If you use a septic system, you’ve probably heard to avoid putting certain products and materials into the system, as doing so could lead to clogs and other damage. While almost everyone knows that sanitary products and paper towels wreak havoc on plumbing, you may not fully understand the reasoning behind the danger.
When you flush a toilet, everything travels to the septic tank. Once there, dense solids sink to the bottom and contribute to the sludge layer. Though bacteria that naturally occurs in the system breaks down much of the muck, excess accumulates. Over time, having the tank pumped protects it from build-up that leads to overflow.
The less you flush heavy, dense items, the healthier your system will be. As such, certain toilet papers dissolve faster and protect the septic tank. Consider the following options:
Containing fewer chemicals, recycled toilet paper works well in septic systems. It has short fibers that break apart easily, and it dissolves quickly.
Although all paper will eventually degrade, biodegradable types do so with less liquid, making them great for septic systems. On the downside, biodegradable toilet paper is thin and less soft than alternatives and costs more.
TP Labeled as “Septic-Safe”
Some toilet papers on the market use a designation “septic safe.” This tends to denote types that dissolve quickly, but not all brands are created equal, so make sure there’s a clear indication that the National Sanitation Foundation has certified the brand as septic safe.
Other Things to Think About
If you’re still not sure what to use with your system, you can conduct an easy experiment. For example, choose a few brands and apply the following test: 1) Place a few squares of toilet paper into a clear container (with a lid) or mason jar; 2) Fill the container three quarters full with water and put the lid on; 3) Shake well for about 10 seconds…this is intended to act as a flush; 4) Examine the paper to see if it has broken up into small pieces. If it has, it’s a good choice for a septic system. 5) Repeat the test with all the brands to see which ones break up fastest.
Once you know which ones work well, you can try them out and find your favorites.