Septic Tank Treatment systems treat and dispose of wastewaters that contain disease-causing germs or environmental pollutants. These wastes flow into a septic tank, where heavier solids settle at the bottom and lighter greases and fats float to the top.
Bacteria inside the tank break these down to liquids, known as effluent. The liquid then flows into the drain field.
There are a number of additives on the market that claim to help your septic, AWTS or grey water system run more efficiently. These include inorganic compound additives, bacteria and enzyme based additives or biological stimulant additives. Unfortunately, most of these products aren’t good for your on-site sewage system and some can actually harm it.
Manufacturers of bacterial or enzyme-based additives claim their products act as starter agents for new systems or to boost the already present bacteria populations in old ones. Unfortunately, the bacteria and enzymes added by these additives are tiny compared to those in a septic tank and have little impact on wastewater breakdown. In fact, the introduced bacteria can be killed by whatever is killing the existing ones in the system.
Another issue with these types of septic additives is that they usually contain a chemical solvent such as trichloroethylene or methylene chloride. These chemicals have been shown to kill the natural microbial communities in the septic tank and can then enter the groundwater or soil around your home. These toxins can also cause health issues for those using the home.
Lastly, many of these septic additives are sold as “septic tank cleaners.” They may claim to break down solid waste or the scum layer so you can use your toilets more comfortably and prevent clogged pipes. These products aren’t necessary because your on-site septic system is designed to work by itself without any interference from you. Instead, focus on conserving water and have your septic tank pumped and inspected regularly to keep it working well for decades. A septic tank that is working properly should not experience any issues with odours or blockages. In the event that these problems do arise, it is often a sign that the system is overworked and needs to be inspected or redesigned. A professional can determine the best course of action and offer alternatives to septic tank additives.
A variety of septic tank additives are available in the market. They come in different forms and are marketed to offer specific functions. Some of the most popular ones include bacteria, enzymes, and biological stimulants. These additives are advertised to improve the function of a septic system, reduce unpleasant smells, and minimize the need for pumping.
Most septic tank additives are harmful to the septic tank and its surrounding environment. In addition, they often contain questionable ingredients and do not work as claimed. While a few may have temporary benefits, they do not replace regular maintenance.
Biological additives contain bacteria, yeast, and enzyme products that manufacturers claim can help new systems or support overworked septic tanks. They are usually flushed down the toilet as part of routine maintenance and are billed as a way to help a septic tank get a “head start” or to maintain the health of an existing system. However, the septic system is designed to receive all of the bacteria it needs from incoming waste.
The main problem with the additives is that they introduce bacteria to the septic system without also introducing the necessary organic material to feed them. This is why they are so harmful, as they can quickly kill the bacterial population and cause a number of problems, including unpleasant odors, blockages, and even sewage backups.
Chemical septic tank additives are just as dangerous as the biological ones. They contain toxic chemicals that corrode the tank and leach out into the surrounding soil and groundwater. These chemicals can poison the soil and kill the bacteria that break down wastewater. They can also contaminate drinking water and pose serious public health risks.
Some septic system additives contain calcium, which is supposed to raise the pH levels in a septic system so that bacteria can thrive. This is a bad idea, because calcium actually raises the pH to harmful levels and kills the bacteria. Many state environmental health departments have regulations in place that disallow the use of septic tank additives. In addition, an engaged and responsive property owner who follows septic system maintenance guidelines and regularly pumps and cleans the effluent filter can avoid additive use altogether.
Organic solvent additives
Septic tank systems are simple onsite sewage treatment and disposal facilities, used in rural areas that lack access to centralized sewerage. Wastewater is piped from homes to a buried, watertight septic tank where it separates into three distinct layers: a scum layer of soaps and detergents; a liquid layer; and a bottom sludge layer of heavy organic materials (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 2001). While bacteria inside the tank break down some of this material, the majority of the waste remains solids. This solid matter, or septage, is then deposited into a septic drain field where it further breaks down, percolates through the soil, and is absorbed by groundwater. Despite the relatively moderate treatment efficiency of this type of system, a number of organic pollutants are still found in groundwater and surface waters near septic tank sites.
Because of this, many homeowners seek ways to treat their septic tanks. One popular method involves introducing bacteria or enzymes to the system. The premise is that the new additions will improve wastewater breakdown by adding healthy bacteria or substances that help break down fatty and oily wastes. However, the bacterial ecosystem in most septic tanks is already quite robust and should be able to adequately deal with most household wastes.
Another common approach involves using organic solvents to treat a septic tank. These solvents, such as trichloroethylene or methylene chloride, break down grease and other organic compounds in the tank but can also affect the health of existing bacteria populations and cause a variety of other problems, including groundwater contamination. Moreover, these organic chemicals can also leach from the tank into the environment and cause significant harm at very low concentrations.
While some homeowners believe that adding septic tank additives can prevent their septic systems from becoming clogged or overloaded, most experts recommend avoiding these products altogether. Instead, use natural cleaning products that are safe for septic systems or look for a “Septic Safe” label on a product to ensure that it will not harm your home’s plumbing and septic tank system. It’s also a good idea to have your septic tank pumped on a regular basis, which should be done by a licensed and bonded professional contractor who can also inspect for signs of damage or other issues.
Adding chemical additives to the septic tank system can increase the amount of bacteria that decompose the waste. This can help keep the septic tank healthy and prevent overflowing. However, not all additives are good for the septic tank and some can be harmful to the environment. It is important to use only safe and tested septic tank additives.
In the experiment, different faecal sludge samples were sprayed with various amounts of calcium carbide in glass jar setups and then subjected to physico-chemical tests for 30 days. The sludge was analysed for moisture content, biochemical and chemical oxygen demand (BOD5 and COD), total coliforms, and helminth egg counts. The results were compared with the control septic tank.
The results showed that the calcium carbide treatment significantly reduced the sludge moisture content, BOD5, total coliforms, and helminth eggs. It also reduced the mass of the sludge by up to 61%. The sludge temperature also increased during the initial days of the experiment and then stabilized to ambient temperatures. However, the effect was less pronounced in the diluted LSEC treatments.
A number of industry professionals oppose the use of septic system additives, claiming that the correct bacteria are already present in human digestive secretions. While these bacteria can break down some organic compounds, they are limited by body temperature and cannot decompose highly complex organics. They also require a balanced pH and are limited in their ability to work on fats, oils, and greases.
The septic tank system is designed to separate liquid and solid wastes in the tank, and then treat the organic wastes by allowing them to percolate through the drainfield. But many Texas soils are too dense to effectively absorb these pollutants, leading to overflows into waterways and lakes. Many homeowners are now turning to alternative septic system treatments, including the use of chemical additives and aeration systems.
A septic tank system requires routine maintenance to avoid overflows and leaks. In addition, it is important to regularly test your septic system. These tests can help you find problems that may not be obvious to the naked eye. Having your septic tank inspected can prevent major problems and help you save money on repairs in the long run.