Yep, someone paid money for this one!

Toilet paper test. Stronger, thicker Charmin wipes out the competition

Jane Dunbar, Canwest News Service Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008

Have you ever stood in a store and tried to figure out in your head which brand of bathroom tissue was the best buy? The cost per sheet can work out to be a number like 0.183333 cents. Kids, this is the reason you must not drop out of math class.

Price may not be the only reason to choose a particular brand. You may be swayed by commercials showing adorable white kittens tumbling down staircases and cute cartoon bears discreetly performing bodily functions. Then there are the softness and absorbency factors to consider.

My team of volunteers has been checking out the following six brands of bathroom tissue:

. Charmin: Price per two-ply sheet is 0.28 cents with 200 sheets per double-roll. Claims to be "ultra soft" and even has a money-back satisfaction guarantee.

. Royale: Price per two-ply sheet is 0.16 cents, with 300 sheets per roll. Claims it's "now softer and thicker."

. P.C. Green: Price per two-ply sheet is 0.09 cents, with 352 sheets per roll. Made from 100 per cent, post-consumer recycled paper and uses no chlorine products.

. Western Family: Price per two-ply sheet is 0.18 cents, with 352 sheets per roll. Not a lot of advertising on the package except to say it is soft.

. Cottonelle: Price per two-ply sheet is 0.21 cents, with 352 sheets per roll. Claims it has "sheets that last and last."

. White Swan: Price per one-ply sheet is 0.05 cents, with 1,000 sheets per roll. The only one-ply tissue I deemed worthy of comparison. The only place I've been able to find it is at Costco.

While softness is important, my first test was for strength. I ripped off one sheet from each roll (two from the one-ply White Swan to be fair) and gave it a tug. Charmin proved to be the strongest followed closely by Western Family and White Swan. All the others shredded easily.

Next I tested for absorbency by seeing how many sheets it took to sop up a teaspoon of water. I needed only three sheets of Charmin, at least five each from the other two-ply rolls and eight from the White Swan.

All the rolls appeared to be surprisingly similar in size, so out of curiosity I measured them. Considering the range is from 200 sheets to 1,000, the difference in circumference was a mere four centimetres. Of the three rolls with 352 sheets, P.C. Green was the smallest at 36 centimetres and Cottonelle was thickest at 40 centimetres. Charmin and Royale both came in at 38 centimetres, and White Swan's 1,000 sheets measured in at 37 centimetres.

As you might suspect, part of the testing conducted by my volunteers was done in such top-secret conditions that I can't talk about it. You'll have to trust me that the results are accurate.

Charmin wiped out the competition while, surprisingly, the lowest-priced one-play White Swan came in second. The biggest loser and the one we all agreed we would not buy again was P.C. Green. The other brands just rated an indifferent response from testers, especially after they used the Charmin.

Not all the volunteers agreed that White Swan should be rated near the top. Several described it as "outhouse" or "commercial" grade. But believe me, there are tissues that are a lot worse than this one when it comes to softness. At the same time they all commented on how long one roll lasted.

The Charmin is expensive but you might find you use less because it is stronger and thicker. Here is definitely a case of getting what you pay for.

That can't be said of the Cottonelle considering it was the second-most expensive and didn't come anywhere close to the results I got with Charmin. While there is no doubt that it is soft, I feel it has sacrificed strength for softness.

I recommend you try the Charmin only if you are willing to switch. It's not easy going back to an inferior tissue once you've been spoiled.

Jane Dunbar can be reached with comments or suggestions at

As a side note, I agree on the Charmin.