Cooking oil is one of the top ingredients for preparing juicy and delicious meals, but disposing of the leftovers can be challenging. You do not want to pour it down your sink or drain to avoid damage to your sewers and drainage pipes. If that worries you, relax. There are safer alternatives, and you are about to discover them.
One beneficial way is to save the cooking oil for reuse. However, if it is not reusable, this post will guide you on ways to dispose of it properly.
How To Dispose Of Cooking Oil
Here are the safe ways to dispose of cooking oil after cooking.
1. Preserve And Reuse
Sometimes, it is best to preserve cooking oil and reuse it rather than dispose of it. You can store and reuse your cooking oil if you fry foods regularly or if it is new and you have only used it once.
Here is the process for the proper preservation of cooking oil.
- Leave it for a few minutes to cool off.
- Strain the oil to clean it. You can use a grease storage container(picture above), fine-mesh strainer, coffee filter, or several layers of cheesecloth. The goal is to remove particles and crumbs from the first use. You may strain it multiple times to achieve this.
- Send the oil into a clean and airtight container. Ensure the container does not leak.
- Keep in a dark place, most preferably in a fridge.
You can reuse some cooking oil up to two times, but others may spoil after the first reuse. The reason is that the rate at which the chemical level of an oil depreciates differs from another. This difference makes some cooking oils reusable twice, while others are only reusable once or not reusable at all.
Therefore, you should know when your cooking oil is reusable and when it is not. Here are some things to consider before reusing cooking oil. They tell you if and when your cooking oil is reusable.
Expired foods are not healthy. Therefore, it is not advisable to store cooking oil beyond its expiry date. You may label the container with the expiry date before keeping it in the fridge.
If you perceive odor from the oil you preserve, know that it is not reusable. Also, if you fry fish or other food with a strong flavor in cooking oil, you should not cook food with a softer flavor with the same oil.
Oil Contain Particles
You should strain your cooking oil before preserving it. However, the oil is unsafe for reuse if it still contains particles. You may need to heat the cooking oil to room temperature before the particles become visible.
Foamy Surface and Change in Color
Cooking oil that foams when you heat it is unsafe, and you should not reuse it. Also, if the oil changes color upon heating it, it is best to throw it out.
Again, the cooking oil you strain before preserving it should remain clean till you reuse it. Therefore, do not reuse cooking oil that has gelatinous substances.
Cross-contamination is a danger of reusing cooking oil. It can lead to allergic reactions. For example, you should not fry chips in the cooking oil you previously used to deep-fry shellfish. If you do, the chips are not safe for anyone with an allergy to shellfish. Therefore, you should ensure cooking oil will not Cross-contaminate your food before reusing it.
Also see: how to dispose of coolant oil
2. Use Disposable Container
When cooking oil is not reusable, disposing of it is inevitable. However, one reliable way to do this is to contain the oil and dispose of it. Here are the steps to dispose of oil in a container.
- Let the oil cool off after cooking. Allow a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Pour it into an airtight disposable container. You can use a glass bottle, Ziploc bag, or any old container.
- Freeze the oil to avoid spillage or leakage. When solid, you may dispose of it in biodegradable trash bags. You may skip this if you cannot freeze it, but do not use biodegradable containers for disposing of liquid oil.
- Dispose of it with regular household trash.
3. Use Disposable Household Material
An alternative to using disposable containers is to use disposable materials. You may soak up oil with absorbent substances like food scraps, newspapers, pads, cushions, socks, cat litter, and others before sending it to the bin. This method is best for small amounts of oil while using containers remains best for larger quantities.
Also, you can use foils as an alternative to disposable containers or absorbent substances. It is best to use foil when the oil is average. Here is how to use this method.
- Line a bowl with enough foil. Ensure the bowl and foil are both enough to contain the oil.
- Pour the oil into the bowl and set it aside to cool.
- Tie the foil up and freeze it.
- Dispose of it with other household waste.
4. Use A Grease Disposal System
A grease disposal system is a disposal kit that includes a plastic receptacle with foil-coated bags. It can hold up to 32 ounces of oil (2 lbs), has a lid, and does not leak. It is available in many options, but your choice may depend on your budget.
Keep the kit aside in your kitchen and put a bag in it. Leave the oil to cool off before pouring it into the bag. Seal the bag up and dump it in the waste bin when it fills up.
5. Add to compost
You can add used cooking oil to compost if it is in small amounts, but it must be vegetable oil. Vegetable oils are organic, and it makes them great for compost. For clarity, a few examples of oils you can compost are corn oil, olive oil, soy oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil. Adding cooking oil to compost is one good way to reuse cooking oil and avoid wastage.
Note the following when adding cooking oil to compost.
- Do not add oils that contain animal fat.
- Add only small amounts of cooking oils to your compost. Excess cooking oil will reduce airflow and displace water, which is unsafe for composting.
- Also, adding too much cooking oil to the compost, especially non-vegetable oils, will attract pests like rats and roaches.
6. Use The Waste Disposal Companies
Using waste disposal companies is one of the best ways to dispose of cooking oil. Some of these companies have pickup services, and they are reliable in disposing of cooking oil.
Alternatively, you can use the waste management of a nearby restaurant if you cannot reach a disposal company. Most restaurants have collection bins for their fryer grease. This method of disposing of hazardous wastes is reliable. Hence, they will properly dispose of your cooking oil.
7. Visit A Recycling Company
One of the best ways to dispose of cooking oil is to take it to a recycling company. Some recycling companies collect cooking oil from domestic users to make fuels like biodiesel or biogas from it. This method may be a better option than disposing of it with trash. Trashing cooking oil wastes it, but recycling produces a new product. Ensure you pick out large particles and crumbs from the cooking oil.
You can find a recycling center close to you at earth911.
Things to Avoid When Disposing of Cooking Oil
There are some things you should avoid when disposing of cooking oil. These include pouring hot oil in the trash can, washing oil down the drain, or adding it to the septic system. Here is a breakdown of things to avoid and why.
1. Pouring Hot Oil Into Plastic Containers
Whether you are preserving your cooking oil or disposing of it, It is advisable to leave it to cool off before pouring it into a plastic container. A plastic container may melt if it comes in contact with hot cooking oil, and it will not hold the oil when it melts.
2. Pouring Hot Oil Into The Trash Can
It is not hygienic to pour hot cooking oil into the trash can. It will attract bugs and rats to your trash can, and it can cause issues with garbage trucks and waste sites.
3. Adding Cooking Oil To The Septic System
You should not add cooking oil to the septic system because it can clog up your pipes and damage the drainage field.
4. Pouring Cooking Oil Down The Drain
Pouring cooking oil down the drain might seem convenient, but it is dangerous and can damage the drainage system in your home.
5. Pouring Cooking Oil Down The Sink
You may think the smallest amount of oil will have no effect if you pour it down the sink. However, it is both dangerous and costly. You may clog up your sewage pipe that way, and the unnecessary cost of hiring a plumber becomes inevitable. It can also pollute your environment when your sewage starts leaking.
6. Pouring Cooking Oil Down The Toilet
Pouring cooking oil down the toilet is not too different from flushing it down the sink or drain. Since the oil will not mix with water, it will clog up the pipe gradually and result in a leaking sewage pipe.
Disposing of cooking oil is sometimes inevitable. On such days you should dispose of it properly to avoid damage to your sewage system and environmental hazards. In addition, the best way to control disposing of cooking oil is to avoid using it in excess. If you do not use more cooking oil than you need to, you have less leftover from the oil.
Need help on disposing other kitchen hazardous items? see our guide on How to Dispose of Microwave.