Cocoa Utilities encourages customers to “Cease the Grease” this holiday season. Many households do more cooking for family gatherings and other events during the holidays. Cocoa Utilities is asking that we make an effort to avoid sending fats, oils and grease (FOG) down the drain.
Some residents make the mistake of pouring cooking oils and grease down the kitchen sink or flushing it down the toilet. This is especially true during the holiday season when families may be frying turkeys or preparing other traditional foods that contain large amounts of FOGs.
When grease gets into the sewers it can harden and build up and can cause blockages in public sewer lines and even in home plumbing. Grease blockages can cause sewage to backup in homes and neighborhoods. These backups are unpleasant to deal with, smelly and can damage the environment. Ultimately damage caused by blocked pipes can inconvenience motorists if a sewer pipe must be dug up and repaired. It's better to keep the grease out of sewers in the first place.
Although the terms “oil” and “grease” are often used interchangeably, they are different substances. Grease is typically a solid white residue left in a pan after frying bacon or cooking other meats. Oil, such as vegetable oil, is typically a liquid at room temperature.
The popular trend of frying a whole turkey in an outdoor fryer for Thanksgiving can result in about 20 gallons of used cooking oil. If you are frying a turkey, Cocoa Utilities suggests letting the oil cool then putting it back into the container in which it was purchased. The oil can be refrigerated and reused, or the container can be sealed and placed in the trash for collection.
Fryer oil is not the only source of increased FOG going to sewers during the holidays. Many pre-prepared foods and food mixes contain some kind of fat, oil or grease. Salad dressings, butter, dairy products, even baked goods contain FOG. To keep FOG out of sewers, Cocoa Utilities suggests scraping all food scraps from pots, pans, cooking utensils and dishes into the trash before washing or rinsing dishes.
Ways to Avoid FOG
- Properly dispose of used cooking oil by pouring it into a sealable container (such as an empty water jug or mayonnaise jar) and placing the sealed container in the trash. If you have a lot of oil to dispose of, use clay cat litter. Just mix the litter, a little at a time, into the oil. When all the oil has been absorbed, pour the cat litter into a trash bag, seal the bag, then dispose of it in your regular trash. Mixed oils, fats, and greases should be placed in a container such as an empty jar or coffee can. Once the materials have solidified, secure the lid and place the container in your trash; do not pour it down your drain or garbage disposal.
- Scrape food scraps into the trash, not the sink.
- Wipe pots, pans, and dishes with dry paper towels before rinsing or washing them, then throw away the paper towels.
- Place a catch basket or screen over the sink drain when rinsing dishware, or when peeling or trimming food, to catch small scraps that would otherwise be washed down the drain. Throw the scraps in the trash.