The Dangers of Putting Cooking Oil Down the Sink

Cooking oil is something most people use at least once a day, whether it’s a small amount for frying some veggies or a larger quantity for a deep-fat fryer. However, while cooking oil is incredibly useful, it can cause a lot of damage to your drains inside and outdoors if you pour used oil down the sink. Here’s what happens and how to deal with the problem.

The Dangers of Putting Cooking Oil Down the Sink

What Happens If You Pour Cooking Oil Down the Sink?

Pouring cooking oil down the sink may seem like an easy way to dispose of it, but it can lead to serious plumbing issues. When oil is poured down the drain, it sticks to the sides of pipes and hardens over time, collecting other food deposits along the way.

The buildup of hard fat restricts water flow and can completely clog pipes, causing slow-draining sinks and sewage to back up into homes.

Blocked sinks and external drains are a nightmare for homeowners. Fixing a clogged drain caused by a buildup of solidified oil requires snaking the pipes, jet blasting, or complete replacement of damaged pipes. These types of plumbing repairs are unpleasant and potentially expensive.

The Environmental Cost of Cooking Oil

Cooking oil poured down drains also wreaks havoc on public sewer systems and the environment.

When fatbergs block sewers, the water company must send workers into dangerous, confined spaces to attempt to break up or remove the fatbergs. If fatbergs are not promptly cleared, sewer overflows can go on for days, dumping millions of gallons of hazardous waste into the environment.

Sewage overflows allow disease-causing pathogens, toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and nutrients from fertilisers to pollute waterways. This sewage pollution poses risks to human health, contaminates drinking water, threatens aquatic life, and damages ecosystems.

The Horror of Fatbergs

The largest fatberg ever found was in Liverpool in 2019 and took two years to clear. It weighed in at a massive 400 tonnes and stretched through 250 metres of sewer. Another fatberg discovered in Birmingham in 2021 weighed 300 tonnes and took three months to clear.

These disgusting fat masses emit toxic methane gas as they putrefy. The stench from fatbergs containing rotting fat, faeces, tampons, and sanitary pads is sickening. It was a nasty smell reported by residents in Birmingham that first alerted the water company to the problem. Fatberg removal workers describe being overcome by the mind-bogglingly horrific odours.

What to Do If Cooking Oil Goes Down the Sink

If you accidentally pour oil down the drain, don't panic. Immediately pour dish soap down the drain and let hot water run for a few minutes to keep the oil soft and prevent clogs from forming.

You can also use vinegar and baking soda. Pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the sink, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then flush with lots of hot water. Repeat daily until the drain is clear. The heat melts the grease buildup and baking soda helps scrub it away.

Using a plunger or mechanical snake can also help clear small oil clogs before they harden and create major blockages. But if you can't seem to clear the clog yourself, call an emergency plumber in London like us to prevent extensive damage.

Dealing with Cooking Oil Clogs

If your drain is completely clogged with hardened oil, don't try DIY methods like caustic chemical drain cleaners - you could harm yourself or your pipes. In this instance, a drain clearance professional is needed. Call one of our Hertfordshire team to clear the blockage.

Our drainage company can use a sewer camera to locate the blockage. We can then start the job of unblocking your drain. Drain jetting involves propelling high-pressure streams of water through the pipes to break up the clog. It's the most effective way to fully clear out thick, stubborn fatbergs.

What’s the Best Way to Dispose of Used Cooking Oil?

To avoid plumbing disasters, blocked drains, and environmental harm, never pour fats, oils, or grease down the drain. Here are some safe, eco-friendly ways to dispose of used cooking oil:

  • Recycle it – in some areas, cooking oil can be recycled as part of a food waste recycling service. You can also pour the oil back into its original container and drop it in your general waste bin.
  • Add it to compost - small amounts of oil can be mixed into compost piles. The oil breaks down naturally over time.
  • Use it to make bird feeders or fire starters - you can create homemade suet cakes for birds or newspaper fire starters by combining used cooking oil with seeds or sawdust.
  • Bring it to a waste oil collection site - auto repair shops and household recycling centres often have used oil collection tanks. Call ahead to see if they accept cooking oil.

By keeping cooking oil out of drains and sewers, you can prevent plumbing emergencies, protect sewage infrastructure, and stop hazardous pollution. Disposing of used oil properly keeps your pipes, the environment, and your community safe.

If you do end up with a sink or sewer blockage caused by cooling oil – or anything else – give us a call today. First Response Drainage should be your first call we are specialist blocked drain engineers and provide emergency drain clearance 24/7 across London. Call 0800 043 4860 and get your drains unblocked.