10 Green Ways to Use Urine

I’m pretty sure that you and I have one thing in common; the only thing we’ve done with our urine is either flushed it – or passed a small amount of it to a nurse or lab technician to find out what was wrong with us. Shocker! Urine is not something you really want to mess with, well, at least not you or I, but other people have!

Here are some ways people have used urine for green, natural or not so eco-friendly ways.

Compost

Nepalese researchers found that pee is a natural booster to increase the productivity of organic compost and manure. As they reported:

“The premise is simple: Pee is rich in nitrogen, which plants desperately need. Commercial fertilizers boost plant growth and yield by providing abundant nitrogen to the plant’s roots.”

Now that makes sense of all the outhouses you see when you travel the world. The problem is, gunpowder is also ¾ potassium nitrate which is urine – and manure … and water. Obviously producing too much of a good thing can fertilize your ground, or make you into fertilizer for the ground.

Tracking Climate Change

There is a mammal called the Rock Hyrax in Africa that pees in the same spot. In fact whole herds of them pee in the same spot, which is incredibly useful to scientists. As a pretty chilled bunch, they spend their time eating and playing great mammal games, but as they pee, the composition gives the scientists a clue as to what plant and soil life was like for that period of time. As the urine is studied, the researchers can see how the climate has affected the living world around the herd.

Growing a New You (Well, nearly)

I kid you not … in an abstract taken from a Chinese study, urine is used to regenerate new teeth.

“Tooth is vital not only for a good smile, but also good health. Yet, we lose tooth regularly due to accidents or diseases. An ideal solution to this problem is to regenerate tooth with patients’ own cells. Here we describe the generation of tooth-like structures from integration-free human urine induced pluripotent stem cells (ifhU-iPSCs).”

The question is – would you really want teeth grown in urine in your mouth?

Antidote to Pollution

Those scientists are working hard on maximising the use of our waste products! Research has recently found that urine, when mixed with olive waste water, produces a powerful CO2 absorber. After is has been absorbed and neutralized, the resultant mass can be spread as a natural fertilizer. This super pee is currently being designed as a lining for industrial chimneys and incinerators both in new production and retro fit.

Surgery

Whilst we are looking at body parts, an old 15th century barber/surgeon (yes, they were dual purposed in those days – and with using a cut throat razor all the time I’m not surprised) named Leonardo Fioravanti witnessed an argument between two men where one of the men cut off the other man’s nose. In a flash of philanthropy, Fioavanti pee’d on the article and sewed it back on.

It isn’t clear as to why he used his own urine on the nose as it’s not recorded, but it is assumed it was to sterilize the olfactory organ as it was sure to be more sanitary than any water to hand in that era. Something else that isn’t recoded is if the man survived.

Fuel

Rocket fuel and car fuel are neck and neck in the next ‘space race’ to get the perfect fuel. NASA and Ohio University are both on the path to create fuel from urine, and are perilously close to mass production.

Just don’t get them confused. You’ll lose your licence.

BMW Paint

In the 1980’s when winning wasn’t anything – it was everything – BMW’s formula one team needed an edge for the coating of the engine blocks on their all new turbo charged car, so yes! You guessed it. They pee’d on it. Like a dog would. Apparently it helped harden the material against the cold.

But boy! Imagine the smell when the engine got hot …

Generate Electricity

Four Nigerian girls have invented a generator that runs on urine. 1 litre of urine will generate 6 hours of electricity. An excellent innovation in a country where funds are low and areas are rural, bringing life to communities.

Meanwhile in England, another university is on the brink of producing a ‘smart toilet’. By day it’s a common urine collecting device – by night, it charges your smart phone – or several thousand phones, two hundred calculators and a TV on a Sunday morning after a weekend at your typical western university.

Self-Healing Plastic

Denmark is a hive of activity currently developing Pig Pee Plastic, where those clever Scandies thought, ‘What do we have a lot of? Pig pee and plastic spoons. Let’s combine the two’. So that’s exactly what they did. They are making plastic out of the compounds in pigs urine, and also are consulting with the French to make a new kind of rubber that magically heals itself.

What will they think of next? NO, please, just no. Don’t ask them that question …

Laundry

Are you familiar with the saying, ‘So poor they don’t have a pot to pee in’? For centuries urine has been used in laundering and washing and curing leather.

The Romans placed pots all around the city where people could relieve themselves when necessary, and the natural organic ammonia was collected and used to launder freshly dyed organic fabrics. The urine caused a chemical reaction to fix the dyes so they didn’t run.

Tanners in the Roman times used to get the poorer classes to collect their pee so they didn’t run out, as they needed the golden, salt rich liquid to cure the leather they worked on. All you needed was a pot – and you earned money! This practised carried on until the 20th century.

Just don’t try this at home. The chances are your new designer boots have already been treated with something less … natural. Progess? That’s a tough one.

Infertility Treatment

In the 1960’s Dr Bruno Lunenfeld found that the hormones in the urine of menopausal nuns was exactly the right blend to treat infertility. He recreated them synthetically and there gave birth the process that became known as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Just one question – what was he doing rummaging around the water closets of menopausal nuns … actually, I don’t think I want to know.

Medicine

Urine therapy has been around for centuries and is well used in India, where it saw a resurgence in the late 90’s. You drink a few ounces of mid-stream, first flow of the day sample, sipping it carefully to boost your immune system.

I suppose that’s no different from NASA astronauts that are reduced to drinking their recycled urine as there is no water source in space. Actually, yes it is. One drinks a treated product out of necessity, the other drinks it raw out of choice. *Shudder* Somehow I don’t see it catching on to solve the world wide water shortage problem we are creating for ourselves.

Ok, so I did more than 10 ways to use urine, but I was having so much fun! All joking aside, it’s great to see a free, natural resource being worked into the solutions for everyday products. How they thought them up, I’ll never know…

But…

…Whatever the reason, I don’t want to be the person who sits next to the man that said to himself, ‘Urine. Now there’s an under used natural resource that has never been investigated…’

Either way, right now … I need a pee.

Resources:

http://listverse.com/2014/01/27/10-ways-urine-can-shape-the-future/

http://www.cellregenerationjournal.com/content/2/1/6/abstract

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120817135410.htm

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/10/unusual-uses-of-urine

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/10/human-pee-added-to-compost-boosts-crops/

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/04/urine-facts/

http://makerfaireafrica.com/2012/11/06/a-urine-powered-generator/

http://www.reuters.com/video/2013/08/13/reuters-tv-pee-powered-cell-phone-points-to-smart-t?videoId=247567725&videoChannel=118065

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ist/?next=/science/2013/08/from-gunpowder-to-teeth-whitener-the-science-behind-historic-uses-of-urine/

http://healthland.time.com/2010/09/13/the-strange-world-of-drug-origins-nuns-urine-yew-trees-and-rooster-combs/

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