We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Fracking?

Andrew Kirmayer
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an industrial process that can make oil or gas drilling more productive. Water and other chemicals are typically pumped down a type of well that turns horizontal deep under ground. Explosives and the force of the fluids often cause the rock near the well to crack and fracture. Natural gas or oil underground can flow into these cracks and into the well, and are then usually forced up it to be retrieved by pipes, trucks, and other equipment. Up to 1 million gallons (about 3.8 million liters) of water can be used in one operation, to reach depths of several thousand feet underground.

Along with water and chemicals, sand is often pumped into a well also. It typically helps to keep the fissures open once fracking is underway. Ceramic beads are sometimes used for this purpose as well; these, like the sand, break through the well casing and into the surrounding rock. Fractures can also be created by forcing gas such as nitrogen or propane into the well. Sometimes hydrochloric acid is used to dissolve rocks so that any gas or fluid underground can get into the well and flow to the surface.

Much of the fluid pumped underground returns to the surface and is often stored in waste tanks or open pits. Studies have indicated that some of it stays below ground, so regional regulatory agencies often track the use of fracking to determine if ground water can be polluted during natural gas extraction. The chemicals used are sometimes able to break up mud and cement before fluid is injected, while other substances thin out the fluid so it can more freely flow into the fractures.

When mining for methane gas, bacteria killing chemicals are often used so that organisms don’t contaminate the well. Bacteria can produce gases, such as hydrogen sulfide, that can interfere with the fracking operation. Other substances control the acidity of injection fluids, stabilize clay, and prevent corrosion in the well, tools, and tanks. Chemicals for enabling the fracturing fluid to hold more sand and bring it into the fractures, as well as for lessening friction and preventing particles from blocking the system are often used too.

Various types of equipment are used during fracking. Gas well drilling operations typically require many trucks; some sites use up to 200 tanker trucks for delivering water. The mixture of sand and chemicals is usually added to the well with a pumper truck, while the natural gas that flows out of the well is stored in large tanks on the site and then taken by truck to nearby pipelines.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Andrew Kirmayer
By Andrew Kirmayer
Andrew Kirmayer, a freelance writer with his own online writing business, creates engaging content across various industries and disciplines. With a degree in Creative Writing, he is skilled at writing compelling articles, blogs, press releases, website content, web copy, and more, all with the goal of making the web a more informative and engaging place for all audiences.
Discussion Comments
Andrew Kirmayer
Andrew Kirmayer
Andrew Kirmayer, a freelance writer with his own online writing business, creates engaging content across various...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.