A Spirited Endorsement of Peeing in the Ocean

Thanks, American Chemical Society, it's safe to go in the water.

Aug 23 2014, 12:00pm

As we prepare to bid goodbye to summer, perhaps sneaking in one last visit to the beach, remember: If you have to pee, just pee in the ocean.

I'm not sure who feels any differently, maybe people who don't live by beaches where pee seems cleaner than the water (looking at you, Coney Island). Just to be sure, though, our favorite chemical society, the American Chemical Society, released another great video for their Reactions series.

Long-time Motherboard devotees will remember the great Reactions video about the science behind the world's most vocally beloved hot sauce, Sriracha. (First-time, or forgetful visitors to Motherboard can just click here.)

Anyway, back to peeing. The ACS's latest video explains, basically, that you can pee in the ocean, because the ocean is just like your pee. They're both mostly water with a pinch of salt.

The only real difference is the presence of urea in your urine, which there still isn't that much of. If every person peed in the Atlantic ocean, there'd only be 60 parts per trillion of urea in the water, so 60 pennies out of an entire Sears Tower worth of pennies. And most people aren't peeing in the Atlantic at any given moment. 

And while urea isn't something you'd want too much of, once its in water, it breaks down to form ammonium, a molecule that plants convert into nutrients. This hints at why the ocean is so verdant—it's being peed into all the time! Whales are peeing into it! Whales!

So, if the idea of swimming in pee makes you uncomfortable, don't swim in the ocean.