Cooking oil is one of the most useful ingredients in your kitchen. It can be used for everything from deep frying to sauteing and even baking.
But when it comes time to make a fresh batch of french fries or chicken wings, you might find yourself with an overabundance of used oil that needs somewhere to go. But where? You need to know how to dispose of cooking oil correctly!
How do I know when the oil is ready to throw away?
When you’re cooking with oil, it’s important to know when the oil is ready to be thrown away.
You’ll know your cooking oil has gone bad if it smells rancid or if it turns dark brown instead of golden brown when you fry foods in it.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at what you need to know about disposing of cooking oil properly so that next time you’ll know what to do.
Steps for Cooking Oil Disposal:
Step 1: Let it cool to room temp
You don’t want to pour hot oil down the sink, because it can quickly clog your drain. When disposing of cooking oil, let it cool completely before pouring it out into your trash or recycling bin. This will help avoid spills and make for a more efficient disposal process overall. This applies to small amounts of leftover oil in the skillet after cooking eggs or similar food, not the entire contents of your Fry Daddy!
Step 2: Pour into a jar or milk carton
You’ll want to use a container that can be sealed. This is important, as it will prevent your oil from spilling out of the container and getting all over your kitchen floor. You can use an old yogurt tub or another sealable plastic container (or even glass, depending on your preference), but make sure that it’s marked for recycling.
If you don’t have an old container lying around and need to purchase a new one, just make sure it’s sturdy enough to hold the amount of oil you’re planning on disposing of—if not, go with a smaller size. Finally, make sure that whatever container you choose will fit into your trash bin!
Step 3: Add baking soda or cornstarch
Next, add 1/4 cup of baking soda or cornstarch to the hot cooking oil. Stir it up thoroughly and let it sit for 30 minutes to thicken up so it won’t leak out of the container. You can also stuff used paper towels, newspapers, or coffee filters in the same container for safe cooking oil disposal.
Step 4: Place the container in the trash
Once thicken up and closed tightly, you can now put it to your garbage bin for disposal.
Other Disposal Methods:
1. Reuse it
Cooking oil can be recycled for further use in the kitchen. To use it again, filter your cooled oil through a strainer with a filter (similar to a coffee filter) to filter out the food particles. You’ll be left with clean oil that is just a little darker in color. You can do this at least 3 – 4 times before discarding the oil. Restaurants do this all the time, it’s a common practice.
You can put this oil in a glass jar big enough to hold it all and keep it in the refrigerator until you need to deep-fry something.
2. Recycle it
The other method is to take the used cooking oil to a recycling center or biodiesel station to be used in biodiesel fuel. Certain states have recycling programs specifically for things like this. Use this Recycling Locator to find a recycling center near you that accepts used cooking oil.
3. Compost it
Composting is a great way to recycle food scraps and other organic waste materials like eggshells and banana peels. You can add it to your compost bin along with other greasy foods like bacon grease or chicken fat (in very minimal amounts!). The heat generated by composting will turn the grease into liquid again as it decomposes, which makes it easier for plants to absorb nutrients from this waste product instead of ending up in our waterways where it contributes to algae blooms in lakes and rivers (which are harmful to wildlife).
4. Make soap with it
Rather than dispose of cooking oil, use it to make soap! You can either buy a kit from the store, or you can make your own―it’s fun, and it makes for a great activity to do with kids. There are several good how-to videos on YouTube to show you how.
5. Repurpose it as a non-toxic insecticide
Cooking oil can be used as a substitute for weed-killer. When combined with water, cooking oil becomes a natural, non-toxic insecticide, keeping bugs away from plants.
Cooking Oil Disposal Don’ts:
Never pour oil down the drain
Don’t pour it down the drain. The kitchen sink is designed to handle water and soap scum, but it is not equipped to handle oil.
Oil is difficult to remove from pipes once it has solidified, so never pour cooled cooking oil down the drain or leave it in a sink full of water.
When the oil cools down, it gets thick and sticky, which makes it harder for the water to wash away during its normal cycle through your pipes. When this happens, the oils in the grease can build up over time and cause clogs or leaks in your sewer system.
Don’t store it in your pantry
Cooking oil can be stored for several months when refrigerated, but if it’s left out in a pantry or cabinet, it can go rancid quickly. When this happens, the oil will develop an unpleasant odor and taste.
Cooks should also be aware that storing cooking oil in the wrong container can cause leaks that damage other items in your kitchen.
Don’t pour it down the toilet
The same problems can arise from pouring used cooking oil down the toilet as from pouring it down the sink. In this case, we are dealing with pipes in bathrooms, sewage pipes, etc. A second factor is that oil moves slower than water. As a result, it will mix with other stuff and clog the whole system.
The Bottom Line on Used Cooking Oil Disposal
Before you dispose of cooking oil, make sure that you’ve kept the container in a safe and sanitary condition, and that you are disposing of it as safely as possible. In any case, it’s always a good idea to check with your city or county government for additional disposal methods.
To cut down on cooking oil waste, use only the amount you need at one time, store the rest in an airtight container and keep it in a cool place away from direct sunlight for no more than three months.