A urinal is a specialized toilet designed to be used only for urination, not defecation, and almost always by a standing male. Advantages over a full-function toilet include: it is smaller, uses much less water, and the regular version is for regular adults at a convenient higher height.
It often contains a urinal cake contained within a plastic mesh guard container or a plastic mesh guard without a urinal cake. The plastic mesh guard is designed to prevent foreign solid objects such as cigarette butts or paper from being flushed and possibly causing a plumbing stoppage.
The use of urinal cakes is largely due to the fact that many users of the fixtures do not bother to flush when finished using the fixture. This is often because of fear of touching the handle which is located too high to kick (with toilets, users often kick the flush lever to avoid perceived or real possibilities of infection from touching it). Accordingly, automatic sensor operated flush systems are commonly used on urinals, in which urinal cakes are no longer needed or used.
Some establishments, often bars, pubs or nightclubs, fill their urinals with ice cubes during peak hours. As the ice melts it serves to slowly flush the urinal, and also cools the urine to prevent smells from rising during use. The ice may also provide entertainment to patrons as they urinate.
The term may also apply to a small building or other structure, in which such toilets are contained.
A more recent revolution with urinals are urinals that do not use water at all. Sloan Valve Company has created the first urinal that does not use water but uses a cartridge filled with a special sealant liquid.
Arrangement of urinals
Urinals are usually associated with a commercial, industrial, or high capacity men's washroom, where they are used, together with toilets, for high throughput capacity, as part of an efficiently designed washroom architecture. For this reason, one seldom finds an individual urinal. Instead, large numbers of them are installed along a common supply pipe and drain. Individual single-user facilities usually do not have a urinal, and instead have just one toilet.
Often, one or two of the urinals, typically at one end of a long row of urinals, will be mounted lower than the others, for use by boys and short men.
See also Public toilets.
During the Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm etc., "piss tubes" were used as make-shift urinals. To make one, soldiers would affix an inverted water bottle on one end of a rigid tube, burying the other end. Removing the base of the bottle made a funnel which would be left at the proper height. Deposited urine simply soaked into the ground. When the area became saturated, the piss tube was relocated.
Urinals for women
Nearly all urinals are intended for use by males, but a few have been designed for use by women. From 1950 to 1973, the American Standard company offered the mass-produced "Sanistand." It did not provide significant advantages over conventional toilets, because it used just as much floor space and flushing water. Its main selling point was that women could use the fixture without touching it.
Several other designs have been tried since then, but they either required the user to hover awkwardly or to bring her genitals into close contact with the fixture. Most have not caught on.
More recently, models that use specialised funnels have been introduced, with some success, at outdoor events (where standard indoor plumbing might not be available), most recently at the Glastonbury Festival in Pilton, Somerset.
Urinals in the news
In early March of 2004 the National Organization for Women (NOW) took offense to the new urinals Virgin Atlantic Airways decided to install in the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse at JFK Airport in New York, New York. The urinals in question were shaped like an open pair of red lips photo. After receiving many angry phone calls from female customers Virgin Atlantic Vice President John Riordan called NOW to apologize. . Ironically, the urinal in question was designed by a woman. The company that manufactures them is called Bathroom Mania! and also sell less offensive products including a flower pot shaped toilet and a hammock style bathtub.
Former Wham! lead singer George Michael was arrested for having sex with another man at a public restroom place. After that he couldn't deny being homosexual. His first single post-incident was "Outside" which had a music video with disco ball styled urinals.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04