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Cooking Oil: How To Properly Dispose of It

Pouring Cooking Oil into Pan

Bacon. Fried chicken. French fries.

The list could go on, and you still wouldn’t run out of tasty dishes to cook with oil. But, along with its frequent usage is the disposal struggle. The easiest yet the worst that you could possibly do would be to flush it down the drain.

Oil is made up of fats and fatty acids, which solidify at lower temperatures. With this characteristic, oil notoriously block drains and clog sewage systems. Some even result in a fatberg, a rock-like mass composed of oil and non-biodegradable solids. In 2020, authorities found a 42-tonne fatberg in Melbourne sewer. Yikes!

That would indeed cause trouble in your local plumbing. Hence, The Local Plumber has outlined these steps to help you properly discard cooking oil instead of clogging the drain. 

Reusing used cooking oil

In dealing with used cooking oil, check first its quality.

So, how do we know if it can still be used? Well, here are some indicators that used oil is no longer safe for another frying batch:

  1. Dark or black colour
  2. Rancid odour
  3. Foamy appearance

If you didn’t observe any of these, it’s still safe to reuse. But, just to be sure, only reuse oil up to three times. Beyond that, you’ll be exposing yourself to free radicals.  

Once you’ve verified its quality, make sure to strain the oil using a fine-meshed sieve. Afterwhich, store the filtered oil in a sealed container to keep it clean for reuse.

Recycling used cooking oil

If the used cooking oil is no longer suitable for another round of frying, your next option is recycling. Generally, cooking oil is recyclable because of its potent calorific value. But, how exactly are these recycled?

Here are some of your options:

1. Bird cakes

Birds love and need “fat” balls or bird cakes to have enough energy for winter. Instead of buying these from stores, you can just mix nuts or seeds with the solidified oil.

2. Biodiesel

Oil is energy-rich and can therefore be processed for biodiesel production. The following are the steps you must take to prepare your used cooking oil for recycling:

  1. Let the used oil cool
  2. Pour the cooled oil inside a tightly sealed container
  3. Store in a cool area and away from other liquid products
  4. Once full, drop off the collected oil to recyclers that accept it

For Melbourne, some viable options are Cleanaway and Port Phillip Resource Recovery Centre.

3. Garden Compost

Earthworms (yes, the little guys keeping our soil fertile) are fond of oil, especially those made from vegetable oil (e.g. soy, sunflower, corn, & coconut). Hence, adding used oil to your compost pile can actually make your soil more suitable for plant growth.

However, make sure that you’re adding not too much, for it might attract other harmful bugs and pests.

4. Soapmaking 

Yes, you read it right. 

Soap is essentially produced from fat. With your waste vegetable oil and other soap ingredients, you can already make a few batches of homemade bath buddies.

5. Insecticide

Although oil attracts bugs, it can also be used as an insecticide. With oil’s viscous nature, it can suffocate insects by covering the holes they use for breathing. So, how do you make it? 

Just add a cup of oil with a tablespoon of soap. Store it inside a spray bottle, and voila! You now have an eco-friendly insecticide for your plants.

Throwing used cooking oil

If you don’t have the time or resources needed to recycle used cooking oil, make sure to throw it correctly and safely. Never in the sink or any drain.

Small quantities

For small amounts, let the oil cool down first. Then, use a paper towel to absorb the grease from the cookware’s surface, including the bottom. Afterwhich, throw the used towel in the kitchen bin. 

Large quantities

For large quantities, allow the oil to cool down. But, this time, simply pour the oil into a container or old oil bottles. Then, let it sit in the fridge overnight to solidify. Finally, dispose of it in your general waste.

Final Thoughts

Cooking oil disposal may sound like a trivial matter. But, neglecting it now will only give you and your pipes long-term problems in the future. Remember, oil solidifies at lower temperatures and will, therefore, cause blocked drains and other plumbing issues.

These issues hamper household activities, incur property damage, and even compromise your family’s health. Hence, follow these proper oil disposal methods to keep your pipeworks and your life in general in good condition.

If you’ve been pouring oil in your drains and noticing something strange on your pipes, immediately contact The Local Plumber to perform inspections and necessary repairs. We have a solution to all your plumbing needs, no matter how big or small.

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