Clearing the Air Around Odor Testing

marine head odor testing

Drew Frye

After several rounds of chemical testing for holding tanks, we have got this stink detection down to a science.

Because the masking chemicals are more effective in port-a-potty applications, there is only one true measure of effectiveness: whether the toilet still stinks after it is flushed.

marine head odor testing

Drew Frye

Since calibrating noses presents certain challenges, it’s nice to have an analytical number to compare as well. A hydrogen sulfide monitor, of the type used to test sewer gas, was used to back-up our sniff testing

We measured hydrogen sulfide (H2S) levels in the holding chamber, using a Honeywell Gas Alert Quattro meter.

marine head odor testing

Drew Frye

1. The door to the lab, a pre-fabricated shed, bears a chilling warning

2. As we did in our holding tank test, we used five-gallon buckets in place of the port-a-potty waste tank. They were only partially filled for the test.

3. The Reliance Double Duty bags works with its own camp-style toilets, but don’t fit well with marine port-a-potties.

4. The Toilet in a Bag proved to be highly odor resistant and strong. The bags cost a dollar each and the package comes with odor absorbing gel and a scoop for adding the gel.

More on Head Odor
Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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