What's the Difference Between Grease Traps and Grease Tanks?

What’s the Difference Between Grease Traps and Grease Tanks?

January 30, 2019

All commercial kitchens encounter grease. Kitchen workers and managers must provide solutions to handle and dispose of this substance. Grease traps and grease tanks are two common solutions. However, these are not one and the same—while they may sound similar, they are quite different. An environmental engineering company in Denver, CO offers the following guide to explain these differences.

Understanding the correct terminology can prove helpful when dealing with commercial kitchen regulations as well as maintenance issues. Knowing the difference is also crucial during the initial setup of your commercial kitchen. Here’s the scoop.


Both grease traps and grease tanks are used for managing grease, but their specific functions within this capacity vary. Grease traps are designed to trap the grease as water flows through it. The wastewater is able to travel on to the sewer line, while the grease floats to the top. The traps collect the grease inside the sink and prevent grease and other waste from entering the sewage system.

Grease tanks, on the other hand, are designed to hold used cooking oil. Their purpose is to safely store this substance to prevent grease spills and resulting injuries. The tank allows kitchen employees to avoid contact with the grease.


Grease traps are typically located inside the building, under the kitchen sink.

Grease tanks can be located inside the building, but they are more often located outside and underground.


Grease traps vary in size, but they are usually small enough to fit underneath a commercial sink.

Grease tanks are usually much larger. These tanks can range in size from 1,000 to 10,000 gallons.


Grease traps must be cleaned frequently to maintain steady water flow. If not properly maintained, they will cause clogs and backups in the kitchen. Daily maintenance is often necessary.

Grease tanks require less frequent maintenance. Larger tanks can further reduce the frequency of emptying. Still, the tanks must be monitored and emptied when necessary.


Grease trap use is heavily policed by state and federal regulations. Most commercial locations must adhere to strict requirements for professional cleaning of their grease traps. Failure to follow these regulations can result in severe fines. Partnering with a professional environmental engineering company in Denver, CO is helpful to properly maintain grease traps and avoid penalties.

Grease tanks are typically less regulated by local and federal statutes. However, it’s important to be aware of any regulations in your area. Your local environmental engineering company in Denver, CO can help you maintain compliance with all regional protocols.

Learn More

Would you like additional information about grease control and grease storage? For expert input from an environmental engineering company in Denver, CO, contact the pros at High Plains Engineering & Design, LLC. Our office provides practical expertise backed by diverse design resources to get the job done right. We deliver efficient, cost-effective solutions with sustainability in mind. Reach out to our experienced team today with any questions about grease trap maintenance or to get started on your next project.

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