HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Fry Oil Disposal in an Apartment

A random question came up at dinner the other night how to dispose of leftover fry oil after deep frying. Most of the the websites I have found suggest either a mason jar or some sort of disposable container large enough to hold the oil. Nobody I know keeps mason jars in their kitchen, and the few containers I have large enough to hold the amount of oil it takes to deep fry are not disposable (in any event, my building uses a garbage shoot, so the container would just explode after a 50-foot drop).
The two times I've deep fried in my kitchen I've (1) used the drain -- yes I know I'm not supposed to, but I couldn't figure anything else out -- and (2) kept the oil in the original container (which was empty).

My question is, what is the best way to easily dispose of fry oil using commonly found items in the the modern kitchen. If I fried more often, I would be more comfortable buying containers just for it, but it's a rare thing for me.

Hate to rant, but just curious.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. One of the best things you could use would be a coffee can with the lid intact-- obviously it's preferable to use a metal one! Do they still make those? If you don't get containers like this you could always purchase disposable gladware-style containers to use-- if you let the oil cool first. :)

    1. I think I would just save an old container and pour the used oil in when cool - when it is filled up - just toss it.

      1. If I know I'm going to be frying, and I usually do, I'll hold on to one or two half-gallon milk jugs specifically for that purpose. But once in the jugs, down the chute it goes.

        1. Do you guys have composting garbage bins there? Here in the city of San Francisco, we can put household grease in milk cartons (the paper ones, not plastic ones) and then freeze it and put it in our green trash bins, all of which is compostable material. I never throw it down the drain knowing how horrible it is for our aging sewer system here in this city. They also have started grease recycling here. Probably this is one of the few places that is doing it, but hopefully someday it will be commonplace. Here is the information: http://www.sfgreasecycle.org./residen...

          1 Reply
          1. re: farmersdaughter

            Cool, didn't know we could compost the oil. We did some frying last week and didn't really know how to dispose of the oil either. Thanks for the tip!

            Dave MP

          2. i keep used yoghurt containers for oil. but as mentioned in some of the other posts difficult to throw down a chute. but they are convenient. infact i usually reuse the oil after straining it with some kitchen paper through a sieve. unless frying fish, chicken or meat when i would dispose of it.

            1. Perhaps a nearby restaurant would take it, adding to their bulk disposal. It gets recycled into BioDiesel.
              Tossing oil into regular garbage is just wrong, and in most places not permitted.

              1. Well, I keep jars (like empty pickle jars) for grease. Pour into jar when done, place jar in brown bag, and throw in public trash can on my next outing.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Oh Robin

                  I also save random jars from pasta sauce, etc to use for oils and bacon fat. If you're concerned about throwing it down the chute, you can place it in a plastic milk jug (you can get funnels for about $1 at the hardware store) and then double bag the container before tossing it in the chute. You may want to check your city's garbage and recycling web site, they usually have recommendations for this kind of stuff. Pouring it down the drain is really bad for the pipes!

                2. When I lived in LA, we used to sometimes buy a Japanese product that turned the oil solid so you could just toss it in the trash. I have a nagging suspicion that it may have been ecologically detrimental in some other way, but it was convenient busy and cramped apartment life, and kept it from going into the pipes, and into the ocean... (I unfortunately don't remember what it was called, so this probably won't help!)

                  1. I was surprised when Alton Brown deep fried a turkey on his show and suggested dumping the oil in the backyard since it's biodegradable.
                    I am skeptical and wouldn't do it since I live near the San Francisco Bay.
                    Assuming you are not dumping near a body of water, what is the environmental impact anyway?

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Romanmk

                      Sorry for my naivety, but I'm very skeptical that a gallon or two of fry oil dumped into your backyard in San Francisco will leech into the ocean.

                      1. re: Rick

                        COOKING OIL is not a problem for the ocean. Unlike crude oil all kinds of creatures will EAT cooking oil. Similarly it is fine to dump cooking oil down the toilet, even if you have a septic system it'll get digested by the bacteria fairly quickly. In drains it has a tendency to coat the trap and can lead to clogs, but the volume of water in a toilet forces it into the main soil stack and on its way with the other uh "semi solid" waste.

                        I can imagine in a very old building this might present a problem is a lot of tenants were doing it, but that is extremely unlikely.

                        All the stencils about "NO OIL" on storm drains and such is really to keep used motor oil out -- the tiny grinding of heavy metal and dissolved combustion by products are toxins. Nothing like that in one's deep fryer.

                        Finally I do recall my grandmother saving up ALL her used fats. From bacon fat to chicken fat to various semi-rendered vegetable fats she had BUCKETS of stuff around. She'd make soap out of it. You can find formula to make your own "super fatted" soaps with high quality kitchen fats and fragrance. Lots of effort, but she grew up farming and probably would have turned the basement into a slaughterhouse and the garage into smokehouse if the rest of the family would have let her...

                        1. re: renov8r

                          EBMUD says don't pour it down the drain. It seems the problem is at the street.

                          "Cooking oil and grease poured down drains can build up in pipes causing backups at home, into streets and the storm drain system. Proper disposal of your cooking oil and other greases and fats will help prevent a sewage backup in your home. Overflows can pose health and environmental hazards, polluting local creeks and San Francisco Bay."

                        2. re: Rick

                          Just think of how many cars have slightly leaking oil pan/tappet cover gaskets? Those are the dark patches you see at every intersection and just beyond every bump in the road.
                          We are talking about MILLIONS of gallons of oil being washed into the storm drains which ultimately end up in our aquifers/streams/rivers/lakes.
                          I store the oil in the container it came in. When I'm done with it I take it to the local recycling business.
                          I suspect they do something akin to pouring it down the drain. Call me suspicious.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              No, this sensationalstic article points out why you don't put "flushable" wipes and solid saturated fats like butter, margarine, shortening and animal fats down a 1,000 year old sewer system.

                              But recycling it at a restaurant or auto oil-change center that has a recycling bin is still the best idea.

                              1. re: acgold7

                                I don't know about you, but I have no interest in coughing up for the plumbing repairs for even a walnut-sized version of that mess...particularly if it's a rental property!

                                Grease goes in the trash or a grease-recycling container, period.

                        3. re: Romanmk

                          I'm always leery of attracting critters, living in an urban environment

                        4. Why not use Crisco shortening. America’s Test Kitchen found it second best in taste behind peanut oil in a survey. Let it cool overnight and it solidifies. Just scrape it into the regular garbage in the morning. Crisco no longer has trans fat so that’s not a worry either.

                          1. I don't do a lot of deep frying, but when I do, I strain the oil and put it into old (clean) peanut butter jars. Then I use the oil a little at a time as I need it for sauteing/stir frying. I really don't like to throw out oil unless it has gone rancid.

                            1. I keep a couple of 1/2 gallon milk cartons on hand for that. then freeze it and dispose of it in the trash.

                              1. I sometimes buy gallons of water, and I keep an empty gallon bottle (and a funnel!) under the sink for used oil. When it's full, it goes in the recycling bin.

                                1. i live in an appartment which is surrounded by restaurants/bars which luckily all seem to have grease recycling bins in their back alleys, which i think is mostly used to make biodiesel. i'll just funnel my old oil into plastic pop bottles or oil containers, and go out and empty it into one of the grease recycling bins.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: marcopolo

                                    That is so great. I wish all restaurants/bars in all neighborhoods have this. And more of this type of biodiesel being used. I much rather smell french fries than other forms of exhaust.
                                    Curious whereabouts you live?

                                  2. Years and years ago someone I knew who was flogging Amway products had a plastic container with a lid and foil-lined paper bags with sealer ties that perfectly fit into it to take care of this problem.

                                    I thought it was hopeless to find them since my friend no longer had anything to do with Amway and I never saw them anywhere else. But a couple of years ago I trolled the web for them and after considerable effort found them. Fat Trapper. I bought the container and a bunch of the bags and have been very satisfied since then. I cannot now locate the vendor I found (which I think was also the manufacturer) but if you search for "Fat Trapper" you will find the container and bags widely available online.

                                    Thing sits near the stove, has an easy to remove top but is stable enough not to worry about it falling over, has a big enough opening to be able to pour off pan grease into it one-handed, and the bags hold perhaps 4 cups of oil, though you have to avoid overfilling them so you can close them well enough to put in your trash. If you are regularly deep-frying, this is not the item for you, but it you need, as I did, something to handle the pour-off from browning, rendering, etc., this is perfect. My only complaint is that the wire ties do not always stay attached to the bags, but that is minor. Cheers.

                                    1. That garbage shoot is a killer. The only hope you have is to use the original container and tie it up in double plastic garbage bags, because it can still crack.

                                      1. We put it into old cans....llike the 28oz. tomato cans (or even into a couple of plastic cups). We then put it into the freezer and then toss it. Freezing it guarantees it won't spill, drip out of the garbage bag on the way out, or explode in the garbage chute! :)

                                        1. As posters here have stated,many restaurants will take it for nothing.Companies take it off of them at no cost for bio fuel.Some companies are even paying restaurants for this.Can you believe it? Not that long ago I use to pay a company $200.00 a month to dispose of it.Thats Florida for you.On the home front,I put my oil in my empty laundry detergent containers.They have wide necks for transferring the oil and are very strong.

                                          1. I wonder whether frying OIL poses a problem when simply poured down the drain. It is biodegradable and non-toxic. Fat that solidifies can clog drains and even back up a sewer. But I can't see what problems might be caused by oil that is liquid even when refrigerated.

                                            1. I pour the oil back into the original container. I need someone to hold a large funnel for me, though. In response to your concern that it will splat open after going down the chute, I have two comments: 1. Place the container, with your other garbage, in a plastic garbage bag, tie a knot in it, and down it goes. If you do not bag and knot your garbage, any garbage, then the garbage will scatter and smell, smell up the chute, etc. 2. If you are still concerned, walk it down to the closet in the garage where the garbage container is located, open the door, and drop it in, so that it falls a matter of a few feet, if that.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Bite Me

                                                any old milk carton or what ever is avail. fill it 1/4 to1/3 kitty litter that will absorb the oil so you can dump it down the shute in a more solid form. the prob. with freezing it is that the next day it is defrosted at the bottom of the shute and it will leak everywhere anyway

                                                1. re: Bite Me

                                                  P.S. Screw the cap back on the original container, of course.

                                                2. I save the bottle the peanut oil came in. Use the fryer, let the oil cool, and then return to the original container tighten the cap & throw it in the garbage.

                                                  1. so after a batch of frying last night i recalled this thread.... and for the modern kitchen, i use wine bottles with screw tops.

                                                    i keep a stash of all my alcohol bottles for return and will often fish one out with a screw cap to pour out my oil into. funnel + filter + infrequently used oil then becomes oil in a wine bottle that can sit out on my counter to be used for future frying. no one's the wiser when they come over and when it's completely off, i just screw it tightly, nestle it into my garbage bag and toss it down the chute (i'm only a few floors up mind you).

                                                    1. Here's a tip from the Hamilton County (Ohio) Solid Waste Management District that addresses disposal of the large amount of oil used in turkey deep fryers that could be applied to any deep fryer oil...

                                                      "With the popularity of deep-fried turkeys, more and more people are wondering how to dispose of the frying oil. Listed below are the options for properly disposing of the used oil:

                                                      Filter and freeze used cooking oil and reuse it for another meal. Oil must be stored in an airtight container. Store in a dark, cool, dry place. Properly stored oil can be stored for up to 6 months.

                                                      Dry the oil with cat litter, sawdust, or sand. Once dried, it can be disposed with your regular garbage"


                                                      I don't think it's environmentally sound/safe to pour it down any drains or toilets in a house or apartment as has been suggested here.

                                                      1. Mix it with bird seed in a paper milk carton and freeze it solid then in the winter you can tear the milk carton off and place it outside for the winter birds. It is very beneficial in helping them stay warm by building fat stores. Make sure to mix it with seed though as just the oil is not good for there digestion they need roughage with it.

                                                        1. We freeze it and then put it in the garbage on garbage day. In a coffee can, or other disposable container.

                                                          1. I also live in a high-rise building. Disposing of nasty liquid works best for me in any sort of gallon jug with a SCREW top---comes with milk, cider, iced tea, sometimes juice or water. Tops that don't screw on (like plastic coffee can lids) tend to come off during the long plunge down the trash chute and the building guys don't appreciate the result---who can blame them?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                              you don't put them in the trash bag? (Not aimed at you, it would never have occurred to me to not put them in the trash bag, or at least tied up in a bag of their own -- for exactly that reason.)

                                                              1. Freeze the oil in a non disposable container. When you go to the garbage chute just dispose of the frozen grease and keep the container.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: stojo95

                                                                  Surely you don't just put the frozen lump down the chute? That will make a rather disgusting mess at the bottom.

                                                                  1. re: stojo95

                                                                    I am SO glad I don't live in your building.

                                                                  2. I drink it.
                                                                    Cheaper than castor oil!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: subal

                                                                      Oh jeebus. I actually just gagged a little.