- a lot.

  • nameless_in_plano
    14 years ago

    Fascinating discussion. I have a question in a slightly different direction: use of undiluted human urine on non-food plants in the suburbs (peeing on the bushes, or on the ground by the bushes). Earlier it was recommended that urine be diluted before application. Why? What problems would undiluted urine cause on ornamental plants? Does urine break down into stuff that's too acidic, too basic, too salty?

  • barb333
    12 years ago

    I've read several articles on Garden web, here and on other threads that states urine is "sterile". Well, you are only partially correct. Urine IS "Sterile" in the bladder, but once it comes into contact with your urethra during the excretion process, it is no longer sterile. Your urethra is a portal to the atmosphere and therefore contains beneficial bacteria as well as pathogens. That is not to say that these bacteria are harmful to the environment, most of these bacteria cannot live outside of the pH neutral, warm, comfy environment of your urethra. Excreted urine is still safe to use, but it is not sterile unless you collect it by cytocentesis, (a sterile needle inserted into your bladder). Regards.

  • gardenlen
    12 years ago

    mine gets mixed with used kitchen water and watered around the root zones of vege' plants (this has been my practise for a long time now), i never water over the foliage as i don't see it is necessary. now as urine doesn't carry pathogens as such as i am aware of and what anything you put in the garden goes through to process it to a form that the roots of the plants can utilise, i can't even picture how anything could be transported that may be harmfull.

    and on the evidentry side i for one have never heard of any negatives from using urine, so if there are case histories of pandemics lets hear about them please?

    len

    Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

  • toxcrusadr
    12 years ago

    Very interesting thread, with a lot of comments about germs here and germs there, germs in ice, germs in toilet water, germs in the bladder, germs in the urethra, and let's not forget, germs in pee. We forget, all germs are not created equal. In the restaurant experiment someone mentioned, were the abundant microbes cultured from the ice machine the same as those from the toilet? Doubtful, and they probably didn't speciate them.

    I would never try to argue that an ill person does not have pathogens in their urine, but on the other hand many human diseases cannot survive long outside of a host. It's not like a healthy person peeing in their flower beds (or their neighbor doing the same) is going to turn the whole place into a dangerous cesspool of pathogens for years to come. If any are even there they will likely be dead within hours of hitting the air.

    'Scuse me, I gotta go find a tree.

  • borderbarb
    12 years ago

    Do you suppose that Jack had no 'magic beans', but simply relieved himself on the bean plant .... and the result is the stuff of myths and legends.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Jack & The Beanstalk

  • berryman135678
    12 years ago

    First off, Beancounter, I would be hesitant to use any thing you see on FEMA. I had to do a report for a Company, several years ago using their info and it was riddled with Typo's and miswording, which led me to use other sources for information.

    Second, Pee for me in my compost is like Bread is for Annpat....simply gross.

    Third, where do you all you live that you can just drop your drawers and amend your piles?

  • berryman135678
    12 years ago

    Led_Zep/ Marcia,
    I could see pee coming from the neighbors pile as a possibility. If you could see one of my Neighbors Beer parties- their side of the garage acts as a urinal around dark and there are ten guys lined up all night using it....but seriously, the grass along that side is always growing well.

  • the_virginian
    12 years ago

    I pee in a large 1 gallon plastic bottle and when it is full I use it in my miracle-gro hose sprayer that has the blue miracle gro crystals in it, plus fish-emulsion, epsom salts, chemical urea and palm or citrus iron supplement. My palms and cold hardy tropicals grow like crazy and the Musa basjoo or Japanese snow banana is like Jack and the Bean Stalk and can grow 15 feet plus in one growing season. Pee is too valuable to flush during the growing season.

  • steve2416
    12 years ago

    I'm amused that anyone could be "grossed out" by someone using urine in their compost or directly applying it to ornamental's.
    My city's drinking water comes from a river. The water is filtered, chlorinated, and tested for 30-40 common pollutants. There are thousands of chemical compounds in use that are not tested for but commonly discarded into the waste stream plus human and animal urine. Then it is pumped to our houses for our use.
    We flush (discard) our wastes into the sewer. It gets filtered, chlorinated, and put back into the river for the next lucky recipient. By utilizing our urine we are actually making the downstream water somewhat cleaner plus using our homemade fertilizer where it will do some good.
    I hope anyone who is paranoid about urine in the garden is lucky enough to be at the headwaters of the aquifer their water is drawn from or have a great well far from any pollution sources.
    Seven billion people and industries without a conscience on this earth - truly clean water is a crap-shoot.

  • jonas302
    12 years ago

    Berryman a lot of people pee in there bathroom and bring it out later lots of extra work I can't imagine living in such a spot where you cant just drop your pants and fertilize(: Agreed though it is definatly a personal choice

  • dowbright
    10 years ago

    Kid, your story is outrageously hilarious! And that's 6 years down the road into the future.

    You should write a book. Thanks for a huge, long-lasting laugh!!! I hope you're still here to witness the joy. It aboundeth. ;)