How Do You Clean Up All The Shortening???

Decorating By Sassy74 Updated 3 Nov 2011 , 10:45pm by SammieB

Sassy74 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 5:48pm
post #1 of 27

I just had my septic treatment system pumped out, to the tune of $350. Yeah, that just sounds unpleasant, doesn't it?

Anyway, when the septic man came to discuss why, I was shocked. He said our pipes were coated thickly with fat, and asked what I put down our disposal. I thought about it...no meat (which we don't eat a lot of anyway), no rice, no pasta. What could it be??? I don't cook with shortening at all, and on the occassion that I use olive oil, I *always* just pour the excess into an empty jar and wipe out the pan before washing it. The only questionable thing I put down there was egg shells, which I thought were OK. Nope. He said egg shells can't go down the disposal either. Grrrr. Anyway...

The only conclusion I can come to is that it's the little bit of shortening left in my mixer bowl after making a batch of buttercream. I scrape my mixer out thoroughly when I make icing, but there's always a film of it left in the bowl. And yeah, I just melt it out with scalding hot water when I wash the bowl. But it seems like such a small amount. Well, over many years, that small amount just plugged up our pipes. Dang.

So my question is how do y'all clean the bowl after you make icing? How do you get EVERY LAST BIT of it out before washing your bowl? I thought about letting it crust really well and just scraping it out when dried. Anyway, thoughts? Suggestions?

26 replies
AnnieCahill Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 6:20pm
post #2 of 27

Ok there are a few things here...

First, when was the last time your system was pumped? Second, I scrape mine into the trash if I'm not going to use it, then wash it with hot soapy water.

Hmm how do I say this without sounding gross...grease in the septic system is not all related to food, if you know what I mean. Someone with whom I used to work told me a story about a guy who worked at a sewage treatment plant. He slipped and fell into one of the tanks and was able to stand on the thick coating of grease that lined the walls of the tank in order to keep from drowning.

It could be that it was just build up from not having it pumped in a long time.

bakencake Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 6:22pm
post #3 of 27

Sorry, i don't have help but i want to thank you for posting. Never thought about my pipes clogged with shortening. I think that waiting for the icing to crust is a good idea. wondering if anybody else has any tips.

getonthemove Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 6:37pm
post #4 of 27

There are bacteria products that you can buy at hardware stores and some grocery stores that you put into the septic that will help break down the fat in your septic system. Even using those products though, it is advisable to have your system pumped at least every few years or so.

AnnieCahill Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 7:46pm
post #5 of 27

Allow me...

http://www.rid-x.com/how-do-septic-systems-work.shtml

I had the privilege of learning how to design septic systems in college (earth science major). They can definitely get backed up if not properly cared for. My grandparents haven't had theirs pumped since the 80s. I keep telling them but oh well.

The previous poster was right. Depending on the number of people in your home, every five years is good. Most tanks have enough space to accommodate up to five years of sludge. It also depends on the type of septic system you have. Alternative systems may require more frequent pumping. If you really have doubts I would contact the health department.

Honestly I think this has less to do with the buttercream and more to do with when the last time you had your system pumped. It is very important that you pay attention to what goes down the disposer. But do some reading about septic systems and you will understand more. They do require maintenance, and you can't just let them go.

TexasSugar Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 7:57pm
post #6 of 27

I've been told by a plumber friend to use something called "thrift crystals". I haven't used them yet.

ladeebug Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 7:58pm
post #7 of 27

My sweet husband had an insta-hot faucet installed at the vegetable sink. I scrape out as much butter cream as I can and then get boiling water from faucet to clean. I always let a little extra hot water run down the drain as well.

Sassy74 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 8:36pm
post #8 of 27

We built our house 5 yrs ago, and have never had it cleaned before. In Louisiana, because of the water table, septic treatment systems are required if you're not on city sewage, which we're not. The treatment system is a bit different from a septic tank with fill lines. The system treats the sewage and discharges the clear water into ever-present drainage ditches. Some ppl have said the systems work so well that you can drink the water that's discharged. I'm not lining up for a sip lol.

Anyway, we've treated it with some type of bacteria several times, but not as often as recommended, I know. My husband does it, so I don't know exactly what it is or how often he's done it. I promise you we'll be more dilligent from now on!

Annie, GROSS lol! How awful to fall into sewage. My husband said that when the man took the lid off of our tank, he stuck his head straight down in there! I was like, "Thank you JESUS that I don't clean septic systems for a living!" Of course, I'm grateful they're out there lol.

Anyway, it may be that we just haven't been treating the system with the bacteria often enough. But I'm still curious...how much of that shortening are y'all washing down the drain? I'm paranoid now.

Thanks for the info!

AnnieCahill Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 1:00am
post #9 of 27

I would say that a fair amount of shortening has gone down my disposer. But I am on county water and sewer so we don't have a septic issue.

I hope you get your problem resolved soon! Like they say, it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it!

mallorymaid Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 3:32am
post #10 of 27

I use a rubber spatula to scrape out any container or dish that has any kind of fat in it, then wipe it out with paper towel and put it in the garbage, even though I am diligent about doing this I don't believe it is possible to get every bit and ultimately some ends up in the septic tank, I have my tank pumped and checked every 3 years, I've had to deal with blocked weeping tiles before, not fun.

SammieB Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 4:45am
post #11 of 27

I used to work for a plumbing wholesaler, and one thing all my plumbers told me was if you have any kind of meat grease or fats, it's better to rinse out the majority of it in cold water so it goes ahead and becomes solid to pass through your pipes, as opposed to going down warm, then cooling through the system and coating your pipes. Honestly, I think if you clean out your septic system every 5 years or so that wouldn't make much of a difference, but I imagine long term it has SOME effect if not a huge difference.

Now, as far as disposals go, there is one made for septic systems. I know, I know, the average plumber will tell you not to use a disposal on a septic system, but the average plumber will also talk you out of a nice custom shower system and a high end toilet, b/c they have done things the same way for 20 years and new products are apparently the devil. Believe me, I've had that argument WAY too many times in the past 10 years, but that's a whole different story.

Check out the Evolution Septic Assist from Insinkerator. It comes with a cartridge that can be replaced with something called Bio-Charge, which is some of the bacteria that the other posters were talking about. It basically squirts the liquid in when you turn on the disposal, which gets carried into the septic tank and helps keep it maintained. From the website: "With an InSinkErator® food waste disposer in your kitchen, chicken bones, fruit rinds, coffee grounds and more can go right in the sink -- where they're virtually liquefied to safely flow into your sewage system or septic tank." Not to mention a fancy schmancy 3/4 HP motor (compared to the average 1/3-1/2 in most houses), and it is insulated and comes with a shock absorbing collar to make it run quieter... yeah. I'd take one.

They aren't super cheap, but they kick butt. I sold one to just about everyone I knew who built on a septic system. Like I always told my clients, the kitchen is by far one of the most utilized spaces. I'd much rather them spend money on the kitchen sink and components than any other plumbing in the house because it is the most used.

carmijok Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 6:40am
post #12 of 27

I don't have a septic system, but I have noticed that when I am doing a lot of cakes, there is a definite odor coming from my kitchen sink pipes. It's the same smell we'd get at the bakery if there was too much buttercream and cake being washed down the sinks. We'd flush the pipes with super hot water...at least that's what I remember. Once I think they had to call the plumber. So far I haven't had to! My water doesn't get that hot so I will use boiling water hoping to get it out. It does seem to go away after a while...but I don't do cakes every week. I have a feeling if I did it would be bad. I've also used baking soda and vinegar and then flushed with boiling water.

Does anyone else who does NOT have a septic system have this problem?

tyty Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 9:42am
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

I don't have a septic system, but I have noticed that when I am doing a lot of cakes, there is a definite odor coming from my kitchen sink pipes. It's the same smell we'd get at the bakery if there was too much buttercream and cake being washed down the sinks. We'd flush the pipes with super hot water...at least that's what I remember. Once I think they had to call the plumber. So far I haven't had to! My water doesn't get that hot so I will use boiling water hoping to get it out. It does seem to go away after a while...but I don't do cakes every week. I have a feeling if I did it would be bad. I've also used baking soda and vinegar and then flushed with boiling water.

Does anyone else who does NOT have a septic system have this problem?




Yes, I have had that smell come from the sink before and I don't have a septic system. Does the soda and vinegar break down the grease? I assumed it was a combination of things that go into the disposer and drain that caused the smell, never though it came from the grease/buttercream.

SammieB Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 2:59pm
post #14 of 27

I've done my fair share of plumbing, and seriously, the nastiest most foul smelling pipes are under that kitchen sink. You'd think bathrooms, but nope. Septic or not, whatever goes down that sink can coat the pipes. Washing out a skillet, trace amounts of oils and fats from your plates, general gunk... it all builds up to a nice nasty sludge that stinks to high heaven. If it's where the point that you can smell it from the drain, chances are it needs a good cleaning.

If you're handy at all, it'd save you bunches of a money instead of hiring a plumber to just take off the curvy part of your drain under your sink, and hot soapy water and a wire brush will get it all fixed up. In most newer homes it will just be a couple of larger nuts holding it on, so no specialty stuff there.

If you would rather not mess with that, running hot water for a WHILE could work some, but it's definitely a temporary fix depending upon how bad the pipes are. One pot of boiling water will help, but it won't make much of a dent. The problem with that solution though is that anything that melts will resolidify at some point and do the same thing further down the pipe if it doesn't make it all the way to the drainage or septic system. You can try a drain cleaner, but if you have any metal pipes under your sink I wouldn't recommend it. Those cleaners are super abrasive, and I've seen long term use eat straight through metal drains and pipes. Lemon juice will help with the smell. Depending upon how strong your disposal is, some people say you can chop a lemon into really small pieces and put them down the disposal one at a time to help.

If all your drains in your house smell the same though, it's definitely a plumber issue. HTH!

Sassy74 Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 7:27pm
post #15 of 27

SammieB, I do that a lot...I drink a glass of water with a lemon wedge in it and just plop the lemon wedge into the disposal when I'm done. It really does smell nice!

Hmmm. You've got me thinking. My husband is really handy, so I may ask him about dismantling those pipes and just cleaning it all out really well. There's no odor at my sink, but after 5 years, I'm sure there's a good bit of gunk in there.

Who knew cake decorating would lead to plumbing issues???

kelleym Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 7:43pm
post #16 of 27

Having recently been through a fairly detailed septic inspection, which was a new experience to me, I was shocked to hear that our septic inspector said "bacterial treatments" and "microbes" like Rid-X are completely worthless. She actually went so far as to say that you are better off standing over your toilet and shredding dollar bills and flushing them directly into your system, and the effect would be the same.

She says the septic system must be pumped every 3 years; this is just a part of routine maintenance. Some people may say "Oh, I've never had a problem, I've never had to have mine pumped", but she said that's the same as bragging that your car runs so well that you never have to change its oil.

I am very interested in this topic, since the system is at my new house, and I've never lived on a septic before. I thought I would offer what I had learned during our inspection in case others could benefit from it.

SammieB Posted 1 Nov 2011 , 8:54pm
post #17 of 27

From what I understand an occasional application of those type bacterias will not make an overwhelming difference in a system. As to no difference at all, that is debatable. The problem is most people normally don't think about the maintenance, just like few people actually drain their water heaters every year to clear out calcium deposits and prevent corrosion, or pull off their aerators to clean the screens. Standard recommended maintenance, that admittedly I don't even do even though I know full well the benefits.

If you are frequently (as in every day) using the bacteria like in the Septic disposal, it is routinely running through the pipes and keeping things maintained instead of trying to tackle years of buildup. My rule of thumb is usually if it's not compostable, don't put it down the disposal.

And while we're on proper maintenance, cold water for disposals (it helps keep the motor cool)! And keep it the water running a good 30 secs to 1 minute to provide a flow of water for the debris to flush through the pipes with instead of settling down. icon_smile.gif

carmijok Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 6:35am
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tyty

Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

I don't have a septic system, but I have noticed that when I am doing a lot of cakes, there is a definite odor coming from my kitchen sink pipes. It's the same smell we'd get at the bakery if there was too much buttercream and cake being washed down the sinks. We'd flush the pipes with super hot water...at least that's what I remember. Once I think they had to call the plumber. So far I haven't had to! My water doesn't get that hot so I will use boiling water hoping to get it out. It does seem to go away after a while...but I don't do cakes every week. I have a feeling if I did it would be bad. I've also used baking soda and vinegar and then flushed with boiling water.

Does anyone else who does NOT have a septic system have this problem?



Yes, I have had that smell come from the sink before and I don't have a septic system. Does the soda and vinegar break down the grease? I assumed it was a combination of things that go into the disposer and drain that caused the smell, never though it came from the grease/buttercream.




Well I'm not sure if it's the soda and vinegar that work or a combination of everything, but when I dump a carton of baking soda in and then pour white vinegar down the drain, it does provide a satisfying foam that gives the illusion it's doing something! I wait for a while and then flush it with boiling water...and I use several pots of boiling water. I also cut up lemon and put it in the disposal. I've heard the acid from the lemon helps cut the grease. I don't know if it does, but right now I don't have that smell. Of course I haven't done a cake in few weeks either! icon_smile.gif

Apti Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 6:53am
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mallorymaid

I use a rubber spatula to scrape out any container or dish that has any kind of fat in it, then wipe it out with paper towel and put it in the garbage




My mom always said to use the baking soda and vinegar solution. We did that for decades, but we were also super broke during those years, so who knows. We simply couldn't afford a plumbing repair.

I'm glad you brought this up, OP. I need to do some septic maintenance! Writing myself a note right now.

As far as the original question, I do the same things done by mallorymaid.

linedancer Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 11:05am
post #20 of 27

I don't have a septic system, am on county water and sewer, but I do have all my plumbing running through the concrete slab my house is built on. I don't want to have to mess with that. When I make buttercream, I wipe everything I use off with a paper towel, including the bowl, throw the paper towels away. I boil some water in a big pan, put some Dawn dishwashing soap in it and all of the utensils and let them soak til the grease dissolves. Pour the water into the bowl, wipe the sides down with a paper towel. The resulting messy water goes outside in my yard where I have a woody vine I want to kill.

Takes a few minutes, but I just don't want to take a chance on that grease!!

Sassy74 Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 5:38pm
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by linedancer

I don't have a septic system, am on county water and sewer, but I do have all my plumbing running through the concrete slab my house is built on. I don't want to have to mess with that. When I make buttercream, I wipe everything I use off with a paper towel, including the bowl, throw the paper towels away. I boil some water in a big pan, put some Dawn dishwashing soap in it and all of the utensils and let them soak til the grease dissolves. Pour the water into the bowl, wipe the sides down with a paper towel. The resulting messy water goes outside in my yard where I have a woody vine I want to kill.

Takes a few minutes, but I just don't want to take a chance on that grease!!




Linedancer, this i awesome. I also wipe everything down with paper towels and throw them away, but there's ALWAYS a greasy film left, and between the utensils and mixer bowls, I'm sure it adds up. Soaking everything and then tossing the water sounds great. Duh. Don't know why that never occured to me lol icon_rolleyes.gif

linedancer Posted 2 Nov 2011 , 8:15pm
post #22 of 27

Glad I could help icon_smile.gif

getonthemove Posted 3 Nov 2011 , 3:40pm
post #23 of 27

Having read all of the other replies. I thought of something else to mention. We had friends that had their septic system back up. The guy who came out to fix the situation tested the septic and found that the bacteria level was basically zero. He said that they had been running into this situation more and more. His thought is that it is the increase in the use of anti-bacterial products, such as dish soaps and laundry detergents. Just something to think about if you have a pension to using those types of products and have a septic system, which requires a level of bacteria to work properly. Don't know how much truth is in it.

mommymarilyn Posted 3 Nov 2011 , 4:16pm
post #24 of 27

I, too, use paper towels to wipe out all the remaining buttercream from bowls, spatulas, etc. But, I apply a little bit of dishwashing liquid and let it set for a little while first. I don't add water, just the d.w. liquid. It cuts right through the grease and really makes the paper towel clean-up much, much easier! thumbs_up.gif

DerrellC Posted 3 Nov 2011 , 10:20pm
post #25 of 27

Has anyone ever tried a undersink greese trap? It's something I was thinking of the whole time I was reading this thread.
I have no knowlege of if theywould help or not.

DerrellC Posted 3 Nov 2011 , 10:20pm
post #26 of 27

Has anyone ever tried a undersink greese trap? It's something I was thinking of the whole time I was reading this thread.
I have no knowlege of if theywould help or not.

SammieB Posted 3 Nov 2011 , 10:45pm
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DerrellC

Has anyone ever tried a undersink greese trap? It's something I was thinking of the whole time I was reading this thread.
I have no knowlege of if theywould help or not.




Things obviously could have changed in the last couple of years, so please don't think my response is trying to rule out that option.

However, from what I dealt with there is a very, very limited supply of residential undersink grease traps. Partially b/c of cabinet space being very limited (by the time your average 36" base cabinet has a sink basin, disposal, pipes, etc in it) there just isn't much room for any grease traps. If there is one small enough it typically is fairly high maintenance due to needing to be constantly cleaned out. Commercially sinks are larger, not in cabinets many times, and a requirement that space is built for in the initial planning.

Some of the residential units I have seen that were more reliable actually go on the waste line that goes out to your septic tank/system. So it's basically a fancy septic for your septic. And that means digging up your yard, cutting your waste line, making sure you have access for maintenance, etc. Unless you are in a cottage food law state, I can't imagine you would have enough bulk to justify the expense for most people. Not to mention it still doesn't solve the stinky sink problem.

I don't have a better solution, and if it was something that constantly reoccurred it would be worth talking to a plumber about. Just make sure it's a plumber either familiar with commercial and/or custom plumbing.

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