Difference between Septic Tank and Cesspit

All about the differences and similarities of these wastewater systems

There is often confusion about what the exact difference is between a cesspool and a septic tank. The term cesspool is often used to refer to a septic tank and vice versa. However, there is an essential difference between the two pieces of equipment.

The cesspool only receives water from the toilet, or ‘black water’. In the past, the ‘bear’ from the cesspool was used as manure on land. Nowadays, we no longer do this because of the risk of infection as well as, the presence of medicines and antibiotics.

The septic tank receives ‘grey water’, i.e. domestic wastewater including the water from the toilet. This waste-water contains fats, soap, toilet waste, food waste and everything else that is flushed down the toilet or sink.

As you can see, there is quite a difference in the waste-water supplied, which is why a difference between the septic tank and the cesspool in terms of the bacteria present in the tank. The products used to maintain these bacteria are also different.

Similarities and differences between a cesspool and a septic tank

  • Most cesspools do not discharge into a sewer system, a septic tank either discharges into surface water or the sewer system.
  • A cesspool consists of one compartment whereas a septic tank normally consists of several compartments.
  • A cesspool is often smaller than a septic tank.
  • A cesspool, unlike a septic tank, needs to be emptied more frequently.
Septic Tank

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