How a Build-Up of Methane Gas Caused a Toilet to Explode

By Gerald Lynch on at

We've all looked at a public toilet and thought it was a bit too ropey to plonk our butts down on, but rarely does it end with anything worse than a turned stomach and a serious shower once we've got home. But to come away with third degree burns from a trip to the loo?

That's the unlucky fate that befell one reveller in Barcelona. A lady had entered a toilet cubicle in a bar in the trendy Gothic Quarter, according to reports in The Local, and was left needing skin grafts after the toilet she sat on exploded.

So what had happened then? It appears a build up methane gas caused the explosion, with the flammable fumes generated by a filled septic tank. Methane is a byproduct of waste decomposition, produced by anaerobic bacteria. The toilet, poorly ventilated, had seen a dangerous build up of the gasses. Sitting down on the toilet had caused some of the gas to compress, making it more volatile, and flicking the light switch was then all that was needed to ignite the bowl.

Most domestic UK toilets would be incapable of replicating the explosive conditions found in the Barcelona toilet, thanks to plumbing and sewerage systems swiftly sending the waste far from a property. However, any toilet that pushes its waste to a nearby septic tank before disposal needs proper ventilation, or it too could be similarly explosive. Understandably, the Barcelona toilet victim has now taken the owners of the bar with the exploding toilet to court. [The Local]

Image Credit: Man reading a newspaper on the toilet from