Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Drinking urine ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Drinking urine
Category: Health > Medicine
Asked by: bethc50-ga
List Price: $35.00
Posted: 11 May 2003 21:01 PDT
Expires: 10 Jun 2003 21:01 PDT
Question ID: 202555
Recently I sent email to the editor of our local garden club with
some information she might want to include for the next newsletter. 
Well one thing led to another, it was late at night and I ended up
telling her about a potable water system I'd heard about.  Almost cost
free, safe, and no one seems to know about it -- and on the news that
night I'd seen Iraqi's begging President Bush to send water.  Water!
     Well I received a stiff note in response that the President of
the Club would be informed of my email to her, and I now fear I face
the equivilant of a Garden Club Firing Squad.  Hostas at 50 paces?
     Can you help me find some research to at least establish that
while I may have been off-topic for the Garden Club I was nevertheless
factually correct?
     I do not remember where I heard this or read it.  The Christian
Science Monitor, The Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, one of those
interesting features Public Radio carries now and then?
     Since I did not take notes at the time some of this must be wrong
but I think the gist of the information is correct.  1.) Get a metal
or plastic tube.  Scrub it clean inside, a dry scrub with sand is
fine.  Make 3 caps, one with a small hole and 1 to fit over it tight. 
Scrub them as well.  2.)  Put everything in hot sun until any water
dropped on them SIZZLES off.  3.)  Also find some sand, the purer the
better.  Commercially cleaner, boiled / sterilized / etc. is NOT
necessary.  Sift it as well as you can.  Spread it out in the sun
until you say "ouch" when you touch it.  4.)  Put the cap with the
hole on the bottom, the bigger cap over it TIGHT.  Fill the tube with
sand.  5.)  Fill the sand tube with one day's output of urine from a
healthy human or the equivilant from a healthy animal.  Cap it so
there's no loss from evaporation.  Let it cool off and trickle down. 
6.) Drink.
     This works because of several reasons.  A.)  Urine from a healthy
human or animal carries almost [need a definition of "almost"] no
bacteria or viruses.  That waste goes out through the stools.  B.) 
Urine from a healthy (etc.) comes out of the body sterile.  C.)  Most
of the "waste" of urine is just ... excess water.  Water is needed by
the body to move everything around, but having once done that needs to
gotten rid of and fresh water brought in.  The body also creates
excess water as a biochemical byproduct.  D.)  The biochemicals in
urine are the residue of what we take in as food or drink, or produced
by the body to run the body and now unused, or used up and then create
byproduct chemicals, and can now be gotten rid of.  (Is "of" a
dangling participle?)  These biochemical residues also leave our
bodies in our stools.  They are present in relatively small amounts in
our urine and can be retaken into our bodies almost [need a definition
of "almost"] indefinitely without producing harm.
     Filtered through sand as a kind of miniature septic tank, urine
is purified to acceptable potable standards.  [Note:  Whose
standards?]  The sand does not remove smell.  To do that, pack in some
charcoal from last night's fire, well burned charcoal.
     If the doesn't have a "normal" urine smell, if it has any trace
of slime, the urine donor is sick.  Do not drink the resulting water. 
The sand tube filter cannot filter out abnormal substances.
     I admit I would not do this myself, but I can afford $6,000 for
the new well I just had put in on my farm.  A new septic tank will
cost me at least that much someday.  I do like to know such
information "just in case".
     This is not as good as a multi-million dollar water purification
plant, but if it works it will work NOW!
     I found one article from NASA, a classroom science lesson showing
a simplified form of how water will be recycled on the International
Space Station and it's very similar to what I've written above.  I
printed that out.  Then after (20 minutes) of strenuously typing
'+"drink urine" +"sand filter" -aquarium' and variations on that I
remembered Google Answers.
     I'd like at least 3 sources with solid reputations, with at least
one fairly close to my sand tube memory.  I may send copies to my
Senators and Congressional Representatives as well, now that I'm
getting indignant.
     You can also be proud to know you helped me avoid a firing squad
armed with Hostas, or maybe Dahlias, at 50 paces.
Subject: Re: Drinking urine
Answered By: redhoss-ga on 12 May 2003 06:19 PDT
Hello bethc50,

Even though your question might sound disgusting, in survival or
primative conditions such a filter could certainly be used. I have
found three references which you should find very interesting:


You can also construct a more substantial filter for this purpose,
using fine, clean sand. But only where such a filter will be kept in
continuous operation, full and slightly overflowing with water input.
The basic principle is that your water will go through at minimum a
two feet depth of sand on its passage through the filter, and you
don't want more than four gallons of water an hour for each square
foot of sand cross-section to flow through the device.

A wooden barrel or steel drum or custom-made container can be used.
Allow a height including some four inches at top for water waiting to
sink into the sand, then at minimum two feet of sand (the more the
better), and finally three to six inches for a layer of small stones
or pebbles roughly the size of peas in the bottom. Only a very tiny
hole of barely more than one sixteenth inch in diameter should provide
the outflow at the bottom of the filter.

You'll also want a small overflow hole and collector pipe near the top
of the filter to re-route excess water flow.

Growth of bacteria in the sand is what performs part of the filtration
process. Preventing sunlight from striking the sand will prohibit the
growth of green algae. Maintenance consists of scraping the top
quarter inch of sand off the pile when it's deemed necessary, and
adding more sand to replace that removed after maybe three or four
such scrapings.

Note that boiling or other purification of any water output from the
sand filter is still recommended.

-- page 225, Country Living A Guide for City People by Jerome
Belanger, Award Books, 1973



Under certain conditions, in passing water through a bed of sand,
particularly effective filtration is achieved by biological
purification in addition to the mechanical action of the filter. For
this to occur, the filtration must be relatively slow.

A deposit is formed at the surface and in the top few centimeters of
sand, in which breeds a whole range of bacteria and microscopic
plants, forming a skin (called the Schmutzdecke, biological membrane
or bacterial film), which works both biologically and mechanically. It
acts as a very fine filter which retains or kills most pathogenic
organisms: it eliminates eggs, cysts, nearly all pathogenic bacteria
and a proportion of viruses.

Slow sand filtration is the only procedure which achieves such an
improvement of water quality in a single operation.

A slow sand filter can operate for weeks or even months without
maintenance (which consists of the removing of a thin layer of sand
when the filtration rate becomes too low).

In practice 

At the collective scale, the construction of this type of filter needs
the input of a specialist, and then the maintenance is relatively

At a smaller scale, for example in a feeding center, a small filter
may be made with local materials.

Whatever the size of the filter, the operating principle remains the


The bacterial layer is fragile and certain precautions should be taken
to preserve it: never let it dry out, and never pass chlorinated water
through it.


Slow Sand Filter  This type of filtration device is generally
considered in the category of "Appropriate Technology" because of its
relatively simple design. A slow sand filter consists of two or more
filter beds containing 3 to 4 feet of sand placed over a
gravel-supported underdrain. Most (if not all) of the materials of
construction are often available locally, even in developing
countries. As its name implies, a slow sand filter cannot filter a
large flow of water in a small, contained filter assembly. Instead, it
relies on a large surface area to filter a relatively slow flow of
water (per square foot of filter area). Filtration rates of
approximately 0.04 to 0.16 gallons per minute per square foot of
filter surface area are typical. Therefore, a relatively large surface
area is necessary to accommodate a realistic flowrate (for example, a
10-gpm flowrate requires between 60 and 250 square feet of filter
surface area).

Slow sand filters can provide removal of suspended solids, turbidity,
as well as microorganisms without the need for chemical addition or
the use of electrical power. It will not remove all microorganisms,
but removes a significant amount due to the formation of a rich
biological matrix called a "Schmutzedecke." This layer consists of a
wide assortment of life forms including algae, rotifers, and many
other organisms. These organisms assimilate microorganisms
(protozoans, bacteria and virus) thus reducing their numbers as water
passes through the biologically active matrix. Slow sand filters are
cleaned by draining the filter and scraping the top inch of sand
(which includes the "Schmutzedecke"). However, this destroys the
"Schmutzedecke" and requires a re-ripening period that can take weeks.
While one filter is being cleaned, the other is on-line to continue
the filtration process. In recent years, a new method of cleaning slow
sand filters called "wet harrowing" has been developed that simplifies
the cleaning process. Also, the creation and use of polyethylene
filter vessel structures have made the task of building slow sand
filters much easier.

It must be recognized that slow sand filters have their limitations in
that they cannot remove high turbidity, high levels of microorganisms,
nor chemical contamination from water. However Global Water uses slow
sand filters wherever this relatively simple water treatment
technology can accommodate local water conditions.

These references appear to be reputable and seem to closely describe
the type of filter you mention. I hope that this will help to restore
your reputation with your Garden Club.

Good luck, Redhoss
Subject: Re: Drinking urine
From: hlabadie-ga on 12 May 2003 05:59 PDT
You might want to look up information on Morarji Desai, former Prime
Minister of India. He lived rather a long time, advocating the ancient
Vedic practice of Urine Therapy.

Recycling urine by evaporation and condensation is a survivalist
technique. And, of course, Urinetown is a big hit.

Subject: Re: Drinking urine
From: 17a12k-ga on 12 May 2003 06:36 PDT
drink piss - u live longer ;)
Subject: Re: Drinking urine
From: probonopublico-ga on 12 May 2003 09:03 PDT
Our water supplies are not only filtered (to remove larger impurities)
but also sterilised (to make sure that the smaller impurities are
rendered safe for human consumption).

Furthermore, some further treatment may be necessary to adjust the pH
value which often becomes unacceptably acidic after sterlisation.

Obviously, where survival is at stake, then anything goes but the
provision of safe drinking water has made a huge contribution to the
health of those countries that have invested in the technology over
the past 100 years or so.

In my opinion, it is highly undesirable to use alternative supplies
unless there is absolutely no alternative.
Subject: Re: Drinking urine
From: zeroone-ga on 12 May 2003 22:18 PDT
A quickie ... for your reference

Let me know if you find anything useful from here. 


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy