The Only RV Black Tank Treatment You’ll Ever Need

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young blonde woman feeling disgusted, holding nose to avoid smelling a foul and unpleasant stench from the black tank against flat color wall

Finding the best black tank treatment is probably not at the top of your list when looking into RVing. It is, however, a small choice that could make the difference between a happy, carefree trip or a stinky, stressful one.

We have been using our top choice for over 5 years now and are happy to report that a smelly tank is not an issue we ever need to think about.

Let’s review the products we tried, why we love our #1 pick and everything else you would want to know about black tank treatments!

What To Look For When Shopping For Black Tank Treatments

The easiest way to prepare a black tank is with a liquid or powder chemical treatment. There are many different types of tank treatments but we will only discuss the ones we have used while searching for the best.

When searching for the product that fits you best, you need to keep three goals in mind. First, it eliminates any smells from your RV tanks. Second, it is easy to use.

Lastly, it’s a great option if your black tank treatment can also be used in your grey tanks. Having to buy two different products can be frustrating. A treatment that works in your whole RV saves time and money!

The Different Types of Black Tank Treatment Products On The Market

There are three different types of tank treatments on the market: drop-in packs, liquid, and powder. Each come with their own pros and cons, which we will cover below.

In addition, some tank treatments come in different scents and colors. Not that the color or smell matters much once it’s flushed down your toilet, though.

Best RV Tank Treatment: Happy Campers

HAPPY CAMPERS RV Holding Tank Treatment - 18 Treatments
  • Not for Sale or Shipping to California.
  • ODOR FREE: absolutely no sewer smell

We’re not saving the best for last! Let’s dive right into the clear winner for our holding tank treatment: Happy Camper. After going through three different other holding tank treatments, we were thrilled to find something that actually worked.

We love this product because it helps prevent sewage smell. It works in both extreme hot and cold temperatures, and it breaks down our solid waste and tissue extremely well.

Happy Campers helps keep your tanks clean and sensors working, so you have a more accurate reading of your tank levels too. Finally, one container lasts quite a while for us as only one scoop is needed per 40-gallon tank. Because it’s a powder, we are able to use it in both our black and gray tanks. Simply add a single scoop to your toilet or sink and you’re good to go!

Pro Tip: Using Happy Camper is extremely easy! If you’re looking for some guidance, learn how to prepare your tank with Happy Camper here!

Runner Ups For Black Tank Treatment

Below are the other holding tank treatments that we tried before settling on Happy Camper. They all have good reviews on Amazon, so feel free to try out what you think is best. However, we’re going to give you our personal opinions and experience.

Aqua-Kem Liquid RV Holding Tank Treatment

Aqua-Kem RV holding tank treatment - Deodorant / Waste Digester / Detergent - 1 gallon - Thetford 28614
  • [VERSATILITY]: Aqua-Kem is a powerful waste tank deodorant, suited for RVs and boats, working to eliminate the odors...
  • [PERFORMANCE]: Formulated to prevent clogging, Aqua-Kem uses a concentrated formula to liquefy waste and break down...

The Aqua-Kem Holding Tank Treatment was the first product we tried in our tanks, as it came with our new RV. We were hopeful newbies since it was recommended by our dealership.

This product does have the advantage of being liquid. Meaning it’s easy to use and can be used in both grey and black tanks. You simply pour it down your toilet or drain, give it a rinse, and you’re all set.

However, this black tank treatment missed the mark on the final, and argumentatively, the most important part. It didn’t make a noticeable difference in eliminating the smell of the black tank for the 4 weeks we used it. Therefore, we decided not to purchase another bottle.

Pro Tip: You don’t need to use expensive RV toilet paper. Check out these RV Toilet Paper Alternatives You’ll Wish You Used Sooner.

Walex Porta-Pak RV Black Holding Tank Deodorizer Drop-Ins Powder Pack

Now, Walex Porta-Pak has over 16,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating, so it’s safe to say there are plenty of campers out there that love it. Its low price is cost-effective as well. When we tried this particular product, we learned that it was able to keep down the smell of our black tank.

However, it was difficult to use in our grey tank because of the powder pack design. We still wanted to treat our grey tanks, so we ended up cutting open the pack and mixing it in our kitchen and bathroom sink. This created a mess and the powder took a long time to dissolve. Both of these factors are what ultimately made us decide against buying another bag of this black tank treatment.

Camco TST RV Toilet Treatment Drop-Ins Powder Pack

Camco TST Ultra-Concentrated Orange Citrus Scent RV Toilet Treatment Drop-Ins, Formaldehyde Free, Breaks Down Waste And Tissue, Septic Tank Safe, 30-Pack (41183)
  • Essential for RV Black Water Holding Tanks: Eliminates odors and helps break down waste and tissue in your RV's black...
  • Ultra-Concentrated Formula: The toughest odor stopper; just one drop-in treats up to a 40-gallon tank

I have to admit, I have no idea why this product has a high rating on Amazon, but to each their own. From our experience, the Camco TST Drop-Ins did nothing to eliminate the smell. In fact, it actually made it worse. Not to get too graphic here but the chemical citrus smell mixed with the poo smell was absolutely horrible.

Frankly, our RV smelled like a heavily used porta-potty. Obviously, this is was not what we were going for, and we tossed the pack before finishing them.

Pro Tip: Whatever you do, Don’t Use This Common Household Cleaner in Your Black Tank. It could be deadly!

Do Your Tanks Smell No Matter What?

If you are using a black tank treatment and are still having odor issues there may be another underlying issue. We had this problem about two years into our full-time journey and learned a thing or two about smelly situations.

There are a few things you can check if you believe your smell issues are beyond what a tank treatment can do. First, upgrade to a 360-degree siphon roof vent. This product will increase the airflow out of the tank vent pipe.

Lippert Components 389381 360 Siphon Roof Vent Cap - White (Gen 2)
  • Eliminates Odor - Exhausts Odors Out The Roof Vent Before They Have A Chance To Invade Your Rv
  • Compatibility - Engineered For A Universal Fit, The 360 Siphon Is Compatible With All Rv Vent Caps

Additionally, make sure that you are not using the fan when flushing your toilet. If the bathroom fan (or any other fan in the RV) is on when flushing, it can suck the smell up from your tank.

Lastly, make sure your toilet seal is in good condition. You will also want to ensure there is a little water in the toilet bowl to keep the smell contained. If you put some water in your toilet and you notice it disappears after some time, you might have a seal problem.

You can try either replacing your toilet seal or giving it a refresh with some toilet seal lube. This product helps in extending the life of your toilet seal and prevents any type of sticking to ensure proper toilet operation.

Thetford RV Toilet Seal Lube and Conditioner - Toilet Seal Lubricant - 24 oz 36663
  • [VERSATILITY]: Thetford's RV Toilet Seal Lube & Conditioner works with all permanent or portable toilets found in RVs...
  • [FUNCTIONALITY]: Penetrates the toilet seal, lubricating and protecting

Prevent The Stink With The Best RV Tank Treatment

Having a stinky RV can dampen the mood of any camping trip. It’s embarrassing to have friends or family visit if you have unwanted odors floating about. You can eliminate tank odors with a tank treatment that works for you and your family. Also, ensuring you properly maintain and clean your tanks always helps too!

Keep Reading: Many new RVers wonder Should You Leave Black and Gray Tanks Open or Closed? Click here to find out!

Last update on 2022-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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8 comments
  1. I’ve only used water in the black tank. just dump once a week or when it’s 2/3 or better and rinse well.

    1. We agree Glen, even with Happy Campers we use a lot of water. We started looking for more when water alone didn’t cut it when we were in the heat with no sewer hookups.

  2. Happy Campers enzyme is the only treatment we will use for both black and gray. Far better than any of the deodorizers.

  3. My 2021 GD 310GK came with the small bottle of Thetford Aqua-Kem liquid treatment, also. Found it easy to use, and did not notice any odors – and temps were daily above a 100 in Arizona and New Mexico.
    Purchased the Happy Camper and found it more difficult to use – two points 1) the powder dust rising out of the container, and 2) it would not easily dissolve and would clump in the water when mixing. Neither did I find any problems with smells, even when temps were daily above 110 in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and southern California.
    Will use the rest of the Happy Camper I purchased (large size), but think will also give the Thetford liquid a try also for a longer period and see if anything is different from first experience. Thanks for the write up Jason.

  4. Your statement “check the vent pipe from the black tank to make sure it is seated correctly”
    JUST EXACTLY DOES THIS MEAN ?? AND HOW DO YOU DO IT?????

    Thanks for the write up.

    1. Find your black tank and check where the roof vent pipe enters it. They usually use a friction fit bung. Make sure it is sealed correctly.

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