While visiting my parents, my mother asked me what she could do with her vegetable cooking oil she had used. It was sat in the pan because she didn’t want to just chuck it away.
Cooking oil is one of those things people use a lot but that you don’t always hear about recycle / reuse methods.
Most people are aware that you should NEVER pour it down the drain! Greases, fats and oils clog drains and are the cause of around 75% of burst sewer pipes. So while it’s quite a common no-no, it does seem like people aren’t paying attention to it!
So here are some suggestions of what to do with your cooking oils.
[ Cooking oils – Animal Fats ]
Reuse – As a vegetarian I don’t use these, however they can be used to make “Bird Cake.” Depending on how much you have, pour the liquid cooking oil into a glass bowl or dish then mix in bird seed, nuts, mealworms (if you are happy to), even a some peanut butter. Then let it set.
Scrape around the edge of the bowl with a knife to loosen the “cake” and dump it on the bird table. It is considered High Fuel food and is great for wintering birds who need the high energy as food sources become scarce.
Recycle – Contact your local amenities centre to see if they offer a recycling scheme. Many of them do these days.
Dispose – To dispose of the oil, if you don’t want to feed the birds, let it cool but not harden and then pour it into a seal-able jar and throw it in the rubbish. Better than down the drain but it is still adding to the landfill.
[ Cooking oils – Vegetable ]
Compost – Vegetable oils can be added to a compost bin. This should be done in small amounts, like if you have just cooked with the oil and have some left (rather than just pouring a litre bottle straight into the composter).
If possible mix it in with some shredded paper or newspaper and then give the whole thing a mix with a garden fork (being careful of sleeping hedgehogs…if it’s that time of year)
Reuse – If it’s clean you can use it to shave with. It is better than the harsh shaving cream chemicals and can leave your skin very soft.
Reuse – Again, if it’s clean you can make handmade soap with it. There are hundreds of recipes and step by step guides on the internet. The good thing about making your own soaps is lack of harsh chemicals. Great if you have sensitive skin.
Reuse – Vegetable oil is great for garden tools such as forks, spades and trowels. You can either fill two buckets, the first with cooking oil and the second with sand. Take the clean tools such as a spade and dip the head into the oil then into the sand.
This keeps them protected and lubricated. Store them and use as normal. I have heard you can just mix the oil and sand together and dip them into this, the point is you want a coating of oil/sand on your tools.
Recycling – Check with your local amenities centre to see if they can recycle it. Some allow vegetable oil to be added to the garden waste skips at household centres – though do check with them before adding it.
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