Waste Cooking Oil Recycling Ideas & Uses

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Waste not, want not"? Whether you're a business owner or a homeowner, everyone is looking for ways to save money – and oftentimes, that means finding creative uses for common items. Did you know that waste cooking oil doesn't have to be thrown out once it's used? Instead of allowing it to rot in your compost heap or clog kitchen garbage disposals when you dispose of it, try recycling waste cooking oil. Here are a few uses for it: 

  • Soap. Once used vegetable oil is filtered and cleaned of solids, you can use it to make wonderful soap – a commodity we all have need of every day! 

  • Emergency lamps. While flashlights work great during a power outage, lamps are better for prolonged outages. Use filtered waste cooking oil in your oil lamps during emergencies. 

  • Ant poison. Many have found used cooking oil to be an effective way to dispose of pests like ants.  

  • Animal feed. While it has traditionally been used in feed for farm animals, many people also pour waste cooking oil over their pets' food to add extra flavoring. 

  • Dust suppression. If you're looking for a way to keep dust at bay – during construction or drilling projects, for example – give waste cooking oil a try. 

  • Biofuels. Many restaurants are converting their waste cooking oils into biofuels, which in turn helps generate power and heat. According to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), vegetable oil burns more cleanly than does fossil fuel. In addition, it does not have an adverse impact on the environment.  

  • Diesel fuel. With proper conversion techniques, waste cooking oil can be transformed into a diesel fuel that's perfect for older vehicles and tractors.  

Before using your waste cooking oil for any other purpose, be sure to do your research. In some cases, the oil should not have been heated over a certain heat. Don't forget you can also often reuse your oil to cook or fry your food, so long as it's not burnt.  

Whatever you do, don't dispose of your waste cooking oil down the drain, as this can jam your garbage disposal and clog your pipes. This is especially important to remember during the holidays, when most people use the kitchen a lot and have a lot of waste cooking oil they need to dispose of. So put on your thinking cap and consider ways to save your waste cooking oil for other purposes – and save yourself some money.

DON'T POUR GREASE OR OIL DOWN THE DRAIN

You've probably been warned at some point in your life that pouring grease down the drain is a bad idea. Everyone has their lazy days, though, and you've probably ignored this warning in favor of a quick cleanup. Pouring trace amounts of grease down the drain once, while not a good thing, probably won't cause any serious blockages in your pipes, but if you frequently dispose of cooking oil and other grease deposits in the sink, then you have a problem building in your pipes.

Many people think that running hot water down the drain will keep grease from sticking, but unfortunately that's not entirely true. Oil may be going into your drain as a liquid but as it cools and trails through your pipes, it starts to solidify. When the grease has cooled, it often sticks to the surface of the pipes, eventually causing buildup.

BACON GREASE DOWN THE DRAIN

Pouring bacon grease down the drain will clog your sink. It’s a fact, and we at Roto-Rooter have been warning homeowners of this fact since our company was founded in 1935. Somehow, the warnings have gone unheeded and we’re unclogging as many grease filled sink drains as ever, as The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out in this article entitled Everyone Pours Bacon Fat Down The Drain-And Lies About It. The article appeared in the paper’s August 9, 2018 edition.

WSJ reporter, Lara Korte, contacted Roto-Rooter’s corporate office to talk with us about the severity of the problem and to get some business information from us since we unclog more drains than any other company in the world. We explained to Ms. Korte that “In 2017, Roto-Rooter plumbers unclogged almost 211,000 residential kitchen sinks, caused by a variety of reasons, costing American homeowners over $30 million.” The article went on to say, “Sometimes homeowners will admit to knowingly dumping the grease in the sink, said Paul Abrams, public relations director at Roto-Rooter, one of the country’s largest plumbing businesses. “They feel a little embarrassed,” he said. “They know they made a mistake.”

The Journal spoke to several homeowners who admitted to pouring bacon grease down the drain and who are trying to change their ways. Furthermore, the Journal provided the following tips for those wondering what to do with bacon grease to avoid grease clogs:

  • No matter what, first let it (bacon grease) cool
  • Pour into a container and let it harden; re-use for cooking or throw in the trash
  • Pour into a foil-lined bowl
  • Let it harden, fold foil around the fat and throw in the trash
  • Soak up smaller quantities with paper towels; throw in the trash
  • Mix with bird seed (see recipes online) and let it harden; put it in a bird feeder

Some people feed it to the dog – although there is debate about whether that is healthy"
For more information from Roto-Rooter about avoiding sink clogs, check out this handy infographic titled, What Goes Down the Drain? Print it out and post it next to the sink for a few weeks until you’ve broken the habit of pouring grease down the drain.

GARBAGE DISPOSALS AND GREASE

A misguided thought people often have is that it's okay to pour grease down a garbage disposal. The disposal does not have a special mechanism inside of it that destroys the grease, and the blades won't have much effect either. Instead, the blades will become less effective after repeated coatings of grease.

A few warning signs that will alert you of an impending blocked drain include slow drainage, gurgling noises coming from the drain, and a bad smell. If you can't seem to get rid of the clog yourself, call in a plumber to take care of the problem.

PROPER WAYS TO DISPOSE OF GREASE

If you were cooking bacon or hamburger and only have a little amount of grease in a pan, let it sit out on the stove while you eat your meal. Once the grease has solidified, use a spatula or paper towel to wipe out the mess and throw it in the garbage can and don’t pour the grease or oil down the drain.

Keeping a can or jar specifically for collecting grease is another option people use. This method works best if you often cook greasy food or if you have large amounts to dispose of at once. Simply drain your pan or dish of oil into a can and let it solidify. If the can is large enough, you don't have to throw it out right away either. Put a lid on it and set it in the corner of the fridge for future use. Once it's full, place it in the garbage can.

These are really the two best methods for getting rid of your extra oil rather than pouring grease down the drain. Do not try composting it. The grease will only make your pile smell and attract animals.

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Drains