Water systems of ancient times relied on gravity for the supply of water, using pipes or channels usually made of clay, lead, bamboo, wood, or stone. Hollowed wooden logs wrapped in steel banding were used for plumbing pipes, particularly water mains. Logs were used for water distribution in England close to 500 years ago. US cities began using hollowed logs in the late 1700s through the 1800s. Today, most plumbing supply pipe is made out of steel, copper, and plastic; most waste (also known as "soil") out of steel, copper, plastic, and cast iron.
When a person has a blockage in their sewage system they often try to fix it themselves by adding an acid or a base such as Drano in an attempt to dissolve or dislodge the problem. These chemicals can get into the plumbers eyes when the sewage is splashed during the repair. The plumbers skin during the repair does come into contact with the sewage water. The owner of the toilet might not report to the plumber they have already tried Drano a highly caustic base .