Every day we use enormous amounts of cooking oils in our kitchens. Just as our cars run on petroleum oils, many of the delicious food we eat is made with a lot of cooking oil. But once that oil is no longer helpful for cooking, getting rid of it becomes a huge problem.
How do you dispose of used cooking oil?
The oil often finds its way into the drains, wreaking havoc on the system. Fats, oils, and grease (FOGs) are major causes of drain clogs and leakages. Due to their sticky nature, they line the sides of pipes and trap debris that eventually blocks the pipes.
If the drainpipes are made of metal, grease can eat through the material, leaving a large hole where wastewater leaks into the ground. Over time entire sections of drainpipe may be sealed off completely by soil. The cost of fixing this problem is massive.
But it doesn’t stop there; to combat the effects of grease in their drainpipes, many people use chemical drain cleaners. But chemical drain cleaners are a problem. They destroy the pipe material, weaken them and eventually cause leaks in the system.
These are why some homes and commercial kitchens have grease traps in the kitchen or the building’s drain system. Grease traps catch grease that would have found its way into the drains. But even grease traps have to be cleaned.
What do you do with the grease from the trap?
The best way to solve the problem is to find a way to reuse old cooking oil. Here are 10 practical ways to reuse spent cooking oil and keep it out of landfills and drainpipes.
10 ways to repurpose used cooking oil
1. Biodiesel fuel
Biodiesel is a more environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum, with carbon emission levels up to 85% lower (per gallon). Used cooking oil is easily converted to diesel with affordable kits. The oil is collected from restaurants and stripped down for trucks and machinery use.
2. Animal feed
Even if it is no longer helpful as human food, used cooking oil is still edible for farm animals and household pets. Sprinkling a little oil on your cat’s or dog’s food will make it tastier and give your pet a shinier coat. Used oil can be used as one of the inputs for animal feed production.
Using small amounts of used cooking oil in the compost heap will speed up the breakdown of waste. Cooking oil is better for composting than other oils because it is organic. Only plant-based cooking oils should be used in this way.
4. Furniture polish and conditioner
Use a mixture of equal parts of cooking oil and vinegar to polish or restore wood furniture. Used cooking may also be used to soften and preserve leather. Rattan and wicker furniture will not crack if you rub them with oil occasionally.
5. Car cleaner
Used cooking oil is excellent for removing tough stains from your car. Rub a little oil on a paper towel or soft rag and wipe the affected area to remove dirt, grime, pollen, bugs, and stains. Using cooking oil in this way will not damage your car or fade the paint.
6. All-purpose household lubricant
Used cooking oil is a non-toxic lubricant that can be used on a wide variety of items in the home. Use it to prevent rust by rubbing it on metal surfaces or tools. You can use it as a lubricant for keys – if locks stick. Apply it on creaky hinges.
7. Paint remover
If you have ever had paint on your hands, you know how hard it can be to remove. There are solutions you can use to get rid of the paint, but many are harsh or costly. Rubbing your hands with used cooking oil quickly solves this problem.
8. Soap making
Oil is one of the ingredients used in the manufacture of soaps. If you want to make lye soap, use spent cooking oil for this purpose. Instructions on this are freely available online, and you need water, caustic soda, and used oil.
9. Hair moisturizer
Used cooking oil (plant-based oils) can be used to condition and moisturize hair. Doing this is as simple as heating the oil to room temperature and massaging it into your hair. Let it sit in your hair until it is absorbed. Shampoo and rinse your hair to remove the excess oil.
10. Protect pots, pans, and tools
Rubbing cooking oil on the surface of new pots and pans before you use them helps to protect them. You can also rub oil on gardening tools before you use them to make them non-stick and easier to clean after use.
Besides these ten uses of spent cooking oil, do you know different ways to repurpose used cooking oil? We would like to hear about them.