Used Oil Disposal: How To Do It Right

April 25th, 2022 by Adam Luehrs

The engine that powers your car, truck, boat, or snow blower, to name a few examples, is a collection of large and small moving parts that often work in friction against each other. Clearly, the engine will have a very short life span if that friction is not mitigated. This is why we use motor oil. Not only does it reduce friction and lubricate those active components, but oil also helps to keep the engine clean, cool, and intact. Still, this helpful substance is not eternal and requires regular changing. In so doing, we want to deal with the old oil responsibly.



How and Why Does Oil Wear Out?

At its most basic, motor oil consists of a base oil, complemented by a few added ingredients. In doing its work, the oil is continuously subject to heat, air, and moisture and over the days, weeks and months, and many miles, oxidation sets in. This means that the oil gets thicker and begins to hold sludge deposits that can adversely affect engine operations. In addition, those supplemental additives become exhausted, aggravating the accretion of dirt and metal dregs. At this juncture, motor oil goes from helper to hindrance.


The Problem with Old Oil

In an age where sensitivity to fossil fuel atmospheric emissions makes alternatives more appealing, think of the damage the fossil substances can do to land and water. Clearly, dumping used oil is a poor choice. How, then, should it be disposed of?

Auto Servicing Facility

You can take used oil to a local service center or quick-lube business. Many are often willing to receive the old oil off your hands free of charge. Calling ahead will ensure that the servicer has the capacity and willingness to take the oil. As a courtesy, patrons should store the oil in a plastic container, perhaps that in which the new oil was purchased, that is clean and dry on the outside. 


Municipal Recycling Site

Local and county governments may also offer to take possession of used motor oil. Once or twice a year, they might set up a receiving station at which residents can drop off their used motor oil. Although organizers may require proof of residency, this service is otherwise without fee or charge. These places will likewise receive used motor oil containers. Contact your town or county leadership to find out if such an accommodation is offered near you.




What Happens to Oil That Is Dropped Off?

After motor oil reaches the end of its usefulness for a vehicle or appliance, it nevertheless has applications elsewhere. It is suitable for boilers in factories and industrial facilities. In addition, motor oil can be converted to diesel fuel. Heated to a high temperature while deprived of oxygen, the oil undergoes pyrolysis, whereby the gaseous and liquid components yield diesel and gasoline. Otherwise, refiners can remove the deposits and impurities in the old oil, while replenishing the complementary additives. 

Opting to send the oil off for recycling makes good environmental and economic sense. It not only lengthens the practical duration of the oil’s life, it also preserves your property from the toxicity of what can easily be considered hazardous waste. This is a welcome, if rare, win-win scenario.

Posted in How To's, Informative