Yuck Factor Aside, Urine Has Surprising Uses
In the beginning, we’re taught that our pee is gross, something we must quickly flush and wash away.
But, it turns out, human urine has surprises uses. It’s 95% water, and 5% urea, chloride, sodium, potassium, and other organic and inorganic compounds that make our lives better, if not sweeter.
Hot Weather Survival: Survivalists have draped urine-soaked cloth over their heads to stay cool in the desert.
Teeth Whitener: Ancient Romans used the ammonia in aged urine to whiten their teeth. Even today, teeth whitening kits contain urea and uric acid.
(Potential) Potable Water: The chemical content in unprocessed urine makes it bad to drink, especially if you’re afloat on a raft in the middle of the ocean. But, NASA is currently working on a way to recycle astronaut’s urine to make life on the International Space Station more sustainable.
Gun Powder: Before the birth of the chemical industry, nitrogen- and potassium-rich urine was mixed with straw; then allowed to rot and eventually refined to extract potassium nitrate, a major constituent of gunpowder.
Tanning Solution: Tanners used urine to remove hair fibers from animal skins to prepare leather.
Fertility Treatment: Drug scientists have extracted fertility hormones from the urine of perimenopausal women to develop the infertility drugs Menopur and Pergonal.
Plant Fertilizer: Nitrogen in diluted urine is great plant fertilizer. You can pee directly on your compost pile to create super-rich compost.
Generator Fuel: Schoolgirls in Lagos, Nigeria, created a backup generator that extracted pure hydrogen from human urine.
Foot Fungicide: Jungle soldiers throughout history have peed on their aching feet to cure or prevent foot fungus.
Beauty Aids: Proponents of Urine Therapy say urine can clear up acne, rejuvenate follicles and make hair grow, and get rid of dandruff. Some claim urine therapy can fight cancer, though independent scientific testing has not confirmed this.