A plumber’s snake is a slender, flexible auger used to dislodge clogs in plumbing. The plumber’s snake is often reserved for difficult clogs that cannot be loosened with a plunger. It is also sometimes called a toilet jack.
Plumber’s snakes have a coiled (helix-shaped) metal wire with a broader gap between the coils at the terminal end. The operator turns a crank to rotate the helix as it moves through the pipe.
If the clog is caused by a dense, but shreddable obstacle, such as tree roots or glass wool, the auger might break it up enough to enable flow. A small, lightweight obstruction might be snagged or corkscrewed by the auger, enabling the operator to pull it away. As the auger rotates, it also flails against the interior walls of the pipe, scraping off minerals and oil.