Toilet paper is an inevitable part of our lives. But do you need special toilet paper for septic systems, really? Who knew that there was a whole science behind purchasing the right kind of toilet paper.
City people rarely have to think about the properties of the toilet paper they use. They only want it to be strong, soft, and as cheap as possible.
On the other hand, those living in households with septic systems that are quite common in rural areas need to be careful with the type of toilet paper they use so that the system doesn’t clog. Septic system clogging is a smelly and disgusting affair you never want to experience. That’s why you need to know everything you can do to prevent it.
In this article, we’re going to focus on questions like what toilet paper is septic safe to use and what is the best toilet paper for a septic tank. We will also explain what kind of toilet paper is not septic safe and why.
What Is the Best Toilet Paper for Septic Tanks
Toilet paper should be hard to tear but soft on the skin for your comfort. But there is another criterion: it should dissolve easily in water.
A toilet paper that doesn’t meet these conditions will hurt our skin or put us in an awkward situation by clogging our toilet, pipes, or septic system.
But is it possible to have toilet paper that is both strong and fast dissolving? Many people try to meet these two criteria by purchasing thin toilet paper that doesn’t really hold together and then use more of it at a time, but this is just wrong.
More toilet paper will take more time to dissolve, and by the time your batch has disappeared, many new batches may join it. Before you know it, you are wearing your homemade ninja costume, holding a plunger in your hand, hoping for the worst to pass as quickly as it can.
So what kind of toilet paper is best for septic tanks? How to meet all the seemingly mutually exclusive criteria? What does septic safe toilet paper mean, even? Well, here’s your answer.
Septic Safe Toilet Paper is Biodegradable
Biodegradable paper products, toilet paper included, are designed to break down easily. Yes, it’s true that every type of paper is biodegradable; after all, paper is made of cellulose. However, biodegradable paper is produced to dissolve faster.
The paper itself is still soft and absorbent, but the bonds between fibers are looser and contain none of the non-dissolvable elements that would slow down the process. Biodegradable toilet paper may cost you an additional dollar or two, but this is nothing compared to the struggles of a clogged septic system.
You can easily find biodegradable toilet paper with a ‘septic safe’ label when purchasing toilet paper online:
Recycled Toilet Paper Can Be Safe for the Septic System
Recycled toilet paper may not degrade faster than non-recycled paper; however, it has some advantages if you’re using a septic system.
The septic system contains much more than simple water. The waste that ends up there provides food and energy to the septic microbiome and helps toilet paper dissolve. Certain chemicals used in toilet paper production can interfere with this process, and recycled toilet paper is usually free from such chemicals.
However, since no one can guarantee that the recycled toilet paper will dissolve fast (while this should be the case with those labeled as biodegradable), you can try and test it yourself. Simply take a few sheets of toilet paper and mix them in a large glass of water. Observe how quickly it dissolves. Even if it doesn’t dissolve as fast as a biodegradable one, it’s still a better option than standard rolls since it needs less water to break down and takes up less space in the septic tank once it dissolves.
Here is a few septic-safe labeled recycled toilet paper you can buy online:
- Reel Premium Toilet Paper
- Scott Essential Professional
- Seventh Generation Toiler Paper
- Marcal 100% Recycled Paper
Now that we’ve discussed the two most important criteria for septic safe toilet paper let’s move in the opposite direction and see what kinds of toilet paper you should avoid when you are relying on a septic system.
What Toilet Paper Is Not Septic Safe?
Septic-safe toilet paper is kind of a compromise. We usually choose toilet paper based on price, comfort, and strength. Well, one of those will have to go if you want to make sure that your septic system remains in good condition. Thick, strong, and chemically processed toilet paper can clog your septic system. With that in mind, let’s discuss the toilet paper features you should avoid and make a checklist of what you can and can’t flush down the bowl.
What Kind of Toilet Paper Should I Avoid?
There are several features of toilet paper that are not septic system friendly. By avoiding them, you can prevent your septic system from physical and chemical damage.
High Wet Strength
When buying a new package of toilet paper, you want to consider its wet strength. Too strong toilet paper won’t dissolve fast enough, and may cause clogging.
The optimal septic-friendly toilet paper is one of mid-level wet strength, so it neither tears in the middle of the job nor fills up the tank.
The thicker the toilet paper, the more absorbent it is. Similar to strong toilet paper, the highly absorbent one will dissolve more slowly, and it may pile up in time. This means avoiding labels like ultra-plush, ultra-soft, three-ply, etc. Any type of toilet paper that resembles a paper towel is a no-go with the septic system.
Chlorine and Bleach
Hard chemicals used in toilet paper and other hygienic products can harm the microbiome of the septic system, ultimately leading to the disruption of its work; therefore, it’s recommended to avoid such products.
What If I Use the Wrong Type of Toilet Paper?
There are a few possible scenarios that can happen if your toilet paper isn’t septic system safe. None of them is very good.
One possible result is physical damage to the septic system and its pipes. The other is the disruption of the biological action in the system’s tank.
Hard-to-dissolve toilet paper, along with other types of trash such as hygienic pads, tampons, wet wipes, diapers, cigarette butts, food leftovers, or anything that isn’t biodegradable can cause a certain level of blockage to the system as the tank fills up. This can lead to pipe damage, tank damage, or clogging.
Furthermore, chemically-treated wet wipes, toilet paper, and other hygiene products can disrupt the biotic balance and biological action in the tank. The septic tank is sort of an ecosystem of its own. The bacterial structure promotes the degradation of human organic waste. A change in the septic microbiome can lead to malfunctions, and the waste may end up in the drain field, ultimately leading to a system failure.
In order to prevent this from happening, you should refrain from throwing anything but toilet paper into the septic system. You should also make sure that the toilet paper you are using is septic system safe in the sense that it’s not chemically treated or highly absorbent, or more than two-plied. If you’ve been tossing unsafe products into your septic system, consider pumping it out more frequently.
What Can I Flush If I Have a Septic System?
Here is a summary of what you can and what you shouldn’t flush down the drain if you’re using a septic system. In addition, you can also treat your septic system with these dissolvable easy-to-flush bacteria packets.
|Single and two-ply toilet paper;||Multiple-ply paper;|
|Organic matter;||Chemically treated hygienic products;|
|Waster water;||Wet wipes;|
|A minimal amount of household bleach.||Food leftovers and/or coffee grinds;|
|Anything that isn’t organic.|
Toilet paper sounds like a simple and generic product that doesn’t require too much effort to buy. However, when faced with a septic system, you need to take additional care and be mindful of the toilet paper you’re using. This small effort can save you from the complete horror of replacing your septic tank.