How To Thaw Your Toilet

I don’t know, but I’m guessing that the obvious question you have upon reading the title of this post would be “why is my toilet frozen?” Well, I don’t know why yours is frozen. I can only account for how I froze mine, and I’ll do that before I explain how I thawed it.

This is not the toilet that we will be discussing today (public domain image)

The root of this whole situation is that I have a problem. Some people have a gambling issue, others abuse drugs. I have a joke problem. I love practical jokes and pranks, perhaps too much. If there were a twelve step program for this sort of thing, I’d probably be in recovery.

But there isn’t and I’m not in recovery.

It Might Be That I Have A Problem

Before I retired, I pulled my pranks at the office. With one hundred police officers in the division where I worked, I had plenty of targets who took my sense of humor well. Over the course of my career, I rigged desks, computers and cars. I caused a Japanese beetle swarm and redecorated my captain’s office.

Then my career reached its end. Before I left, I wondered what it would be like to walk away from my helping profession. It turns out, that’s been an adjustment. I miss looking after people.

And I miss having so many folks to pull my little stunts on. I imagine my wife wishes that I had a few more targets too; especially tonight.

How I Froze The Toilet

It looks like regular ice. It isn’t. Be very careful with it. (image by MarkS CCbySA3.0)

Earlier today, the UPS man brought a gift shipment of frozen food packed in dry ice. As I unpacked the box, I thought about what I could do with that dry ice.

Working with dry ice is tricky. You have to follow a few important rules to stay safe:

  • Never handle it with your bare hands or let it touch anyone’s skin. It is at least -109 degrees Fahrenheit and will burn your skin.
  • Never put it in an airtight container, it will cause the container to explode.
  • Don’t breathe in the vapor. As dry ice melts, it turns to carbon dioxide. That’s great if you’re a houseplant, not so good if you’re a mammal.
  • Dry ice in plumbing is not a good idea. I just figured that out.

Putting dry ice in water produces a really neat fog. With that in mind, I came up with what seemed like a funny idea. As my wife got home, I’d put a bunch of dry ice in our toilet so that fog would roll out of the bowl.

The effect I was going for. (image by Christopher CCbySA2.0)

My idea worked perfectly; the fog boiled out of our john.

Unfortunately, there was an unexpected problem in the joke’s execution. My wife heard the sound of the ice bubbling in the bowl and assumed that I’d stopped up the commode. I had to invite her in to the bathroom to show her that I hadn’t plugged the drain, this time. The joke kind of fizzled at that point.

Dinner was next on our agenda.

After we ate and discussed the day’s events, I wandered back by the bathroom. The sound of dry ice bubbling in the water had stopped. The water in the bowl was nearly completely frozen. Frozen and plumbing are two words that don’t go well together.

My wife was making cookies when I stopped by the kitchen and said “excuse me, I need to heat some water. I froze the toilet.” She just looked at me, smiled and said, “sure, go ahead”. She was so calm. When you live with someone who is capable of this sort of thing, you just forgo the part where you could say “oh, come on, really? You froze the toilet? What were you thinking?”

In case you were wondering, I was thinking that if a little dry ice was good, a lot was better.

If The Water In Your Toilet Is Frozen…

Well, a lot of dry ice was not better in this case. It got me a bowl that was frozen like a hockey rink.

It seemed to me that the best way to thaw a toilet that had been flash frozen was to do it gradually. I’m intuitive like that; I’m not intuitive in the way that makes me think “dry ice in a toilet is a bad idea”.

Let me emphasize that last point. Dry ice in a toilet is a bad idea.

So, over the course of the evening, I poured warm (not hot) water in to the toilet, a little at a time. As the warm water cooled, I removed it and replaced it with more warm stuff. It was a slow process. My commode-based glacier began to calve icebergs. Eventually, it vanished.*

By gradually thawing our little porcelain Antarctica, I avoided damaging our plumbing with my dry ice toilet trick.

They say that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you admit you need help. Nothing is more “rock bottom” than freezing a toilet. It might be time to find that twelve-step program for practical jokers


*I’m not a plumber. I don’t know if this is a good way to thaw a toilet. For all I know, this is the first time a toilet has ever been frozen. Do not take my advice on this or any other plumbing issue.

17 Comments on “How To Thaw Your Toilet”

  1. List of X says:

    Where I live (or further up north), a frozen toilet is actually a real possibilty. At least I remember my landlord asking me to leave water running in at least one faucet when I was leaving for vacation in the middle of the winter.

  2. Blogdramedy says:

    If you’d done this in a bidet, you’d have ready access to warm water by using the attached sprayer.

    Just a thought for next time. Because I assume there’ll be a next time. *grin*

  3. I pity the Ty-D-Bol man! A blue blazer and captain’s cap may be jaunty attire, but it won’t keep you very warm. I hope he winterized the boat before this all happened.

  4. haha! Turns out the joke was on you!
    I have a friend who owns a house somewhere in the midwest. Her tenants apparently went to Disney for a week and turned off heating in the house..and left a window sligtly cracked in the bathroom upstairs.. the toilet not only froze.. but the plumping burst in that bathroom and had an entire week to leak and freezing all over the house.. it ended up destroying 90% of the house… O.O

  5. Betty says:

    One word: D’OH!

  6. […] to think that if a little of something is good, more is better. Sometimes that philosophy works, sometimes it gets me in trouble. But my plan this year is to have a bigger garden. A small garden equaled a little fun, so a big […]

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  8. April says:

    This is a great story. Seriously. You and my husband could probably destroy worlds if you got together.

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