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Currently I am building a kitchen meant for chocolate confectionery production. I am wondering if I need anything special in regard to plumbing. Is a grease trap necessary. I am open to hearing about your experiences and suggestions. Thanks!

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This varies way too much county to county. You need to talk to your state Health Dept and your Agriculture dept, first to figure out who you fall under and that will give you some of your state rules.

Then contact your city health dept, which are the people who will be approving your plans and issuing your permits. Find out what you needs and requirements come from them.

We had to get a grease trap and in 2 years it has never needed changing out. Our municipality is silly, many are. 

Our local department just requires us to have a 3 compartment sink. I was just wondering if I should be concerned about the chocolate being hard on the pipes considering that it is rather viscous and has a high fat content.

Daniel -

The fat in the chocolate is going to be no harder on the pipes than other fats. What you may want to institute is some sort of regular pipe cleaning with an enzymatic or similar product. Once a week, say as part of closing down on Friday.

Something like the following -

I have never actually used them, but I have used stuff like them. You need something to break down grease, not hair, and want something reasonably eco-friendly. I'd do something like this if I was using a grease trap.

Thanks Clay!

Your advice is incredibly valuable.  I never knew such a product existed! Do you think I can get away with using just the enzymatic product once a week and not have a grease trap installed?

The grease trap may be a requirement of local code. A treatment like this will not be considered to be an acceptable substitute.

If you're looking for an inexpensive grease trap, try the ones from Canplas -  

I specified one for a project that fit under a 3-compartment sink and the unit cost under $300 if I recall correctly, sourced through a local plumbing supply outfit.

From my experience, Clay is right, your local codes determine what you need to have in place.  The health inspector will tell you that your sink compartments must be big enough to accommodate your biggest item you will be washing so you must consider that for any size sheet pans you use.  If a grease trap is required (after building 2 kitchens in 2 different towns, both towns required grease traps) it must be sized to your sink.  With the 3 compartment sink, local code may require an air gap.  This is indirect drainage under your sink.  The reason for this is to prevent contamination of your sink if there is a blockage in the sewer system, to prevent back up into your sink.  Plus everything must be properly vented.  As you can see, it can be complicated.  In my state (NJ), if you sell wholesale you must be inspected by the state inspectors as opposed to the local health department. If you sell out of state, you must be registered with the FDA. This must be taken into consideration for any systems you put into place if you plan to sell wholesale.

Hi Daniel,

It's Heather, from Veruca. I went through the same question when I built out my place, and found it was easiest to call/visit the Food Protection Division (312-746-8046) and ask directly. They told me that I needed one because I use cream and butter in ganaches. The wholesale inspector for the state said I absolutely didn't need one at all. Go figure. Happy to talk over other experiences if it will help, and good luck!


Great to hear from you Heather! My experience with the city of Chicago is that our inspections are very much dependent on who our inspector is and what kind of day they are having! This discussion has really helped me a lot. I have decided to purchase the grease trap to be on the safe side. Not to mention, I really hate having to call a plumber so I hope this can help me prevent any problems. I look forward to seeing you on the Chicago chocolate circuit!



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