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Home Workspace with septic tank

After taking classes for a few years, I’ve set up a small room as a
home workshop for jewelry fabrication (saw, solder, hammer, roll,
etc.). But my semi-rural home uses a septic tank and I’m concerned
about how to clean tools and materials; for instance, something as
basic as washing flux off a pic or tweezers and cleaning quench
bowls, and then there’s the cleaning of the metal pieces, and so on.
The question is for anything that someone with urban plumbing would
do in a sink. I know that many of you work in rural areas. How is
this handled? Thanks a lot. I’ve been wondering about this for some
time, and would love to solve it.

Barbara H. in northern California

I am also rural, on a septic tank, but we built our house and my
studio. When we did I had them put in something called “French
drains” for my studio sinks. so they do NOT go into the septic tank,
but run through the tile line and sand filters of the French drain.
NOT sure how you would reverse engineer something like that. but
maybe simply disconnecting the drain pipe of your studio sink, and
having it run into a hose and then into buckets to be dumped safely?

I’m very careful about neutralizing chemicals BEFORE they go down
the drain, as I’m on top of a hill and overlooking a pond and
stream, and don’t want to inadvertently pollute the water system…

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio


This is not a recommendation, just my experience. I have a 3000 gal.
septic. Have lived here 28 years, there are 2 of us in the house.
For the past 12 years I have been attempting to learn metal work and
I wash things down the sink all the time. The tank has never been
pumped and I have never had a problem.

I do have a Gleco Trap on the sink. This traps heavy particles. The
only thing I’m cautious about is pickle and liver of sulfur. I make
sure that the pickle is fully neutralized with baking soda, no
foaming, then down the drain.

I an diligent about using Ridex once each month and have been since
the beginning. It keeps the bacteria level up in the tank. It is
important. Be sure and do this even if you don’t wash things down
the drain.

Bob Keyes

Barbara - I’ve been on a well and septic system for 6 years now.

Septic still has its happy bacteria so i know I haven’t killed them.

This is what i do - anything coming out of pickle is dipped in a
baking soda and water solution to neutralize. Then rinsed in a pan
of water. I do not discard pickle, just keep adding water or seldom,
more pH down. My neutralizer and rinse eventually turn blue but still

when it is just too grubby for words, I keep a 5 gallon bucket
outside the shop. All liquids go into this bucket to evaporate. The
liquid from tumbling, the sonic cleaner, all of them go there.
Eventually you will have a thick layer of stuff in the bottom of the
bucket. Scrape it out and put it with your sweeps and someday send it
to your refiner. Ditto for liver of sulfur solution. Simple tool
cleaning goes down the drain, unless removing rust. Bottom line is if
you don’t want it contaminating your drinking water, don’t put it in
the ground.

Especially heavy metals - copper, silver, gold, etc. and they are in
all of the rinse, wash etc. solutions. Since I do a lot of abrasive
tumbling (vibratory) and use a flow-thru system, I use a
non-chelating solution that permits the fines and abrasives to settle
in the bottom of the flow-thru solution bucket. I let the tumbling
bucket sit for a week or so, pour off the to 80% of water to my
trees, and put the remainder in the evaporation bucket. If you live
where stuff doesn’t evaporate like here in the high mountains, you
might want a flat pan to encourage evaporation.

Incidentally, the biggest problem I have is that I don’t run enough
water down the drain in my shop to always keep the p-trap full.

Smells. But I’m not contaminating the ground water.

Judy Hoch

Run water in your sink once a month to fill the P trap.

Paf Dvorak

Hello you users of septic tanks. My former life was pretty much
devoted to private water supplies and wastewater treatment systems. I
can’t resist making a comment or two.

The purpose of the septic tank is to retain solids and allow them to
quietly decompose. The larger the tank is, the better the retention.
In my experience, most home systems incorporate a 1,000 gal. tank
(for 3 bedroom home) and I always recommended installing the largest
tank that was available. The greater volume also extended the time
for pumping the tank.

Why retain solids? To keep the underground drainlines from plugging

When the drainlines are plugged with solids from the tank, the
repair is costly and usually involves installing a whole new
drainfield. assuming there is room for one.

There is no need for commercial additives. Every time human waste is
flushed, more bacteria are added so there is a constant natural
replenishment. That said, the commercial additives tend to result in
more gas production, enabling the solids to flow out into the
drainlines. Not a good thing.

Plan to pump the tank. To extend the time between pumpings: 1. Fix
water leaks. Extra water increases the volume of discharge = more
solids flowing out.

  1. Avoid putting things like hair, eggshells, dirt, bones, fabric
    lint, petroleum products, etc. into the tank. These things decompose
    slowly (if at all).

  2. Use a garbage disposer sparingly and carefully. If there is a
    disposer/grinder in the house, I recommend doubling the tank size.

If you are in the U. S. check out the Extension publications
available at your county Extension office or on line.

Sanitarily yours, Judy in Kansas, where some lovely cool evenings
let us know that fall is coming.

I can’t resist a comment myself having lived off the grid on top of
a mountain miles from the nearest seighbour for over 25 years, making
our own power (solar and hydro) and water (including a 6 part filter
I made utilising gradiated sands, coconut based carbon, silver mesh
(ultrafine) and UV light (run off a solar battery and activated when
rushing water turned a set of cogs):

One should ADD BENEFICIAL BACTERIA since not all visitors,
housesitters and guests follow the practises you do and it does help
keep solid decomposition at peak performance.

Always go with the largest tank available regardless of how many sq.
ft. or bedrooms, or whatever - bigger is better when it comes to
tanks, of concrete and sealed with marine coating BEFORE
installation, and make certain all seams are sealed with a rubberized
waterproof coating in case there was a little crack between the mould
halves, or the installation or delivery co. accidentally drops your
unit loading (you weren’t there!) or unloading it. if the ground is
getting wet for no apparent reason that’s a leak! even if it’s above
the imaginary 'capacity" line, seal it before installing. It’s a
pain in the butt in winter to have to dig down and apply -well,
anything -to an active leak or trickle in the snow and cold. We left
about a 6 inch gap between the earth and the tank on the side with
the lines in in case work had to be done-It can be filled with sand
or anything you like or nothing depending on how it’s oriented and
what’s above and surrounding the tank. We had a hard time opening
the tank used for holding water in winter and summer so make sure you
embed a piece of rebar or two for a handle in case you have to use
excessive force to check your water level at any time of year there
is an extreme temperature shift possible in minutes (like ambient
temps. dropping 40 degrees in 2 or 3 minutes…).

As for keeping studio fluids, even neutralised exposed and outdoors
in plastics or any container to evaporate. I wouldn’t recommend it
at all for many reasons.

I keep deep blue used pickle for plating solution and granulation