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As most westerners know well, ceramic toilets are designed to be sat on, even by those who are quite overweight. However, since it's customary in Asian countries to squat when using the toilet, some visitors to western countries sometimes squat on the bowl of the toilet when using it.

When sitting, a proportion of the weight of the user is supported by the legs, but when squatting the user's entire weight is borne by the bowl.

This, and at least one report of a squatting traveller breaking a toilet bowl (!), leads me to wonder about the safety of this practice. I haven't been able to find any reliable scientific discussion of this online.

How much more force is borne by the toilet when standing/squatting on it? How strong is a typical ceramic toilet bowl? Is it safe to squat on a toilet?

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  • $\begingroup$ The extra force will basically be due to the mass of the legs.... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Oct 8 '17 at 6:24
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    $\begingroup$ Typically, no. because when you squat on it, you start by putting 1 leg then the other. Momentarily, this puts your whole body weight into one side of the toilet bowl. On the other hand, when you sit on it, you distribute your weight to a bigger area (depending on how big your ass is). :) $\endgroup$ – Jem Eripol Oct 8 '17 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ Toilet bowls are designed to support the extremes, so not just the middle of a bernoulli distribution. Each manufacturer will have a slightly different design and spec, which you could probably find if you contacted the specific manufacturer. Since your weight and the manufacturers specs are unknown the best answer will be 'probably'. If you're about in the middle of human population in terms of mass, and the manufacturer is of decent quality. Then, you're probably safe. If you're at the upper end of people-weights and the manufacturer is at the lower end of quality... wear a helmet. $\endgroup$ – Diesel Oct 8 '17 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @aaaidan Are you asking because you are designing new porcelain? Or, are you asking because you are traveling? $\endgroup$ – Nick Alexeev Oct 9 '17 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ I used to do this daily for years at weights between 145 and 185 lbs. I never cracked a bowl, but I have broken a couple of cheap particleboard seats. Eventually most of the toilets got wobblier as the bolts loosened up. I did it for personal health reasons if that matters. My biggest concern long term with unchecked wobbliness would be breaking the wax seal at the DWV joint under the toilet, allowing waste to leak into the surrounding floor structure. $\endgroup$ – wwarriner Oct 11 '17 at 0:15
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There is another safety issue - the way the bowl is attached to the structure of the building.

In the UK, the only structural attachment is by two (large) brass screws passing through cast holes in the bowl and screwed into the wooden floor. Since the top of the bowl usually overhangs the base, applying a large off-centered load while climbing on and off the bowl could break the screws or pull them out of the wood, since they were never intended to resist a large upwards force, but only to stop the bowl moving sideways.

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  • $\begingroup$ Re all floors wooden? But yeah good point. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Oct 8 '17 at 14:35
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Toilet bowls aren't all the same so it impossible to say. Some may take it some may not. There are several factor at play.

  1. When climbing on the bowl you are putting load onto one leg and have some impulse going on for lifting the other leg. Depending on where you step this increased load can be stressful for the bowl. While the bowl may generally be able to handle this depending on where you step and how much you weight this may cause the bowl to break (unexpectedly).

    You can lessen this impact by putting some weight on your hand. Alternatively stepping of some sort of ladder/stool lessens the chance of a accident considerably but that would probably eliminate the need to stand on the bowl in the first place.

  2. The lid on the bowl may buckle under the load and give way. So while the bowl itself may be fine you may not be very good for you.

    Now lids differ quite much. If you have a hard thick than probably this is not a problem, but for softer chap plastic lids this may in fact be a problem.

  3. The problem is that what is good for the bowl and what is good for the lid are not the same. So the lid stresses as little as possible if you stand on the rim the bowl.

  4. This is often a entirely unnecessary risk to take, so you shouldn't take it. Many jurisdictions simply do not allow people to work on platforms not designed to be climbed on for just this reason. Falling from even a slightly elevated platform is a risk factor for serious injury.

    Unless you really regularly save some significant time by using the bowl as a platform (thus maximizing risk) i wouldn't consider this risk even having any positive time saving features. It is more like bad planning instead.

So would i stand on the bowl? I would avoid it. Have I done so, yes in the past i have, but i was much younger and lighter then. Like i said not worth a risk taking.

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Safe for the Toilet Bowl : Yes

Safe for you : If you can balance yourself properly ,Yes.

I have climbed on the toilet bowl lots of time and nothing has happened

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  • $\begingroup$ How many times is "lots"? How much do you weigh? How do you "climb on"? $\endgroup$ – aaaidan Oct 8 '17 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @aaaidan one method is to close the lid (good wooden ones not plastic...) and stand on that - place your foot close to the centre and then as you step up, bring your other foot close ... as for mass : over 100kg and never broke one yet... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Oct 8 '17 at 11:03
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An Australian bar in Hanoi, Vietnam, put up graphic photos in the bathroom of the horrendous injury that a customer who squatted on the bowl got when the porcelain broke suddenly, they fell with it and cut their leg VERY BADLY. I cannot unsee what those pictures showed. And that individual was not an overweight person at all- they had a smaller-build. The message written under the photo was basically "Sit Down. Don't Squat on western-style toilet bowls because they are not made to hold weight that way. Don't let this happen to you!!"

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the nightmare fuel Toilet Safety Tip $\endgroup$ – aaaidan May 29 at 4:54

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