5 Things You Need to Know About Used Cooking Oil (UCO)

1. What Can be Categorized as Used Cooking Oil?

Used Cooking Oil, usually shortened as UCOs, are oils and fats that have been used for cooking or frying. UCOs are usually found in the food processing industry such as restaurants and fast foods, as well as in households.

Used Cooking Oil can often be found from deep-fry food stalls. Photo by Markus Winkler/Unsplash

UCOs can be in the form of both vegetable oil such as corn oil, canola oil, olive oil, palm oil, etc and also animal fats. The rule of thumb is that it’s a leftover cooking oil that should not be used too many times.

2. Why Is It Dangerous To Reuse Cooking Oil Too Many Times?

If you fry food on a regular basis, you can save the UCOs to be used in frying by straining it with a coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloths to remove any particles and crumbs.

However, keep in mind that you should only reuse UCOs once or twice at maximum.

Remember to change your cooking oil regularly for health reasons. Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary/Unsplash

Why? Because the chemical composition of UCO contains carcinogenic substances (promotes carcinogenesis, the formation of cancer) that resulted from the frying process.

Furthermore, each time you reuse the oil, its quality deteriorates and the smoke point (the temperature at which it will burn) decreases.

3. How Can We Tell if the Oil has gone Bad?

Before reusing UCO, give it a sniff to check whether the oil has gone rancid. You can usually tell by its smell, it if smells off, then it’s time to stop using it for cooking and find other use of it.

Reuse cooking oil only 1-2 times. Photo credit: wshgc.net

If you are still unsure, heat a few tablespoons in a pan and take another whiff, this method should confirm whether the UCOs is still usable or not.

In addition, you can also tell by the color of the UCO. Usually, the darker the color, the more rancid it gets. Do not use the same cooking oil until the color turns dark brown or even black.

4. How Can We Dispose of Used Cooking Oil The Right Way?

In probably every household, dealing with the disposal of used cooking oil (UCO) is inevitable as many people still process their food by frying. Hence, people need to know how to dispose of them the right way.

To start with, you will need to store the oil properly to avoid the UCOs from spilling and leaking, which can cause a real mess. Store the leftover cooking oil in a cool, dry, and safe place inside a closed bottle or container.

Do not put it near the oven, over the fridge, or microwave as it will get hot when put close to those objects.

Put your leftover cooking oil in a safe and closed container. Photo source: www.1millionwomen.com.au

After you collected quite a large amount of leftover cooking oil, find out whether your waste management service accepts the disposal of UCOs. Some cities or companies may have collection programs for recycling UCOs.

If you are in the Jabodetabek area, you can send your UCOs to Waste4Change via the Send Your Waste program.

Just make sure that the leftover cooking oil is stored in a safe container that will not leak, and send using delivery services that accept liquid delivery. We will happily process your UCOs into bio-diesel.

Last but not least, do not ever pour the used cooking oil into your kitchen sink, sewage, or even the soil. If you pour it down your sink, it may clog and damage the plumbing.

Similarly, if you throw it out on the ground, it can pollute the soil. Either way, the careless disposal of used cooking oil can harm the environment.

Do not pour your leftover cooking oil down the sink. Source: WikiHow

5. What Can Be Made Out of Used Cooking Oil?

Dealing with the disposal of Used Cooking Oil, or UCOs, is inevitable at the household level. Find out how to dispose of and reuse them properly.
Used Cooking Oil can be utilized for several other uses besides cooking. Photo by Tucker Good/Unsplash

If you want to get crafty and reuse your UCOs for other uses besides cooking, there are several options that you can consider:

  1. Soap Making: Lye soaps are the type of soaps that can be made from used cooking oil. You can easily find the tutorial/instructions online on how to make soaps from UCOs
  2. Lamp Oil: any form of UCOs can serve as a fuel for a lamp, especially if it’s a vegetable lamp oil.
  3. Biodiesel: used cooking oil is a key ingredient in making biofuel, namely biodiesel. It is also a renewable fuel that can become an alternative to fossil fuel.
  4. Animal Feed: Animal feed producers have begun recycling fats and oils to make food for livestock. The process, however, is more complex than soap making and is not recommended to be done at home.
  5. Other Practical Uses such as removing paint or as a lubricant for household appliances.

Read the Indonesian version here.




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