Why You Should Never Pour Oil or Grease Down a Drain

You have likely heard that grease is bad for your health.

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You might not know that it is also bad for your drain pipes. Some people believe that pouring grease down the drain is okay as long as you do so with hot water or dish soap. However, that isn’t the case in reality.

Disposing fats, oils, and grease (FOGs) improperly down the drain might not seem like a big deal at the time. However, even the occasional disposal can add up over time and result in an unwanted plumbing bill.

The Risks of FOGs

Hot FOGs are liquids and are hence easy to pour down the drain. Nonetheless, when the FOGs temperature lowers, it solidifies, transforming into a clog that’s hard to remove. FOGs are hydrophobic, so they don’t mix with water easily and end up coating your pipes instead.

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You won’t be aware of the difficulties it can cause until the FOGs accumulation in your pipes results in a blockage or other plumbing problems.

In some cases, the FOGs don’t stick to your pipes, it flows directly into the sewers, and suddenly the problem worsens. The sewer is where fats, oils, and grease from all the households and restaurants in an area combine. Over time, these grease formations grow so much that it breaks down to form glycerol and fatty acids.

The fatty acids then bind with substances found in the sewers, such as calcium and sodium, as well as food particles present in the sewers to form “fatbergs.” Compounds resembling soap — fatbergs can grow into a giant mass of solid waste. When the sewer level rise, the fatbergs attach to the sewer ceilings and continue to grow in size, eventually clogging the entire sewer.

Surveys have found that fatbergs result in more than half of sewer overflows in the United States.

The only way to get rid of fatbergs is by hiring a professional who will use high-pressure water jets to break down the matter. The main takeaway from this section is that you should do your part in preventing fatberg formation by disposing of oil the right way.

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Disposing of Grease and Oil

Any fat, oil, and grease can clog your drain pipes even if you pour them down when the liquid is at room temperature. So, how should you dispose of grease and oil if you can’t pour them down the drain? The simple way to dispose of grease and oil is to throw them in the trash. Nevertheless, make sure you remember these tips. 

When it comes to cooking oils like coconut, sunflower, olive, or avocado oil, wait for the oil to cool down. Never pour hot oil into your trash can as it can melt the plastic trash bag and cause a mess. Then, pour the oil into a sealable container and ensure the oil or grease doesn’t spill out or potentially leak. 

Waste-free Methods

A few options include an empty jar for smaller amounts or an empty laundry soap bottle for larger amounts. Additionally, wipe oil-coated pans with a paper towel before washing, and throw the paper towels in the trash can. If you use a lot of oil for cooking, then disposing of it might be wasteful and expensive. 

You don’t have to dump your deep-fryer oil after every fry. Instead, once the oil cools down, strain it and pour it into an airtight glass container with a lid for future reuse. In the case of grease, allow the pan to cool down and solidify. Then remove the grease from the pan using a spatula and throw it in the trash. 

Next, remove any remaining fat from the pan using a paper towel. If you have a lot of grease to dispose of, you might want to pour it into a container while still hot beforehand.

Draining FOGs

Knowing how to use FOGs and dispose of them properly makes cooking more enjoyable. Unfortunately, many people don’t know about the negative impact of grease on the drain system. If you have unknowingly poured FOGs down the drain, you can try to get it out of your drain pipes by pouring boiling water down your drain to liquefy the grease in your pipes. 

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But this way, you are sending the fat into the sewer, where they can end up creating more problems. Consider having professionals perform a grease trap cleaning to clean your drain pipes without causing harm to the entire sewer system.

Remember the Consequences

If you are dealing with water sitting in the drain, consider that this might result from FOGs. However, there are ways you can unclog the drain yourself. 

For instance, pour a quarter cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. When the fizzing dies down, flush it down with hot water. If the issue persists, consider reaching out for professional help. Always remember, the next time you consider pouring oil or grease down the drain, there are preferable and less damaging ways to dispose of the waste. 

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