Can Cooking Oil Be Recycled?
How To Dispose of Cooking Oil
The first place to start in regards to home cooking oil, is NEVER pour it down the sink. Cooking oils can wreak havoc on a home’s pipes as well as local sewage systems. The oil particles clump together and can form large clogs over time. It is actually the number one reason for clogged pipes in a home. This practice can become a costly home repair in the future, as well as cause harm to local wildlife or negatively affect municipal sewer systems. Traditionally, people saved their used cooking oils in a jar near the stove to be used for other purposes or tossed in the regular garbage once cooled enough. While it is possible to reuse some oils safely, the smoke temperature is lower each time oil is used and it may even be harmful to one’s health by releasing free radicals into your food. This practice won’t cause damage to your home, but it may not be the best practice health-wise or the most environmentally conscience choice. So what is the best choice? Recycling cooking oil is the best option, second would be disposing of it in the trash, but pouring it down the drain is never a good choice.
Why Should I Recycle Cooking Oil?
There are other options for making use of the cooking oils from your kitchen. Other than keeping it from entering our water systems or filling landfills, there are positive uses for all that oil. The main one being, alternative fuels. Biodiesel companies have already been utilizing oil wastes from large commercial facilities and even some large restaurant chains. These companies have realized they can lower their >overall environmental impact and supply their oil waste to companies that can convert it into energy.
Alternative fuels like biofuels have proven to be a clean-burning source of energy for most diesel engines. The Biofuel markets are actually on the rise and many companies are utilizing recycling programs at neutral cost or even turning a small profit through annual rebate programs.
Options for Recycling Cooking Oil
For restaurants or industrial companies there are usually several options. Ranging from full cooking oil solution systems to private companies such as Mahoney Environmental that offer oil pickup and recycling services.
For household cooking oil options are a little more limited, however some programs have started to open up to include household recycling services. If you live in or near a larger city, there may be a city program already in place. Some larger cities themselves recycle residents used oils to fuel their city vehicles that run on diesel fuel. There are a few private businesses such as SeQuential that accept cooking oils for recycling purposes as well. There is some protocol to follow if you find a program and would like to participate.
How To Prepare Cooking Oil for Recycling
- Find a large resealable container to designate for used cooking oils. The container should be marked clearly and heat safe.
- Make sure that any oil you plan to recycle is just oil and not mixed with any water. Try to filter out any food particles left in the oil after cooking. (Keep in mind that mixing different types of oil is not usually a problem.)
- Next you will need to locate a drop off location at a biofuel recycling center or possibly an event locally that is accepting oil drop offs. If a quick internet search doesn’t turn up any local options, try calling your city or waste management service, they may have a resource.
Of course, if all else fails, let oils cool completely and dispose of in your waste, it is still a better option than pouring oils down the drain.
Other Uses For Used Cooking Oil:
There are some interesting alternative uses for used cooking oil in the home. If you’re looking for a way to reuse your old oils here are a few ideas:
- Animal/Pet Food- small amounts can be added to your pet’s food to add flavor and keep their coats shiny.
- Compost- Vegetable based oils can be added to a compost pile. Worms will eat it and aid in the composting process. Make sure not to use any animal product oils or pests may be attracted to your compost mix.
- Soap Making- Lye soaps can be made using cooking oils, another creative way of making use of that old oil.
- Hand Cleaner- Paint is one of the hardest things to get off your hands. Rub oil on your paint covered hands and let it set for about 5 minutes. Wash with soap and water and paint will come right off.
- Furniture Cleaner/Polish- Mix equal part oil and vinegar to make a simple polish for your wooden furniture. It can also be used on leather furniture to soften and preserve leather pieces.