How to Dispose of Deep Fryer Oil

By Gail Sessoms

Disposing of used deep fryer oil requires a little effort since most local governments have rules against pouring grease down your household drains, including garbage disposals. The practice causes plumbing and sewer problems when the oil thickens and clogs drains and pipes. You should check first with local authorities for cooking oil disposal regulations, but you have a few disposal choices, each of which involves use of an appropriate container to hold the oil for disposal or transport, and following the rules if you use a collection site.

Chef cooking dim sum in a deep fryer
credit: Fedor Kondratenko/iStock/Getty Images
Store used oil over time for disposal in larger amounts.

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Removing Oil from the Deep Fryer

Unplug the deep fryer and wait until the cooking oil is fully cooled before handling the fryer or trying to remove the oil. Set up an area at the kitchen sink or, for turkey fryers and other large deep fryers, at an outdoor area. You will need a container and utensils for removing the oil from the fryer.

  • Use coffee cans, large glass jars, plastic juice cartons or any leakproof container that will easily receive and hold the cooking oil. Use the 3- or 5-gallon drum from your purchase of a large amount of cooking oil.
  • Use a container with a lid if you intend to transport the oil for a distance.
  • If the oil is liquefied, but safe to handle, you might be able to pour it into a container. However, have a large scoop or cup on hand to remove thickened oil from the deep fryer.
  • For cooking oil headed to a recycling collection site, keep the container in a warm place so the oil remains in a liquid form. Collection sites usually require everyone to pour used cooking oil into large collection containers.

Disposal with Your Household Garbage

Check local ordinances about throwing used oil out with household garbage or select another option if you choose to not add used oil to landfills. Transfer the deep fryer oil into a container for disposal with your household garbage that is picked up or taken to a dumpster for transfer to a landfill. Choose a leakfree, lidded container, based on the amount of cooking oil you have for disposal. Avoid odors and messy garbage cans by preparing the cooking oil for immediate disposal, or refrigerate the container until you remove it from your home.

Municipal Household Waste Programs

Drop off your deep fryer oil at collection sites operated by local government agencies. Many municipal collection sites safely dispose of used cooking oil in landfills. Drop off small containers or larger containers filled up over months. Check with your city or county public works, environmental protection and household hazardous waste agencies for locations, rules and schedules. Some municipal sites operate year-round, while others are open quarterly or at special times of the year.

Recycling for Biofuels

Take your used deep fryer oil to a site that collects oil for recycling. Recyclers convert cooking oil to biofuels, such as clean-burning biodiesel fuel. Local governments and communities operate cooking oil collection sites to reduce waste, protect the environment, create jobs and make money.

  • Cities and counties often designate some of their collection sites for recycling.
  • Find out if oil recycling containers are placed at public sites in your community.
  • Check with recyclers to find out what types of cooking oils are accepted. Some will specify only vegetable oils or provide a list of oils, such as peanut and canola.
  • Some recyclers ask that you strain used cooking oil using cheesecloth or coffee filters before adding it to the recycling bin.
  • Look for an increase in recycling opportunities in your community after the holidays, especially Thanksgiving.

Follow the recycler's instructions for the treatment of cooking oil intended for recycling. For instance, you can reuse deep fryer oil several times, but don't allow the temperature to exceed 375 degrees Fahrenheit or the oil can become rancid. You can store a container of used cooking oil in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months before dropping it off at a recycling site.