Sweigart Report: That’s Not What Urine’s For | Vol. 3 / No. 23.1

Photo: Ajay Tallam, CC BY-SA 2.0


Urine, strange though it may seem to folks who’ve spent a little time on the internet, in fact only has one biological fuction: carrying waste products out of the body.

Urine is almost entirely composed of water, with added salts, proteins, and metabolites — the unneeded and unwanted byproducts of normal bodily functions. It also contains bacteria, though usually little enough to not be a problem for Bear Grylls or folks into (cough) “watersports.”

But here’s the thing: in recent years some people have started telling others on the internet that urine is for other things. Yes, once upon a time we did use urine for a variety of unusual applications — from bleaching clothes to an ingredient in the manufacturing process of saltpetre (for making gunpowder) — but in every. single. case. we have a better alternative today. Unless you’re a woo practitioner.

Urine Therapy” (otherwise known as drinking your own pee) seems to be everywhere on the internet. “Your body’s own super-nutrition therapy,” one proponent website even calls it, claiming it’s everything from an anti-viral agent to a superfood.

It’s not. It’s bodily waste. Want to whiten your teeth? Use tooth whitener. Want to wash your clothes? Use detergent and bleach. Want to get more vitamins in your diet? Maybe eat some vegetables? If it absolutely has to be liquid, can I interest you in some Soylent? Urine’s even high in salts, so if you’re out in the desert, it’ll really just dehydrate you more (especially if, like I’m pretty sure I would, you just throw up from trying to drink it).

So, I guess I’m just going to have to say it. Another thing I never thought I’d ever have to say, but here I am on the internet, and so here I am saying it:

Don’t drink pee, guys. There’s always a better option.

Happy Monday, everyone.


Richard Ford Burley is a human, writer, and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as an editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.