Why does bacon grease and other fatty substances wash off easier with warm water when compared to cold water


I like bacon

In: Chemistry

When the grease gets warm from the hot water it begins to soften. Being softer makes it easier to scrape off with your cleaning device as opposed to being hard and caked on.

P.S. don’t pour any kind of animal grease down the drain. It will mess up your pipes real bad. Pour the grease into a separate container to throw in the trash.

Because bacon grease solidifies at room temperature, but, like butter, the warmer it gets the softer/more liquid it gets. This is due to the fact that heating up means that each molecule of the grease is gaining energy, kinetic energy, the energy of motion. This means that the forces holding the molecules together have to counter that extra connected energy, and therefore the bonds between molecules are not as strong.

Warm water warms up the grease, making it softer / more liquid, making it easier to clean.

While fat will congeal at room temp (warm water-ish levels), bacon grease isn’t terribly pure. We can roughly attribute its behaviour to that though.

Regardless, just like any phase transition, individual parts of a state can transition at a macro temperature below the phase change. i.e. Fat is able to partially melt below its actual melting point of [whatever – its probably just above room temp as lipids aren’t bound terribly strong] due to localised distribution of heat.

It’s the same reason why a puddle is able to evaporate slowly over time even though the puddle itself obviously isn’t heated to 100 Celcius (the actual boiling point of water). But how fast and readily it evaporates is governed by how much closer to 100 its macro temp is.

Perhaps a more intuitive example is chocolate. While chocolate melts a bit above room temperature, You should definitely find that handling or even eating chocolate is much different in a cold environment vs a warm environment. Even before it literally melts we can feel the chocolate start to take on a slightly liquid-y state and characteristics

Fats will solidify at room temperature.

You can think of the fat “freezing” almost. Under a certain threshold temperature it groups together and solidifies.

Hot water would almost “melt” the fat.

This is why you can just pour it down the drain by the way; it might solidify LATER, down in the pipes.

It isn’t really like ice, because water is made of tiny H2O molecules and fat is made of long chains that all side over each other. But they both slow down and solidify as they cool.

Also, hot water cleans most things better because it has more energy. Temperature is just how much the atoms are moving inside a material. Leaving something to soak in hot water means the water molecules are bouncing and dancing and bumping into whatever they’re soaking with, knocking off dirt. Cold water doesn’t move as much.

Oddly enough, blood is washed away with cold water easier than fat. Our dody heat will cause blood to clot and set up into a scab at a wound. Cold water will dilute and rinse it away faster than it can clot and stain. Should you start cleaning soon enough. But remember to use hot water after cold to sanitize once the blood stain is gone.