When it comes to choosing the best toilet paper, most people go for the softest, thickest, and most absorbent variant. But you need to be careful with your preferences because your best toilet paper could be the worst for your septic tank. So, what is the worst toilet paper for septic tanks?
In this article, we discuss how septic tanks work, why it is important to use the correct tissue paper, and what is the best and worst toilet paper for your septic tank.
How Septic Tanks Work
To help you understand why selecting the right toilet paper is important, let’s learn a little about how septic tanks work.
A septic tank decomposes organic matter using bacteria. That means when you flush the toilet, the waste, toilet paper, and the water travels along the drainpipe and into the septic tank. There, it meets anaerobic bacteria which break down the waste by separating solids and floatable matter (e.g. grease and oils) from wastewater. Purified water, also known as effluent, is discharged into the ground through a series of perforated pipes.
On the other hand, the solid waste (sludge) is left to settle at the bottom of the tank, waiting to be taken out. The top of the tank always has scum (which includes things that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, like wet wipes, oil, and grease). It is the scum that causes problems!
You want to make sure that the toilet paper you use doesn’t become part of the scum. So, choose one that breaks down easily and settles at the base of the septic tank.
Why You Should Choose the Right Toilet Paper
A properly designed and well-maintained septic system can serve you for decades or malfunction in a few years. As you can already imagine, it’s cheaper to maintain a healthy septic system than to replace a new one.
One of the best ways to ensure your septic tank keeps working optimally for years is by choosing septic-friendly toilet paper. There are two main ways in which the right toilet paper will maintain the health of your septic tank system.
Number one, the right toilet paper will disintegrate easily, which means you will not have to deal with clogs either in the drainpipe, toilet, trap, or the septic tank itself.
Number two, the right toilet paper is good for septic bacteria. As we have already seen, the septic tank uses bacteria to break down organic matter. This can only happen if the bacteria are healthy. Toilet paper with many chemicals will harm the bacteria, making the decomposition process slower than usual. In the end, this may lead to clogs and expensive repairs.
On the other hand, septic-friendly toilet paper will help nurture the bacteria, leading to faster decomposition.
What Toilet Paper Is Not Safe for Septic Tanks?
Now that we know how the septic tank works and the importance of selecting the right toilet paper, let’s look at the worst toilet paper for your septic tank.
Colored Toilet Paper
Colored toilet paper may seem fancy in your bathroom, but it can destroy your septic tank. This is because the color is made by mixing certain bleaching agents, oils, and softening properties. These chemicals make your tissue soft to the touch and attractive to the eye but can be very harmful to your septic tank. The added chemicals may destroy the microbes in the septic system, interfering with decomposition.
Just because they’re called flushable doesn’t mean you should flush them down the toilet. Flushable wipes are not even toilet paper, yet people use it for the same purpose. This product does not disintegrate easily and can cause clogs in your drainpipes. They are also likely to destroy the bacteria found in the septic tank, leading to slower decomposition.
Ultra Soft Toilet Paper
Just like colored toilet paper, the materials used to make toilet paper ultra soft are not friendly to the septic tank. These materials make it very soft but difficult to decompose. Which means it will remain in your septic tank for a long time as scum. Continued use can cause blockage!
What is the Safest Toilet Paper?
As we have already seen, the safest toilet paper is one that disintegrates easily and one that is friendly to septic tank bacteria. With that in mind, here are some of the best septic-safe toilet papers.
Septic-Safe Toilet Paper
When buying toilet paper, it is recommended to go for one that is labeled “septic safe.” This way, you can be assured that the toilet paper you’re buying will not harm your septic system.
Septic-safe toilet paper is made from materials that dissolve easily and are generally chemical-free. That means they will not cause clogs or damage the septic tank’s bacteria.
Bamboo Toilet Paper
Bamboo toilet paper are eco-friendly alternatives that are quite expensive but will save you a lot in plumbing costs. They are 100% biodegradable and can easily break down inside your septic tank.
Also, bamboo toilet paper is chlorine-free, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic. These characteristics make it easy to decompose and cannot kill septic tank bacteria.
Apart from being expensive, another disadvantage of bamboo toilet paper is that it is not easy to find. It is also not the softest alternative.
Recycled Toilet Paper
Just like bamboo toilet paper, recycled toilet paper is made with safe ingredients that won’t harm your septic system.
They break down very fast and are not made with bleach and other conflicting chemicals that destroy the septic system. An added advantage is that they are readily available for purchase.
Biodegradable Toilet Paper
Biodegradable toilet paper is highly recommended as they don’t have the properties that make them unsafe for the septic system. This toilet paper is manufactured without any non-dissolvable fibers and overly loose bonds. The result is a paper that decomposes easily and quickly in water, with nothing hindering its fast pace.
Can Too Much Toilet Paper Clog a Septic System?
While toilet paper is known to dissolve in water, the process does not happen right away. It is, therefore, important to monitor the amount of toilet paper you’re using per flush. Too much toilet paper increases the risk of clogging a septic system, as too much of it doesn’t dissolve properly.
If you don’t want to deal with recurring toilet clogs and keep calling for professional drain cleaning services, then stop flushing an exorbitant amount of tissue paper down the toilet. Also, make sure you’re using septic-safe toilet paper.
What Destroys a Septic Tank?
As we have seen already, septic tanks work by using anaerobic bacteria to break down waste. One thing that can destroy septic tanks and wreck their normal functioning is pouring toxins down the drain. These chemicals can kill the natural living organisms in the septic system, rendering it unfunctional. Therefore, avoid unclogging your drain using chemical drain openers.
How Long Does It Take for Toilet Paper to Decompose in a Septic Tank?
It is true that toilet paper is meant to dissolve and decompose in the septic tank, but the process doesn’t happen as quickly as you may think. If all conditions are viable, it might take up to one month for your septic safe toilet paper to decompose. However, if the conditions do not allow, it could take up to three years for it to completely break down.
What Is the Difference Between Septic Safe and Regular Toilet Paper?
Septic safe toilet paper is toilet paper specifically manufactured for the septic system. These brands of toilet tissue easily dissolve in water, require less water to disintegrate, and often have no bleach and other dangerous chemicals that can hinder the proper functioning of the septic system.
Final Thoughts on ‘What Is the Worst Toilet Paper for Septic Tanks’?
There are three things that are safe to be flushed down the toilet: toilet paper, feces, and pee. But not all toilet paper is the same. If you want your septic system to continue working optimally and to serve you for longer, it is important to always use and flush down septic safe toilet paper. The best toilet paper for your septic system is one that easily dissolves in water and one that breaks down quickly.