How to dispose of olive oil

Cooking oil is one of the main culprits for clogged pipes at home, find out how best to dispose of it.

Cooking oil can be messy to cook with and difficult to clean up. It is easy to pop the pan in the sink and pour the oil down the drain with the sink water. However, grease and oils stick and build up in pipes clogging your drains and eventually the sewage system. This can cause raw sewage to flow into homes and the environment, sending unhealthy pathogens through the air that can impact your health.

There are several options for correct disposal of cooking oil.

There are a number of ways to dispose of cooking oil correctly and prevent fat build-up in your pipes:

  • Let it solidify – most cooking oils, except canola oil, will solidify once left to cool. Allow the pan and oil to cool down before wiping with paper towel, ensuring any excess oil has been absorbed, then disposing of the towels in the rubbish bin.
  • Use a container – if using an oil that doesn’t harden, put in a strong, sealable container and place in with the garbage, avoiding glass containers. Similarly, if you’d like an easier clean-up with solid oils, pour oil into a container and leave in the fridge to harden before disposal.
  • Add to compost – vegetable oils and olive oil is an organic material and can be added to your compost pile along with other leaves, fruits and vegetable scraps. Too much oil however may kill or slow down some organic processes, so be sure to add small bits at a time and mix in thoroughly to the compost.
  • Recycle – by using a recycling centre or teaming up with a local restaurant you are able to safely discard a large amount of excess fats or oils you have left over. Keep a re-sealable container within reach – perhaps under the sink or in a nearby cupboard – and pour in any leftover oil. Once the container is full, take it to the recycling centre and add it to their grease disposal bin.
  • Re-use the oil – oils used for deep frying can be used several times if you follow a few guidelines. Don’t mix different types of oil, or keep on the heat after you are done cooking – exposing oil to prolonged heat accelerates rancidity. Make sure the oil is clear of any batter or food that may be left in it. Ensure the oil is stored in a cool, dark place, and that when you’re cooking, the temperature is at least 190 degrees Celsius.

There are a number of alternative ways to use up excess olive oil that don’t involve cooking. It can be used as a wood furniture polish, a lubricant for joints and hinges, help with stuck zippers, and can prevent streaks and corrosion on stainless steel and brass.

For more alternative ways to use olive oil, click here.