Last week, I got an email from Sally O’Neill asking about the vinegar and oil for the head. While Jan and I had talked about buying quantities of both in the Provisioning chapter of The Boat Galley Cookbook, we hadn’t talked about how to use it. Oops!
Lots of cruisers do a “vinegar and oil” treatment every week or so, first pumping white vinegar through to get rid of any build up (urine combines with salt water to make a nasty white “crud” that sticks to the inside of hoses), then using oil to lube the pump.
Put about a cup of white or cider vinegar into the toilet and then pump a couple times to get the vinegar into the hose but don’t pump so much that the vinegar exits the hose. Let sit as long as possible (we like to do this right before going to bed). The mild acid of the vinegar will dissolve the build up to a certain extent — it won’t get 100% — and you’ll considerably delay having to replace the hoses.
Use the head as usual, which will pump the vinegar and crud out. Then add about a half cup of vegetable oil to the bowl and slowly pump it, which will help to lubricate the pump.
A couple of notes: First check the owner’s manual for the head to make sure they don’t recommend some other procedure. Second, realize that this is a maintenence procedure and won’t solve big problems. For really built up hoses, try Marine Digest-It from Unique Natural Products.