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How to Break Down Septic Tank Solids Quickly?

Are you tired of dealing with the unpleasant odors and backups caused by septic tank problems? 

We understand how frustrating it can be to deal with clogs and waste buildup in your septic tank, so we’ve developed these easy tips to help you maintain it. 

Types of Septic Tank Solids

types of septic tank solids

Before we get into the solutions, let’s first understand what solids can accumulate in your septic tank. 

  • Floating Solids: These lightweight particles float on top of the liquid in your tank. They can include oils, fats, and greases from cooking and personal care products. 

  • Settling Solids: Heavier particles that settle at the bottom of your tank, like sludge and sediment. These are the major culprits for clogs and backups. 

  • Suspended Solids: Particles that remain suspended in the liquid in your tank, including food scraps, paper products, and other organic materials.

What Breaks Down Tank Septic Solids? (Natural vs. Chemical Additives)

what breaks down tank septic solid

Now that you know what kinds of solids can build up in your septic tank, let’s discuss some natural and chemical additives that can help prevent or break down these solids.

Natural Additives

Anaerobic digestion is the natural process when bacteria and enzymes break down waste materials into simpler, more stable components. 

As the organic solids settle to the bottom of the tank, bacteria break them down and convert them into gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

Settling and layering is another natural process when heavy solids sink to the bottom and form a layer of sludge, while lighter materials such as fats and oils float to the top and form a scum layer. This separation allows for better digestion of waste materials.

One way to promote these natural processes is by adding natural additives to maintain a balanced ecosystem, promoting efficient solid breakdown.

  • Bacteria and Enzymes: These are the major components of a healthy septic tank. They work together to break down organic materials and keep your system running smoothly. You can find these additives in stores or create your own using active yogurt, yeast, or compost.

  • Vinegar: Adding vinegar to your septic tank helps maintain a balanced pH level, essential for bacteria and enzyme growth. It also helps dissolve any buildup on the walls of your tank.

  • Epsom Salt: This natural salt not only helps remove odors but also aids in breaking down solid waste in your septic tank. It is safe for the environment, and you can easily find it at your local grocery store.

  • Baking Soda: Like vinegar, baking soda helps balance the pH level in your septic tank. It also acts as a natural deodorizer, keeping your system smelling fresh.

Chemical Additives

Chemical additives can also break down septic tank solids, but you should always use them cautiously as they might harm the beneficial bacteria in your tank. 

  • Chlorine Bleach: While this may seem like a convenient option, using chlorine bleach as an additive can harm the bacterial balance in your septic tank and cause damage to the pipes and system components. It is best to avoid using chlorine bleach altogether if possible.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide: This is another popular option for septic tank maintenance, as it breaks down into water and oxygen and does not harm the beneficial bacteria in your tank. 

  • Sulfuric Acid: Sulfuric acid clears clogs and restores the flow in septic tanks.  While it may be effective in removing blockages, it also kills off the beneficial bacteria in your tank that are essential for breaking down waste. 

Do’s and Don’ts: What Not to Put in Your Septic Tank

Do’s and Don’ts: What Not to Put in Your Septic Tank

As a responsible septic tank owner, it is crucial to understand what items should not go into your system. 

Below are some common and harmful things you should always keep out of your septic tank.

  • Chemical Cleaning Products: Harsh chemicals in detergents, bleaches, and other household cleaners can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in your septic tank. 

  • Medications: Flushing medications down the toilet may seem easy, but it can adversely affect your septic tank. You may also use toilet rentals to avoid any problems.

  • Sanitary Products: Feminine hygiene products do not break down easily in a septic tank. They can also cause blockages and clogs, leading to costly repairs. 

  • Cat Litter: Cat litter may seem harmless, but the clay particles can quickly build up in your septic system and cause clogs.

  • Paints and Solvents: Hazardous materials can disrupt the bacterial balance in your septic tank, leading to potential malfunctions. Disposing of these materials properly at your local hazardous waste facility is important.

  • Grease and Oils: You should never pour cooking oils and grease down the drain, as they can solidify in your septic system and cause blockages. Instead, dispose of them in a sealed container in the trash.

  • Paper Products: Paper towels, napkins, and facial tissues may seem harmless, but they do not break down easily in a septic tank. They can also clog pipes and cause backups.

  • Food Scraps: While small amounts of food particles from dishwashing are okay for your septic system, large amounts of food waste can disrupt the natural bacteria that are toxic to the beneficial bacteria in your septic tank that break down waste. 

  • Disposable Wipes: Disposable wipes, even if labeled as "flushable," do not break down quickly and can cause severe blockages in your septic tank.

  • Coffee Grounds and Eggshells: These items may seem harmless, but they do not break down easily and can cause clogs in your septic system.


Maintaining a healthy septic tank is crucial for your home’s wastewater management system to function correctly.

While septic additives may seem like a simple solution to breaking down solids quickly, it is vital to use them properly and avoid harmful substances that can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your tank.

By following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can help prolong the life of your septic tank and avoid costly repairs or replacements. 

With Barnes Sewer & Septic, you have access to professionals who understand the ins and outs of septic tank maintenance.


We’re here to provide solutions tailored to your needs, keeping your tank running smoothly and efficiently. Don’t let septic tank problems disrupt your day-to-day life. Give your septic system the care it deserves. 

Contact us today at (765) 584-7295 for a quote. Let’s work together to keep your home environment healthy and trouble-free.

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