Kick A Poo Joy Juice

By Tom Neale, 9/17/2009


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OK, Hold on.  I’m going to be talking about something I’m not supposed to be talking about.  But you probably already know about it.  At least, you do if you have a boat that has a head and head hoses.  And if you don’t know about it, consider yourself blessed. But also consider yourself forewarned, because you’re going to know about it soon enough, if you use that boat. If you only use the head a few weekends a summer, you’ve got a period of blissful ignorance ahead of you. Enjoy it while it lasts.  But if you’re more into boating than that, then you already know what I’m going to be talking about.

Hose deposit

As your, uh, effluent is making its way through your head system, particularly with sea water involved, it slowly builds up hard calcium-like scale deposits on the inside walls of  your hoses, your valves, the heads, the vented loop, the holding tank, the MSD and any other part of the system through which your—uh, well, effluent goes. You think you might be safe? Say, for example, you use a portable pottie? Well admittedly that’s pretty immune from this insidious threat, but don’t hold your breath. Even a portable type of “sanitation device” has enough threats of its own.  Like when you drop it walking down the dock. Or when you don’t drop it on the dock but trip over a line and pitch it forward into the cockpit of that nice well varnished sailboat. But most of us are not immune to the problem of the hour. We’re going to experience it at some time or another.  I wrote about this earlier and you can find it in the 73rd Archived column on this site, as well as a telling picture of the problem and one gentleman’s excruciating efforts to solve his problem.

At first you don’t notice it because the calcium like deposit is thin and doesn’t do much to obstruct the flow. But, as time and usage (and other stuff) passes, this calcium-like wall begins to layer on itself and get thicker and thicker.  Eventually an inside passage that was formerly an inch and a half wide (typical diameter for many head hoses) has constricted until it may be around ¾ of an inch or even less.  You can tell that this is going on as it becomes harder and harder to pump the head.  It’s one reason why I’ve always preferred manual heads, because I want to know what’s going on, by feeling the growing resistance. With an electric head you might not know (unless you’re really hunkered down and listening to that pump straining) until you start blowing circuit breakers or the pump burns up.  Eventually, no matter what, you’ll know it by the fact that your system becomes completely clogged—usually after that guy that you don’t particularly like spent far too much time trying out your throne after drinking all your beer and eating all your pizza, and who’s effluent has just burst through a joint and is gracing the interior recesses of your yacht. And YOU’VE got to fix it. You can be sure he’s not.

This never has to happen if we just keep the interior of our hoses clear. But come on, who does that? There are lots of ways to do this if you want to.  All of the methods have one thing in common. They are all awful. But, until now, they are all we’ve had.  Perhaps the most benign was to dump some vinegar down the head very often.  This helped, but still wasn’t extremely effective unless you did it all the time (like maybe with every flush) and never gave the problem a chance to get the jump on you.  Another way was to pump a solution of muriatic acid and water down the pipes and let it sit, bubble and fizz and do its work. I don’t have to go into any details as to how undesirable this was, from many perspectives.  Another way was to remove your hoses periodically and whale them on a piling till the stuff breaks up and comes spewing out, usually all over the boat in the next slip. Another way was to replace all your hoses and plumbing regularly. This was perhaps the best thing to do but exorbitantly expensive and an exceptionally nasty job. When you pull a head hose through a bulkhead, there’s always going to be something left over inside it and that something is always going to spill out where you can’t clean it up.  You can ram a wooden plug up the hose, but then the hose clamp that keeps the plug from popping out at the worst of times usually won’t clear the hole in the bulkhead. There just hasn’t been a good answer for this insidious pain from the back side. And from the front side.

Now, Raritan Engineering has announced that it’s got a good, easy, environmentally friendly solution to the problem. From time to time when I find a product that I think works well, I tell you about it.  It doesn’t mean that I really know, it doesn’t mean that I’ve tested it, (I don’t have that kind of money and if I did I’d buy another boat) and it doesn’t  mean that I’m saying that it’s better than any competing product, and it doesn’t mean that I’m “endorsing” it. It just means that I’ve used it and I’ve said something like:  “Holy Cow, this stuff is working great for me.  I’m going to get some more of it.”

Cleans Hoses

I’ve been using Raritan products for decades.  The company has actually maintained at least two large boats (one sail and one power) to develop and perfect products in a real—rather than just laboratory—environment. Others in the company are also into boating, such as Dale Weatherstone, the Managing Director of Florida Operations who’s been boating most of his life and who now fishes in his 1987 Mako.  So these people have hands-on experience, (something many wouldn’t want to admit to when it comes to other people’s heads).  They know about calcium buildup. They manufacture many different useful products, including some great heads and one of the most effective and practical solutions to pleasure boat black water treatment on the planet, the LectroScan.  So, according to Dale, they set about trying to come up with a solution—a GOOD solution.

Tom’s Tips About Head Hoses
(as if you really wanted to know)

1. Use only hoses that are designed for marine sanitation use.

2. Many older boats have black radiator type hoses. These really cause problems. For example, their interior walls allow the build up quickly...

Click Here for More Tips

They had to find a solution that wouldn’t harm the environment, wouldn’t harm interior parts of hoses and heads and valves, wouldn’t erode the electrodes in their LectroScan MSDs, and wouldn’t be dangerous to use.  And despite all this, the stuff had to thoroughly dissolve the deposits.  According to Dale, they put a lot into developing such a product. I don’t know what’s in it, and I’m sure the ingredients are proprietary.  All I know is that I tried it and I was amazed at how well it worked and how easy it was to use it.  You can find out more about on . It’s not cheap, but when you consider what it does and how well it does it, and when you consider what it would cost to hire someone to do this job for you (if you could find someone who would do it) and that you’d pretty much rather die than do the job any of the other ways, you wouldn’t expect it to be cheap.  They call it “CH” for “Cleans Hoses.”  OK, that’s the scientist for you.  I like my name. “Kick A Poo Joy Juice.”

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