Let's Talk About Absorbency

Magic Medical

One of the main features that you need to consider when choosing an adult diaper or other incontinence product is the product’s absorbency.

Figuring out the absorbency of an item can be a tricky thing. Usually, the manufacturer won’t give you an actual amount in ounces or milliliters how much their protective undergarments will hold. Most brands will show how many “drops of fluid” their items can hold and use names such as “super”, “extra”, “supreme”.  On top of that, some brands use the term “super” as their most absorbent, while another brand uses “supreme” and their “super” isn’t the most absorbent.

Even if they do give you an actual amount, say 1100 ounces, the way that they test the absorbency is flawed.  The most common way to test absorbency is the ISO (International Standards Organization) method. This only measures the amount of fluid a product can absorb without any pressure being applied. The product is placed into saline solution for 30 minutes, removed and allowed to drip for 5 minutes.  The level of fluid that the product retains is the ISO capacity.

The only products that we know of that are tested further are the Tranquility products and the Medline Extended Wear briefs.

Tranquility uses the C.U.P. method because it gives a more “real world” indication of what the product will actually hold while being worn. After the product has been soaked in synthetic urine, pressure is applied to simulate the pressure that a person would exert on it if they were sitting or laying down while wearing the product. The amount of fluid that remains in the brief or underwear after pressure has been applied is the C.U.P. capacity.  This explains why it can look like the Tranquility Premium Overnight Underwear holds less at 34 oz. than some other brands that say they hold more, when, in actual use, the Tranquility is actually the more absorbent.

Medline tells us that the Extended Wear briefs hold up to 4000 ml of fluid, 1000 in working capacity.  They define working capacity as the absorbency while being worn. Although they haven’t told us what their method is for testing absorbency, we can tell by their explanation that they have tested the briefs both by the ISO method and a further step that tests for absorbency under the pressure of wear.

Even though they’re not as informative, the titles of “super”, “ultra”, etc.  and drops of fluid can be very helpful when trying to determine which level of product that you need within a brand, once you’ve found a brand that you’re comfortable with. It just makes it difficult to compare between brands.

That being said, not everyone will need the most absorbent product.  There are different levels of incontinence and every person has their own individual needs.

At Magic Medical, we’ve been dealing with the different brands and levels for over 20 years and our knowledgeable customer service can help you with choosing an absorbency that works for you.