Marine Sanitation Professionals Explain How to Remove The Nasty Holding Tank Odor

Your Marine Sanitation Analysts Share the Secret to Keep Your Holding Tanks From Smelling Bad

Raritan Engineering would like to share with you this week these tips on keeping your holding tanks from smelling bad.

Take a look at this photo and imagine it is your backyard. Or your patio, or balcony. Yep, those are sealed 5-gallon buckets full of iguana poop and “other” waste, ripening in the Chesapeake Bay area’s autumn sun.

Do you ever wonder whether those bright blue bottles of chemicals that claim to eliminate your head odors actually work? So did we.

Readers may remember Frye as the tester who nearly reduced the family washing machine to a bucket of bolts in his quest for a safe and effective method for washing ropes. He’s just that kind of guy.

Apart from Frye’s finding that a holding tank is an excellent reservoir for highly explosive gases, one of his more exciting discoveries was that any product’s claims of “odor-eating bacteria” should not be taken at face value. 

Your Marine Sanitation Experts Suggest You Follow These Easy Steps

Your marine parts source professionals know that on boats with toilets, builders install a holding tank to hold the sewage until the boat reaches a pump out facility. Some yachts come equipped with a “Y” valve, so that they can choose to pump out or discharge overboard while way out in the ocean. 

Most holding tanks are plastic, but there are some stainless steel tanks and even a few aluminum tanks still around.

Odor Prevention

To prevent odor, there are several things you can do.

  • Make sure your holding tank system has adequate air flow. Eliminate any low spots in vent lines that would restrict the flow of air. Aerobic bacteria (the good guys) requires oxygen to live and function.
  • Avoid the use of detergent, bleach, dish soap or other cleaners or odor-masking agents  in the holding tank.

All the suppliers of holding tank products, who we talked to, agreed that boaters should shock their tanks in the spring to clean out and de-scale the inside. “KO Kills Odors” is one that works well for this, as well as midseason use if you notice an odor building up.

 KO-Kills Odors eFCFoO

Tank Management

There are three different methods for managing the waste in your Holding Tank.

Method 1- Chemical – Most common

  • Chemical treatments are the most common and kill bacteria immediately.
  • They are very effective at controlling odors, but are not designed to dissolve waste and are the least environmentally friendly. 

Method 2 – Bioactive Treatment – 2nd most common

  •  Bioactive or biologic treatments contain live aerobic bacteria, which break down waste, reproduce and crowd out anaerobic (odor-producing) bacteria.
  • They are environmentally friendly.
  • Like enzymes, bioactive treatments emulsify paper and sewage completely.

Method 3 – Enzyme Treatment

  • Enzyme treatments accelerate the digestion of organic materials in waste and neutralize odors at the same time.
  • They work quickly to completely emulsify paper and sewage and have extremely low toxicity.

We believe in using environmentally friendly products, but there are times when we use a product that is not “environmentally friendly” but use it in an environmentally friendly way.  


When using biologic or enzyme treatments to promote bacterial growth care must be taken to avoid using soaps or any products like vinegar that will upset the ph balance and destroy the bacterial action that will result in odor.

With all methods, it is recommended that biodegradable RV/Marine toilet paper (single ply, thinner and not as soft as household toilet paper) be used so that it will break down. 

Click here and get more information from Raritan Engineering regarding marine santitation and all of your other marine supply needs.

via Winning the Battle Against Holding Tank Odors

via Does Your Holding Tank Really Stink?

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