There’s no doubt that a majority of us use cooking oil day to day, but not all of us dispose of it correctly. 

But did you know pouring cooking oil down the drain or throwing it in the recycling bin or trash can harm your plumbing system and, ultimately, the environment? 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best practices for disposing of cooking oil responsibly, ensuring that your pipes remain clear and the environment is protected.

The Dangers of Improper Cooking Oil Disposal

Before we delve into the proper disposal methods, let’s take a moment to understand why handling cooking oil with care is crucial.

When cooking oil is poured down the drain, it can cause blockages and clogs in the plumbing system. Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) solidify as they cool, creating a barrier within the pipes and attracting additional debris. This can lead to slow drainage, foul odours, and even sewage backups.

In addition to the damage it can cause to your pipes, improper cooking oil disposal can have severe environmental consequences. 

When cooking oil enters the sewer system, it can accumulate and cause blockages in the municipal sewer lines. This can lead to overflows, releasing untreated sewage into waterways and contaminating the environment. 

The accumulation of FOG in the sewer system can also form fatbergs – large, solid masses of cooled oil that can clog pipes and cause extensive damage.

Best Practices for Disposing of Cooking Oil

Now that we understand the dangers of improper cooking oil disposal, let’s explore the best practices for getting rid of it responsibly. By following these guidelines, you can protect your plumbing system and contribute to a cleaner environment.

1. Reuse Cooking Oil

If you plan on deep-frying or frying foods regularly, consider reusing the cooking oil. Before reusing the oil, strain it through a coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth to remove any particles and debris. This will help prolong the oil’s usability. Store the filtered oil in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dark place until you are ready to use it again. It’s important to note that oil should only be reused once or twice, as each reuse degrades the quality and decreases the smoke point.

2. Pour Into a Disposable Container

If you no longer wish to reuse the cooking oil or it has gone bad, the next best option is to pour it into a non-recyclable container with a lid and throw it in the garbage.

Cardboard milk cartons, wax- or plastic-lined paper containers, and styrofoam takeout containers are all suitable options for containing the oil securely. Ensure the oil has cooled completely before pouring it into the sealed container to avoid any potential accidents.

3. Chill Until Solid

To facilitate the disposal process, you can refrigerate or freeze the cooking oil until it solidifies. Pour the oil into an old can and place it in the refrigerator or freezer.

 Once the oil has solidified and can be removed from the can in one piece, it is ready to be thrown away. Wrap the solidified oil in a sealed bag before disposing of it in the trash.

4. Pour Small Amounts Into Trash

For small amounts of cooking oil, you can safely dispose of it in the trash. Cool the oil first, then pour it into a partially filled plastic trash bag. Adding paper towels, food scraps, or other absorbent materials to the bag can help contain the oil and prevent leakage. Be sure to tie the bag securely before disposing of it in the trash can.

5. Combine With Other Materials

Mix the cooking oil with absorbent materials like cat litter, sand, or sawdust to further contain the cooking oil and prevent leakage. 

These materials will quickly soak up the liquid waste, making it easier to dispose of. Save an old container, such as an empty cat litter container, and pour the cooking oil into it. Once full, seal the container tightly and dispose of it with your regular trash.

6. Recycle Cooking Oil

Some cities have collection programs for recycling used cooking oil into biodiesel, a clean-burning fuel used in vehicles and heating systems. Check with your local solid waste department to determine if any recycling facilities near you accept cooking oil. 

Properly recycling cooking oil prevents it from ending up in landfills and contributes to sustainable energy production.

7. Avoid Common Mistakes

While knowing the proper disposal methods is essential, it’s equally important to avoid common mistakes that can harm the plumbing system and the environment. Here are some key things to avoid:

  • Don’t pour oil down the drain or toilet: This can lead to clogs, blockages, and damage to the sewer system.
  • Don’t add oil to a septic system: It can clog pipes and contaminate the soil and water sources.
  • Don’t pour hot oil into the trash can: It can attract pests, cause odours, and create issues for waste management facilities.
  • Don’t dispose of cooking oil in compost bins: Fats, in general, are not suitable for composting and can disrupt the decomposition process.

By following these do’s and don’ts, you can ensure that your used oil is responsibly disposed of and that your plumbing system remains clear and functional.

Final Notes

Properly disposing of cooking oil is essential for maintaining a healthy plumbing system and protecting the environment. 

Reusing cooking oil, using disposable containers, chilling it until solid, or mixing it with absorbent materials means you can safely dispose of cooking oil without causing harm. Additionally, recycling cooking oil contributes to sustainable energy production and reduces waste. Always follow local regulations and guidelines, and consult with your local solid waste department for specific disposal recommendations. Taking these steps can positively impact and promote a cleaner and more sustainable future.

For all your plumbing needs, trust Canberra Plumbing & Drains. Our experienced team is ready to assist you with any plumbing concerns. Contact us today for reliable and professional service.