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What Are Urinal Cakes, Anyway?

Urinals are the only bathroom appliances that are regularly filled with cake. Well, technically, those cakes are actually “urinal deodorizer blocks,” and they do not look delicious. But why do urinals need the products, when toilets don't?

As the name indicates, urinal cakes are designed to offset the persistent scent of pee that otherwise permeates public restrooms (which have enough odor problems). Urinals tend to collect a lot of pee that doesn't always wash down the drain—and that residual urine can smell.

Thanks to the curious folks at SciShow, we now have a scientific breakdown of what exactly happens when urine sits around and why it becomes smelly. Urinal cakes—initially made of the same chemical in mothballs and now typically made up of a chemical named paradichlorobenzene—are designed to overpower and soak up the smells produced by all that urine that doesn’t end up down the drain. Unfortunately, those chemicals might be carcinogenic, so while it's a-OK to pee on them, please don’t slice yourself a delicious piece of urinal cake.

[h/t Laughing Squid]

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History
A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

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Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Tradesy
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Move Over, Golden Toilet: Now There’s a $100K Louis Vuitton Potty
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Tradesy
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Tradesy

In 2016, the Guggenheim Museum installed a one-of-a-kind, fully functional toilet made of solid gold, created by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan just for the museum. Now, there’s another insanely luxurious art-toilet to look out for—and this one you can take home.

Made by artist Illma Gore for the luxury resale platform Tradesy, the Loo-Uis Vuitton Toilet is covered in $15,000 worth of monogram leather ripped from Louis Vuitton bags. Everything but the inside of the bowl—which is gold—is covered in that instantly recognizable brown designer leather. It's one way to show your brand loyalty, for sure.

The toilet is fully functional, meaning, yes, you can poop in it—although that would require you (at some point) to clean the leather undersides of the seat, which sounds … gross. But then again, the leather is brown, so do what you will.

A toilet art piece stands under a pink neon sign that reads ‘No Fake Shit.’
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Tradesy

Does sitting on it feel like using those squishy-soft toilet seats your grandma has? Please let us know, because we don’t have the $100,000 it would take to buy it for ourselves. Note that while the site sells used goods, the description makes sure to specify that this one is new.

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