We all have the problems of uneducated, ill-mannered, and sometimes drunk people peeing on the walls of our beautiful city’s building or a house. Despite all the fines and legislation, it is indeed difficult to handle this sort of a problem. Just like all the other cities, Hamburg in the St. Pauli red light district, Germany has a similar problem. Famed for its amazing nightlife, the city also bears its fair share of drunk people doing all sorts of crazy stuff on the roads, along with the standard peeing on the wall. This has rendered its streets littered with the pungent urine smell and has destroyed many of its public or private walls. Uncool!
Instead of cursing the drunkards and waiting for the police to implement the legislation, a group of representatives from local businesses took this matter into their own hands. They finally decided that it was a “peel-back time.” To stop their city from getting drenched in drunk people’s urine, they contacted the inventors of a product called Ultra-Ever Dry. Ultra Ever Dry claims to repel most water-based and even some oil-based liquids from any surface. They sprayed this paint on the walls throughout the city, accompanied with signs saying “Wir pinkeln zurück” (“We pee back”). This apparently simple solution has made headlines all over the world. A few months later, San Francisco is also looking to resolve similar dilemma using this technique. This will deter the drunk peeing buffoons. When they’ll pee on the wall, the repellent paint will reflect the urine back onto the shoes or the clothes of the person. Tit for tat!
Here are some of the facts we currently know about this paint and technique.
- Paint’s Chemical Formula: The material safety sheet on the company website shows that it mostly contains acetone that is also used in nail varnish removers. It also has a few percent of silica or silicon dioxide that is used in countless products. The remaining 1% is where the composition gets interesting. It consists of the unnamed additive that repels liquids. The company admits that the final product is “susceptible to environmental conditions such as UV.” It means that the additive could be a type of polymer, but no one knows that yet.
- How It Repels Liquids? The paint is applied in two stages. The basecoat of the paint acts like a makeup primer, and its primary job is to smooth out the underlying surface. It will also provide the perfect layer for the topcoat to stick to. The second layer is then applied to repel liquids.
The science behind the hydrophobic nature of the Ultra-Ever Dry® can be a very intriguing subject to investigate. The basecoat of the paint provides a layer with a specific chemical composition. When the topcoat is added to it, the new coating interacts with these molecules and forms a geometric pattern of “high points” and lower regions. This helps in stopping the liquid from sticking. This coating is incredibly good at doing this. It is superhydrophic that means that it is not just liquid-repellent, but also self-cleaning.
The ultimate result of all of this is that a pee-er relieving himself in the street wouldn’t see a warm trickle running down the wall. Instead, their pee would bounce straight off the wall onto their clothes, thus deterring them from ever commuting such a foul act. This also means the pee will leave no stains on the wall; a win-win situation for the dwellers of the city. The paint is relatively cheap too, asthe London borough of Hackney spends £100,000 a year cleaning urine from walls and footpaths. According to the Washington Post, you can buy this paint for around $700 to cover six square meters. But, it is not the magic of course. As its hydrophobicity relies on a highly-specific combination of tiny peaks and troughs, the coating will wear off if rubbed, abraded, or eroded. According to the makers, like all other paints, this one also needs to be regularly maintained and reapplied at least once a year for outdoor surfaces.
Watch how the hydrophobic paint works in the video below.
Lots of other cities are now following Hamburg and San Francisco in spraying walls with anti-pee paint. While it’s a good deterrent for those too drunk (or too lazy) to find an alternative, these cities all recognize that it’s just a stopgap and one that totally isolates the homeless. The real solution to removing human waste from the streets is not at all scientific; just build more public toilets!
Here is a video made by the group behind this concept.
So check yourself before peeing on the walls to avoid wrecking yourself!