An Introduction to Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOGs)
Thursday, March 7, 2024
drain care

An Introduction to Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOGs)

If your drainpipe has a clog, your grease trap is overflowing, or your lift station smells, the cause of that problem is likely fats, oils, and greases (“FOGs”). FOGs are food byproducts that accumulate in the drainage system, causing problems in the drain lines.

At State Chemical, we sell drain openers that clear clogs caused by FOGs and drain maintainers that prevent the FOGs from clogging the pipes. We know that understanding what FOGs are and why they matter can be tricky, so we wrote this article to explain FOGs.

FOGs are a byproduct of cooking and cleaning the kitchen.

When you cook or clean dishes and then wash the leftovers down the drain, FOGs enter the drainage system. FOGs come from animal and vegetable fats and the oil used to cook food. We often think of FOGs as coming from bacon grease, but it is in many foods. For example, FOGs are in salad dressing, peanut butter, and dairy products, such as milk and ice cream. FOGs are composed of fatty acids and glycerol.

Restaurants and other food service establishments are the primary sources of FOGs in the drainage system.

FOGs Solidify When They are Put Down the Drain.

To remember what a FOG is, think of solidified bacon grease. Just as bacon grease solidifies when left in the pan, FOGs solidify after they are put down the drain. Once in the drain, FOGs solidify into a large mass called a fatberg. These fatbergs can be found throughout drainpipes, lift stations, and grease traps.

FOGs Cause Drain Problems.

When FOGs solidify in drains, they block part of the pipe, restricting water flow. The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) found that grease is the most common cause of drain blockages. There is only so much space in a pipe, so when FOGs take up part of that space, less water can flow through the pipe. This can lead to sewage backups and overflows. FOGs also can emit a putrid smell and attract flies and roaches.

In buildings with cast iron pipes, a FOG clog can cause the pipes to rust. The more the pipe rusts, the worse the pipe structure becomes. In a worst-case scenario, the FOGs can rust a hole into the pipe.

The Government Regulates FOGs.

The EPA requires that publicly-owned sewage treatment plants have a FOG control program. Many of these programs require restaurants and other food service establishments to have a grease trap to reduce the number of FOGs entering the city sewage system.

 A picture of the floor with a grease trap open in the middle of the floor. The grease trap is a square hole in the floor. This square floor is filled with solidified grease.

The Punchline: FOGs Lead to Drain Problems.

In summary, FOGs are waste from food that is put down the drain. The FOGs solidify and clog the drains, leading to overflows, insects, and rusty pipes.

Now that you understand FOGs, you likely want to prevent them from building up. One way to prevent FOG buildups is to use chemicals. For example, you can use chemicals to prevent FOG buildup in a grease trap.