Bizarre phenomenon in my toilet (seriously!)

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by secretdonkey, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Okay, I admit that this is a bit, err, gross, but I am truly interested in the physics behind the phenomenon, and am hoping I can get some (serious) opinions...

    Okay, so the previous owners of my house were older folks who installed a commercial/handicapped style toilet in one of the bathrooms. It has a larger bowl than the average home toilet, and it has a more gentle curve that makes the "banks" around the waterline a bit less steep. The toilet also has recently developed a slight leak, causing tiny streams of water to flow from numerous points around the bowl.

    There's the background. The fun starts when I dump the clippings from my electric razor into the bowl. The tiny clippings tend to gravitate towards the edges of the waterline, and in the places where the leaks flow down to the water level, clippings will actually move upstream, and climb an inch or so up the bowl! Frequently the clippings will also quickly rise and fall in the stream as if trapped in a sort of elongated whirlpool.

    It's weird.

    I'm guessing that this may happen due to the effects of water surface tension. I'm thinking that perhaps that as the small streams of water running down the sides of the bowl reach the 'pool,' the surface tension of the pool denies entry to some of the stream, which gets deflected *backwards* upstream, and can carry some of the little clippings with it.

    Okay, all toilet humor aside, can anyone (physics majors?) offer me an explanation for this strange phenomenon?
  2. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Words fail me.

    Can you save some of that stuff for me when I
    come down?

    Surface tension.

    Try washing the bowl and see what happens.
    Or add soap, vinegar and baking soda.

    Novel idea. We want a pic of you washing the bowl.
    This is TB after all!

  3. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    call a catholic church...i think they still do exorcisms...
  4. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    but does water rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise!?
  5. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    quit staring in your toilet. :D

  6. Ya! You never know what might come out and bite you! :eek:

    :D :D :D
  7. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Bah! I pay a chemical engineering student to wash my toilet bowl for me. She also goes around hiding personal possessions from us that we leave lying around -- all part of the service. Anyway, she might find the idea of me photographing this task to be a bit kinky and, well, good help is hard to find...

  8. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    we have been goosed by Mark.....carry on, carry on...
  9. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    It's a moot point. You need a fix or replace your toilet.

  10. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I'm not changing that flapper until I get a good answer on this! Unsolved Mysteries is *not* going to send out a camera crew if I can't make the whisker fragments do their thing!


    Seriously, I just need a new flapper... it's on my 'to do' list.
  11. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    clippings in toilet
    move not downstream but upstream
    like salmon, but not
  12. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, I know I've been contributing to the delinquency of my own thread here, but any serious thoughts would be appreciated, too... I hope I can get some insight on this before this thing just gets shut down. :)
  13. Without toilets, we'd have to go outside and make in the woods. Most of us would then be killed by the bears upon whose turf we would be trespassing. We get mad when we see a bear near our trash cans; there's two sides to every story.

    It's not medicine or philosophy that makes us civilized; it's the toilet.

    May I get dramatic?

    Thank you. :rolleyes:

    Ode to the toilet. (a.k.a. Owed to the toilet)

    Oh bowl, great bowl, white bowl.
    I visit you at least once a day, and you don't complain.
    When food poisoning visits, I call your name.
    Upon your porcelain throne many a book has been read,
    When too much drink's been drunk, we meet head to head.
    Whether with tank, or right angled valve,
    you're a friend, a comfort, a pal.
    At the end of my days whether in mansion or sewer,
    before that great big sleep I'll say thanks, I'm glad I knew ya.

    To you everything is owed.
    call thyself toilet, john or commode.

    Thank you and good night. :p

    Mike :D
  14. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    OK, the important question I have is how do you get your clippings to the toilet bowl. Do you shave over some newspaper and then do it that way, or does your electric razor store hair. I'm curious because mine end up down the sink, which is probably worse.
  15. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Why do the clipping rise? What's the meaning of life? Is the universe infinate? Somethings maybe we will never fully understand, or want to.
  16. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Or better yet, why do you transport the clippings to the toilet bowl?
    Okay you two - hair clogs pipes. I shave my head over the bathroom sink with the drain plugged. Hair falls 80% in the sink, 10% on the counter, 10% on the floor. When I'm done I take a big wad of toilet paper and wipe the hair on the floor into a small pile and pick it up - you can do a pretty good cleanup with the T.P. - I put the TP and the clippings in the bathroom waste basket. I then grab another wad of TP and wipe all of the hair on the counter into the sink and scrape the sink clippings into a pile and use TP to wipe out the sink and place the clippings in the trash. Now dust off the counter with a towel (just in case), rinse the sink with water, sweep the floor and take the trash out.
    I don't know why I just typed that, my God am I ever bored.
  17. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Hey, wait a minute - are we talking about clippings from shaving your face or the hair on your head? I can't imagine why that would possibly matter, but as stated in the last post - I'm bored nearly to tears right now...
  18. Oh my God !! YOU HAVE DEMONS !! RUN !!!
  19. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000

    My electric razor stores the hair inside it, then you take the top off and bump it a bit so all the hair falls into the trashcan, which has a bag in it. It also came with a small brush that I can use to brush out the rest of it.
  20. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    When released into the wilds of the toilet, do your whiskers swim upstream?