December 3, 2013
Urinals: You’re Doing It Wrong
With the time change last month, and then Thanksgiving, and then having to cue up all of your YouTube #WalMartFights Black Friday videos, I’m not going to fault you if you missed this one. Apparently, researchers at the aptly named Splash Lab, Brigham Young University’s premiere incompressible fluids lab, expended valuable time and resources all with the aim to improve yours.
Of course, when we walk out of the men’s room with splash spots on our khaki shorts or porcelain-related spray on our sandals, chances are, at least for me, the establishment I’m in is purveying beverages that quickly ensure the pondering of physics is the furthest thing from my mind. But physics is exactly what was required to teach us the proper technique for when we pee standing up.
I would love to say that redOrbit is the first outlet sharing this invaluable information with you, but we are in the honored company of such august organizations as Time Magazine, Popular Science, NBC News and the BBC, among others. But for my money, some of the finest coverage was in the pages of Men’s Health, where they offered a tasteful and informative spray with an eye-catching graphic.
Leading the research team and author of the study was Tadd Truscott, PhD. To arrive at their conclusion, the team employed an artificial bladder that produced a stream equivalent in force to what a middle-aged man should be capable of. The stream was adjusted to differing distances and angles from and into the urinal. Each possible combination was monitored by high-speed cameras which were able to record the splashback.
So, here’s the thing: maintaining a distance between four and eight inches from the back wall of the urinal is key to having a proper pee. I’ll leave you to your own devices on how you determine that distance. But standing too far back will cause your stream to separate into individual droplets. When those droplets meet a surface, they create the “splash crown”, an image I think most are familiar with. This results in greater unpredictable splatter. Stand too close and you risk the sheer force of your masculine stream exploding onto the back wall and then making the return journey back to your trousers.
Claiming equal import in the splash war is one’s angle of attack. The team’s conclusions suggest you abandon the 90-degree angle option, though I personally have trouble understanding how that is even possible, short of becoming overtly intimate with the wall-mounted commode. Also, don’t pee right in the center of the thing. Instead, pick a side. They claim streaming closer to the side of the urinal while affecting a downward slant effectively decreases what they call the “impact angle.”
Truscott goes on to say, “These splashing events spread urine all over the place. Although urine is relatively sterile, it can breed bacteria and isn’t a healthy thing.” And you might be surprised to learn that there is a remarkable amount of splashback that comes out of a traditional commode. The team, going too far in my book, recommends that you sit down when you pee, even in your own home. IN YOUR OWN HOME. Even though they suggest this because the toilet water that splashes out might be considered a little too unsanitary, that is a toilet tyranny I refuse to submit to.
Well, that’s about it. You’ve been peeing the wrong way your entire life and didn’t even know it. That is until this brave group of scientists tackled the issue head on and showed us the error of our sprays. Now they just need to teach us how to pee into those ice-filled troughs without wearing half of our deposit out of the bathroom.
Image Credit: Thinkstock