The Role of Enzymes in Septic Tank Treatment
Sewage is created every time a toilet is flushed, a shower is taken, or something is washed down a drain. 25% of homes in the U.S. rely on septic tank systems, on-site waste water treatment facilities, to treat and dispose of household waste water. Septic tank systems are an effective, inexpensive, and low maintenance alternative where public sewer is unavailable. Proper treatment of waste water is required for health, and environmental reasons before it can be disposed of. Bacteria in the septic system are responsible for the degradation of organic waste.
Billions of bacteria throughout the septic system break down solid waste and purify water, resulting in a functioning septic tank system. While bacteria play an extremely important role in the septic tank system, they do not work alone. As the bacteria metabolize, grow, and divide, enzymes are created. Enzymes are biological catalysts, mainly proteins, that are generated and used by bacteria to activate (start) or speed up chemical reactions, in this case the digestion of waste throughout the septic system. Enzymes are not living things, they cannot grow or reproduce themselves. They are not consumed or affected by the chemical reaction that takes place during the break down of waste. By attaching themselves to large complex molecules of starches, proteins, carbohydrates, and cellulose, enzymes immediately begin the breaking down the larger molecules into water-soluble nutrients for the bacteria to digest. Enzymes act as knives, chopping the complex molecules into smaller pieces that the bacteria can digest.
Enzymes are found in every part of the septic system from the pipes to the soil beneath the leaching field, playing an extremely important role: making sure all organic waste is broken down into a liquid form. Unlike bacteria that are living organisms that can reproduce, fix themselves (heal), and even die, enzymes are not living things. They are made of proteins that are biodegradable. Enzymes are easily destroyed by chemicals, environmental conditions, and even other enzymes. Environmental factors throughout the septic system( pH, temperature, space,etc,) lower the activation energy required for waste degradation, in turn speeding up the reaction. However, because enzymes are not living things, they do not adapt to changing conditions (in the septic system). When conditions are not optimal (due to chemicals in the septic tank or a build up of solid waste), enzyme activity will slow or stop. Using a septic tank treatment every month will drastically enhance conditions inside the septic system, prolonging the life of the system and improving its effectiveness.
Septic Tank Treatment Containing Bacteria & Enzymes
The life span of bacteria in the septic tank is only 3-6 weeks. The half life of the enzymes they create is between just minutes and days. Because enzymes do not reproduce, or heal, even though they are constantly being produced by bacteria, they are always being destroyed. Everyday waste water containing antibacterial chemicals or cleaners gets into the septic system, killing the bacteria and destroying the enzymes instrumental in digesting waste. Because of the short life span of bacteria and constant exposure to harmful chemicals, the use of a monthly septic tank treatment is the most important part of septic tank care.
There are over a thousand different septic tank additives, however not all septic tank treatments are biological. Biological septic tank treatments contain only bacteria that have been cultivated, freeze-dried, and combined with specific problem solving enzymes that are extracted from bacteria and dried. Using a septic tank treatment that contains both bacteria and enzymes replaces, and replenishes the bacteria that already exist in the septic system naturally. Maintaining a high level of bacteria and enzymes will enhance the performance of the septic system by increasing the effective capacity in the septic tank and breaking down the accumulation of solids throughout the septic system. Using a septic tank treatment that contains enzymes will immediately go to work in the septic system because the job of enzymes is to speed up the process of waste degradation. The specific enzymes combined in a biological septic tank treatment also have their own specific functions. The best septic tank treatment contains non-toxic, non- pathogenic enzymes that work to enhance the effectiveness of any septic tank system or any waste water treatment system. Some common hydrolytic enzymes and cellulases (fat dissolving enzymes) are:
- Amylase: Breaks down and dissolves all starches
- Lipase: Breaks down and dissolves the molecular structure of all fat and grease
- Protease: Feeds on and dissolves organic waste.
- While enzymes in human waste aid in the activation of enzymes in the septic system, additional bacteria and enzymes are needed for optimal effectiveness. Organic enzymes have been proven to break down fats and oils, proteins, starches, and carbohydrates. Enzymes are also an all natural odor control because they aid in killing and digesting the waste that causes odor. When the ecological system (bacteria and enzymes) inside the tank is disrupted by chemicals, extra water, accumulation of solid waste, contamination, or any other condition, bacteria are killed and enzymes are destroyed . When conditions in the septic system are not ideal, enzyme activity slows or stops, making the accumulation of solid waste inevitable. When solids build up in the septic tank there is less space in the tank to effectively treat the effluent, and clogs become a potential risk.
Most homeowners fail to properly maintain their septic tank systems because they are under the belief that their septic system is self reliant. They believe that the bacteria and enzymes that exist naturally in the septic tank are enough to effectively break down solid waste and purify effluent. The use of a monthly biological septic tank treatment will build up and maintain a healthy level of both bacteria and enzymes to quickly and effectively liquefy solid wastes and make room to effectively treat effluent. Septic tank care is an important , often over-looked, task that can eliminate and prevent septic tank problems. Because the effectiveness of septic tank additives is often debated, people may think monthly septic tank treatment is unnecessary. However, testing of monthly biological septic tank treatments have proved to effectively remove solids from waste water better than if left untreated. Every septic tank system needs bacteria and enzymes for the degradation of waste. Using a monthly septic tank treatment that builds up and maintains a healthy level of bacteria and enzymes is the best way to easy and effective septic tank care.