Dare to Ask: Ice in urinals? Well, fancy that
By Phillip Milano
Why do urinals in fancy restaurants have ice in them?
I always assumed it was an attempt to reduce odors in a classier way than
using a perfumed urinal cake.
Jerry, 61, New Britain, Conn.
So if you don't flush, the hot urine will melt the ice and kinda flush it for
you. If you don't flush a urinal, the salt in your urine will build up and clog
It is thought that it keeps the stink down.
Mostly due to dropped ice or when people in restaurants claim they have
something in their glass they dump the remains there. They aren't supposed to
but depending on your server and their attitude you might not worry about it and
take care of business.
Bruce, 49, Newark, N.J.
If we only knew what that last guy from Jersey was trying to say, all would
be well with the world. But perhaps some things, like a public option, just
aren't to be.
Public urinal deodorizing options, that's another story.
Paradichlorobenzene-free urinal cakes? Waterless no-flush? Sanor System ("Clean
Restrooms, Happy People")? Plain old ice chips? We shudder at the choices. And
since the award-winning reporter who asked us this probably didn't want to go
Googling it at work, there we were to provide comfort and sanitation -- er,
Turns out icy urinals aren't a hallmark of expensive hotels and restaurants,
but of old ones, said Kevin Moll, CEO of Denver-based National Restaurant
Consultants, which offers wisdom to the hospitality industry.
"With the sewer lines in older hotels, because they're so long, a foul odor
can permeate up through the pipes, so ... if you keep ice in there, or even just
water, it keeps the odor away. The melting ice creates a constant drip, enough
to keep it away."
Older hotels or eateries may still use iron pipes, too, and when iron and
urine mix, it's nothing to sniff at.
"The newer places have PVC pipe, so it's rare to find ice in their urinals,"
Moll said. "In older places if there's no water or ice, the acidic urine hits
the iron and can create a smell."
Sit-down toilets have water in them, so ladies' rooms don't need ice, he
Since we're talking, what's in those fancy bathrooms that are off-limits to
we of the proletariat, anyway?
A quick list from Moll, and then we really have to go:
Expensive hand lotion and French-milled soap, mouthwash, breath mints,
all-linen towels, a seating area, top-of-the-line sink and water closet
hardware, bidets and, in some off-the-chain cases, clear-glass stall doors and
walls that miraculously fog up upon closing the door. Now that's going in style.
Oh, and, of course, a concierge to make you feel all special inside.
"Excellent restrooms are extremely important to a place's success," Moll
said. "If it's important to the top management, it will trickle down -- just
like the ice."
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Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
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