Among the most used (if not the most used) cooking items in the kitchen is cooking oil. Almost all fried foods require it in order to be cooked, and there are several recipes that require oil to enhance flavor and consistency.
Cooking oil can be of plant or animal origin. The most common plant-based oil is vegetable oil, which includes olive oil, palm oil, canola oil, and sesame oil. In ancient times, the most common animal-based oil used for cooking was animal fat. Due to health concerns today, however, more and more people are using vegetable oil for their cooking. Olive oil, for example, is found to raise the good cholesterol levels.
All oils are sensitive to heat, light, and exposure to oxygen, and when they are not stored properly, they become rancid, giving off an unpleasant aroma and an acrid taste. Their nutrient value also becomes greatly diminished, so proper storage is required.
When storing oils properly, it is best to keep them in the fridge, or in a cool, dry place. Oils that are frozen may thicken, but if you let them stand at room temperature for a while, they eventually return back to their original liquid state. Depending on how they are refined and their composition, cooking oils can keep up to a year.
Disposing of Used Cooking Oil
The main problem when it comes to cooking oil, however, is its disposal. You can’t just dump used or discarded cooking oil in drainage; it can cause blockage and clog up your pipes. Oil is lighter than water and they don’t mix; they tend to spread into thin and broad membranes that hinder water oxygenation. It is because of this that one liter of oil can contaminate as much as a million liters of water. Imagine the havoc it will cause to the water systems and the ecosystem in general if all households decided to dump their used cooking oils down the drain.
Proper disposal of cooking oil is important. Normally, the proper way of disposing it is to put it on a sealed non-recyclable container and dump it with the regular garbage. However, there are better ways to get rid of your used cooking oil and they can both be beneficial to you and to the environment.
- Use them as fuel. In today’s fuel problem-riddled time, an alternative to fuel is a very welcome addition. You may be surprised to know that one probable solution can just be found in your kitchen, and is very much in good supply, at that.Most vegetable oils have fuel properties that are similar to diesel. The only difference is that vegetable oils have more viscosity and lower oxidative stability. If these differences can be remedied, however, you will have a substitute for #2 diesel fuel, used as engine fuel and home heating oil. To many enthusiasts, used vegetable oil used as fuel is referred to as waste vegetable oil (WVO).While the use of vegetable oil as fuel has been experimented upon since as early as 1900, it wasn’t until recently that the necessary fuel properties and the parameters of engines to run them have become apparent, due mostly to the advancement of modern technology. Right now, there have been several engines produced that are able to use used vegetable oil as fuel, with positive results. Current car engines can also be modified in order to utilize this existing fuel alternative.The same modification can also be used to residential furnaces and boilers in order to heat your home. While not generally as clean-burning as petroleum fuel, it can potentially result in consumer savings.
- Sell your used cooking oil. As mentioned in the first tip, used cooking oil can be an efficient fuel source. If you have lots of used cooking oil in your cabinet or pantry but cannot be bothered to have your furnace or car engine modified, then you can make a profit off the oils while getting rid of them at the same time.The best way to sell your used cooking oils is to put up an ad on the Internet, either through forums or on buy-and-sell websites. Stay local, unless you have barrels of used cooking oil on standby, otherwise you’ll be spending way more for shipping and cargo. You can also try inquiring around your neighborhood for people who have modified furnaces and engines and sell your used oil to them.
- Reuse the oil. Vegetable and cooking oils can be reused many times, provided that you used them on foods that do not have significant aftertaste. If you’re only using the oil to cook, say, hotdogs or meatloaf, then just put the oil on a separate can for later use. You can save money this way. Don’t mix used oil with unused, however.For non-food applications, used cooking oil can be used pretty much the same way as machine oils for fixing squeaky joints, lubricating wheels, or any rusted objects. You can also apply them as coating on some surfaces to prevent rusting. During winter, you can also put a coating of oil on your shovel to prevent the snow from sticking on it as you shovel the sidewalks.
- Give it to recycling centers. Some recycling centers accept vegetable-based cooking oil to recycle. Consult with your local authorities if your center is one of these. When giving your oil to them, make sure that it is in a container with proper lid, and make sure that it is sufficiently cooled before you do so. Also, it is better if the cooking oil is not mixed by any other substance such as water or petroleum products, as this will severely hamper the oil’s recyclability.Used cooking oil is recycled into several commodities such as soap, cosmetics, poultry feeds, and more.
So the next time you think of wrapping that cooking oil in plastic and dumping it in your garbage, think for a moment. There are still other, more useful ways of getting rid of it without harming the environment and potentially earning yourself a few bucks along the way.
Click here for more information on how to get rid of used cooking oil.