Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Why Ice in the Urinals?
January 24, 2004 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Why do some restaurants and clubs put ice in the urinals? Is it a smell thing or is it to provide manly entertainment? It seems to up the "splatter factor", so I'm guessing it's benefits aren't mainly hygenic.
posted by ColdChef to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've never heard of such a thing. What restaurants have you been in lately?
posted by monkeyman at 3:47 PM on January 24, 2004


My groundless theory has always been that it is to show that the urinals get periodic attention from someone, with the implication that they are being cleaned.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:56 PM on January 24, 2004


There's a discussion of this in The Straight Dope Tells All. The leading theories are:
posted by kirkaracha at 3:56 PM on January 24, 2004


i've seen this repeatedly on both american and british tv shows and was wondering wtf myself. i've never seen it in real life but then my days of crashing the men's loo are not as numerous as they once were.

on preview, thanks kirkaracha...!
posted by t r a c y at 3:58 PM on January 24, 2004


Thanks! That sort of makes sense. My next question: Does this actually work?
posted by ColdChef at 4:07 PM on January 24, 2004


If I remember correctly, it's "cheaper" to use ice than toilet cakes. Many bars & clubs will have an ice-making machine linked to one of the water taps; the amount of ice created per gallon would be easier to replentish throughout the course of a business day, whereas toilet cakes would have to be replaced several times in a week.

The cakes often have an odor of their own (cheaper versions use camphor oil, while pricier brands substitute other chemicals), which can become stronger when customers and employees uh, forget to flush. Ice cuts down on the smell, and rinses down the drain with little fuss. Apart from urine, one also has to remember that beer, vomit, and chewing gum are other things which fall into the trap; again, ice does a better job of masking this than camphor.

On preview: what Space Coyote and kirkaracha also said.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:15 PM on January 24, 2004


Coyote's answer makes the best sense to me. If it's known that heads will roll if that ice has ever melted all away, there's high incentive to check the bathroom cleanliness frequently!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:22 PM on January 24, 2004


i've seen this repeatedly on both american and british tv shows

Eh? Really?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:20 PM on January 24, 2004


The melting ice acts as a slow, continuous flush

This is my supposition as well. Very few men will bother to actually flush a urinal. That is if the running water even works. Ice is cheap at most restaurants/bars, and more attractive than some soiled cake or plastic sheet.

It's also an input-only system. That is, you never have to remove the plastic cake cage, or the perforated triangle, for cleaning. Just shovel in more ice.
posted by scarabic at 6:00 PM on January 24, 2004


Very few men will bother to actually flush a urinal.

It wasn't until moving to America that I found a urinal you could flush. All the urinals I've used in the UK have either flushed automatically on a timer, or using some form of proximity detector (they flush when you walk away from them).

I only just realised that "flush" is onomatopoeic.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 8:36 PM on January 24, 2004 [1 favorite]


Simple answer. Some sewage systems are not designed to handle constant flushing so they turn off the water to the urinal and use the slowly melting ice to keep a steady stream flowing. Otherwise the sewage backs up onto the floor.
posted by stbalbach at 11:13 PM on January 24, 2004


Derail: I am most amused by the plastic triangles that say "Your ad here!".
posted by Goofyy at 12:01 AM on January 25, 2004


You make this guy cry.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:40 AM on January 25, 2004


After reading the FPP about prostitution, stbalbach makes sense.
posted by Feisty at 1:17 AM on January 25, 2004


Believe it or not, this has actually been discussed in the blue
posted by chill at 5:36 AM on January 25, 2004


That, and the ice is too damn cold. A fellow could get shrinky-dink!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:46 PM on January 25, 2004


It wasn't until moving to America that I found a urinal you could flush. All the urinals I've used in the UK have either flushed automatically on a timer, or using some form of proximity detector (they flush when you walk away from them).

We have plenty automatic-flushers here in New York City, and not a one could be flushed during the blackout. The auto-flushers need to not rely on electricity, but instead have some sort of water-fed clockworks to do the job.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:55 AM on January 26, 2004


« Older I'm building an online gallery...   |  Anybody know of a site that li... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.