If you’re a dedicated home chef, you probably find yourself using cooking oils quite frequently. These oils are great for preventing stick, for adding flavor, and for many other culinary aims. But once you’ve made the meal, you often have leftover oil that you’re not sure what to do with. In this article, we’re explaining how to safely dispose of your cooking oil without causing any damage to your home, your plumbing, or the environment.
The Problem With Cooking Oil
When we talk about the disposing of cooking oil, it’s best to frame the problem by looking at why it’s such a difficult process. By understanding why it can be so hazardous to dispose of cooking oil improperly, you’ll understand why it’s so important to do it properly.
Here is how you shouldn’t dispose of cooking oil:
Don’t Pour Oil Down the Drain
The most common method of disposing of most unwanted liquids is simply pouring them down the drain. It might seem intuitive to dispose of cooking oil the same way. But you don’t want to do this!
Simply put, this is very likely to clog your pipes. Oil and grease can cool off in your pipes, hardening into a semi-solid substance, and completely block your pipes over time. The pipe will clog, and water or other liquids can’t flow through. If it gets bad enough, your pipes will back up into your kitchen and bathroom. Needless to say, this is to be avoided.
Don’t Pour Oil Outside
It might seem like an easy solution to simply pour the oil or grease in your garden. Once again, this is a bad idea. Oil and grease, especially if it’s hot, can cause damage to the soil, making it difficult for plants to grow. It’s not a good solution for the environment, and can cause real damage to your lawn and garden. Once again, bad idea, and certainly not a sustainable one.
Don’t Pour Liquid Oil in the Garbage
This one’s kind of obvious, but it definitely helps us understand why oil is so difficult to dispose of. Pouring liquid oil in the garbage can cause quite a huge mess. Firstly, if the oil is too hot, it can burn holes in the garbage bag, causing it to leak. And if there are already small holes in the garbage bag, you can be sure they’ll reveal themselves when the oil seeps through.
The Best Ways to Dispose of Cooking Oil and Grease
Now that we understand why this is such a touchy problem, and why cooking oil shouldn’t be disposed of using traditional methods, you might have one question on your mind – what should I do? If you can’t dispose of oil using traditional methods, how are you supposed to do it?
There are a few acceptable methods, and we’ll cover them next:
Reuse The Oil
You might not think so, but cooking oil can actually be reused quite effectively. This is especially true if you plan to use it often, or deep fry foods on a regular basis. The most important step is to strain the oil to remove as much leftover food as possible. Wait for the oil to cool, then strain it to remove any crumbs or food particles, and store it in a sealed container. Just be sure to reuse it within a day or so, and don’t reuse oil more than two times.
Pour Into Can or Container
Storing oil in a container is a good way to avoid the hassles involved with pouring liquid into the garbage. Wait for the oil to cool down, and then pour it into a sealable container (Tupperware, reusable plastic containers, aluminum cans, etc.). Make sure the container is sealed tightly, and dispose of it in the garbage.
It’s even a good idea to mix the oil with an absorbent substance (sawdust, cat litter, etc.) before disposal. This helps to soak up the oil, so you eliminate any concerns with leaks inside your garbage can.
Wait to Solidify
Depending on the oil or grease you are working with, it might solidify if you leave it to cool down. This is mostly true of food grease. Otherwise, pour the oil into an aluminum can, and chill it in the fridge until solid. Once the oil has solidified, you can throw it right in the garbage.
If you want to go with a more extensive solution, you might even consider a grease disposal unit. Grease disposal units contain foil lined bags which you can fill with oil. Think of them like a garbage can which can handle liquid oil. And once you fill the grease disposal bags, you simply throw them in the regular garbage.
If You’re Lucky – Recycle Oil
Some municipalities actually have oil recycling programs. Do a quick Internet search to see if there is oil recycling available where you live. Most of these recycling programs operate by drop-off. You bring them the oil, and they turn it into usable biodiesel.
Of course, this really depends on whether this program is available in your area. Also, this definitely requires more effort than most options on our list. But if an oil recycling program is available in your area, it’s just about the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of your oil.
Thanks for reading through our guide to effective and safe disposal of cooking oil. As you can see, it’s quite a tricky household problem, especially considering how often it occurs. Taking the extra time to dispose of your oil properly means you are making the right choice for your home and the environment.
We’ve given you several options for effective disposal of cooking oil. Pick the best option for you, make it a routine, and it will become second nature!