Septic tank and hair

June 24, 2009

Today was my first experience cleaning the filter at the outlet of a septic tank. Easier than I had expected, a screw-on cover at the ground surface, then the concrete cap in the "well". I have always assumed that hair is digested in septic tanks. We typically collect the hair on the shower and tub drain strainer and chuck it in the toilet. The stuff in the septic strainer had lots of hair, the hair holding most of it together. Obviously hair is organic and can be burned for disposal. I do not like to put wet stuff in the trash can. But it now looks as if hair in the septic tank is not good. The 4 year accumulation in the filter amounted to about 1 quart of "stuff". Yes, I know that annual cleaning is recommended and 3 years is considered to be the maximum cleaning interval. Those who shave with razor and lather certainly put (short) hair in the septic tank. Washing long hair results in considerable shedding, especially among older people. Anyone familiar with the chemistry of septic tanks? What about the hair?

Comments (4)

  • alphonse

    We compost the hair, it is considered a "green", that is, nitrogenous, or, a protein. In a septic tank it is with lots of "green" material, so no breakdown. You need a ration of carbonaceous material to accomplish that. I am not advising that for your septic tank.
    Good thing you have an outboard filter, otherwise the hair ends up in the leach field that should only see liquid for long life.

  • bus_driver

    I should have searched more prior to posting. The link has helpful information. Interestingly, the material from the filter also has small bits of material that resemble plastic film. But no such material had been put in this tank. I concluded that the bits are apple peel from apples eaten whole. Apparently the rest of the apple was digested leaving only the very thin outer peel, which was not chewed to a powder. Apparently much vegetable matter does not decompose in the tank. We will handle hair differently in the future.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Septic

  • lazypup


    When I lived in Corpus Christi, Tx, my 83yr old neighbor was nationally famous for her prize winning roses. One day she gave me a rose bush to plant in my yard and while planting she says, "Let me show you the trick to getting super blossoms." With that she went to her garden shed and came back with a huge paper bag filled with hair. She said she went to the local barber college once a week and swept up the hair for the day, then brought it home. About once a month she would till up the soil around the base of the rose bush, then bury a wreath of human hair and a couple galvanized roofing nails. She swore that the hair provided protein and nitrogen and the galvanized nails provided zinc, and that was the only fertilizer she used aside from a little bit of dried cow manure in the spring. Might sound silly but I couldn't argue the point with her because the local garden club had previously asked her not to compete any more because they wanted to give others a chance to win a prize. In return for her not competing, they named the show building in her honor and allowed her a separate area to display her roses.

    Her entire living room was ringed with blue ribbons and best in show awards from different garden clubs throughout the USA,

  • brickeyee

    "I have always assumed that hair is digested in septic tanks."

    Hair, cellulose (AKA 'fiber') and lots of things you eat form the sludge in the bottom of the tank.

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