How to Dispose of Grease and Cooking Oil

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Read this guide to learn how to avoid the inconvenience of a clogged drain by properly disposing of your cooking and frying oils.

If you enjoy the flavor of deep-fried turkey, French fries, hot donuts, or bacon with your eggs, you’re in good company. Fried food is full of flavor and popular because of it. But frying does make a mess in the kitchen. And, when the frying’s done, you might struggle with where to dispose of the cooking oil or grease. That decision begins at the sink.

Cooking oil and animal fat will clog your pipes. If it travels further afield, it will clog municipal pipes and harm a septic system. The grease on dishes placed in a dishwasher will clog up the dishwasher drain, too. Whatever you do, don’t pour fats, oil, or grease down the drain.

What is the Best Way to Dispose of Cooking Oil and Grease?

The simple answer is to throw it in the trash. To do so, just follow these steps.

Allow the oil to coolPour it into a container and closeToss the container into the trash binDo not pour hot oil into your trash can. It could melt the plastic trash bag and cause a mess. Also, use a container you can seal so that it doesn’t spill out and potentially leak. A couple of options include an empty jar or, for larger amounts, an empty laundry soap bottle. And be sure to wipe oil-coated pans with a paper towel before washing.

Can I Reuse Cooking Oil?

Absolutely. There is no need to dump your deep-fryer oil after every fry. Let it cool, strain it to remove any food particles, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or a cool cupboard.

How Do I Tell if My Cooking Oil is Bad?

Your nose can tell you when it’s time to dump your cooking oil. Just take a whiff before using. If it smells rancid or smells like burning wax, toss it.

You can also tell by how it feels. Fresh oil feels smooth when rubbed between your fingers. If the oil feels sticky or tacky, it’s past its prime.

Can’t I Compost My Bacon Grease or Cooking Oil?

Well, that’s complicated. A little oil here or there in your compost pile is of no consequence. But you don’t want to put a whole fryer of oil in there at once. Doing so will mess with the natural microbiome that enables the plant matter to decompose and produce great gardening soil.

And that bacon grease? Well, if something smells and tastes good to you, it will smell and taste good to all manner of vermin as well. To keep rats, possums, and others out of your compost bin, and prevent foul odors, keep your bacon grease out of there, too.

Can I Pour My Used Oil on the Ground?

Some homeowners pour their used oil along the fence row or on the ground away from the house. But, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, that’s not a good idea. In fact, they regulate the disposal of animal fats and vegetable oils with the same standards as petroleum oils.

Can’t My Oil be Used to Create Biodiesel Fuel?

Yes, it can. If you want to keep your used cooking oil out of the landfill, call your local waste management department to find out if they collect it. Or use RecycleFinder to find a collection site near you.

Is it Too Late?

If you’re reading this after the fact and you’re staring at water sitting in the sink, not going anywhere, you can unclog the drain yourself. Or, if your drain is slow from a buildup of oil over time, pour a quarter cup of baking soda into the drain and follow with a cup of vinegar. Once the fizzing dies down, flush with hot water.

Do this once a month to keep your drains clean and fresh smelling. And remember, the next time you have a hankering for deep-fried crispy chicken, don’t pour the oil down the drain.

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