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Does Toilet Paper Dissolve? Learn How Toilet Paper Works

We expect much more than you could ever imagine from toilet paper; it must be strong, comfortable, and easy to tear. Additionally, it’s mandatory the paper breaks down when flushed to avoid any clogging complications either in your toilet, drains, septic tanks, or main sewage lines. That being said, does toilet paper dissolve?

Toilet paper is specially designed to crumble and dissolve in water. It’s created this way to dramatically reduce the occurrence of blockages in drains and sewage lines. That’s why it’s recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to only flush toilet paper or wet paper that’s specially designed for toilet use.

A single individual can go through a standard-sized toilet paper in around three to four days. Multiply this by a family, and it’s almost an entire roll a day.

This simple product is highly crucial in our lives. To understand more about the “science” behind toilet paper, we recommend you become familiar with the below.

What Is Flush-Safe Toilet Paper?

You have two different waste disposal methods on a property, depending on where you live and how your home was developed: septic and public sewer systems.

According to data, around one-fifth of the United States homes aren’t connected to a public sewer. In either scenario, you’re required only to flush toilet paper that’s suitable for flushing. But what makes toilet paper “flush-safe”?

  • Septic – If your drainage is connected to a septic tank, then you’ll want to take extra care and attention. Failing this could result in your septic tank becoming blocked, meaning you’ll have to pump it yourself or pay a plumber to unclog it. Neither of these is ideal, so you’ll want to purchase septic-rated toilet paper. They tend to dissolve more rapidly to reduce the occurrences of a blockage. Note, septic-rated toilet paper isn’t a certified rating, instead just a suggestion from the brand. Therefore, you’ll want to look out for “septic safe”, “rapid dissolving”, or if the packaging says one or two-ply.  
  • Public sewer – Most people that are connected to a public sewer system use two-ply. However, using “rapid dissolving” and “septic safe” toilet paper isn’t going to harm your system. Instead, you’ll probably receive benefits and reduce the frequency of blockages.

Best Dissolvable Toilet Paper

In the world of toilet paper, there’s a ton of different options. But what sets them apart? Mostly it’s comfort levels, strength, and most importantly, dissolve rate. Therefore, what’s the best dissolvable toilet paper?

Toilet paper brandPros
Scott Rapid-DissolvingForest stewardship council (FSC) certified Primary made for RVs and boats, which they suggest break down 4x faster than traditional toilet paper
Cottonelle Ultra CleanCare1-ply design, but constructed with high-quality materials to improve comfort and strength Completely paraben-free
Seventh GenerationMade from 100% recycled paper 2-ply, meaning it’s solid and soft, It is compatible with low-flow toilets, making it perfect for flushing
Caboo Tree-free100% biodegradable, ensuring optimal dissolving rate Accredited by BRC Global Standards, FSC, and ISO 14000 They don’t use trees, only bamboo

How To Test Your Own Toilet Paper

Are you having second thoughts about your toilet paper? That’s fine, but before you throw it in the bin or store it away for centuries, it’s worth testing it.

To perform this test doesn’t require any extensive science equipment. The apparatus you’ll need is some toilet paper, a clear container, and some water.

Once you’ve obtained these three goods, you’re ready to begin your toilet paper’s dissolve rate.

  1. First, take a comfortable amount of toilet paper off the roll. We recommend taking the usual amount you’d use and pushing it down to the bottom of the clear container.
  2. Now you’ve done this, fill the container with 3/4s of water and gently swirl it around to imitate a flushing toilet.
  3. Afterward, let your toilet paper sit and monitor how long it takes to dissolve. Note, the toilet paper won’t just vanish out of existence. Instead, it’ll break down into loads of small, tiny pieces of paper.
  4. As a rule of thumb, your toilet paper should be in a dissolved state after 20 minutes. Failing this, you might want to consider investing in another brand more specific to a dissolving need.

See Our Complete Bathroom Guide Here

The Science Behind Toilet Paper

Now you understand the above, let’s dive into the science behind toilet paper. Here, you’ll start to develop better knowledge of why specific toilet papers perform better than others. Want to find out? See the below:

Materials

First, let’s talk about materials. As you can imagine, toilet paper is made from what’s suggested, paper. However, there are two different types of paper you can encounter. These are:

  • Recycled paper – is when they combine old paper with chemicals, transforming it into fibrous sludge. Once this process has taken place, the fibrous sludge is compressed into toilet paper through various practices.
  • New wood paper – as you can imagine, this type of toilet paper is created from the raw material of wood.

Although you can purchase one or the other, most toilet paper brands combine both. This is because recycled paper dissolves much quicker than new wood paper, making it more effective in the dissolve category.

Why Does Some Toilet Paper Dissolve Better Than Others?

Above, we mentioned how the toilet paper’s material could affect the dissolve rate. However, another variable that also increases or decreases this rate is the thickness of the toilet paper.

Toilet paper comes in an array of different thicknesses, which are classified as ply. There’s toilet paper of 1-ply to 4-ply within the industry, increasing in increments of one.

As you can imagine, one-ply is the thinnest, meaning that it’ll have a better dissolve rate than four-ply.

Including materials and thicknesses, some toilet paper dissolves better than others because of the chemicals and manufacturing process they go through.

Typically, if perfumes or lotions are added to the toilet paper, it dramatically affects its biodegradability.

To conclude this, to find the best possible paper for dissolving, you’ll want to purchase 100% recycled, one-ply, and biodegradable toilet paper. This will undoubtedly provide you with the best dissolve rate of any toilet paper you can buy.

Next Steps

After reading the above, you should have a solid understanding of toilet paper and what determines its dissolve rate. Without a doubt, ensuring you have toilet paper that withholds a reasonable dissolve rate is crucial.

Failing this could result in usual blockages within your drainage system, septic tank, or local sewage pipeline.

We’ve compiled a complete list of frequently asked bathroom questions for new and experienced homeowners.

Our team of experts answers these questions to help assist you through DIY projects and home repairs.