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How to Dispose of Cooking Oil the Right Way

If you are a fan of scrumptious fried food, then you must love your cooking oil. 

I, for one, use cooking oil to fry foods and stir fry some of my favorite dishes. 

However, the one thing that I don’t like about any type of cooking oil is that it can be a mess to clean up. 

It gets pretty gross after one or two times, but sometimes it can be used again. I keep it covered and refrigerated. But once it’s done for, what to do then?

After all, how are you supposed to throw away the leftover oil? 

If you want to know the steps for disposing of cooking oil the right way, read on to find out.

Table Of Contents

What’s the right disposal of cooking oil?

Here’s how you can dispose of cooking oil the right way:

Recycle it

The best way to dispose of a lot of oil is to recycle it. 

Get in touch with your local trash pickup companies and inquire if they have a recycling program. 

Alternatively, you can use the helpful Earth911 recycling locator to find the collection location for recycled products and disposal options nearest to you. 

To prepare used cooking oil for recycling:

    • Filter the oil to take out any food particles 
    • Store it in a sealable jar or container
    • Deliver it to the nearest collection site

You can even put different kinds of cooking oils in one sealed container for recycling unless your collection site gives you specific instructions not to do that.

Throw it in the trash

Put the oil in a container and throw it in the trash

The best route that you can take for cooking oil disposal is to throw it in the trash, just not down the garbage disposal.
 
However, make sure to use the following steps mentioned below to ensure proper disposal of oil:

1. Cool the Cooking Oil

Before you can dispose of your used cooking oil, you need to make sure that it’s cool.

You don’t want to accidentally burn yourself with scorching hot oil, so let it sit for a while till it completely cools down. 
Depending on the quantity of oil you have to dispose of, you might even need to wait for a few hours before you can get rid of it. 

If the quantity is exceptionally large amounts of oil, then you can even let it sit overnight so that it can come to room temperature. 

Pro Tip: Even if you have small amounts of oil left in your cooking pan, you need to dispose of it properly. Wipe the oil with a paper towel and throw it in the trash.

2. Pour the oil in a plastic container

Use a clean plastic container with a sturdy lid or screw-on top. 

A thick-glass mason jar is a great choice for storing your cooking oil. 

Carefully pour the used cooking oil into the container and screw the lid on as tightly as possible. 

Pro Tip: If you plan on reusing the oil later, make sure that the container is clean. You can use a heat-safe plastic container instead of a glass one, but test it over a plate or bowl so if the container melts, it doesn’t get hot oil everywhere.

3. Toss the container in the trash

Once the container is properly sealed, you can throw it in the trash can. 

Avoid pouring the oil directly into the trash can as it will make a mess if the bag breaks and may draw rodents into your home.

Freeze the oil and then throw it in the trash

Alternatively, if you don’t have a plastic container with a lid lying around, you can freeze your oil in a mug or empty soda can for a few hours. 

Once the oil has hardened, you need to use a spoon to scoop out the oil and put it into the trash can. After disposing of the oil, make sure that you wash the mug clean with water and soap.

Pour the cooled oil into a plastic trash bag 

To throw away your cooking oil, take a plastic bag that already has some absorbent waste material such as paper towels, cat litter, bare cardboard, used flour, sawdust, etc. 

Pour the cooled oil directly into the bag and make sure that the trash soaks it all up before disposing of it. 

This way, you are ensuring that the oil doesn’t leak through the garbage or spill all over the trash. 

Tie the plastic bag and throw it in your trash. 

Pro Tip: Make sure that you don’t pour the oil or leftover grease down your sink as it can clog your sewage pipes over time. Even if you dilute the grease with water or soap, it will coat the pipes. Clogged pipes can cause sewage backup, so remember to get rid of old cooking oil the right way!

Can you dump cooking oil in the yard? 

Don’t dump your cooking oil in the yard. If you tip cooking oil on the ground, it will ultimately find its way into the sewer system, and possibly your septic system, causing unnecessary blockages, and clog the system. 

Additionally, according to the EPA, if residential cooking oil is not properly disposed of, then it can cause harm to animals and plants. 

Is cooking oil biodegradable?

Vegetable oil such as olive oil, sunflower, etc., can be considered biodegradable cooking oils if they are mixed in a compost bin in very small quantities.

If the quantity is too much, it will slow down the biodegrading process. Otherwise, synthetic cooking oils tend to coat organic materials and create a water-resistant barrier. 

This reduces the airflow and slows down the composting process, which is why you should not put them in your compost pile. Doing so will cause food waste to rot, which will invite rodents into your home.

Can cooking oil be reused?

Reusing cooking oil is a great way to minimize your overall waste production and save money, especially if you are running a commercial kitchen. 

However, before you reuse cooking oil, just make sure that it doesn’t smell. 

Here are some clear signs that your cooking oil has gone bad:

  • Rancid cooking oil looks thick, cloudy, and gummy. 
  • It has a darker hue than regular cooking oil.
  • The oil that has deteriorated usually has foam on top.
  • It has a funny smell.

Pro Tip: If the cooking oil you want to reuse is more than 6 weeks old, just throw it out instead of reusing it. 

Additionally, if you plan on reusing cooking oil, choose a cooking oil that has a high smoke point. 

When oil reaches its smoke point, it starts to break down, which renders it unusable. 

So, try to use vegetable, canola, or peanut oil as these oils have a high smoke point.

How to reuse cooking oil

Here’s how you can reuse cooking oil:

  1. Store the used oil at room temperature in a sealable container.  
  2. Use a coffee filter to filter the oil before reusing it. This will filter out any solid food particles that can make the oil rancid.
  3. Reuse the oil to fry the same food you fried in it last time. 
  4. Make sure that you don’t use the deep fryer oil to fry things more than twice. This is because reusing it more than that will reduce its smoke point, which means it will burn easily and go bad quickly.

The bottom line

We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to dispose of cooking oil. Use the ways mentioned above to responsibly get rid of cooking oil.

If you plan on reusing cooking oil, make sure it has a high smoke point and that you reuse it just once or twice before discarding it.  

Use hot water to clean your pans and utensils after using paper towels to wipe pots and everything else down as completely as possible. 

If you cook with oils frequently, like in a local restaurant, you may need to install a grease trap so that the oils don’t ruin the plumbing.

Thanks for reading and caring about how to get rid of cooking oil!

How to dispose of cooking oil

How to dispose of cooking oil

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

The best way to dispose of cooking oil is to throw it in the trash.

Ingredients

  • Cooking oil
  • Disposable plastic container with lid

Instructions

    1. Cool the Cooking Oil

    2. Pour the Oil in a Plastic Container

    3. Place the lid on the container and secure it.

    4. Toss the container in the trash.

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Levi Armstrong

Thursday 10th of December 2020

It's good to know that cooking oil should be disposed of properly and not dumped in the yard or poured down the drain because it can cause harm plants and animals. I have been trying to learn how to cook lately, and the used cooking oil I gather during my cooking sessions are always poured down the drain. However, now that I know that's not a good thing to do, I'll definitely look for a used oil service that would help me recycle my used cooking oil. Thanks!

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