Learning to fry food as a college student is no small feat. Sadly, getting that food onto a plate and seasoning it perfectly is only half the battle. After finishing your exquisite meal, you often find yourself confronted with a pot or pan of used oil. What do you do?
The proper disposal of oil is an important waste concern. Cooking oil can block plumbing and piping, which allows for sewage backup into homes and businesses (ew). People assume that pairing the used oil with hot water and pouring it down the drain will suffice, but drains do not have a proper grease management system, and the problem continues to persist.
How do we stop this unsanitary phenomenon? Here are eight ways to get rid of that cooking oil through responsible and sustainable methods. Your drains and the environment will thank you.
1. Re-use itThe best way to dispose of used cooking oil is to, well, re-use it. If you use the oil for foods like vegetables or potatoes, the oil can be used again several times. Beware of cooking meat or fish repeatedly in oil, though. While it can be used for the same product two or three times, it's best to make sure the oil is safe to cook with. Follow these steps to ensure safe oil every time.
2. Pour it out
Recycling sounds nice, but sometimes it's just impossible to do. If you have to throw your oil out, do it the right way. Once the oil cools, pour it into a milk carton or an unrecyclable container and toss it out. Make sure the container is unbreakable and it is sealed tightly to prevents spills and leakages into your garbage can.
3. Freeze it
A good way to deal with oil, whether you plan on re-using it in the near future or throwing it out, is freezing it. Once the oil cools, pour the oil into a tightly sealable container. Place it in the freezer, and done; it can be re-used at a later date and even makes for an easy way to get rid of otherwise pesky liquified oil.
4. Convert it into biodiesel
Say what? Believe it or not, leftover oil can be turned into biodiesel, which can be made from oils like vegetable oil or animal fat combined with an alcohol like methanol. It is a desirable substitute for petroleum because it is supposedly less damaging to the environment and emits less harmful greenhouse gases when turned into fuel for tractors, motorcycles, and more.
While you personally may not have enough cooking oil to do this, contacting your local restaurants to see if they participate in this awesome method of recycling is a great way to get rid of your unwanted grease and save the world at the same time.
5. Get someone else to recycle itEven if your local restaurant doesn't convert their used oil into biodiesel, there are still countless programs run by other restaurants, waste management companies, and the government that aid in the effort to reduce neglectful disposal of oil. Just search for your state or county and programs like Cease the Grease or this program from Brighton County which may be in action near you.
6. Compost it or use it to kill weeds
Vegetable oils, such as canola or olive oil, are compostable in small quantities. Oil can also be used to kill weeds; just place it in a spray bottle and spray those unruly nuisances away. It's like killing two birds with one stone.
7. Mix it
If you really just want to throw your oil away, mix it with an absorbent material, like sawdust, cat litter, or flour, until the consistency is thick enough to easily throw away. Now you won't have to worry about oil leaking through garbage bags or spilling all over the place.
8. Try the Fat Trapper System
The Fat Trapper System is a plastic container holding an aluminum foil bag created just for the oil dilemma so many of us face. It effectively holds grease and oil in an odor-free, entirely sanitary contraption. You just fold the bag and throw it away once it's full. Get your fat trapper system here for mess-free oil disposal every single time.
While it may be easy to pour your used oil down the drain, it is definitely not the safest. So long as you take precautions when re-using, recycling, or throwing away your oil, you should never have to face the consequences any careless actions can create. Don't let your efforts in preserving the environment go down the drain.