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Kitchen & Cooking

How to safely dispose of cooking oil—and the tools you need to do it

Don't even think of pouring it down the drain.

On left, package of Try Fry Away powder. In middle, person pouring bottle of cooking oil. On right, small glass bottle of cooking oil. Credit: Reviewed / FryAway / Getty Images / Naypong / Alexlukin

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Almost everyone can get on the same page about the beauty of fried foods. Virtually everything—from chicken to seafood to dumplings—just tastes better when it's been cooked in hot oil. But cleaning up afterwards? That's a different story.

One of the most important things to remember when frying—whether in a deep fryer, skillet, or Dutch oven—is to never dump the leftovers down the drain. Why? Because it can be harmful to your home and the environment.

Once the residual oil meets water and cools completely, it solidifies and can clog up your pipes over time, eventually leading to drainage issues and steep plumbing bills. It can also be harmful to your community's drinking water, attract pests, and cause a slew of other issues.

But don't give up on your dreams of homemade beignets and arancini just yet—we're here to guide you through all the do's and don'ts. Here's how to dispose of cooking oil the right way, so you can fry up a storm, worry-free.

Try Fry Away powder

Person pouring packet of Fry Away cooking powder into pot filled with cooking oil.
Credit: Reviewed / Monica Petrucci

FryAway powder works wonderfully in solidifying oil after frying, so you can dispose of it right in the trash (sans leakage).

The easiest and least waste-producing option to get rid of oil is with Fry Away powder.

This magical product can solidify up to eight cups of oil per use, so that it can be tossed right into the trash or compost without contributing any additional waste.

Here's how it works: After deep frying (or pan frying), turn off the heat and sprinkle a packet of Fry Away into the pan. Mix it around with a spoon to ensure it's dispersed evenly. Then, let it sit until it's fully cooled. By then, the oil will have completely solidified, and you can confidently scrape it out and into your trash or compost bin, like any solid food waste.

When we tested this product for ourselves, we were initially skeptical about how well it would work. It still hadn't solidified 15 minutes after turning off the heat. But as it turns out, when it comes to Fry Away, patience is a virtue. Once the pan had fully cooled, the remaining oil had fully solidified, and it was extremely easy to remove the remnants from the pan and into the trash.

$13 at Amazon

Cool and collect

Person pouring oil from skillet into clear water bottle.
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / Amfer75

Keep a disposable container handy to store all your used oil so it can be tossed right in the trash.

Likely the most common method for cooking oil disposal is to collect it in a container over time and then toss that container in the trash. This can be as simple as keeping a plastic bottle or bin from your recycling stash under the sink to dump used oil in until it's full.

To ensure a mess-free method, we recommend opting for leak-proof plastic containers that won't risk any leaky trash bags.

Just make sure your oil has fully cooled before transporting it to another container to avoid any melting plastic.

$23 at Amazon

Reuse it

On left, oil being poured from a pan into a container. On right, oil being drizzled onto a pan.
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / Venusphoto / Evgenii Zorin

FYI: Cooking oil can (sometimes) be safely reused after frying!

Another option for anyone interested in cutting down on waste? Reuse your frying oil!

As long as you don't notice any off-putting odors or substances present in your leftover oil, it's good for another frying session. Just be sure to safely remove any leftover bits of food before storing it.

To do this, wait until the oil has completely cooled, and use a mesh strainer to catch any crumbs or other unwanted bits. Then, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

$15 at Amazon

(Just be aware that oil can carry flavors and cross contaminate from one dish to another. Keep that in mind after frying something like onions, fish, or allergy-common things like gluten found in bread crumbs.)

Recycle it (if you can)

Bottle of oil and recycling bin on green background
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / Hidesy

Check local resources to see if recycling centers near you will accept used cooking oil.

Did you know that some community recycling centers accept used oil? There, it's often repurposed into fuels like biogas. So that batch of fried empanadas you made can make a lasting difference towards a greener future!

Do some online research to find out whether any local recycling centers near you accept cooking oil for repurposing.

You can also recycle some of it on your own turf by repurposing it as a household lubricant (for things like squeaky hinges), paint remover, or pan seasoner. Again, strain the oil and check for off odors before using.

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