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Can You Pour Olive Oil Down the Drain? (Plus What Are the Alternatives?)

Can You Pour Olive Oil Down the Drain? (Plus What Are the Alternatives?)

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My wife and I seem to always be changing our diets, and recently, we started incorporating more olive oil into our meals. We regularly use it as a healthy dressing on salads and often use it for any low-heat frying or baking that requires oil as well.

We’ve always poured our used oil (of any type) into a glass jar, but it crossed my mind recently that there may be a better option. The easiest option to consider is to simply pour the oil down the drain.

So, is it safe to pour your olive oil straight down your kitchen sink’s drain? Let’s find out.

Is It Safe to Pour Olive Oil Down Your Drain?

Running Faucet in Kitchen Sink

Olive oil should never be poured directly down the drain. Doing so can lead to buildup along your drain pipes, which will eventually lead to either a slow-draining drain or a clog.

When olive oil, or any cooking oil, is poured down the drain, it coats the surface with a substance that does a good job of grabbing other drain-clogging items as they come through.

Olive oil can also solidify at temperatures under 40 F. If you live in an area with cold winters, like here in Michigan, you’re running the risk of your vegetable oil hardening in your pipes.

Unless you like the thought of paying a costly plumbing bill, it’s highly advised that you choose a different method to dispose of your used olive oil.

What to Do with Olive Oil After Using It

Now that we’ve determined that you shouldn’t put olive oil down the drain, what should you do with it instead? Thankfully, you have several options:

1 – Reuse It

Pouring Oil Into Frying Pan

Assuming you’re using it for frying, the best thing you can do with your olive oil is to reuse it. Many people don’t realize that vegetable oil can be reused, but it’s a great way to cut down on the cost and make your oil go further.

When oil is heated, it begins to degrade, causing a loss of flavor, a drop in nutritional value, and an increase in potentially toxic compounds. That’s why, when frying with oil, it’s better to use it for short periods of time and at low temperatures.

Olive oil specifically has been found to degrade more slowly when compared to other vegetable oils. This makes it a great candidate for reusing.

One last tip when reusing oil is to make sure you use it for the same types of food. Cooking oil will retain some of the flavor of the foods that’s fried in it, so reusing oil from one food may alter the flavor of the latter meal.

2 – Recycle It

Green Biodiesel Containers in Rows

Another option for your used olive oil is to recycle it. Don’t simply mix your oil in with your curbside recycling though, as they won’t accept it.

As you can imagine, restaurants go through massive amounts of vegetable oil. With that being said, there are companies out there that specialize in collecting this oil, filtering it, and converting it to a biodiesel fuel source.

For your relatively small amount of cooking oil, call around to local recycling centers to see if they offer this service. If not, you can always reach out to a local restaurant to see if they can help in any way.

3 – Compost It

If reusing or recycling aren’t ideal for you, another way to dispose of your used olive oil is to compost it. Most people don’t realize that vegetable oil can be composted, but it actually can be done, as long as it’s in small amounts.

Vegetable oil is one of those food-based items that is a bit more complicated when it comes to composting. You definitely won’t want to simply dump a large amount into your compost pile, as that can cause all sorts of issues.

Adding large amounts of cooking oil to your compost can impact the airflow, which will slow down the decomposition of the other items in your compost pile. The slowly rotting food can attract pests, which you obviously don’t want to have around.

When composting olive oil, add it to your pile in small amounts. Ideally, wipe up your used oil with paper towels, then tear them into small pieces before adding them to your compost.

It’s also important to make sure the internal temperature is high enough to break down the oil and that you regularly rotate your compost pile (which you should already be doing anyway).

4 – Throw It Away

Empty Glass Jars

The last option, which is likely the method chosen by most, is to simply throw away your used vegetable oil. This is what my wife and I have done for our entire lives. Of course, we never considered that there might be alternatives.

If you’re going to simply put your oil in the trash bin, you can make it easier on yourself by following a few simple protocols:

  1. Never pour your oil directly into the trash bin, especially when hot. This will simply lead to a mess and potentially leak through the bag.
  2. Pour your used olive oil into a container, ideally made of glass. This will function as the storage area until you’ve accumulated enough oil to dispose of it.
  3. Before throwing away your vegetable oil, put it in the fridge to solidify. This step is optional, but does make it less likely to cause a mess when putting it in your trash bin.

Final Thoughts

If you go through a lot of olive oil like us, it’s important to know that it’s not safe to pour it down your kitchen sink. However, you have other options when it comes to disposing of old cooking oil, so don’t give up on that healthy diet just yet!

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Friday 22nd of October 2021

Thanks for sharing such an interesting article! Anothem item that should never go down your drains is coffee grounds. They are a cause of major clogs. Here is an article with many useful tips on the subject, hopefully, it will be helpful to your readers: