So, you made a delicious dinner. Now, it’s time to clean up, and you’re wondering what to do with your cooking oil.
Why Can’t I Just Pour it in the Sink?
The short answer is that it can clog the sink as well as cause damage to local sewer systems.
The longer answer is that while pouring it down the drain, or in the toilet, may seem like the simplest solution for cleaning up (especially after a long day of cooking and entertaining), it could be the source of a hefty plumbing bill down the line. A common misconception is that by running hot water at the same time, you can keep the lines clean, but soon after the grease is deposited in the drain, it begins to cool in the pipes. Overtime, ultimately causing a clog in your pipes, or even worse, in the local system.
But, I Have a Garbage Disposal…
Still not cool. The disposal does not have a special mechanism inside of it that destroys the grease, and the blades won’t have much effect either. Instead, the blades will become less effective after repeated coatings of grease.
What About Pouring it Outside?
Nope, that won’t work either. When you pour your oil or grease outside, it can ultimately cause problems for the plants and animals in your area, according to the EPA. Additionally, as the grease is hot it can run off into the local sewer system and it eventually cools there.
Well, what about the toilet?
Nein. Just because the toilet handles a totally different kind of waste does not mean that the system is equipped for oil or grease. According to Business Insider, the fats in the grease and oil from your kitchen mix with the other chemicals in the sewers and form nasty conglomerations of chemicals that can build up and block the pipes that take our dirty water to the wastewater treatment plant. And, according to their recent studies, “47% of the up to 36,000 sewer overflows that happen annually in the U.S.”. That’s a whole lot of build-up.
So, How do I Properly Dispose of Cooking Oil?
Step 1: Let it cool
One the oil or grease solidifies on your cooking surface, you can simply…
Step 2: Scrape The oil or grease into a container
The best way to do this is to find a container that you can keep around for awhile, and collect your cooking oil and grease overtime.
Step 3: Throw it away
When it comes time to throw it away, make sure that you place the used cooking oil or grease into a leak proof container like a plastic bag. This will keep it contained.
Or, You Could Give Cooking Oil a Second Life: Recycling
Store it & Reuse it Later
This is a great way to get as many uses as possible out of your oil before disposing of it. If you want to store your cooking oil and reuse it later, there are three things to remember: you cannot heat the oil past its flashpoint, you will need to strain it, and you will need to refrigerate it to keep it from going bad. Most sources don’t agree on how many times you can reuse your cooking oil, but that you can reuse it multiple times, and there are a few things to consider when deciding when it’s time to get rid of it. If the oil has a funky smell, then refer to one of the many ways here to properly dispose of it.
Find a Local Recycling Center
A quick Google search could help to point you in the right direction! Another option is to contact your favorite local restaurant and see if you might be able to drop it off with them to go into their recycling system. Most restaurants have large tubs that they collect used oil into and are on a collection schedule.
Compost it! (Small Amounts of Vegetable Based Oil Only)
This could be a great option if you have a decent composting system in place, and you aren’t using a TON of oil. Too much oil can really do a number on your compost pile by stopping airflow and messing with the overall moisture content in your compost. It’s very important to note that you cannot use animal based fats or oils in your compost. It has to be vegetable based in order to decompose.
Use it as a Natural Weed Killer
Used vegetable oil is an eco-friendly and effective weed killer. While there ae definitely other ways to remove weeds, this can be a great way to find a second life for your used cooking oil. “Entirely coat unwanted weeds by carefully pouring vegetable oil on both foliage and stem. The weeds will be gone in no time.”
What To Do if You Accidentally Pour Grease Down the Drain?
Hot Water & Detergent
Pour hot water mixed with detergent down the drain and watch the drain begin to unclog. While this is not always a foolproof plan, it is one of the best natural ways to clear the clog from your sink.
There are a plethora of natural enzyme products that will work hard to navigate the microbiome of your sink to clear the gook. These work just as well as your household “Draino” with less environmental damage.
Call a Plumber
We save this option for last because most of us don’t want to have to battle the bills associated with a plumber. When push comes to shove though, it’s a much better decision to call in the professionals than try to solve the problem yourself.