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Posted by on Apr 22, 2008 in Tips & Tutorials | 7 comments

Lightbulbs and Lakes of Pee.

Welcome to another installment of Mel’s random tips, where Mel shares her hard earned wisdom (usually from screwing up) with you, loyal readers, fans, stalkers and underwear stealers.

Tip # 1: Crystal Cat Litter.

Crystal cat litter is that oddball silica stuff found in dark places along your grocery store shelf or hidden between all the other clay stuff in your favorite pet store.

It looks kinda space agey, with it’s clear little crystal looking pellets mingled with blue–sometimes, all of them are blue–but generally the uniform look resembles…yep, you guessed it, crystals.

These bags of shimmery cat-shit collectors tout promises of being good for the environment. Why are they good for the environment? Well, they say that their little crystals soak up amazing amounts of pee! Most of them promise ONE BAG for ONE CAT for ONE MONTH! Guaranteed! By using their products you’re saving space in land-fills, saving yourself money, and that’s good mojo for the world and everything else.

Unfortunately it’s a big crock of sh*t.

I purchased a six pound bag of these crystally pee-absorbers last Wednesday for our cats. Luckily both myself and my husband were a little leery of the product and it’s almost-too-amazing long shelf-life; we bought a small bag of old-fashioned clay litter. We’re using that now.

The bag said four pounds for one cat–the bag was six pounds and we had two cats. The experiment was to see if it would do anything at all like what it said it would on the package.

It did. For the first four days.

After four days the litter box turned into this piss-colored, blue/green mess that stunk of plastic and…well…you know… cat-p*ss. (There really aren’t enough horrifying words to describe what this can smell like, mixed with plastic.) Two or three times a day, I’d remove any solids and stir the crystals up as per instructions. All that did was make me gag and retch as what I’d imaged the smell of 100 pounds of stale piss left in a plastic tub to cook in the Florida sun for a year, came wafting up my nostrils.

The bottom of the litter pan became this…bubbly lake of bright green p*ss. The silica stopped absorbing after four days.

So four days for two cats from a product that swears it’ll last 30 for a single cat. I sense LIES AND DECEIT.

Sure, I’d like to help the environment. But I’d also like to not have my cats have to sink their paws into a small lake of their own urine every time they get into the litter box.

Seriously. Stay away from crystal kitty litter. Maybe try the recycles newspaper bits–but not this shit. This sh*t was NAS-TAY.

Tip # 1: Save A LOT of money, help the environment, and not stub your toe in the dark!

Once upon a time, the Pence household used plain old fashioned normal light bulbs. 🙁 They were silly people who were paying a lot of money for their electric bill and having to replace light bulbs every month or two. (Florida is famous for it’s power brown outs, inconsistencies, and we think whomever wired our house was a drunkard. So whenever we used normal bulbs, they’d blow out or burn out in a matter of a month or two.)

Lo’ and behold, we met these bulbs:

(Actual bulb from my desk lamp!)

There are many different shapes to these, but they’re all known as Compact fluorescent. This spiral shape is especially good for desk lights, and they last around eight times longer than a normal old-fashioned bulb.

We replaced all of our light bulbs with these last year. We’ve managed to knock our power bill down a significant chunk of moolah. And, we haven’t had to replace any of these bulbs that we’ve put in yet. They don’t get hot. I’m able to reach in and touch the bulb after it’s been on for several hours and they are really bright.

They’re not cheap, but they’re not entirely out of normal price range, either. Consider slowly replacing your old bulbs with these. You’ll use less power and save yourself some money.

If you’re interested, here’s a linked guide to other types of Compact fluorescents and other light bulbs: Lowe’s Light Bulb Buying guide.

If you have cash in your pocket to burn, do some research into LED lights, too. Brighter, clearer, much like the above bulb–they don’t burn hot and they don’t use a lot of electricity, either. Also make EXCELLENT Christmas lights and decorative lights for stringing up everywhere. They last forever, and they’re a little kinder on the juice.

So remember kids (for the tl;dr crowd): Crystal litter = lake of p*ss, LED lights or Compact fluorescent light bulbs = less power, more money in your pocket.

This has been another Random Mel Thing, brought to you by the letter WTF, and the deliciousness of a cup of genmaicha tea.



  1. CFLs rule. I wish I’d started using them years ago, instead of last year. In addition to the reduced energy expense, I’ve definitely saved money by not having to replace them every month like the damned old-school incandescent bulbs.

    • They really do rock. As I was saying to someone in my live journal, we used to have three light bulbs in the bathroom. Now I have one CFL and it’s brighter than all three!

      I’m in the same boat as you about wishing I’d known of them earlier!

  2. I can’t..even imagine what that shit would do around 9 cats…

    • You’d have a container of pee. With floating crystals in it. D: Ew.

  3. As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I am less enthusiastic than most about compact fluorescent bulbs. This is due to the fact that the ones currently available contain significant amounts of mercury. If one of these bulbs should break inside of a person’s home, it could cause a challenging disposal situation. It is my belief that the technology should progress to a point at which the mercury levels are low or nonexistent before people changeover their entire homes. Another consideration is that as these bulbs burn out, they will most likely be thrown away as though they are normal rubbish and landfills will have incredibly high levels of mercury in their soil as a result.

    • I understand the dangers, but the benefits at the moment seem to far outweigh any of the little difficulty for disposing.

      Disposal is infrequent and with a little common sense and care, such dangers as breakage can be avoidable.

  4. Most CFLs today on the market contain less than 5mgs of mercury and there are CFL options out there that contain as little as 1.5mgs of mercury- which can hardly be called a “significant amounts of mercury” considering that many item in your home contain 100s of times more of mercury including your computer. Mercury levels in CFLs can never be “nonexistent” since mercury is a necessary component of a CFL and there is no other known element that is capable of replacing it. But CFLs actually prevent more mercury from entering the environment. According to the Union of Concerned Scientist, “a coal-fired power plant will emit about four times more mercury to keep an incandescent bulb glowing, compared with a CFL of the same light output”.

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