Grease traps are known by different names – grease recovery devices, grease interceptors etc. Their purpose is to act with the plumbing equipment to trap grease as water is washed away, before it enters the household / properties main waste system. Furthermore grease traps also stop grease reaching the main sewer systems which occurs later down the line.
Grease is actually a common everyday word, to be more scientific grease refers to vegetable oils or animal fats.
Properties of grease.
To understand why grease traps are needed it is firstly necessary to explore what grease is. When you ask someone to describe grease answers will range from ‘a sticky, oily, slimy substance’ to ‘fat gone very hard.’ Grease is a complicated chemical structure that is formed from three basic substances: oil, thickener and additives. Grease is not only a by-product of cooking but used commercially as a lubricant and has many other uses also.
A big part of the reason why grease traps are needed is to do with the molecular structure and how this behaves. Water molecules are classed as polar – they have a small positive charge at one end and a small negative charge at the other end. Grease molecules are non-polar – in other words they have no charge at all. It is because of this that grease and water are totally different, therefore they do not mix well. Due to the similar properties alike molecules will tend to be attracted to one another so the grease molecules clump together with the water molecules doing the same.
Why use a grease trap?
The answer to this question lies in the above explanation. As established water and oil do not mix therefore when it is washed down the sink it will clog pipes because it is thicker than water. Even if oil is poured down the sink as a hot substance (then it is like a liquid) once it cool its will re-solidify and the same problem presents.
The main argument for grease traps is that if grease increases in pipework eventually blockages and backup will occur. These problems can then spread into the main sewers and cause issues for water treatment facilities as grease interferes with chemicals that clean waste water. In the end this costs time and money aswell as unnecessary inconvenience for individuals or even the country as a whole.
Other reasons why grease traps are necessary:
* Required by law.
Bigger organisations and corporate companies actually have a legal obligation to have a grease trap. This is true of restaurants or caters for example.
* Fast acting.
Grease trap systems work from the outset and start trapping grease as soon as they are used. The most effective ones trap a high rate of grease per hour and per day. Imagine the efficiency to your own pipes or the water system generally?
* Helps the environment.
Many grease traps use little power which makes them environmentally friendly. Equally the grease which is trapped can be recycled which means it does not go to waste.
Why not use a grease trap?
Of course you could decide not to bother with a grease trap and just pour the grease down the drain. The residents of Kingston will advise you otherwise!
During 2013 a big deposit of waste including fats, oils and grease weighing 15 tonnes was found blocking a Kingston sewer. If it had not have been discovered in time, then big disruption would have resulted in the area.
This is why grease traps are needed!