Pimp your potty with a bidet

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at bidets that can be fit onto existing toilets.

With the introduction of high-tech bidet seats that can be retrofitted to existing toilets, products such as Toto’s Washlet and Brondell’s Swash are gradually becoming standard equipment in high-end homes.One of the selling points: environmental friendliness. Though the bidet does increase water usage slightly, it can reduce the use of toilet paper by 50% to 90%, according to Brondell. That may not seem significant until one realizes that Americans use more than 3.2 million tons of toilet paper annually, cutting down 54 million trees in the process. The production of each roll requires an average of 1 1/2 pounds of wood, 37 gallons of water and 1.3 kilowatts of energy, and it involves toxic chemicals such as chlorine.

Lack of toilets is deadly

The World Toilet Association says the lack of proper toilet facilities kills almost two million people a year.

Most of these 1.8 million deaths occur in Asia. Inadequate sanitation hits children especially high, with 90 percent of the deaths occurring in children under five.

The United Nations has designated 2008 the Year of the Toilet in an effort to improve sanitation in developing nations.

“The funding needed is not overwhelmingly large, but the return is immense,” said Vanessa Tobin of U.N. children’s agency UNICEF. “Political support is extremely important. Advocacy for this issue is a high priority.”

According to the United Nations, spending $10 billion a year could halve the proportion of people without basic toilet facilities by 2015, and Tobin said this investment would net an estimated $84 billion in savings from improved public health and better living conditions.

Jet-powered potty

Former pit mechanic Paul Stender rolled up his sleeves and turned out a jet-powered port-a-potty. It can’t actually be used as a toilet, but it will get you down the highway pretty quickly.

Powered by a 50-year-old, 750-pound Boeing jet turbine that Stender bought for $5,000, the “Port-O-Jet” can top 46 mph with a tailwind. “It’s not real aerodynamic,” he allows.

The driver sits on the original seat and looks through a hole in the door.

NASA buys $46 million toilet

NASA has signed a $46 million contract with Russia’s S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Public Corporation, for a new toilet on the International Space Station.

The toilet system is similar to one in use in the station’s Zvezda Service Module and will be used for the planned expansion from three to six crew members in 2009. The system will be able to automatically transfer urine to a U.S. device that can generate potable water.

Vote for the best restroom of 2007

Cintas is presenting the America’s Best Restroom Award VI. The five finalists are Catch 31, Virginia Beach, VA; Fandangles’, Flushing, MI; Jungle Jim’s International Market, Fairfield, OH; Mix Lounge at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV and Vermont Marble Exhibit, Proctor, VT.

Voting ends July 31 and the winner will be announced in August. Our favorite is the entrance to the Jungle Jim’s restroom which is made to look like a porta-potty.

Clean stains from bottom of bowl

Often dark spots or stains form in the bottom of a ceramic toilet bowl, particularly where the bowl curves. This is caused by material getting trapped in imperfections in the bowl’s finish. A standard brush my have trouble reaching into these pits to remove the deposits. To get at them, turn of water to your tank and flush the toilet until it is empty. You can then reach in with a rag or sponge and clean out the deposits.