How to Dispose of Cooking Oil Responsibly – 4 Tips

How to get rid of cooking oil responsibly
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Muzick Chan

Don’t know what to do with all the oil left in the pan? Worried about the harmful environmental effects of lazily pouring it down the drain? Here’s all you need to know about how to get rid of cooking oil responsibly.

You might have heard that getting rid of used cooking oil via the drain is not a good idea. But why, exactly? And what’s the best way to get rid of used cooking oil?

Why It’s Important To Dispose of Cooking Oil Responsibly

Cooking oil like sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, olive oil, or any oil you use to cook with should never be poured down the drain because the fat-filled liquid contributes to drain clogs — at home and in your community. While one batch of drained oil probably won’t cause a clog, the repeated drain disposal of oil will accumulate in certain parts of your area’s sewage system, leading to huge problems over time.

Luckily, disposing of cooking responsibly oil isn’t hard — it just takes a little bit of planning.

4 Tips for Getting Rid of Cooking Oil the Right Way

1. Throw cooking oil in the trash

  • Let your recently used cooking oil cool down.
  • Use a plastic or paper carton as a container for the used cooking oil. Make sure it’s one that you were going to throw away anyway because it can’t be recycled.
  • Toss the container filled with cooking oil along with your other trash. Make sure the container is securely closed to prevent leaks.
  • Don’t use paper or plastic bags, even heavy-duty ones, as they tend to break.

2. Get Rid of Cooking Oil By Mixing It With Solids

You can get rid of cooking oil by mixing it with certain solid waste materials like cat litter, sawdust, dirt and debris (like, say, from the vacuum cleaner), or food waste like leftover flour. Simply mix the solid waste and cooking oil in a bag — but make sure you have enough solid waste so that the mix doesn’t turn into a gross kind of cooking oil and kitty litter mud.

You can dispose of cooking oil in your own trash by bottling it up or mixing it with solids.
You can easily dispose of used cooking oil in your own trash by bottling it up or mixing it with solids. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash – Ashwini Chaudhary)

3. Should You Freeze Your Old Cooking Oil?

Another tip often offered for disposing of cooking oil more easily is to freeze your old cooking oil. The frozen solid is easy to dispose of in your other trash. However, using the extra energy to bring the liquid to a temporary solid isn’t very eco-friendly. Plus, when storing the used cooking oil in the freezer, you might not realize if the cooking oil is still slightly above room temperature (adding to the energy cost).

Read on: Conserving Energy: 10 Ways to Save Electricity

4. How to Get Rid of a LOT of Cooking Oil

If you’re cooking a lot — say for a large party or an event— and you find you have a large amount of cooking oil that can’t be re-used, consider contacting a local restaurant to ask if you can give them your used cooking oil. Many restaurants use services that pick up and dispose of cooking oil in more environmentally friendly ways. See if you can schedule a convenient time for them to take your used cooking oil off your hands.

Likewise, if you need to regularly get rid of of a lot of used cooking oil, consider hiring a specializes waste disposal service where you can have cooking oil and other hazardous household waste (HHW) picked up professionally.

Remember the “3Rs”: How to Reuse, Reduce and Recycle Cooking Oil

Before you get rid of your used cooking oil, consider ways to recycle it, including simply using it again.

1. Re-Use Your Cooking Oil!

Don’t forget that you can re-use cooking oil. If your cooked food doesn’t leave residue or debris in your oil, you don’t have to get rid of it. You can save your cooking oil in a secure container, like a glass jar, to use the next day. Use a metal strainer to sift out any fried bits of debris when you pour it on the pan for your next meal. Keep in mind that it’s best to not cook different kinds of foods, especially meats, with the same oil. And don’t use the same oil more than four times.

Don't get rid of uses cooking oil, reuse it!
Instead of getting rid of used cooking oil, you can reuse it several times! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash – Cassiano Barletta)

2. Repurpose Your Cooking Oil

  • Although it might sound counterintuitive, did you know you can make soap out of your old cooking oil? We have a nice DIY tutorial for how to make homemade soap for you  – simply replace the fresh oil in the recipe with some used cooking oil. 
  • Did you know you can reuse your old cooking oil as the second main ingredient, after dish soap, in an herbal insecticide? A “white soap” insecticide concentrate can be made by combining one cup of vegetable oil with 1/4 cup of (eco-friendly) dish soap. To keep bugs off the back of your banana plants, mix one tablespoon of the white soap concentrate with a liter of water in a spray bottle and lightly coat your plant leaves.

3. Reduce Your Cooking Oil Use

Lastly, if you’re worried about the cooking oil that you have to get rid of or that will inevitably go down the drain when you wash your dishes and pans, consider cooking in ways that don’t require it:

  • Steam your vegetables (instead of frying them).
  • Cook with an air fryer. These machines swirl up super-hot air to finely cook food.
  • Put a little bit of water in the pan (instead of more oil).
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