What can I put in my septic tank?

Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)November 7, 2005

I have a toilet that has black moldy water in it. I want to fill it with ammonia, but wonder if that is going to be detrimental to my septic system? I know I can't fill it with bleach. What do you suggest?

Also, is there a septic tank "digester" or something that cleans it out quickly without having to have it pumped? I can smell a bad odor coming from the stack and wonder if my septic tank is full? Don't know how that could be since we just started living here full time this summer and the tank was just put in two years ago. (We are small people and we really don't eat very much!!!)

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BelindaM(z8 La)

I am not an expert on septic systems, but after living in the country I had to learn. There are two types here in the south. A modat system, that churns up and uses lots of electricity and deposits clean water in the place you want it. At my house we have a septic tank that works on biology. We have an airater that pumps air at all times, and we have to be careful of what we put down our drains. We have a garbage desposal and we use bleach, but we balance it with brewers yeast to eat the starches and the protiens that we send into the system. You can use RIDEX to eat and promote a good balance of your system. We have never had to have sytem pummed for over 8 years. We have a good drain field and keep up with the balance of nature.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 9:13PM
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dunwaukin(Ontario 5b)

Why does your toilet have black moldy water in it? do you mean in the bowl or in the tank?? You shouldn't need to "fill" it with ammonia - usually the dilution is suggested on the label.

Bleach actually only needs 1 part per 200 to be effective. That should not cause any problems for a normally working septic tank. I'm wondering why you have this problem, though. Doesn't seem normal to me to have mold in either section of the toilet. If it's just kinda black slime around the edges of the tank(not the bowl) I wouldn't really be too worried. If it's in the bowl, well, that's another matter.

Guess it depends whom you talk to for an opinion on whether digesters help. Most people think they're not needed in a properly functioning system. Did you put the system in -? - and therefore know exactly what's in it.

Don't put junk down the drains. Toilet paper is the only paper that should be going down. No paper towels, no diaper bits, no nothing else. No grease from the sink. No in-sink-er-ator grindings (that one is open to debate by various perople).

How is the weeping field? Is it wet and squishy. Sometimes the smell comes from a saturated weeping bed, though it sure shouldn't be after this short of time.

Be interesting to see other people's thoughts on this.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 9:37PM
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BelindaM(z8 La)

I am not an expert on septic systems, but after living in the country I had to learn. There are two types here in the south. A modat system, that churns up and uses lots of electricity and deposits clean water in the place you want it. At my house we have a septic tank that works on biology. We have an airater that pumps air at all times, and we have to be careful of what we put down our drains. We have a garbage desposal and we use bleach, but we balance it with brewers yeast to eat the starches and the protiens that we send into the system. You can use RIDEX to eat and promote a good balance of your system. We have never had to have sytem pummed for over 8 years. We have a good drain field and keep up with the balance of nature.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 10:44PM
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erinluchsinger(z4 - Upstate NY)

Well, I'm kind of the septic expert on the forum as I used to sell septic tanks for a living, but now my husband does, and my father is a septic installer.
I'd say that if you use the tank properly, that it doesn't need to be pumped yet... that is if the tank is sufficiently sized. You probably need at 1000 gallon tank... 750 gallons minimum. If it's smaller than that, then you may need it pumped.
If you have a traditional system, it works all by itself. The system someone stated above is an AEROBIC system... different than a traditional ANAEROBIC system. A true "traditional" system is anaerobic... zero oxygen. It slowly breaks down over time so long as it is not abused (no garbage disposal... this will really decrease the time between pumpings by a few years, grease, etc.). It's a good rule to have your system pumped every 5 years. A lot of people will argue that if it "ain't broke, don't fix it". Well, I completely disagree. I'd rather pay $200 every 5 years to have my system pumped, than to over exert the system and pay $5000 to have the entire tank and leach field replaced. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean that it doesn't need attention every few years.
If you place a little ammonia in the water, I'd say it's okay. I wouldn't fill the bowl, as that's a LOT of ammonia. I would probably use a bleach solution instead. Bleach tends to be better on mold than ammonia.
Feel free to email me directly if you want more info. I know far too much about this "crap" (pun intended) than any 28 year old girl should!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 10:32AM
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I was thinking pumping too.Maybe you have a blockageor its ,backing up.My hubby installs septics too.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 10:45PM
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Hope that someone is still around reading this forum. I have a septic tank (lived in this house 40 years) and have recently noticed that a pipe is showing--without a cover--I have covered this opening with a rock. I imagine that over the years the soil has washed down the slope. The diameter of the pipe is probably 2 1/2 inches Can someone tell me its purpose---did it originally have a cover----should I just start piling soil back up over it_____

Would appreciate any answers. jleek

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 3:01PM
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When we put our system in, and piped it up to the house, the guy who was doing it, left a pipe like that for a vent. It still needs a cover he said, I have used a metal bowl upside down on it for a cover. I don't know the true purpose of the pipe, but if it is open like mine, it needs to be covered. Mine got uncovered and I found creepy crawlies coming out of it one day. I would call a septic guy and just ask what it could be for.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 1:43PM
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wow, all the questions I allways wanted to ask. Our septic is 4 years old. I think it was a 1500 gallon tank, does it really need to be pumped? If my field is stinky does that mean theres a problem? Not sure if it's my field or the neighbors that smells. Or maybe its just my dog. I was told not to use bleach, I also heard granular soaps are a problem. Is there a rule book for septics?
:) gina

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 3:04PM
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Ummm, I second that request for any and all septic info. This is my first go-round with one, too. I do know this: It is 8 years old, a 1000 gallon(?) tank, never been serviced but was inspected and passed(???).

I'm always concerned about what I send down the drains. Especially when I found myself washing paint brushes in the kitchen sink. Been meaning to email you about it, Erin. No smelly feilds as yet, though. But I do use the sink disposal all the time...Help!


    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 12:41AM
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sharon_sd(SW ON)

A tank that has not been pumped in several years will one day overflow solid material into the leaching bed, plugging it up. When this happens, you will need to create a new leaching bed. This is far more costly than calling a pumping service to pump out your tank. Septic tanks are not designed to be used indefinitely without pumping.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 7:08AM
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We are building a house, and have the septic installed (we are living in a trailer onsite, about 150' from the septic). I'm now looking for a dishwasher, and have been told by an appliance dealer that I can't use powdered dish detergent or powdered laundry detergent with a septic system. I would like a second opinion, because the DW I planned on is a Bosch, which can only use powdered dish detergent. Any help much appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 1:02PM
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dunwaukin(Ontario 5b)

Been using powdered, liquid, and combi (the cascade in the little gel packs) for a total of 18 years on three deifferent septic systems. No problems.

On a side note, I would take my dishes to the appliance store and try them out in the bosch. Take at least two or three plates. I have a bosch, and it isn't deep enough (front to back, not top to bottom) to hold two plates back to frontm beside each other. REsult -- chipped plates.
Also take a couple of bowls, see if they fit. Top rack is lousy for glasses. Just MHO.

(The only problem I ever had with a septic system was when the gas company broke the main pipe out of the tank, and didn't bother to mention it to us.)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 3:10PM
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When we built our home, my wife specified a 'graywater' system so that dishwasher, kitchen sink, and clothes' wash water wouldn't go into the septic tank - but the contractor didn't do it. But, 10 years later, when we put on an addition, which included a new laundry room that backed up to the kitchen, we DID run that gray water line, which gets all the clothes/dish wash water and kitchen/utility room sink water. I doubt that this one was done correctly, as it's just a straight pipe dumping out at the top of the hill in the pasture behind the house, but at least all the detergents, fabric softener, grease/foodstuffs from the kitchen sink are no longer going into the septic tank.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 3:24PM
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A few things
Lucky p - what you are discribing is not a greywater system. Greywater does not include kitchen water which is considered black and will attract rodents just being dumped on the back pasture. Greywater is laundry water, BATHROOM SINK water and shower water. Black water is toilet and kitchen water (both sink and dishwasher). Sorry.

Fivstar - do not believe most of what you hear. My sister-in-law was told that she could put a garbage disposal on a septic tank, which is a big NO NO. Do your own research and ask the people who pump the systems what they think, most of them will tell the truth, just don't ask the ones that also sell/install tanks. They are looking at the bottom line too, and if they can sell you a second system in a few years it is much more profitable than just pumping. That is where my sis-in-law went wrong.

jleek and shellybabe - the upright tube is because the run is too long to snake. If you ever have a clog and it is not in the tank, they will use this to access the pipe, don't cut it, bury it, or glue a cap onto it. You do want a cap and pretty much any hardware store in America carries them including Home Depot and Lowes. Just get the diameter of the pipe and you will have no problems.

I have been told by people that do the pumping (we have been here 12+ years and had the pumping done twice by two different companies) to stay away from anything other than TP in the system and DO NOT use Charmin TP. The way it is made does not break down as readily. One told us that after having it pumped, to put a few pounds of raw hamburger in the tank, to start the "bugs". The other time my husband got a 5-gallon bucket of "bugs" from a wastewater plant he was working at. I have also read a bunch of stuff that all said pretty much the same thing: Yeast good, baking sode good, vinegar ok, bleach is small quantities ok, grease and food scraps no no. I stick pretty strictly to these rules and we have never had a problem. FYI if your leach field is stinky, you better get someone out there quick!!


    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 4:21PM
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paulns(NS zone 6a)

I was interested to read these posts as the system the previous owner of our place put in consists of a couple of buried oil drums going into a proper leach field. No toilet paper has ever gone into it, and no chemical cleaners (we knew the previous owners well, and followed their example). This may be why it's lasted 15 years before started to show problems. We're replacing it with a 1000 gallon cement tank, with some government funding - Dept. of Environment guys I've talked are pretty horrified when I tell the the situation. lol

Anyway, I always thought properly handled greywater - nothing toxic down the sink, including antibacterials; no powdered laundry detergent, which hardly breaks down at all and makes a disgusting mess - going into an aerobic situation outdoors, planted with the right vegetation to take up the water and nutrients, can and should include kitchen water. It's a form of composting.

I've asked Dept. of Environment people about putting in a greywater system here but they won't allow it. To them all used water is black water.

I've found these definitions for greywater: some say the term includes kitchen water, some exclude it.

Here is a link that might be useful: greywater definitions

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 12:33PM
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dunwalkin, thank you for that tip on plate-loading -- that is definitely a concern. I'll do just that, and I can then try out the other DWs at the same time.

Billie Ladybug, that's a shock that you can't have a disposall with septic. I did hear that you have to get a special kind, designed for septic, it grinds up much finer. And I did assume you couldn't put grease into it. But are you saying you absolutely can't have a disposall at all? We do compost, so 99% of vegetable matter goes in the bucket; but with our garden and all the prep I do, there is always a tiny bit of matter that I can't get out of the sink drainer, and I was really looking forward to sending it through the disposall.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 11:27AM
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What we were told by two different companies is that for best performance do not use a garbage disposal. You are adding a lot of matter to the system that it probably cannot handle. You CAN do anything you want, but it may not be in your checkbook's or you septic system's best interest.
Besides why would you want to put all those recyclable veggies down the drain. Go to the compost forum and add them to your garden. You would be amazed at what you can compost and reuse. If you don't want to compost, get a hog and butcher it in the fall. Or start a worm bin and go fishing on Sunday. There are so many better uses for those veggies that have gone bad then sending them to the septic tank. If you want more info, PM me.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 11:58AM
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sc_gardener(zone 5)

We were told no garbage disposal systems either. No chemicals, no washing out paintbrushes, etc. We had ours replaced. A very old system, it eventually completely failed, water was sitting over the field. I don't think it had ever been pumped out.
Look for a sign on the TP package that says it is safe for use in septic fields. Like SF logo or something.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 1:39PM
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I think the whole disposal issue largely depends on how you use it. I have a disposal, but don't really 'put anything in it.' Scraps all go into either the compost or the chicken bucket, so food off dishes being washed is about the limit of what the disposal handles. I only had it installed to keep from clogging the drain with chunks of stuff. I've had no trouble with my septic system. I use the RIDEX from time to time, too, tho not nearly as often as the package recommends.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 10:55AM
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We have a septic that is over 30 years old and have had few problems. If you have a dishwasher, you have a disposal--at least most dishwashers have disposals attached. The grease is emulsified by the detergent. I think disposals are like chlorine--if you only use a little, you can get by. Don't use your disposal to "dispose" of scraps, but we use ours to get rid of stuff left in the dishwater just as the dishwasher does. I have read that most single-ply TP is okay. I am no expert, but I think that if you THINK about EVERYTHING you put into a septic, you will have better luck. Just remember that whatever goes down the drain either remains in the tank as sludge or ends up in the drain/leach field.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 8:45PM
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I heard that buttermilk was better to use in your septic tank than RIDIX. Has anybody ever heard of this??

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 9:44PM
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cranberry15(Zone 5 WI)

Our septic tank was put in in the 40's. It's brick! We've never had a problem. We get it pumped every few years just to be diligent. I can always tell how well the system is percolating in winter - the snow over the cap always melts. We've never added any septic starter. My laundry water goes in the grey water (sump croc), but sinks and tub go in the septic. Yes, the people to ask about your tank & system are the pumping guys. They see all the stuff that does not get digested. Like medicine pills & vitamins, for example.
If your vent pipe is emitting smelly odors, you can get a carbon filter to put on it. Works like a charm. No more smellies.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 2:53PM
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I do not even know where my septic tank is. I talked to the previous owner and neither does she. I have an idea only because one part of the yard stays particularily green in the winter so I have to imagine it is there.

i do not put food in my drain BUT i use regular toilet tissue, liquid detergents, no dishwasher or disposal. Does that mean I am safe? I am not usderatanding the grease issue. why can't you put grease down the drain with boiling hot water and Dawn liquid since it disolves grease?

I am interested to know 4 years later, what happened Roberta? Also is the stack you guys are talking about in the house coming out of the roof from the toilet?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 8:11PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

roxlisaI doubt buttermilk will fix your problems, having a good diverse fauna down there will help, and buttermilk will help that, If buttermilk worked better than ridX I would imagine that the people at ridX would be selling buttermilk, its cheaper to make and they could bill themselves as organic if they did it right.

cranberry15 Do you have a septic system or a cesspool? Are there pipes that lead from the tank that empty out into the dirt?

msjay2uGrease runs down the drain with boiling hot water but eventually it cools, and coagulates, most of the sewer system problems in large cities are due to grease. small amounts in the wash aren't a huge problem, but scraping the plates before you wash them is key.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 4:42AM
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I wrote Dawn (dish liquid) to see if their product really gets dissolves grease like they say and gets it out of the way. when I get a response I will post.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 8:27PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I'm sorry I misunderstood your post.

I'm going to write out a full description and then at the end I'll summarize.

On chemical level what dawn is doing to the grease is no different than what the cheap stuff is doing, and its not really dissolving, I'll explain.

As you know oil and water don't mix. Detergents like dawn work because they are made of molecules with an end that fits well in oil (hydrophobic, usually a long carbon chain with hydrogens all over it) and an end that works well in water (hydrophillic, usually a Phosphate or Thiol(sulfur) group); there are about 2 dozen detergents in commercial use today, your shampoo probably has SDS on the label, thats sodium DodecylSulfate, its a salt with sodium forming one portion and A 12 carbon chain with a sulfate group on it acting as the bridge between the oil and water.

Because of this the little blobs of grease (which is just heavy oil) have to be completely surrounded by the detergent so that none of the oil is exposed directly to the water, because a little oil exposed will find more oil and the blob will grow until the surface area to volume ratio is one covered by the detergent (Surface area grows by a square rule while volume grows by a cubed rule) eventually these blobs get big enough that they cannot be suspended by the kinetic energy in the water and they fall out of solution and you are back to a puddle of grease.

In order to be able to squeeze the dish soap out of the little bottle rather than using a chisel to remove it its cut with water, so you have say 2 oz of grease, and you have this diluted detergent, if the water is hot you might be able to get that 2 oz of grease completely suspended in 3 oz. of dawn (gets expensive fast)but if you want it to stay in solution after its gone through the pipe you are going to need something more like 5 oz. of dawn, which no one would ever do on accident. On top of that the detergent doesn't make a friendly environment for the bacteria in the septic system, it tends to denature (unfold) the proteins on the surface of the bacteria (SDS is actually used with Poly-Acrylamide Gel Electrophoresis to unfold then separate and study proteins in labs; SDS-PAGE). On a related note salt within your water increases what is called the Ionic Strength of the solution, which makes it harder to suspend the grease, because you have to cover the particles more tightly to keep them from joining up.

In Summary If you use a little dawn you can put a little grease down the sink with out problems, if you have a lot of grease you would need a lot of dawn, and that would kill your septic tank.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 2:05AM
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We are considering buying a house with a septic that might need to be replaced so we have been looking for info on the internet.

We found a site that addresses questions that several posters listed. I also thought it was worth mentioning because it lists hazards and safety concerns when working around septics or cesspools.


A Safety Guide for Septic System Inspection, Cleaning, Pumping, and Homeowner Care

* Don't work alone: Falling into a septic tank or even leaning over a septic tank can be fatal. Do not work on or at septic tanks alone - workers can become suddenly overcome by methane gas.

* Do not ever enter a septic tank unless you are specially trained and are wearing the special equipment and gear for that purpose, including self-contained breathing apparatus.

* Do not go into a septic tank to retrieve someone who has fallen in and was overcome by toxic gases unless you are equipped with a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). If a SCBA is not available, call for emergency services and put one or more fans at the top of the septic tank to blow in fresh air.

* Don't lean over a septic tank opening: Do not lean over or stick your head into the septic tank to examine its interior - you could fall in to the tank or become overcome by gases and fall into the tank, an event which is likely to be fatal.

* Don't ignite flames Do not light a flame at or near the tank - methane gas is explosive. At one tank pump out my client described the explosion and burns received by the pumping contractor when he stood by the tank and lit a cigarette. A reader reported a stunning methane gas explosion that damaged nearby buildings when a brush fire was built over a septic tank. [There are safer ways to find the septic tank.]

* Site must be ventilated: Decomposing wastes in the septic tank produce toxic or otherwise dangerous gases (such as methane which is both explosive and in a septic tank methane gas is an asphyxiant) which can kill a human in a matter of minutes. When working on a tank be sure the area is well ventilated.

* Rope off & Mark Dangerous Sites: If your inspection discover that there are dangerous conditions, such as an unsafe tank cover, tank collapse, or a home-made septic tank or cesspool (which are at increased risk of sudden collapse) such areas should be roped off and clearly marked as dangerous to prevent access until proper evaluation and repairs can be made.

* Safe covers: be sure that the tank and its access ports have sound and secure covers that do not risk collapse and which cannot be removed by children.

* Septic & Cesspool Collapse Hazards: Old steel tanks, thin, rusting steel or rotting home-made wood tank covers, site-built tanks and cesspools, and recently-pumped cesspools are at particular risk of collapse. Falling into a septic tank or cesspool is likely to lead to rapid asphyxiation from methane and in cases of collapse, there is risk of becoming buried. The author has consulted in cases involving such fatalities (homeowner fell into a site-built cesspool), and at one site inspection, walking near an overgrown area the author himself stepped through a rusting steel septic tank top, surviving only by throwing himself into a nearby clump of brambles! Beware of the following additional septic system inspection hazards:

Bad septic tank covers: flimsy, rusted, old-steel, home-made, or missing septic tank/drywell/cesspool covers

Abandoned septic tanks: systems which may not have been filled-in

Collapsed, or collapsing septic tanks or cesspools

Additional unexpected septic components: possible presence of multiple components at a property, abandoned or in-use

Un-stable soils: Cesspools and septic systems in areas of unstable soils or areas of commonly-found site-built systems - collapse risk

Cesspool pumping or agitating: pumping, aerating, or agitating cesspools in an attempt to restore function can lead to sudden collapse of these systems, especially if the cesspool or septic tank was "site built" using stacked concrete blocks or stone

* Shock & Electrical Hazards: when digging outdoors, watch out that you don't dig into and cut an electrical wire (or other buried mechanical line such as a gas or water line). Buried electrical wires can look a lot like tree roots. Chopping through an electrical wire while digging to find a septic system can be dangerous. [Thanks to Donica Ben for reminding us of this septic safety problem.]

* Unsanitary conditions: Be alert for unsanitary conditions such as surface effluent or sewage backups into buildings, events which risk serious viral and bacterial hazards and which indoors, may require professional cleaning. Be alert for personal sanitation hazards when working around septic systems, such as open cuts or failure to wash properly after working on systems.

* Damage to Septic Components: Avoid damaging septic system components or the building: Improper septic testing procedures, such as flooding a dosing-system, can damage the system. Also, remember to check for leaks into or under the building being tested when running water into the building fixtures and drains. Don't leave water running unattended - at risk of flooding the building.

A link that might be useful:


    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 10:41AM
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dreamgarden... I did a search for septic systems and wound up on the same page you got that information from. They had a lot of links with more info. very interesting actually. Thanks for the info although I do not think I will personally be climbing into a septic tank anytime soon. LOL!!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 6:12PM
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I wrote to Damn asking them if their product dissolves grease when I add it to hot water and flush it down my drain to the septic tank (basically) and here was their response:

I wish we could help, but Dawn has not been tested for the purpose of rinsing grease down the drain. Because it hasn't been tested for this use, we have no data to claim whether using Dawn and hot water to flush grease down the drain will be safe for a septic system or not.

Thanks for writing.

Dawn Team

I thought that was interesting given the fact that they say:
Dawn gets grease out of the way, breaks up and dissolves grease fast.

from their website:
Since Dawn was invented in 1973, Dawn dish liquid has been known for superior grease-fighting power. It's so effective on dishes, pots and pans, that over the years, consumers have found many uses for Dawn around their homes. Animal rescuers have even discovered that it's a great way to remove grease from animals in oil spill cleanups. As a result, Dawn has helped conservation organizations save thousands of animals for over 35 years. Today, Dawn has grown into an international family of dishwashing liquids dedicated to innovation and answering consumers' ever-changing needs.

SO I guess they back it up in all ways except the septic tank. LOL

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:43PM
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I followed up with Dawn by mentioning their tag line "Dawn gets grease out of the way, breaks up and dissolves grease fast". Here is their response:

We know safety for plumbing and septic systems are important for consumers, so we carefully test our products. Using Dawn in normal, recommended amounts does not disturb the bacterial level in a septic system and is safe for use in properly functioning systems.

Having said that, Dawn cuts grease in order to remove grease from the dishes and prevent it from settling back onto the dishes. However we don't claim that Dawn will dissolve the grease.

I must have imagined they said it dissolves grease...

okay I will let the thread die peacefully again

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 9:09PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

A nasa astronaut video explaining Micelle formation.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://is.gd/AgJj

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 9:25PM
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we just bought our house in sept of 08. we had to have our tank pumped at the end of march. here it is the beginning of august and it is backed up again. we have had a lot of rain and our yard has been flooded for like the last 2 months. can this have something to do with the fact that we have to have it pumped again?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 8:55PM
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If your tank filled back up in less than 6 months you have a problem system. The possible reasons-
The system may be to small for your household.
The system design does not allow for proper peculation.
The drain field is clogged.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 7:55AM
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It sounds like the ground water table is quite high-with the flooded condition of the yard it maybe the cause of this. When the tank was pumped was there a lot of clear water? If it was, its ground water that is filling the tank. You may have to put an above ground system in.

If not, it could be the drain field maybe plugged with roots (usually from trees) or it has damaged drain pipes (usually if it has been driven over); it also, could be old and the drain field is plugged from overflow of debris from the settling tank.

Tanks should be pumped out every 5 or so year to prevent them from becoming overfilled with solid waste-which will flow out into the drain field and plug it up before it's expected life span is reached.

Septic system needs maintenance like anything else built by man. It is the easiest thing to overlook being out of sight--out of mind. But, when they fail we then wished we had maintained it properly---$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.$$---Very costly!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 2:26PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

If your yard is flooded from rain then it is probably a water table issue, can you drain your property elsewhere?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 1:36AM
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bill7(NW MN)


"we just bought our house in sept of 08. we had to have our tank pumped at the end of march. here it is the beginning of august and it is backed up again. we have had a lot of rain and our yard has been flooded for like the last 2 months. can this have something to do with the fact that we have to have it pumped again?"

Where are you? We have had problems this year. Started with lots of rain last fall, then a blizzard, followed by rain in March (think Red River Valley, ND, MN). The field next to us basically flowed into our yard, because the ditch was full and was not draining. The water table is very high. If we get 3-4 in. of rain, I am pumping...uh I mean...the tank needs to be pumped. It is "clean" water. Definitely ground water.

We could still have an issue, as this is an older, gravity fed drain field, but for now I think it is the water table.

Good luck

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 6:34PM
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    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 3:49PM
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