Fats, Oils and Grease: Bad for More than Just Your Body

Image of FOG fats, oils, grease clogged in large pipe

When you hear fats, oils and grease (FOG), your sewer probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, these substances do to your pipes what they do to arteries. Over time, pouring fats, oils and grease down the drain coats your home pipes, the sewer lines and it builds up. As FOG hardens, it prevents the sewage stream from passing through and eventually raw sewage can back up into your home. Not only is this a hazard, but it is also costly. Sewer pipes within the home are the responsibility of homeowners. Sewage backups can also cause overflows into city streets. These blockages can surface in homes, lawns and storm drains, eventually impacting our watersheds, which can contaminate local waters, including drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are 23,000-75,000 sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) each year, with grease build-up being one of the reasons. Avoid this costly and dangerous problem by making proper FOG disposal a habit. Never pour these substances down your drain. This includes using hot water to clean a greasy pan.

Steps to safely dispose of FOG:

  1. Allow it to cool.
  2. Pour FOG into an aluminum or glass container when you are ready to dispose. Use a paper towel to wipe any excess out of the pan or cooking receptacle.
  3. Mix with an absorbent material such as coffee grounds, cat litter or shredded newspaper.
  4. Seal the container.
  5. Dispose of it in the trash.

If a small amount of FOG gets into the drain, flush it immediately with cold water. Even a small amount builds up over time. Pouring hot water and detergent down the drain only breaks up FOG temporarily. Any build up is then moved further down the sewer lines and can cause problems in other areas.

Fats, oils and grease are in a variety of foods that you may otherwise not think of. Examples include cooking oils, butter, milk, meats and sauces. Even small amounts of leftover food particles put down the garbage disposal can catch on to sticky film left by FOG and cause the debris to build up.

FOG is a year round problem, but holiday cooking is a good reminder to be mindful of what goes down the drain.