Toilet Paper

Sunday, 8 June 2008

One of lifeís little essentials, toilet paper plays a big role in our daily lives. We want it to be soft yet strong, and absorbent yet easy on the plumbing. We find out just which toilet paper has the best value for your dollar.


The Basics

  • Toilet paper was first produced in England in 1880. Also, the Sears catalogue was indeed hung in many a toilet and used for wiping prior to the production of a catalogue with harder, glossy pages around 1930.

  • On average these days, North American consumers use 57 squares of toilet paper per day.

  • Like most paper products, toilet paper is made primarily from trees.

  • Environmentally friendly toilet papers are made from recycled paper, although a few are produced from cotton fibres.

    • Companies that make toilet paper from recycled paper claim to use pre-consumer waste as opposed to post consumer waste.

    • Discarded wood fibres or paper factory leftovers are two common material sources of pre-consumer waste.

    • Recycled toilet paper can contain anywhere from 10-40% recycled paper.

  • The white stuff. It used to be that you could find toilet paper in a few different colours, or printed with designs. These days, most paper is either white or "natural":

    • Regular white toilet paper is usually bleached white using chlorine. Bleaching serves no purpose other than to make the product look whiter, and therefore “cleaner-looking”.

    • Environmentally friendly companies like their products to have this clean look as well, but use chemicals that aren't as toxic to the environment.

  • For many people, softness is the most important thing. For others, it's absorption. Still others prefer a product that doesn't fall apart when you use it.

Other Considerations

  • If your toilet plugs easily, try switching toilet paper brands. Products that have less strength disintegrate quicker, making it easier for the toilet to flush it away.

  • Plugging from toilet paper is common in low flow toilets, so be sure to find the right paper so that you don’t have to flush twice.

  • There's one great toilet paper debate: do you place it in the holder so that the sheets come from under or over the top? We'll leave that one up to you!


We put four types of toilet paper through some rigorous tests to see which, in the end, would come out on top. We tested:

  • Purex: $0.62/roll
  • Seventh Generation (environmentally-friendly): $0.99/roll
  • Charmin Ultra: $0.85/roll
  • Generic: $0.33/roll

Value Test

We did a square by square count to see if the number listed on the outside of the package really does equal the number of squares on the rolls inside. We counted:

  • Purex: label=200; our count=200 (averaged of 4 counted: 249, 197, 198, 199)
  • Seventh Generation: label=260; our count=264
  • Charmin Ultra: label=264); our count=264
  • Generic: label=200; our count=205 (average of 2 counted: 210, 200)

Softness Test

We invited some kids and adults to tell us which was the softest:

  • Charmin Ultra won our softness test unanimously.

Absorption Test

We contacted a lab to perform an absorption test. Each brand was dunked in the same solution to see which absorbed more:

  • Purex absorbed the most.
  • Charmin Ultra was the second-most absorbent.
  • Seventh Generation absorbed a little more than the generic brand.

Strength Test

A sheet of each brand was put into a machine to test tensile strength.

  • Charmin was the weakest.
  • Purex was the second weakest.
  • Seventh Generation was the second strongest.
  • Generic was the strongest.


This one is a tough choice and really depends on your own personal factors. For softness, Charmin is our pick. For value and strength, choose generic (at about half the price per square of the others). For absorbency, Purex wins. And the environmentally-friendly Seventh Generation is the most expensive on the wallet, but the least taxing on the environment.


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