Toilet Museums, On-line Exhibits, and How-To Pages
- The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, India is run by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, Ph.D., D.Litt., the founder of a non-profit sanitation organization. The web page includes the "elaborate drill for defecation" as prescribed in the scripture Manusmriti Vishnupuran. On this topic of course also see our page on Hindu toilet rituals and regulations from the Manusmṛti.
- What about the latrines in Titan I ICBM complexes? The Toilets of Doom were shock-mounted like everything else in the facility — pipes, conduits, fixtures, etc., were required to have 6 to 12 inches of space to move and anything mounted to the floor or any other surface had to have its own suspension system. This was to help the system withstand near hits from inbound Soviet counter-battery ICBMs. See their recent pictures of now-vandalized intercontinental ballistic toilets.
- Loo Tours offers "Lavitorial entertainments in London", 1.5-2 hour toilet-themed walking tours.
- Christine Powell's A Matter of Convenience explains the historical background of sanitation in the 17th century.
- PlumbWorld has The History of the Toilet as an infographic.
- What if you want to ask "Where is the toilet?" in some other language? Ask the Travlang.com site. I have received complaints that they don't list enough languages (!!) or that the precise semantics for the Farsi is a bit off (!!!), but complain to them and not to me.
- NPR's Goats and Soda had a short but nice collection of family's toilets from around the world.
- The Himeji City Science Museum (in Himeji, Japan) created the exhibit Za Unchi-ten (or The Poop Exhibit) showcasing the dung of 100 animals and exploring the relationship between feces and health. The museum's site is, naturally enough, in Japanese, but here is an English description.
Jochen Zeh was working on an art project that would
"draw a line made of sparkling white toilets into a green,
hilly field of upcoming wheat"
All he needed was:
"Somebody who will lend me 200 toilets for one or two weeks.
A photographer specialized in landscape and architectural photos.
A magazine who will publish the photos."
jochenzeh.comdomain where this was discussed has disappeared along with the nutty idea.
- Someone is trying to "collect the largest collection of weird and wonderful toilets and may even publish the pics", so if you want to help, email them: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- The owner of a toilet lid museum was looking to sell the collection. The owner-artist, a retired plumber, had made artwork from the lids for 53 years.
- "Toilet hygiene in the classical era" is an overview of historical post-defecation cleaning concentrating on the Greco-Roman world. It was in the British Medical Journal in December, 2012: BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8287
- Steve Mirsky of Scientific American discussed the BMJ article.
- Four physicists at Brigham Young University studied the physics properties of urine splash-back in a urinal-like environment. Fluid dynamics revealed how to minimize urine splash-back. Summary: closer is better, as fluid streams follow the Plateau-Rayleigh instability and break up into a stream of drops, each with individual splash-back. Angle also helps.
- Law of Urination: all mammals empty their bladders over the same duration, approximately 21 seconds, despite bladder volumes ranging from 100 milliliters to 100 liters.
are sensitive to small variations of
the Earth's magnetic field",
a paper in Frontiers in Zoology 2013, 10:80,
by scientists from the Czech University of Life
Sciences and the University of Dulsburg-Essen.
Their abstract contains:
Several mammalian species spontaneously align their body axis with respect to the Earth's magnetic field (MF) lines in diverse behavioral contexts. [...] We measured the direction of the body axis in 70 dogs of 37 breeds during defecation (1,893 observations) and urination (5,582 observations) over a two-year period. [...] Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm MF conditions. This directional behavior was abolished under Unstable MF. The best predictor of the behavioral switch was the rate of change in declination, i.e., polar orientation of the MF.
- Russian patent #2,399,858 describes a system for firing human waste projectiles from the main gun of a tank.
Toilet News and Stories
- From Turrets to Toilets: A Partial History of the Throne Room from the Smithsonian discusses the history of the toilet in architecture, with the garderobe replacing chamber pots in 11th century European castle building.
- The Powerful History of Potty Training in The Atlantic discusses sociopolitical aspects of toilet training. Authoritarian collectivism of East Germany, uninhibited lassez-faire in leftist West German Kommunes, the belief by 1940s American anthropologists that Japanese early toilet training directly led to "the overwhelming brutality and sadism of the Japanese at war", Freudian inspired theories that authoritarian German toilet training led to robotic obedience to authority and anti-Semitism in the 1930s and 1940s, and more.
- Historian and author Richard Melzer had his Outhouses of New Mexico exhibit at the Las Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts.
- BBC reported that Hong Kong police had raided triad gang-run brothels operating out of converted public toilets in an unused shopping mall. "Many of the women held are thought to be from mainland China. [....] In a statement, Hong Kong police said they arrested 51 women and 35 men aged between 17 and 72. Drugs, knives and other illegal objects were seized during the raid. Local media reports said that the brothels had been running for several months and that male and female toilets had been converted into 11 sq m (120 sq ft) cubicles used for sexual activity."
- What Makes a Good Toilet in The Atlantic discusses pit toilets and their effect on local health and culture, especially in Africa and other places where the U.S. Peace Corps works.
- TreeHugger has a large collection of articles on the history and future of plumbing. This includes an 8-part series "The History of the Bathroom, revisited"
- The University of the Arts London had a competition, The Toilet of the Future. It was won by a raised squat toilet design.
- Nautil.us had an article "Lavatory Laboratory: How sanitation is following the cell phone model". It discussed how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been giving grants through its Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, some US$240,000 in 2012.
Gizmodo had an article on
The Long, Unglamorous History of the Toilet,
- The Skara Brae settlement in Orkney in 3500 BC and the Harrapa civilization in today's India in 3000 BC had toilets that drained into nearby water and subterranean clay chambers, respectively.
- The public latrines of Rome, as at Rome itself, Britannia, Oplontis, Pompeii, and western Byzantium.
- The horrors of the lack of plumbing in the European Dark Ages through Medieval times.
- The first patent for a flushing toilet, awarded to Scottish inventor Alexander Cummings in 1775.
- The 19th century English plumber coincidentally named Thomas Crapper, who did a lot to popularize the flushing toilet but did not invent it.
- Time magazine had a story in March 2009 about a toilet-themed restaurant in Taiwan. "Modern Toilet" it's called, and it's now a chain with seven outlets in Taiwan, one each in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and plans for others elsewhere in China and in Macau and Kuala Lumpur.
- A new toilet-themed restaurant opened in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, China in Seeptember, 2013, joining Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou which all had their own by then. Many pictures are available.
- Speaking of toilets and food, a Japanese scientist has announced creating a protein-based "meat" product from human feces. "Mr. Ikeda claims that in initial testing people found the feces steak to taste somewhat like beef." Sounds like a job for the Soylent Corporation!
- In the build-up to the Olympic games in Beijing, according to the BBC in March, 2008: "China is rushing to install sit-down loos for its 500,000 foreign Olympics visitors, after complaints that venues had only Asian-style squat toilets. A lack of Western-style facilities was a common complaint after some 30 test events at Games venues, officials said. 'A lot of parties have raised the question of toilets... We have told the venues to improve on this,' said Yao Hui, deputy head of venue management." Yikes, a lack of raised porcelain commodes! Much worse than China's awful human rights record, no?
The Internet holds umpteen copies of a story about a US Navy air mission
They were running short of ordnance but at the same time commemorating
the 6-millionth pound of ordnance dropped (well, if you're dropping it
by the millions of pounds, you're going to run out before long).
A toilet had been damaged on board the USS Midway, and was going to
be thrown overboard.
The ordnance crew made a rack, tailfins, and nose fuse for it,
and it was mounted on an A-1 Skyraider of VA-25.
It was then dropped in the Delta area of South Vietnam.
Ask Google to search
for the standard title of the account:
"what the hell was on 572's right wing"
- A woman in western Kansas (USA) sat on her boyfriend's toilet for two years until she became stuck to it and had to be removed by medical personnel, as reported in the International Herald-Tribune.
- While I have been to the summit of Ben Nevis, the highest point in Britain (and thus the highest point in Scotland, and the highest point in the UK), it was just after the Highest Toilet in Britain (and Scotland, and the UK...) was demolished. See the John Muir Trust's pictures and story.
- Las Vegas Weekly had a story about casino urinals in July, 2009.
Buying and Repairing Toilet Hardware and Related Items
- Answering the question, "But what if my existing toilet provides inadequate radiological contrast when the patient eliminates waste in a normal position?" and introducing the obscure term defecography: Build your own radiological commode! There used to be one of those for sale at http://www.neocast.net/2147415262.html, but that domain has disappeared.
- On the other hand, if your question is more like "But what if I am so grotesquely obese that I need a specially designed toilet to support my quivering bulk?", then check out the Big John Toilet Seat and Support Company. Their toilets are tested to a weight capacity of a a 1,200-pound load! And by "1,200-pound load" they mean over a half-ton of flesh upon its extra-wide seat, and not, ah, you know what I mean. They seem to have taken the market niche formerly held by the Great John Toilet Company, which marketed a unit tested to a full ton, 2,000 pounds!
- Washloo is the UK's only domestic electric bidet brand providing Japanese-style bidets that attach onto existing toilets.
- PlumberStock is an on-line plumbing supply company selling to the public at wholesale prices.
- Rainwater Tanks Australia — Grumpyb Water Tanks, one of the leading online water tank suppliers in Australia offers high quality water tank accessories, rain water tanks, water pumps, poly tanks, raised garden beds, slimline water tanks in different shape and sizes. As they are water tank volume sellers, offer the best prices and free delivery services in Australia including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and NSW.
- Exeloo manufactures automated self-cleaning public toilets with automatic toilet paper dispensers.
- Envirolet manufactures a composting toilet that looks disturbingly like a wood stove, and they encourage owners to send in photos of theirs.
- John M. Tootabeanie operates letterfromjohn.com, and prints restroom graffiti on t-shirts. Buy shirts! Contribute designs! Buy shirts!
- Toiletology 101 is a web site dedicated to toilet repair.
- This Old Toilet hosts the toilet tank lid replacement service, selling used and salvaged toilet tank lids from 1929 through today in a variety of colors. Really.
- TSU-Tech specializes in Japanese advanced technology toilet seats, computer-controlled misting units etc.
- Aquatron sells a composting toilet system: "two medium-sized Aquatron models were at the end of 1999 installed in a cabin on a mountain top in the Swedish mountains. The cabin belongs to the Swedish Tourist Association, the national organization for Tourism in Sweden. It was reported that several skiing tourists during the Easter Holidays were astonished when finding modern WC facilities at this altitude. Especially these cabins have been renown for primitive latrines."
- The Bumper Dumper is a low-tech portable toilet mounted on a trailer hitch.
- The Stadium Pal is an external catheter and leg-mounted collection bag for use while watching sporting events.
- Plumbing Directory, "your ultimate plumbing directory of local plumbing contractors" — http://www.aplumbers.com
- Plumber Los Angeles provides residential, commercial and 24/7 emergency plumbing services in the Greater Los Angeles area — http://www.plumbers-los-angeles.com
- Phoenix Plumber provides emergency commercial & residential plumbing services in Phoenix, Arizona — http://www.plumber-phoenix.com
Toilet Maps and Locators, and iTunes and iPhone apps
Unless you make unusually detailed preparations for trips, or you travel only where you can maintain constant wireless Internet connectivity, some of these seem to be of limited use. But....
- The Poo Log is an iPhone app based on the book "What's Your Poo Telling You?" There are even YouTube videos.
- The Bathroom Diaries has the most detailed traveler-submitted directory of public-accessible toilets I've found. It lists toilets in over 120 countries, including over 9000 in the U.S.
- The Australian National Public Toilet Map describes itself as "A project of the National Continence Management Strategy". That's an unusual and admirable government strategy!
- Where to 'Go' in the Great Outdoors is a pamphlet for trekkers in Scotland. This includes the extremely rare British Isles Squatter! A free copy of the pamphlet is available (if you're in the U.K., anyway).
- Philippe Dorcourt has built a web site of public toilets in Paris.
Other collections of pictures, and stories, and other odds and ends
- Japanese toilet manufacturer Toto offers a line of paper craft toilets and kitchens. Download the PDF files with the cut-out patterns and instructions, and build your own 1/8 scale toilets, counters, kitchens, public restroom, and more.
- Les chieurs — Pooping stars offers a line of figurines of famous international figures defecating. Really! 18.50€ each!
- Ode to a Composting Toilet is a poem about, well, a certain composting toilet.
- The Toilet Paper Blog is a somewhat travel-themed and entirely toilet-focused blog, soliciting your contributions along the same lines.
- WC International is a toilet-themed blog.
- The Toilet Nation web site shows toilets, toilet seats, toilet info, and news.
- The World Toilet web site covers many countries with detailed analysis.
- And in the specialized world of French toilets:
- theplumber.com — Links to many toilet and other plumbing sites.
- Crappers Quarterly — Only quarterly for now, but perhaps bimonthly in the near future!
- Multimedia gallery of images "from our lavatorial heritage."
- Toilets of Barga, Tuscany, Italy.
- Three dirty toilets in Tokyo, Japan.
- Nick's toilet guide