Kitchen Garbage Disposals: How Much Garbage?

I live in a typical apartment building, with a fairly ordinary sink and garbage disposal. “In sink erator” brand. I tend not to use it at all.

Today, I was peeling an orange, and got to wondering. What volume of garbage are disposals intended to handle? The peel from one orange? The peels from one banana? The rind of one canteloupe? The rind of one watermelon?

I dig that peach pits are right out: they can’t be ground up into pulp. But…how much pulpable garbage is reasonable?

I’d guess it depends on the size of the disposal…other people might be able give you a better idea. I might mention that in Firestarter, the nemesis shoved his arm down his disposal and it ate his hand and forearm. That was a whimpy ol’ 1980’s disposal, I’ll bet yours is able to eat your leg, shoe and all.

My advice…don’t ever figure out how to use it.

I suspect that the story (book, or movie?) was exaggerating, but, to be sure, I’m not going to put it to the test!

(Unless some kindly Burke and Hare might provide me with a recently amputated arm… Hm… No, no, that would be unethical…)

I once ran a dozen roses through a garbage disposal.

Plugged it up.

Two cents coming up: garbage disposals under sinks are unknown in the Netherlands. Here, we’re supposed to scoop up the sludge in the sink with our hands.

The OP is kind of a weird question. A garbage disposal moves things through; you don’t fill it up once and grind away. For example, I use mine a lot when I clean out the fridge, getting rid of expired goods and stuff we won’t eat anymore. I just turn the disposal on, run the water, and dump stuff down. It’ll handle as much as I put through, assuming I’m not putting peach pits or old t-shirts down there. I might run it for 3-5 minutes or longer as I continue to find the old icky stuff way in the back of the fridge.

As far as it grinding up your arm, I don’t think the blades are that sharp. I asked my Dad about it once (he’s a general fix-it guy who has installed and fixed a fair number of garbage disposals) and his opinion was that if you stuck your hand down there, you wouldn’t get very hurt at all. I’m not brave enough to try it, though.

The description I once read, from a plumber, is that if you wouldn’t have eaten it that way yourself, you probably shouldn’t put it down the disposal - though a little bit of citrus peel now and then can help freshen it up. Right before reading that, I tried using it to chew up a lot of fibrous vegetable bits/ends/peels and ended up clogging the thing. Fortunately a plunger managed to unclog it.

Lots of water before/during/after running the disposal, and turn on the disposal in short bursts.

Statement from InSinkErator on what to put down the disposal.

When I remodeled the house, I splurged for the Excel. It’s a bit more expensive, but I was spending so much money on everything else that I figured it didn’t matter if I spent a few hundred more here. My reward is a check mark in the row for “Stop worrying about what food you can or can’t put in your disposer”

I think you’re question is “How much AT ONCE”. ISE’s can handle quite a bit. They’re the Cadillac of consumer garbage disposals (especially when you get into the higher end models). Having said that, you should still send stuff down slowly when possible and with lots of water, not because you’ll clog the disposal, but because you might clog the pipes downstream of the disposal.

Our place has the Badger model, and I suspect the fibrous bits are what did it, looking at that chart. I’m still going to be careful about peels, regardless.

Oh, and when unclogging it I stuck my hand into the disposal many, many times. The blades are actually rather small and not noticeably sharp - though I wasn’t exactly poking at them in earnest. Seems they’re more of a grinder than a chopper.

Contrary to what most people think, there aren’t blades inside of a food processor. It’s less of a food processor and more of a food mill.
You probably felt those two things that spin around. They push stuff into holes along the edge (which you can see if you look in there with a flashlight).

Assuming no one turns it on, you won’t cut yourself reaching in. You might scrap your knuckles a bit, but you’re not going to lose a finger.

Yeah, no banana peels, for sure, or onions. I’ve put potato peels through without a problem, but they’re not very fibrous.

I jammed ours once, with egg shells.

Found a website once that recommended small bits of orange/lemon peel with ice cubes and coarse salt to clean/freshen the disposal.

I grew up in a house with a grease-trap and leach-line; the kitchen sink essentially just drained out into the field and down the hill. We had to scoop out the grease trap now and then. Icky.

This makes sense.

More and more, I’m feeling reluctant to use it at all for solid waste of any kind. My instinct is that drains are for liquids only, and I still don’t comprehend the full details on how much a disposal/grinder “liquifies” solids.

(I also have a screen over the drain in my shower to catch hair, because I have had hair blockage of my bathroom drains.)

Yeah, even when I had a disposal, I was afraid to use it too much, because it’s just ,well, not intuitive to put solids into a drain. I was always afraid that it would clog.
Besides, the noise it made terrified the cat. :slight_smile:
By the way, is there a trend now in some areas to forbid building disposals in new houses, due to issues of pollution, or some such thing?

In sink disposal increases home water usage. If you live in a drought-prone area, it makes sense to use them as little as possible.

Personally, I don’t understand the need for them at all. My (American) husband loves ours because he throws produce scraps in the sink as he cooks, and then doesn’t have to scoop them out and deal with them later. I put food scraps into another container and dispose of them (compost, trash) from there.

In some places, I believe Milwaukee is one of them, disposals are required. They’d rather you put all that organic material into the drain system than into the landfills. From there they’ll scoop it out at the water treatment plant and turn it into fertilizer.

Now that I think about it, it seems like if I have to spend money to keep this thing operational so the city can spend less on landfills AND make money on the fertilizer, we should get some kind of kickback or reduction in our taxes for it. I mean, I’m sure we do in the sense that our taxes would be higher if only half the people had them. OTOH, I can’t think of anything else off the top off my head that starts with a law that costs property owners money and ends with a product on a store shelf that makes the government money. Maybe they should split the profit with us (maybe they do, I really don’t know).

I don’t produce enough consistent scrap that it seems worth it to compost. My garbage disposal gets a healthy feeding of apple cores, the occasional orange peel, and not much else except for the rare occasions that I’m hosting a family dinner. I’d totally be into compost if I thought it worked for me.

They might not be making profit, either. They might just be cutting their losses.
Or even losing more, but with funding based on it being better for the environment.

Or, as you say, they might be making money.

To be fair, I’ve never given it any thought until I wrote that post. They could be doing a lot of things. Hell, it could be a poorly run business that’s actually costing them money. I really have no idea.

Fibrous material like banana peels and artichoke leaves are a no-no, but I put onions skins and whatnot down mine. The trick is not too much material at a time and run plenty of water. I don’t have great water flow in the kitchen so I fill up a bowl or something with water and dump it down augmenting the faucet flow as I feed organic waste down the hole. I love having a disposal in the kitchen. There is no way to compose where I live now, and it takes longer than a week for me to fill up one large kitchen garbage bag, so I can’t have organic waste sitting in the kitchen for 10 days rotting away…

I’ve heard to not put potato peels in.

My plumber friend recommends not using the disposal. I imagine he has seen too many clogged pipes.

The worst we’ve had in ten years is a leak under the sink from the disposal shaking a pipe joint loose.