How to dispose of cooking oil the right way
If you cook regularly, you need to know how to properly dispose of cooking oil. Whether frying or browning our favorite foods, there is often excess oil left over at the end of the day. While we often think that the easiest (and quicker) way would be to pour oil down the sink or down the toilet, you’ve got it all wrong.
In fact, this will do more harm than good. Once oils solidify, they form solidified clumps of fatty waste called “fatbergs.” This inevitably clogs the plumbing and wreaks havoc on your drains. Additionally, these fatbergs can cause sewage backlogs that can also pollute local waters. Plus, there’s no way you’ll have to spend money on expensive repairs or plumbing.
Fortunately, there are safer and more economical ways to dispose of leftover oil. Whether you want to reuse or recycle, here’s how to properly dispose of cooking oil.
1. Allow the cooking oil to cool
First, wait for the frying oil to cool completely to avoid burns or serious accidents. Wait a few hours for it to cool, or leave the oil overnight until it reaches room temperature. Also, for safety reasons, never lift or move pots or pans filled with hot oil.
2. Pour into a disposable container for disposal
When the cooking oil has cooled, place it in a non-recyclable container with a lid before throwing it in the bin. Ideal containers are Styrofoam with lids, cardboard milk cartons, or other paper containers lined with wax or plastic. This method is much safer than pouring cold oil straight into the trash can. Not only can this be messy, but it can also attract flies and rodents.
3. Freeze cooking oil until solid
If you don’t have a resealable container handy, you can put the oil in a jar, can, or mug and freeze for a few hours. Once firm enough, use a spoon to scoop the oil straight into the trash can. This eliminates nasty spills and odors.
4. Reuse cooking oil
First, strain the oil through a coffee filter or a sheet of cotton muslin (cheesecloth) to remove any particles or crumbs in the leftover oil. Then, using a funnel, pour it into a clean, airtight container or bottle. Peanut butter cans or plastic screw-top containers are also great for storing cooking oil. It’s also handy to label the container with the date and type of food it was cooked with. Remember that due to the increase in smoke points, you should only reuse oil once or twice and always throw it away if it has a horrible smell.
5. Recycle cooking oil
Alternatively, you can donate your cooking oil to be recycled into biodiesel. Find out if your city offers collection programs for recycling used cooking oil, or visit Earth911 (opens in new tab) to see if there is an oil recycler near you. Depending on your region, some garbage companies may offer bins that you can schedule for their specific pickup times.
Biodiesel is a clean-burning, renewable replacement for petroleum diesel. Commonly used for city and fleet vehicles, this is far cleaner for the environment than other fuels.
6. Mix with other materials before discarding
If you don’t plan on freezing or reusing cooking oil, you can mix leftover oil with an absorbent material before throwing it away. Materials such as sand, sawdust, or even cat litter will easily soak up the liquid. Store old oil in a used container and dump it in the trash when it’s time to dump the box in the trash can.
Things you should never do when disposing of cooking oil
- Never pour down the drain or down a toilet as this can not only clog your pipes but also cause a backwater.
- Never pour hot oil directly into a trash can. Not only is this a hazard, it can also cause problems with refuse collection vehicles and solid waste areas.
- Never pour oil into compost waste as oils contain fats that cannot be broken down with organic foods.
If you like to eat healthy, you will find it here how to cook with less oilor you can invest in one of the best air fryers. Just read our guide on how to use an air fryer to get the best results. If you love rice with your meal, here are 8 reasons why you should buy a rice cooker.