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#92104 - 03/07/08 05:59 PM Biodegradable wipes?
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
I occasionally cruise the camping section at Walmart to see what they have. I came across something which seems super cool to me. Wanted to get the opinion of others here.

My least favorite thing is packing out soiled toilet paper. Well it seems there is a line of biodegradable wipes that claims to be 100% biodegradable in 21 days. In fact on the back of the package they detail the testing a bit. They show a wipe that was buried in soil and by day 21 it was all gone. I would dearly love to believe that I could leave one of these in a cat hole and feel that I was still living by "Leave No Trace" principles.

Now these things aren't light. They are pre-moistened towelettes after all. I suppose that since they are stronger than toilet paper one would tend to use a lot less, but probably not enough less to make the difference.

Thoughts?

Heber

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#92105 - 03/07/08 06:36 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Heber]
tchiker Offline
member

Registered: 08/28/06
Posts: 162
Loc: Atlanta, GA, USA
I'm no expert on this topic, but I suspect that most will agree with me that they are probably far from truly biodegradable in 21 days...especially if you buried them where moisture and air and sun might not help the process. And you wouldn't want to leave them above ground for obvious reasons.

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#92106 - 03/07/08 09:33 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Heber]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6024
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'd still pack them out; they're liable to be dug up by various critters and scattered across the landscape for the next hikers to admire. "Biodegradable" for a wipe means it can be flushed down the toilet; it's pretty much equivalent to moistened TP.
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#92107 - 03/08/08 07:38 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: tchiker]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
I would agree that packing them out would be the "leave no trace" thing to do. You could dehydate the towellets and rehydrate them before use. I think they would do a better job of cleaning up and you would use less than using TP.

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#92108 - 03/08/08 11:40 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? - Try Camco Rapid [Re: Heber]
Brumfield Offline
member

Registered: 12/23/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Expat from New Orleans, now in...
Quote:
I occasionally cruise the camping section at Walmart to see what they have. I came across something which seems super cool to me. Wanted to get the opinion of others here.

My least favorite thing is packing out soiled toilet paper. Well it seems there is a line of biodegradable wipes that claims to be 100% biodegradable in 21 days. In fact on the back of the package they detail the testing a bit. They show a wipe that was buried in soil and by day 21 it was all gone. I would dearly love to believe that I could leave one of these in a cat hole and feel that I was still living by "Leave No Trace" principles.

Now these things aren't light. They are pre-moistened towelettes after all. I suppose that since they are stronger than toilet paper one would tend to use a lot less, but probably not enough less to make the difference.

Thoughts?

Heber


Brumfield wrote:

You might consider using Camco Rapid Dissolving Toilet Tissue. It's designed for use on marine vessels with masarators and holding tanks. I tried several different brands of biodegradable toilet tissue onboard my express cruiser and found the Camco Rapid dissolved the fastest. With a party of four living onboard over the summer, it became obvious that the traditional Coleman and Reliance brands biodegradable tissues were not REALLY biodegradable. Camco Rapid was the only tissue that would not plug up the inline masarator. Non fast-dissolving TP will plug up a masarator after just a few flushes, and it's not a nice chore to pull the pump and clean the blades by hand. YUK!

I carry Camco Rapid backpacking, and if you wet it after use, it'll melt before your eyes. No need to carry it out or burn it.

I don't carry TP out. Nature can handle breaking down TP if you do your part in purchasing the right brand, wetting it after use, or mixing it into your excrement, and burying it deep. I place a rock over the covered cat hole to deter animals. I try to call to mind that TP is made from wood and if buried correctly, nature can handle the recycling process with no problem.

Carrying out your excrement is contemporary mythos, illogical, and nasty. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

Take the time to find a place to use off trail, far away from the camp site, away from, and not uphill of, potable water supplies, and bury it after. Brum
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#92109 - 03/09/08 09:49 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? - Try Camco Rapid [Re: Brumfield]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6024
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
To each his own. In many places these days you are required to carry out your used TP. In a few places (which I avoid) you have to bag and pack out your actual poop. I have found (doing some experimentation) that wetting the TP only helps it break down if soil conditions are not dry. I've tried the kind of TP you use on your boat, but I found that I have to use at least twice as much of it. I've found small squares of paper toweling to be the most effective for me. You can burn the TP, but this is not advisable when fire danger is high. More than one forest fire has been set by overzealous backpackers, leaving a lot more trace than they bargained for.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#92110 - 03/10/08 03:14 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Heber]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
I'm pretty sure I know exactly the product you are talking about, because I buy them myself. If we're talking about the same things, then they are made out of 100% rayon and are made by Walmart themselves. They come in a green package with about 8 towels per package. They are called T-Towels, are very sturdy, and expand to about 9"x9". I couldn't find them on Walmart's site, but they are basically the same as EZ Towels. If you want to see them, check http://www.eztowel.com/.
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#92111 - 03/10/08 04:48 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Heber]
hootyhoo Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 686
Loc: Cyberspace
The towelettes may be bio, but not the chemicals in them. Perfumes and god knows what.

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#92112 - 03/10/08 06:22 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Buster_Martin]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
I think this must be a different product. This is made by Wausau paper under the Eco Select brand. On the package it says "Pre-Moistened All Purpose WIPES, 100% biodegradable in 21 Days*" where the asterisk refers you to the back where it says "Certified tested in lab using ASTM D 2020-92 test method B, verifying complete compostability. Soil burial test results Showed Eco Select 100% Biodegradable Wipes totally degraded in 21 days."

It also claims to be fragrance free.

Now I know that there's soil and then there's soil. I grew up in New Mexico and went backpacking in New Mexico and Arizona and I learned first hand that the desert will preserve nasty stuff for years, buried or no. I've seen newspapers from years back you could still read out in the desert. So I would never believe that either this product or any other would degrade in the desert. Nothing to do in that case but pack it out. But now I live and hike in Missouri where the moist climate makes it a different story.

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#92113 - 03/11/08 07:15 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Heber]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Ok, yeah, I guess they are different products. However, other than your being premoistened and mine not, they seem very similar. The T-Towels that I have also have something on the back about them being "100% biodegradable in 21 Days" and then shows pictures from a lab experiment where they buried the wipes in some soil and they were gone completely after the 21 day timeframe was up. Mine are also fragrance free. You know, I just might have to take one of mine out into my back yard and bury it to see what it looks like in 21 days. I could even take pictures and then post them here. Hmmm...
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#92114 - 03/11/08 07:27 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Buster_Martin]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Great idea. I think I'll do that with these wipes and see what happens in 21 days.

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#92115 - 03/11/08 09:13 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Buster_Martin]
dkramalc Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 1067
Loc: California
Make sure you read the list of ingredients. Many things that are "unscented" still contain fragrance as an ingredient, and there also may be chemicals in there that you won't SEE when the paper degrades, but will still be in the soil.
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#92116 - 03/11/08 04:34 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Heber]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
It might be interesting to take it one step farther and grow something in your garden that could be used as a biodegradable wipe once you dry it out. Perhaps some sort of moss or leaves or grass. Carry in a bagfull. I suppose it should be something native or indigenous and non-invasive to the region you hike in.

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#92117 - 04/04/08 05:54 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Buster_Martin]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Quote:
Ok, yeah, I guess they are different products. However, other than your being premoistened and mine not, they seem very similar. The T-Towels that I have also have something on the back about them being "100% biodegradable in 21 Days" and then shows pictures from a lab experiment where they buried the wipes in some soil and they were gone completely after the 21 day timeframe was up. Mine are also fragrance free. You know, I just might have to take one of mine out into my back yard and bury it to see what it looks like in 21 days. I could even take pictures and then post them here. Hmmm...


Ok, so as promised back on 3/11, I took one of my towels and buried it in the dirt. I planned on leaving it there for 21 days, but I lost track of time. I did make a mistake though as these don't actually say 21 days - instead they just say they are biodegradable. Now, 25 days later, I dug it up to see if it had biodegraded completely. Here are the results...

The front of the package...



The back of the package...



An idea of the original size...



A different view...



Letting it grow...



Full size a few seconds later...



Buried about 5 or so inches deep...






AND NOW THE UNVEILING....



Closer...



Unfolded...





So, it's still completely there 25 days later. I ended up covering it back up and I'll wait another month or two to see what happens then. I may also go back and get one of those "21 day" ones and try that to see if I have any different results.
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#92118 - 04/05/08 05:47 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Buster_Martin]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
The front of the package say's biodegradable, but it also say's 100% rayon. I didn't know rayon was biodegradable? I remember having a shirt of rayon and hated the fabric. I don't think that the shirt was biodegradable. At least I couldn't make it disolve with my BO. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

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#92119 - 04/05/08 06:14 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: JAK]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
Very forward thinking idea! It would have to be processed in some fashion. Drying, grinding and turned into some kind of usable sheet. Oh! thats right, they already did that with trees. It's called toilet paper. I've heard of backwoods people using a corn cob, but that makes you walk kinda funny. If you do experiment with making your own TP or equivilent, Don't use any plant that has thorns, or rash inducing poisons. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#92120 - 04/05/08 11:01 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Buster_Martin]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada


5 inches might be a little bit deep - while I share your skepticisim on the biodegradable part, don't be too quick to blame the towel - most bio activity occurs in the top couple of inches of soil - so you may have buried it too deep.
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#92121 - 04/05/08 07:09 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: chaz]
GreenandTan Offline
member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 56
Buster, thanks for the interesting experiment.

I didn't think rayon was biodegradable either. So I looked it up on Wikipedia (by no means a totally faultless source of information). According to the article I read, rayon is not a natural fiber but not a synthetic fiber either. It is made by processing cellulosic fibers with chemicals and extruding the resulting viscose goo through a spinneret to make the filament which is woven into the fabric. As far as the durability of rayon the article says, "The durability and appearance retention of regular rayon are low, especially when wet; also, rayon has the lowest elastic recovery of any fiber." So it will eventually fall apart but I think it would take quite a while for microbes to break it down further if at all. Maybe better than truly synthetic fibers, but no better than using wool. I can't see anyone using those fabrics as wipes (unless it was an emergency). "Hey, where are your socks?" <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />


Edited by GreenandTan (04/05/08 07:36 PM)

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#92122 - 04/06/08 06:49 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: chaz]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 640
Loc: Upstate NY
When I first saw this thread, it hit me as strange since regular toilet tissue is biodegradable. Thanks for bringing it up.

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#92123 - 04/07/08 11:40 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: phat]
Buster_Martin Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 89
Loc: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Quote:


5 inches might be a little bit deep - while I share your skepticisim on the biodegradable part, don't be too quick to blame the towel - most bio activity occurs in the top couple of inches of soil - so you may have buried it too deep.


Hmmm...the reason I buried it that deep was to immitate where it would be if used in a cathole. I've always been told to make them about 6 or so inches deep, so I assumed somewhere around the same depth for this experiment would be ideal.

Quote:
When I first saw this thread, it hit me as strange since regular toilet tissue is biodegradable. Thanks for bringing it up.


Since I've always heard that we should pack out our TP, I assumed that regular TP wasn't biodegradable. If it is actually biodegradabel, then why are we to pack it out?


SIDE NOTE: By the way, I did just purchase the ones that say they will biodegrade in 21 days. When I get back from Georgia next week I'll start that process and post pics from about 21 days later. However, if the results are identical, I might just skip posting the pics.
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#92124 - 04/07/08 01:16 PM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Buster_Martin]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:


Hmmm...the reason I buried it that deep was to immitate where it would be if used in a cathole. I've always been told to make them about 6 or so inches deep, so I assumed somewhere around the same depth for this experiment would be ideal.



Optimal decoposition of feces will have them right in the leaf litter - just like it is normally supposed to happen in natchur - and make new dirt You don't dig a cat hole 6 inches deep to make it decompose. you dig it 6 inches deep to keep
stuff from digging it up eating it, smearing it everywhere, etc etc.. it will eventually decompose in a cat hole, but it'll take a lot longer than it will in the active layer. (now it depends, sometimes a 6 inch hole in
duff is very active, but in dry claylike soil it isn't.

Quote:

Since I've always heard that we should pack out our TP, I assumed that regular TP wasn't biodegradable. If it is actually biodegradabel, then why are we to pack it out?


For the same reason that just because it's biodegradable, you don't keep it in the compost bucket on your sink either. Most places you should pack out TP from will both:

1) only slowly biodegrade it
2) have lots and lots of people visiting it, particularly beyond the capacity of 1)

biodegradable != natural - if it isn't natural to have thousands of large bipedal simians wiping organic matter off their butts someplace, well, then it will probably have an adverse impact. and note that 1 bipedal simian doing this will probably have less impact than if 1000 bipedal simians do that, and it will
really depend upon the area.

I can certainly think of places I go where there's no way I'd pinch off a loaf and leave the wipe. otoh,
there's certainly places I will.
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#92125 - 04/08/08 06:44 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: phat]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Quote:

I can certainly think of places I go where there's no way I'd pinch off a loaf and leave the wipe. otoh,
there's certainly places I will.


You sure have a way with words. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#92126 - 04/08/08 08:07 AM Re: Biodegradable wipes? [Re: Buster_Martin]
Heber Offline
member

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 245
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Ah yes, I see the difference between this product and the one I was talking about. Those things are not really designed to be toilet paper. They are designed to be towels. I use something very similar, lightload towels

http://www.ultralighttowels.com/

They are awesome I think. Much lighter than packtowl and super absorbant. They don't last forever but they are so cheap you can throw them away when they get worn.

I wouldn't use those for toilet paper. They are fairly strong and so forth (so if you like wiping with paper towels more than TP then you might like them) but you are missing out on their main advantage, their super absorbency.

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