cooking oil

Nothing ends off a busy day quite as well as a wonderfully prepared meal. More times than not, those hearty comfort meals you love so much involve frying, braising and grilling with a whole host of different cooking oil, greases, or fats. 

Any plumber Melbourne contractors employ, will give you one simple warning: the number one cause of residential drain blockages occurs as a result of cooking oil being dumped down sinks and drains. Even the smallest amount can cause potential harm. Here’s all you need to know.

The Dos and Don’ts of Pouring Cooking Grease in Your Sink

Many people’s after-dinner cleaning process start with dumping everything in the sink. Whether you wash your dishes the old-fashioned way or give them a pre-rinse for the dishwasher, most of the cooking grease and oil is still ending up in the sink. 

You might not see the problem with rinsing or washing oil-stained pots and pans with soapy water. Afterall, isn’t that what dish soap is supposed to do? The oil you pour down the sink is a liquid and can’t possibly cause a blockage, right? Wrong. 

Why is Oil and Grease Bad for the Sink?

Despite being a liquid, oil doesn’t react the way other liquids such as milk or juice do. Hot oil flows easily and despite being unpleasant to the touch, doesn’t seem to present much of a problem. That all changes when the oils cool and build up into a solidified gunky mess in your pipes. 

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When the oils enter the sink and drainpipes they cling to the sides of the pipes and begin forming a mass of hardened fat. This is made worse by cold water continuously being slushed down the drains. Over time the fat mass is so large and hard that it blocks the entire drain opening. 

Not Limited to Your Pipes

The really bad news is that the clogging problem isn’t limited to your plumbing system. As the oil and greasy mass moves down the pipes, it eventually flows into the main sewer lines. With other households doing the same, the amount of oil, grease and fat moving through the pipes eventually becoming waxy “fatbergs”.

These fatbergs continue to grow as more oil and water is flushed down. The sewer lines become clogged, and the fatty mess is pushed back up through the pipes. These masses can eventually block treatment processes and negatively affect the area’s water supply. 

More Sensible Ways to Dispose of Fat, Oil and Grease

Preventing these massive fatbergs from taking over your plumbing starts with you in your kitchen. The golden rule should always be to never dispose of any fatty substance in your sinks or outside drains. 

Rather follow the tips shared by some expert plumbers:

  • Research oil recycling options in your area: If there are oil recycling facilities in your area, place your used oil in sealable containers. Some facilities use recycled oil for biofuel. 
  • Use paper towels: After cooking, wipe your pots and pans out with a paper towel to absorb the bulk of the oil. Toss the paper towel in the garbage. 
  • Let the oil solidify: If your area doesn’t have a facility to recycle the oil, your next option will be to pour it in a container like an old coffee jar and let it solidify. Once the oil solidifies, you can throw it in the trash. While this is not an ideal situation, it’s certainly better than the drain. 
  • Catch screen: Place a catch screen over your drain when rinsing dishes to catch any chunks of food that might contain oil residue. Toss these scraps in the garbage. 
  • Soak pot and pans out of the sink: If you need to give your stir-fry pan a soak to loosen food residue, fill the pan with soapy dish soap. Leave the pan to soak outside of the sink. When you’re ready to wash, pour the pan of water out on the grass or in the garden. Most dish soaps aren’t harmful to the garden, and it keeps the oil quantities out of the sink and drains. 
  • Solid grease or fat: If the oil has already solidified in the pan, simply scratch it out and place it into tin foil or paper towels. Don’t soak these pans in the sink to “loosen” the fat and then slush the oily water down the drain. 
  • Consider oil-free cooking: While a lot of our favourite dishes involve cooking with oil in one form or another, it might be a good idea to research oil-free ways to prepare your meals. Not only does this practice promote heart health but also drain health!
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Final Thought

When you’re preparing your dishes for the dishwasher, you probably go to meticulous effort to ensure you don’t damage the pipes in the machine. You should take the same consideration with your drainpipes, as repairing them can be very costly. Do your small bit to keep the plumbing of your home and area oil-free!


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