How To Clean Frac Tanks

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Frac tanks are essential equipment in the oil and gas industry, used for storing and transporting liquids such as oil, sludge, and other substances. Over time, these tanks can become soiled with oil sludge, grease, and other debris, which can impact their performance and pose environmental risks. In this article, we will explore the best methods to clean frac tanks effectively, while prioritizing safety and environmental considerations.

Understanding Frac Tanks

Frac tanks, also known as frac storage tanks or portable liquid storage tanks, are large, steel containers designed to hold and transport liquids during oil and gas operations. These tanks are commonly used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations, where they store water, chemicals, and proppants used in the fracking process. Frac tanks are typically mounted on trailers for easy transportation and are equipped with valves and fittings for filling, emptying, and monitoring.

Why Frac Tanks Get Soiled

Frac tanks are constantly exposed to various substances, including oil, sludge, and other debris, during their usage. These materials can accumulate over time, leading to a build-up that can affect the tank’s performance and integrity. Factors such as spills, leaks, and improper handling can contribute to the soiling of frac tanks. It is crucial to address this issue promptly to prevent operational disruptions and environmental contamination.

The Importance of Cleaning Frac Tanks

Regular cleaning of frac tanks is essential to maintain their efficiency and prolong their lifespan. When frac tanks are soiled, it can result in clogged valves, decreased capacity, and compromised structural integrity. Furthermore, the presence of oil sludge, grease, and other contaminants can pose environmental risks if not properly managed. Clean frac tanks ensure safe and efficient operations while minimizing the impact on the environment.

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Cleaning Methods for Frac Tanks

Industrial Degreasers

One effective method for cleaning frac tanks is the use of industrial degreasers. These powerful cleaning agents are specifically designed to break down and remove oil, grease, and other stubborn substances. Industrial degreasers can be applied manually or through automated systems, depending on the size and condition of the tank. The degreaser is typically sprayed onto the soiled surfaces, allowing it to penetrate and dissolve the contaminants before being rinsed off.

Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is another widely used method to clean frac tanks. It involves using high-pressure water jets to dislodge and remove dirt, oil, and debris from the tank surfaces. Pressure washing is effective in removing loose particles and can be combined with industrial degreasers for more thorough cleaning. Care must be taken not to use excessive pressure that may damage the tank’s structure or coating.

Choosing the Right Cleaner for Frac Tanks

Non-Hazardous Degreasers

When selecting a cleaner for frac tanks, it is crucial to choose non-hazardous degreasers that are effective yet environmentally friendly. Many industrial degreasers contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to both humans and the ecosystem. Non-hazardous degreasers offer a safer alternative without compromising cleaning efficiency. These degreasers are biodegradable, non-toxic, and pose minimal risks to workers, the environment, and the surrounding communities. Non-hazardous degreasers are designed to break down oil and grease effectively without introducing additional harmful substances into the environment.

Safety Considerations for Frac Tank Cleaning

Cleaning frac tanks involves potential hazards that need to be carefully addressed to ensure the safety of workers and the environment. Some of the hazards that cleaners may be exposed to include:

  1. Lead: Frac tanks may contain lead-based paints or coatings, which can pose health risks if not handled properly. It is important to take appropriate precautions when working with tanks that have lead-based materials.
  2. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): PAHs are a group of chemicals that can be present in oil sludge and other hydrocarbon-based substances. Exposure to PAHs can have adverse health effects, including potential carcinogenic properties. Proper protective measures should be implemented to minimize exposure.
  3. Benzene: Benzene is a volatile organic compound (VOC) found in crude oil and other petroleum products. Prolonged exposure to benzene can have serious health implications, including an increased risk of cancer. Strict safety protocols, including personal protective equipment (PPE), should be followed when handling benzene-containing materials.
  4. Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S): Frac tanks used in oil and gas operations may contain hydrogen sulfide gas, which is highly toxic and can be fatal in high concentrations. Proper monitoring and ventilation systems should be in place to prevent exposure to H2S.
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Given the high risk associated with handling hazardous substances, it is often recommended to leave the cleaning of frac tanks to professionals who have the necessary expertise, training, and equipment to ensure safety and compliance with regulations. Professional cleaning services understand the potential hazards and employ specialized techniques to clean frac tanks effectively while minimizing risks.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

It is generally recommended to leave the cleaning of frac tanks to professionals who have the expertise and equipment to handle the potential hazards involved.

When selecting a non-hazardous degreaser, consider its effectiveness, environmental impact, and safety profile. Look for degreasers that are biodegradable, non-toxic, and specifically designed for oil and grease removal.

Safety precautions include wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), ensuring proper ventilation, monitoring for hazardous gases, and following established protocols for handling hazardous substances.

Excessive pressure during pressure washing can potentially damage the tank’s structure or coating. It is important to use the appropriate pressure and techniques to avoid any structural damage.

Yes, there are regulations and guidelines that govern the cleaning of frac tanks, especially when it comes to handling hazardous substances and ensuring environmental compliance.


Properly cleaning frac tanks is essential for maintaining their functionality, preventing environmental contamination, and ensuring the safety of workers. Industrial degreasers and pressure washing are effective methods for removing oil sludge, grease, and other debris from frac tanks. When selecting a cleaner, it is important to choose non-hazardous degreasers that are both effective and environmentally friendly. Additionally, understanding and addressing the potential hazards associated with frac tank cleaning is crucial to ensure the safety of workers. Professional cleaning services offer the expertise and equipment necessary to clean frac tanks safely and efficiently.

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