Grease is a common by-product of culinary activities like cooking, frying, and baking. Pouring grease down the sink can cause this substance to cling to the inside of your pipes and drains. Over time, the accumulation of grease can clog drains completely and result in problems ranging from health hazards to plumbing emergencies. Disposing of household grease correctly may help prevent costly repairs and unnecessary disruptions to daily life. A look at the best ways to discard unused oil and grease can provide a blueprint for removing waste from the home.

What Are Different Types of Kitchen Grease?

Cooking grease is a normal derivative of the food preparation process as well as a major ingredient in recipes. Meat products like ground beef, chicken, turkey, or bacon all have animal fat that drips or liquefies when heated. Once cooled, however, animal fat can re-solidify and become sticky. In addition to animal fat, cooking grease can also consist of vegetable fats like olive oil, canola oil, palm oil, corn oil, or vegetable shortening. When cooled, vegetable fats can cling to other substances and cause problems in plumbing or pipes. Finally, dairy fats are present in common food products like butter, margarine, mayonnaise, sour cream, or cheese.

These fats solidify at room temperature and can clog drains and plumbing. Other sources of cooking grease can include the following:

  • Lard
  • Gravy
  • Sauce
  • Salad dressing
  • Food scraps
  • All deep-frying oils

What Are the Dangers of Improper Disposal of Kitchen Grease?

Because cooking grease may seem like any other liquid at first, many people thinking nothing of pouring it down drains. However, this is one of the worst things you can do to the plumbing on your property. Grease hardens and solidifies as it dries, resulting in stubborn lumps or clogs that can obstruct your drain. This type of blockage impedes the proper flow of water. As pressure builds up within the system, the clog can even cause the drain or pipe to tear or rupture. A clog in your drain can also cause problems like murky standing water or backups that expose your family to contaminants and harmful bacteria.

The unchecked accumulation of cooking grease can create a giant mass of fats, oils, and grease commonly known as FOG. This problem goes beyond a singular drain and can clog your household mainline. FOG can also restrict the flow of sewer pipes, and FOG discharged into septic tank and drain fields can disrupt systems and result in costly pumping or repairs. If FOG mixes with soap scum, rust, limescale, or other substances, it can cause enough damage to require system replacement. Finally, FOG that mixes with non-biodegradable items like wipes can cause giant obstructions known as “fatbergs.” These mountainous, rock-like fatbergs can block entire local or municipal sewer systems. This can result in shutdowns or contamination to the environment. Waste from FOG and fatbergs can create a greasy film that reduces the quality of your drinking water supply and damages aquatic ecosystems.

What Are the Wrong Ways To Discard Kitchen Grease?

Before exploring the best methods for disposing of cooking grease, it is important to address common misconceptions and misguided practices that can damage the plumbing in your home. Foremost, you should never rinse or wash cooking grease down the drain. Even if you attempt to “chase” the grease with hot water soap, the oils and fat in grease will still solidify later. Running the garbage disposal does not work since the purpose of a disposal is to pulverize food before discarding the pulp outside. Since a garbage disposal cannot grind or “pulverize” fat or oil, the grease simply bypasses this appliance and builds up in your pipes and plumbing instead.

It is also important to avoid other practices like flushing grease down the toilet. Hot grease quickly cools and solidifies in toilet water, hardening into clumps that can damage sewers or septic systems. Moreover, sewage treatment plants are ill-equipped to process copious amounts of grease. Excess grease can shut down operations and cause untreated sewage to enter your local environment.

In addition, you should avoid pouring grease into the yard, garden, or compost bin. The oils and fats in grease can disrupt the correct acidity and equilibrium of your soil, altering its composition and making it unsuitable for plant growth. Grease can also kill important microorganisms and prevent healthy air or moisture from reaching your compositing materials. Although some people try to avoid this by pouring grease down the storm drain, this practice can block neighborhood piping and damage local waterways. Finally, you should avoid dumping large quantities of grease in the trash since this can attract pests and contributes to waste that ends up in landfills.

What Are the Best Ways To Discard Kitchen Grease?

The first step in disposing of cooking grease starts during the food preparation process. Always place baskets, strainers, or grease traps in sink drains to catch food scraps and other greasy solids. Then empty the strainer into your trash bin for disposal. You can also put a “no grease” sign above the sink during holidays and special gatherings so that all guests avoid pouring fats or oils down the drain. After your finish cooking, the next step is to let the hot grease cool down before disposal. Once the grease is cool, transfer it to an air-tight container. Common ideas for containers include glass jars, old coffee cans, or Tupperware designated for this purpose. The air-tight container helps prevent rancid odors and keeps the mess of excess grease out of your trash can. Use spatula or piece of bread to scrape residual grease off of dishes or grilles, and wipe away any remaining grease with a paper towel before washing. This can help keep grease from going down your drain.

There are also several ways to repurpose or recycle cooking grease. Some families strain and store varieties like bacon grease in order to add a rich flavor to future dishes. You can also use cooking grease to season cast-iron pots and pans or to create a non-stick surface for baking. Other localities also collect grease for conversion into bio-fuel. This turns grease into a source of renewable energy for public transportation or factories. Similarly, some regions also use recycled cooking grease to help create animal feed. Contact your local sanitation department for specific guidelines for recycling and pickup days.

What Is the Best Way To Fix Damage From Kitchen Grease?

Some homeowners may have spent years pouring unused oil or grease into the sink. This means that they may only learn about the risks of cooking oil or grease only after the damage has been done. The best way to correct damage after the fact is to schedule professional drain cleaning. Plumbers have the right equipment and assessment tool to safely remove hardened grease from your drains. For example, your plumber may use an auger, plunger, plumber’s snake, or endoscopic camera to identify the exact location of the clog and restore your system to good working order. The plumber may also use hydro-jetting to properly clean your drains.

Although you may feel tempted to remove the clog yourself, you should never attempt home remedies like using a coat hanger or harsh commercial drain cleaners. These methods are incapable of removing hardened FOG or fatbergs, and they can also damage the joints and lining of your plumbing system. In particular, store-bought drain cleaners contain abrasive chemicals that can do more harm than good. A plumber can evaluate the type of obstruction and remove it without damaging the infrastructure of your plumbing. If you notice a clogged drained, contact a professional before it escalates into a system backup or blocked mainline.

Contact Us Today

Cooking grease may seem inevitable in the kitchen, but this substance does not have to destroy your plumbing as a result. Carbone Plumbing provides plumbing and drain cleaning services for homes in Milwaukie, OR and surrounding areas. We provide inspections and maintenance as well as emergency repairs. Whether you notice slow-draining basins, unusual sounds from drains, or blocked sinks, our experts can help. No matter the problem with your pipes and drains, we can make your system operable again.

Contact Carbone Plumbing for all plumbing needs.

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