A Helpful Guide: How to Dispose of Olive Oil

Disposing of any cooking oil, including olive oil, can be a bit tricky. Just putting in the trash can can cause spills that attract unwanted critters, while pouring it down the sink can back up the plumbing. Discover five different options for disposal of olive oil:

Can I Put Olive Oil Down the Sink?

You might be inclined to put olive oil down the sink, just as you would water or another liquid. However, you should not put oil down the sink. Below 40°F or so, the olive oil will solidify into chunks, which can block your pipes in the winter. Even if the temperatures do not fall that low, the olive oil will still coat the inside of the pipes and gunk them up. Over time, it can build up causing a blockage and impact the functionality of your pipes. Either way, you could be looking at an expensive plumbing bill to get the olive oil out of your kitchen pipes. Instead of pouring olive oil down your sink, dispose of it using the methods outlined below and save yourself the hassle of calling a plumber.

How to Dispose of Olive Oil

Now that we have established that you cannot put olive oil down your kitchen sink, you are probably wondering what you can do with it. Here are five options for disposing of your olive oil:

Reuse it: In some cases, you might be able to reuse the olive oil. For instance, if you use high-quality olive oil to fry up some onions, it would make for a delicious addition to a homemade salad dressing. However, you do need to be careful with reusing all the oil for cooking because heat accelerates the decomposition process. It is also best not to reuse olive oil that has been used to cook meat products. If the olive oil becomes cloudy or develops a foamy texture on top, it is time to get rid of it altogether using the other methods listed here. (Learn more about how to store olive oil to prolong its life.)

some oil pouring off of a lemon

Wipe it up: If you have just a little bit of olive oil left in the skillet, the best way to dispose of it is with a paper towel. Wait until the olive oil and the pan have completely cooled to avoid burning your hand or the towel and then wipe up all the excess oil with the paper towel and put it in the trash can. This is the easiest way to dispose of a small amount of olive oil that you do not want to reuse.

Let it solidify: Sometimes, you may have a larger quantity of olive oil that you need to get rid of — for example, in the case of deep frying. In this case, it would take too many towels to absorb it all and you do not want to put it directly in the trash; otherwise, it will get everywhere. In this situation, you need to transfer it to some kind of leakproof container. Some people like to leave olive oil out on the counter until it cools and solidifies, or to put it into the freezer to speed up the process. Once the olive oil is cool enough to work with, transfer it to the container and then put it into the trash can. It is usually best to do this right before you plan to take out the trash to minimize the chance of leaks.

Use it for compost: Olive oil is an organic material that comes from plants, meaning that it is safe to use it for compost. Mix in small mounds of olive oil with your food scraps, leaves and whatever else is in your compost pile. Make sure not to completely smother your compost pile in oil or else it could disrupt the composting process, so just add a little bit at a time.

Recycle it: If you have large quantities you need to get rid of, recycling might be your best bet. Sometimes, neighborhood restaurants will take olive oil, so try giving them a call first. If you cannot find a restaurant, then call your local fire department, trash company and recycling centers. Ask whether or not they accept oil recycling and take it to whichever facility does.

a couple of bottles of brightland oils on a table with some fruit and vegetables

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