How to Dispose of Grease Without Pouring It Down the Drain – Cook It

Why You Shouldnt Put Cooking Oil Down the Drain

You must have seen the news reports and the public-health campaigns, warning of the monster that lies underneath many cities’ streets, growing steadily in their sewers day by day. It goes by many names—”gross,” “disgusting,” “really gross,” “I’d rather not think about it,” “super freaking gnarly”—but it is commonly known as a fatberg, a massive agglomeration of nonbiodegradable waste combined with fats and oils.

The science of the fatberg is far from settled, but the working theory is that cooking fats in the sewer system undergo a process called saponification, which basically means the free fatty acids in sewer water react with alkaline salts to produce a solid substance that is essentially soap. The fatberg soap comes together on a scaffolding made up of wet wipes, which, no matter what manufacturers say, should not be flushed down your toilet.

If you, like me, have ever let that last itty-bitty bit of your soap bar just kind of sit on your shower drain, figuring that eventually it will dissolve and be washed away, only to remain disappointed for weeks until you throw the dang thing out, then you'll have some idea of how whale-size pieces of soap might mess with a sewer system.

Of course, the fatberg is a city-scale problem that has city-scale origins, and you might think that the quarter cup of bacon fat you've poured down your sink can hardly make a difference compared with the output from commercial kitchens and industrial manufacturers. Still, there's another, more personal reason to avoid tossing fry oil down the drain: Cooking fats will also mess up your own drains, potentially creating clogs that only an expensive call to the plumber can fix.

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How Not to Dispose of Cooking Oil and Grease

The trash can is the best way to dispose of cooking oil, but people often try to get rid of grease and cooking oil in other ways that are not advisable. Follow these important rules when disposing of grease:

1. Don’t Pour Oil Down the Drain

Pouring oil down the drain or toilet causes clogs in your home plumbing system and contributes to larger clogs in the municipal lines that can ultimately lead to thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.

Oil and grease may be liquid when hot, but will cool inside your pipes, congealing and gathering other oil particles. As the grease collection grows, it will prevent water from flowing through and cause it to back up into your kitchen and bathroom.

“Never pour cooking oil or grease down a drain. Hot cooking oil will solidify inside the drainpipe just like candle wax, which gradually decreases the diameter of the pipe with a greasy buildup until the pipe stops draining altogether.”

Paul Abrams | Roto-Rooter Services Co.

What if Grease Goes Down the Drain?

Accidents do happen when it comes to cooking oil disposal, especially when you have guests trying to help you tidy up after a holiday meal.

If grease or cooking oil does make its way into your sink, take immediate action with these tips from Roto-Rooter:

  • Pour baking soda and white vinegar down the drain to clear some of the grease away.
  • Try an enzyme-based drain cleaner, like Roto-Rooter’s Pipe Shield, which helps neutralize grease in both metal and PVC pipes.

If your sink is still slow, use a plunger to further dislodge the grease clog. Not having any luck with these fixes? Unfortunately, you will need to call a plumber.

2. Don’t Pour Used Cooking Oil Outside

Tossing your used cooking oil outside is not a proper way to dispose of grease. If you pour oil on the ground, it will eventually make its way into the sewer system and cause clogs there.

Additionally, animal or vegetable-based oils and greases can cause issues for wildlife when left outside, according to the EPA.

3. Don’t Dispose of Cooking Oil in Your Compost Pile

While small amounts of vegetable-based oils in your compost may be fine, a large amount will cause airflow and moisture issues, ruining your fertilizer.

Animal fats should be kept out of your compost pile because they will smell, attract vermin and cause other problems that could make your compost unhealthy. No matter what type of oil or grease you’re using, do not dispose of it in your compost pile.

Can’t I Compost My Bacon Grease or Cooking Oil?

Well, that’s complicated. A little oil here or there in your compost pile is of no consequence. But you don’t want to put a whole fryer of oil in there at once. Doing so will mess with the natural microbiome that enables the plant matter to decompose and produce great gardening soil.

And that bacon grease? Well, if something smells and tastes good to you, it will smell and taste good to all manner of vermin as well. To keep rats, possums, and others out of your compost bin, and prevent foul odors, keep your bacon grease out of there, too.

Can’t My Oil be Used to Create Biodiesel Fuel?

Yes, it can. If you want to keep your used cooking oil out of the landfill, call your local waste management department to find out if they collect it. Or use RecycleFinder to find a collection site near you.

What can I make with ground beef grease?

Here are a few convenient ways to do that:

  1. Pour the grease into an old vegetable or soup can. You can store it in the freezer and then discard on trash day.
  2. Let the grease harden in a bowl (lined with foil, if you like). …
  3. Mop up the cooled grease with paper towels. …
  4. You can also reuse ground beef grease for cooking later!

What happens if you pour grease down the drain?

Dumping excess grease or oil down the drain can form fatty blobs in sewer systems. Instead, pour it into a cup, wait for it to cool, then throw it in the trash. … Eventually they’ll cause water from the sewer to flow back up into your drains, which can make for a very, very bad day.

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