Bizarre Facts About ... Pee!

The famous Manneken Pis statue in BrusselsPhoto: Stylva [Flickr CC commons]

You pee, I pee, we all pee - but have you ever given thought to what exactly you're flushing out of your body? In her book That's Disgusting! An Adult Guide to What's Gross, Tasteless, Rude, Crude, and Lewd, Greta Garbage explains all sorts of bizarre trivia about urine.

Warning: not for the squeamish. True to the title of her book, Greta Garbage's book is like a No Holds Barred trivia book about really gross things. You've been warned (or if this sort of things interest you, then "urine" for a treat!)

Facts About Urine

Some people are totally fascinated with the useless fact their
piss smells different after they eat asparagus
. Indeed, one pundit
suggested that it's just a matter of time until someone produces a cartoon
Asparagusman, whose primary job it is to sniff out people
who have just eaten that vegetable.

Technically, the asparagus doesn't make the urine smell, some people
just have the fairly useless ability to pick it out. There have been at
least three studies determining how many people have this claim to fame,
as if it mattered.

Tens of thousands of words have been written on smell hypersensitivity
- even Benjamin Franklin, who surely had better things to do, jokingly
suggested that a drug be found that could make a fart smell like perfume.

But if you feel you must know more about asparagus and pee-smell, you're
probably best off waiting for the cartoon.

Here's a wee bit more about piss. Actually, your urine is odorless until
after it comes out of your body. What you smell then is ammonia - yep,
the same stuff you clean with.

Asparagus isn't the only thing some people smell in urine. Drinking
turpentine is said to make urine smell like a rose, so hundreds of years
ago, women would drink turpentine so their piss would smell sweet.

One man claims that large quantities of onions, especially in curried
rice, make his piss smell odd, but so far this claim has not been backed
up by rigorous testing.

If you really want to know:

• Eating beets can turn your urine red.

Vitamin B2 makes it bright yellow.

• Certain blue dyes make it blue-green.

L-dopa makes it dark brown.

Rhubarb sometimes makes it brownish or pinkish.

What's really important, though, is not color but intensity. A good clue
to health is the darkness of the urine hue. Experts say that you should
pee pale. (In other words, if you're not getting enough
water in your system, your urine will be darker.)

Adult men usually pee in a narrower stream than women do
because sex and children can affect the women's tissues there. This unusual
fact was used to test virginity centuries ago: If a woman peed like a
man, she was thought to be a virgin. (Some idiots in those days also thought
they could just look at urine and tell if the woman was intact.)


Piercing the penis may also affect the stream, since it can cause spraying,
split-stream pissing, and so on. Indeed, after piercing, some men have
to cover the hole with their hand in order to urinate normally. God knows
what anyone next to them in a men's room thinks they're doing.

Urine: Practical Jokes and Assaults

For some people, sticking their hands in water makes them have to pee.
Years ago, a man used to wander around beaches in Southern France, looking
for sleeping women.

He carried a glass of water with him, and when he found an attractive
woman, half asleep, sunbathing, he supposedly put her hand into the glass
of water and then watched her pee. Well, it's a good
story, anyway.

Remember the story of Sir Walter Raleigh and how he
gallantly threw his cape down so Queen Elizabeth could pass by?

There are two things the history book probably didn't tell you about

• First, it was probably a puddle of urine, not

• Second, what did he do with his cape afterward?

Moo goo pee pan: Last year, after a tenant in Long Island
became suspicious that her landlord was entering her apartment when she
was gone, she installed a video camera.

She got a clear picture of her landlord, a forty-one-year-old computer
programmer, removing a cardboard container of leftover Chinese
from the fridge, peeing in it, and putting it back.

This happened on three occasions in 1998, during which time let's hope
she ate out.

Toilet water-literally: A Zimbabwean man was convicted
(and sentenced to only a month) for selling perfume that was really
his own urine
. Fortunately, most women realized when they opened
the package at home that it didn't smell like perfume and discarded it.

But one woman, who filed the complaint, applied it, took one whiff,
and realized that what was on her wrists was more like Channel #1 than
Channel #5.

A twelve-year-old boy removed the water from his teacher's water
bottle and peed in it.
Apparently the water didn’t taste
funny to her, because she drank 8 to 10 ounces of it without ill effects.
She only learned the truth because the boy bragged to his friends about
what he had done.

She later sued the school, claiming the incident permanently damaged
her ability to pee, and teach.

Waldorf Hysteria: In a very strange incident at the
Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, a fifty-year-old New Jersey fashion
consultant claimed a naked woman trying to enter her hotel room awakened
her in the middle of the night.

Even odder, she said the woman (somehow) supposedly urinated
on her door
when she couldn't get in.

She sued the hotel-not for that, but for the food poisoning
she claimed she got from the basket of fruit the hotel gave her to apologize
for the alleged bizarre incident.

Moral of the story: Ignore people who piss at your door, and never eat
free fruit.

A joke to play with urine is to freeze a small amount of pee
in a shallow dish, take it out, and then slip the "pee puck"
into the mail slot on someone's door, tossing it in as far away from the
door as possible.

When the frozen urine melts, the person will find a mysterious puddle
near the door, and forever wonder how in hell it got there when no one
seems to have entered the house.


The Anatomical Chart Company sells authentic urine specimen bottles to
give as house gifts, so recipients can serve their guests wine
like urine
. (It could have been worse; they could have served

Uses for Urine

To us, a piss is just a piss, but historically, urine has been used in
many unusual ways. For example, urine has been incorporated into wedding
ceremonies. At weddings in North Africa, for ceremonial purposes, the
bride's urine was sprinkled on the guests
after the wedding.
(Perhaps as a symbol of the sort of treatment the groom should come to

"You may now piss the bride": Sometimes, even
in "civilized" countries like England and Ireland, the
guests drink the bride's urine

Because of its antiseptic properties, urine was once used to wash
wounds on the battlefield
. Centuries ago, when someone's nose
was cut off during a duel, the surgeon peed on it to clean it before it
was stitched back on.

Urine has been used to make tweeds. According to Almanac
of the Gross
, Harris Tweed is still made today in Scotland the way
it was made for hundreds of years. From yarn dyed with lichen - that has
been soaked in human urine.

Urine was used as an eyewash - recommended in the thirteenth
century by Pope John XXI, no less! And one pharaoh claimed he got his
eye cured with the urine of a woman - whom he later thanked by marrying.

A squirt a day keeps the dentist at bay: Long ago, urine
was often used as toothpaste
. It was believed that brushing one's
teeth with urine would make the teeth whiter. It may have actually worked,
too, because ammonia is a product of stale urine.

Urine has also been used as a mouthwash. Bad enough
to swish it around in one's mouth, but it was said to be most effective
if kept in the mouth for long periods of time.

Urine may also repel cats and dogs. (Not to mention
brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends, and strangers.) In a bizarre
letter to the editor of the New England Medical Journal, a doctor wrote
that two of his patients who had applied urine around the edges of their
gardens had successfully kept neighboring dogs and cats from entering

One man had poured sterile urine out of a vessel; the other had urinated
every few steps until he had accomplished his goal. Not satisfied with
merely freaking out his neighbors, he insisted on telling everyone about

A few other recorded uses for urine:

To get rid of acne.

To wash linens. The Romans used to do this.

• To tan leather.


Uncivil war: Richard Zachs, in History Laid Bare, reveals
that urine was distilled into nitre for gunpowder during the Civil War.
It seems that Confederate wagons went down the streets so women could
donate the pee from their chamberpots. This inspired an amusing poem by
an Alabama soldier, part of which went as follows:

We thought the girls had work enough making shirts and kissing

But you have put the pretty dears to patriotic pissing.

…But 'tis an awful idea…gunpowdery and cranky,

That when a lady lifts her skirts, she's killing off a Yankee!

This inspired a retaliatory verse from a Northerner:

... And vice versa, what would make a Yankee soldier madder

Than dodging bullets fired from a pretty woman's bladder?

They say there was a subtle smell that lingered in the powder

And as the smoke grew thicker and the din of battle louder

There was found to this compound one serious objection

No soldier boy did sniff the stuff without having an erection!

Urine Drinking

I.P. Freely: Urine is actually quite clean - 96 percent of it is water
anyway - and there are no bacteria in it until it's out of your body.
But although it's sterile, drinking it may carry a risk of transmission
of the HIV virus
, so it may therefore not be safe to drink someone
else's urine.

Some also believe that drinking urine could strain your kidneys, since
urine contains salts that your body is trying to get rid of. They suggest
that if you're going to drink urine, you also drink lots of water as well.
But if you're going to drink lots of water, why bother drinking urine?

Still, urine is currently considered a power drink that's
free and has been recommended by several sources:

Mahatma Gandhi, who drank it regularly.

• Euro-Peeins and English folks like the actress Sarah Miles,
who helped make it popular.

Elvis Presley's mother used to pee into a jar,
and then put the pee in her beer with an eyedropper, believing it would
confer health benefits on her, even if it wasn't all shook up.

Pat Boone admitted on The Daily Show
that he had tried it.

Newsweek magazine ran a story about urine drinking.

• Environmental advocates occasionally publicly endorse it, advocating
it as the ultimate in recycling.

Kevin Costner drank it in Waterworld,
whose title had nothing to do with that part of the movie.

• The leak(er) shall inherit the earth: The Bible says in Proverbs
5:15, "Drink waters out of thine won cistern."
(It could have been worse. It could have said, "Drink water out of
thine own sister.")

Don't say cheese: Occasionally other stories of historical
urine drinking pop up. For example, a man in Germany was tried years ago
for putting the urine of young girls into cheese to improve its taste.


Gee whiz. Is there a doctor in the outhouse? At an Auto-Urine
Therapy conference
in India in the late 1990's, 600 delegates
from seventeen nations discussed the medical benefits of drinking their
own urine.

Probably a nice bunch of people there, but would you really want to go
to their cocktail parties?

article above is reprinted with permission from That's Disgusting : An Adult Guide to What's Gross, Tasteless, Rude, Crude, and Lewd
by Greta
Garbage, published by Ten Speed Press.

Believe it or not, this is actually the "milder" subject that's
suitable for printing on Neatorama. Greta's book is jam-packed with endlessly
en"gross"ing (see what I did there?) info about things that
are revolting.

Link: Amazon
| Interview
with Greta Garbate

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

Actually, I met this woman once with very nice skin and I told her that I thought she had nice skin, Right? She told me she washed with her first morning urine everyday. I tried it a couple of times and it freaked me out too much to keep it. I'll stick to OXY.
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I'm also in the UK and have never heard of this 'custom' of drinking a bride's urine at a wedding.

Some context to this article's claim would be nice. It suggests that this is an ongoing practice (especially when it points out that most of the other claims happened a long time ago), while the comments here suggest otherwise.

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Wikipedia actually has good information on asparagus smell in urine:

Certain compounds in asparagus are metabolized giving urine a distinctive smell due to various sulfur-containing degradation products, including various thiols, thioesters, and ammonia.[29]

The volatile organic compounds responsible for the smell are identified as:[30][31]

* methanethiol,
* dimethyl sulfide,
* dimethyl disulfide,
* bis(methylthio)methane,
* dimethyl sulfoxide, and
* dimethyl sulfone.

Subjectively, the first two are the most pungent, while the last two (sulfur-oxidized) give a sweet aroma. A mixture of these compounds form a "reconstituted asparagus urine" odor. This was first investigated in 1891 by Marceli Nencki, who attributed the smell to methanethiol.[32] These compounds originate in the asparagus as asparagusic acid and its derivatives, as these are the only sulfur-containing compounds unique to asparagus. As these are more present in young asparagus, this accords with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus. The biological mechanism for the production of these compounds is less clear.[citation needed]

The onset of the asparagus urine smell is remarkably rapid. It has been estimated to start within 15–30 minutes of ingestion.[33][34]
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