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The Strange Economy of Fake Urine

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by Hannah Harkness

One day, when I was relaying my usual drug-testing rant to a fellow stand-up comic, they responded “Oh yeah, and you can just jump those tests with fake piss anyway. I got a job at a children’s hospital doing that.”

Before this point, I’d only ever heard of people dodging piss tests by bringing clean piss in with them from someone else or doing a detox drink/flushing their system by aggressively drinking water and green tea for several days and praying for the best. Fake urine was new. So as an HR professional looking to add more talking points my arsenal against pre-employment testing, I dove down the rabbit hole that is the booming industry of synthetic urine. 

Friedrich Wöhler – holder of the coveted “Daddy of Fake Piss” title

The development of synthetic urea was actually a landmark moment in science,  created in a lab in 1828 by chemist Friedrich Wöhler… by accident. This contradicted Vitalism, a common scientific theory at the time that organic compounds could not be created in a lab. The fact that what Wöhler created was synthetic urea was not super significant, as fake urine that can pass a lab test wasn’t really something that the market would demand until the war on drugs. The big deal at the time was that he made it without using his bladder and dick.

Somewhere around the early aughts, synthetic urine began hitting the shelves in head shops and online. Upon googling synthetic urine you immediately get hit with a million sites, but the most comprehensive one (or at least the best one that the algorithm Gods brought me the most quickly) seems to be Detoxforless immediately hits you with one of the more well-reputed brands on the top banner, QuickFix Plus.

This is referenced in several forums as being most reliable and is touted as having a 100% guarantee for passing tests. Scroll down from there and you are hit with a few other brands with more ridiculous names, WizClear, Piss Perfect, and Monkey Whizz.

You know it’s reliable because it has a creepy uncle monkey on it.

My internet travels have also brought me the names UPass, Clean Stream, X Stream, and WHIZZINATOR (remember that last one for later-it’s important). There’s also a number of detox drinks, shampoo that claims to fool hair tests, and various harnesses/prosthetics (read: fake dicks) to make concealing the urine easier. 

Synthetic urine is usually sold in 3oz bottles, which is usually more than they require for a test, but stays on the safe side-you can have a test rejected if you do not produce enough urine. The compound (unless you buy “bad shit”)  is a mix of creatinine, urea, water, pH balance and/or uric acid. The solution has the same density as organic urine.

Most packages come with a heat pack to heat up the bottle and a temperature strip to indicate how hot the bottle is. This is because many labs will reject urine if it is not between approximately 94-100 degrees Fahrenheit. This prevents most urine brought in from outside from passing. Pre-employment testing centers usually won’t let you bring in a bag or wear external garments, so users most commonly smuggle the urine in their underwear/ bra or use one of the many types of harness/ leg straps available for purchase. 

Is it weird that they’re racially diverse but ALL circumcised? I’m weird for noticing that? Cool. Noted.

Some of you may be wondering how this is legal. Well, it is and it isn’t.

The products edge into dangerous territory because they can assist federal employees or other employees legally required to test with breaking these laws. This is why many of the companies tag their items as “novelty” or state that they are meant for sexual roleplay purposes.

QuickFix has “novelty” printed on the box even though it includes instructions on how to pass a test. Fake urine is sometimes sold in sex shops for fetish reasons, but the bread and butter of these sellers is helping people clear drug screens. The novelty tag uses the same loophole head shops use where they state that the pipes are only to be used for tobacco, even though we all know you aren’t smoking tobacco out of a hand-blown glass iguana. At the moment, 18 states have outlawed the production, sale, and use of fake urine, but it is very rarely prosecuted. 

Synthetic urine’s highest-profile legal battle started on May 17th, 2005 during the best colloquially named congressional hearing of all time, the Whizzinator Hearing (here we are, kids!).

Guys if you keep laughing every time I say “whizzinator” this hearing is never going to end. – Via SFgate

Whizzinator, one of the synthetic urine products that includes a prosthetic penis, received national attention after one was found in the luggage of an NFL player who had a history of failing their required drug screens. This prompted congress to devote floor time to fake pee in general, but the word “Whizzinator” was uttered 20 times, including when the secretary of energy and commerce at the time admitted the name was funny but said “It isn’t very funny when the truck driver bearing down on you from behind is the guy who used a Whizzinator to falsify his test result.”

All three representatives of fake pee companies that were at the hearing pleaded the fifth. Puck Technologies, the makers of Whizzinator, were charged 3 years later for conspiring to defraud the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and selling drug paraphernalia, which they later pleaded guilty to. The owners were originally set to face possibly 8 years of prison and an up to an $800,000 fine, but in the end one only got six months in prison and the other got three months probation. 

This research was gross and hysterical, but it really underlined my general point that pre-employment testing for things like clerical office jobs is a waste of time and money. If your recruits can just pour fake piss in a cup, then why would you waste your time testing?

And sure, they could update testing procedures to detect this, but the market follows demand. I guarantee you with every road block diagnosticians put up, and similar sites will find an answer for and it’ll be up on the front page in a week with a new urine pun printed on the bottle. 

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