Big Funky Smells? Try Big Orange (For free!)

"When I said I liked a sea life, I did not mean to be understood as liking a merchant ship, with an airless cabin, and with every variety of disagreeable odor."
-Frances Calderon De La Barca from Life in Mexico (1843) referring to her experiences onboard the packet ship Norman.

Frances seems to be voicing my opinions too, as I also like a sea life but not because of the odors that living in a confined space can sometimes produce. The fact is, cruising boats carry more than just their crew and associated gear between ports. Human waste is also along for the ride, presumably well-contained in a proper holding tank. But said waste tends to promote biotic growth and thereby some funky odors and bi-product gases.

Invariably, the gases need to escape somewhere. A proper holding installation includes a vent to the exterior of the boat where the gases can exit and relieve tank pressure and mitigate the build-up of odor. However, sometimes the gases escaping carry with them odor from the holding tank. Solution: Big Orange holding tank vent filter!

The Big Orange holding tank vent filter is essentially a canister filter that uses activated carbon to remove odor from holding tank vent gases. The filter is designed to be installed in-line in the filter vent hose. Air moving from the holding tank through the vent is filtered with the carbon before exiting the boat odor-free. Installation is straight forward and simple. The activated carbon can last up to an entire season and replacing used carbon is as simple as removing the lid, dumping the old carbon and refilling the filter with new carbon. It should be noted, however, that this filter does not necessarily replace the need to add holding tank treatments after each pump out. Also, you'll need to be cautious not to overfill your holding tank because any overflow that makes it into the vent line will likely end up in the filter, requiring the filter to be emptied and cleaned.

BONUS GIVEAWAY: Want a chance to win a Big Orange filter for your boat? One lucky winner be selected on December 3, 2012. I will then promptly mail you a brand new Big Orange filter ($145 value) complete with instructions and activated carbon. To enter the giveaway, do one of the following:
  • Leave a comment on this blog post
  • Mention on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram
  • Link to from your website/blog
  • Simply send me an email with "Big Orange" in the title
For more details about the filter, you can watch the manufacturer's video here: 

>> Don't forget to visit SFLF's Gear Review page for more sailing gear reviews/tests. <<


  1. My holding tank vent seems to be directly in line with my nose when I'm at the tiller, no matter which way the wind is blowing. Heck yes, I'd like to give this a try sans cost. Sign me up.

  2. Don't sign me up. We have a composting head so don't really worry about this too much, but I wanted to comment anyways.

    What a great idea! It's amazing how many advancements are being made for actual 24/7 life on a boat. We are waiting to purchase many items until right before we leave in 2 years to hopefully get the latest and greatest technology.

    1. Dani - Thanks for the comments. How do you like the composting head? We thought about purchasing a composting head ("Nature's Head") when we first saw one at Strictly Sail in Chicago a few years ago, but opted not to because of price and marina restrictions about dumping liquid waste (pee).

    2. So Far I absolutely love it. The Controlled Jibe people love it too and they have been cruising with it for 3 months full time now.

      We have the Air Head as the Nature's head requires you to see the solids part everytime you empty the liquids tank. We have 2 liquids tanks and plan to switch them out when one is full-about 3 days full time use-2 people.

      We don't live aboard yet but have cruised for about a week and used it. I can imagine using this for years. A big part of our plans is going to remote places for months. This head will give us that freedom.

      I am going to make a canvas bag to put the jug in and empty it in the bathroom on shore.


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