cast iron bathtub or acrylic?

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by reyt, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. reyt

    reyt New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    ca
    What do you think? Which one is less embodied energy and which is less toxic for health, an acrylic tub or a cast iron tub?

    I have done a lot of thinking and looking around for info and have decided that cast iron beats acrylic by a little bit.

    Any suggestions?
  2. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Why is everything you write, underlined?

    Confused me, I thought it was a link to a worksheet of the data you'd collected, or something.


    Just the durability issue, I think, puts cast well over acrylic. The tub in my bathroom is 109 years old. Try that with acrylic! It's been re-enameled (a few times, I think, and it's due to get re-enameled again); but it's the original tub. You'd have to strip the plaster off my bathroom walls, then either tear open a load-bearing wall, or gut out my whole kitchen, to replace it; there's no indication that any of those walls have ever been taken out.

    Cast iron is recyclable, and often made from recycled scrap iron. Whereas acrylic, is made from petroleum, and ends up in a landfill.

    Iron is non-toxic, and it breaks down completely; it rusts slowly, but it does rust. The enamel coating on a cast tub is slightly toxic, and doesn't break down... But it's no contest, compared to the acrylic & glass in a plastic tub. I used to work in a boatyard, so I know a bit about resins, and let me tell you, acrylic resin is nasty stuff. As for fiberglass, it never breaks down, and we use it so much that they've found traces of it on the peak of Mt Everest. It's not toxic, per se, but it is a respiratory irritant.

    This is just off the top of my head, and I've never studied it in detail; but I don't see how they could rate anywhere close to each other. Cast is way greener than acrylic.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2009
  3. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    As far as acrylic being more toxic, me thinks you have lived in California too long. Every substance know to mankind causes cancer as far as California is concerned, but go with the cast because it's a better product.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    tub

    I do not lick, chew, or eat bathtubs, so I am not worried about their toxicity. You should be more concerned with longevity, and for that cast iron has a proven track record.
  5. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    No, Gary, I've never lived in Cali. But I have worked with acrylic resins: and they're a lot more obnoxious to work with, and a lot more toxic, than epoxy resins or enamels are.

    I'm not saying an acrylic tub is toxic. I'm saying that I think the manufacture of an acrylic tub, probably produces a lot more toxic pollution, than the manufacture of a cast tub.

    The question was about environmental impact of making the product, not the health effects of having it in your home.



    Although, now that I've mentioned it - I wonder if acrylic tubs out-gas any fumes, and for how long?
  6. Couch-Tuber

    Couch-Tuber New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    Texas
    I remodeled a master bathroom in 2005 where I replaced the old worn steel tub with acrylic. I know your post asks about cast. The cost of a new steel tub was lowest but they don't hold up to my wife's incessant cleaning :D. Acrylic was more expensive by about 100% over steel but likely will hold its finish a long time(although I sold that house so don't know how its doing). I figure it takes alot of energy to make acrylic or cast, probably more for cast iron given the cost to smelt, ship the weight etc. Nevertheless, cast iron would be my top choice for durability and looks too but at the time was much more expensive and very heavy so I went with acrylic (resin?).

    As an aside, many houses here use cultured marble countertops in the bathrooms. This is not actually marble is it. Its resin (or plastic or acrylic seems like is all petroleum) and its cheap, looks better than laminate counters you can polish it and don't need to seal it.
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