9 Ways to Repurpose Rancid Cooking Oil


There’s nothing nastier in the world than wanting to whip yourself a plateful of fries only to discover that the cooking oil is way past its prime. Normally, that rancid oil would end up in the bin or an appropriate disposal place, but that is not the prepper’s way. As I came to understand later in life, nearly every object found around the household can be repurposed. 

In this case, we’re obviously going to talk about the many uses of obsolete cooking oil. Perhaps you’re wondering why one should go all this trouble just to shave off a few bucks. Evidently, that liquid cannot be used for cooking (well, theoretically, it can, but I would not advise it since ingesting food cooked in rancid oil can be harmful to your stomach). Anyway, here 9 ways you can use rancid oil around the household and, perhaps, in a survival-type situation. 

1.  No more creaking doors or hinges 

You really don’t need to spend that much money on lubricants just to get rid of creaking hinges, doors, or bolts that won’t budge. Gather as much rancid oil as you can find and pour it in an airtight container. I would advise you to store it anywhere but the pantry you’re using for emergency supplies. The garage is the best choice in this case. Now, the next time you need to deal with bolts, hinges, or any kind of moving parts, use a little bit of cooking oil. It has the same effect as WD40 or any type of lubricant found in the hardware store. 

2.  Crafting oil-based lamps 

Oil lamps may have been common household items two centuries ago, but now they’re nothing more than memorabilia or mood-setters. If you do find yourself in a flea market or any place that sells such curiosities, I would advise you to buy one; flashlights can run off batteries, smartphones won’t last more than a couple of days during blackout conditions, but oil lamps will never let you down. That’s because you can use virtually any kind of cooking oil to produce light. Anyway, if you already have one, use the rancid cooking oil to replenish the ball shade holder. 

If you don’t have one, you can craft a miniature lamp oil using a mason jar, a wick, a piece of wire (or a nail), and some cooking oil. Insert the wick into the center of the mason jar, place the nail or wire across, and use a piece of string to tie the wick to the support. Adjust the length of the wick – aim for one-two inches. Fill the mason jar with the rancid oil, being careful not to wet the wick. That’s it! You ‘ve now crafted a simple lamp oil. 

3.  Lubricate keys 

If you’re having trouble fitting the key in the lock, rub a bit of cooking oil on it before attempting to unlock the door. Works for any kind of locks and keys. 

4.  Removing paint from your hands 

Although it’s a bit late for redoing the paint around the house, sometimes it’s necessary to spruce things up a bit. And here comes the trickiest part of painting – having to remove them, well, paint, from your hands. Of course, there’s always paint thinner, but that stuff can harm the skin. Here’s a nifty trick to use the next time you’re thinking about redecorating: dunk your hands in a container of rancid cooking oil. Rub your hands together as hard as you can. Leave the oil to act for about five minutes. After that, wash with soap and rinse with plenty of water. 

5.  Using it as compost 

It may be possible to enhance the ‘nutritional’ quality of your compost pile by using your rancid cooking oil. What happens is that vegetable oil can help worms and soil bacteria thrive. In turn, your crop will yield even more nutritious and delicious vegetables. A word of caution on this one: do not use animal-based oils to enhance your compost. Not only is it harmful to the worms and soil, but it does tend to attract unwanted wildlife. 

6.  Instant car cleaner 

Now that autumn’s here, keeping your car clean can become very difficult with the rain and the dust and the ever-present pigeons. Scrubbing and power-washing take a lot of time, energy, and not to mention money. If you’re not in the mood to give your car a good scrubbing, you can always use a bit of cooking oil to deal with smudges, grit, dirt, gunk, pollen, and bugs. Apply to a clean rag and scrub the dirty area. 

7.  Pest control 

Having a bit of an ant problem in your garden? No problem – just pour a bit of vegetable oil to the base of the plans. For some reason, ants can’t stand veggie oil and will go to great lengths in order to avoid that particular area. Yes, I guess it’s the same trick our grandparents used to safe keep their veggie patches long before pesticides became widely available. 

8.  Restore old furniture to their former glory 

If you have old furniture lying around the garage, there may be a way of restoring them. They won’t be exactly new, but at least they will have that spit-and-polish look. So, after replacing bolts, screws, and any other items that may be missing, use rancid cooking oil to polish all the wooden surfaces. 

9.  Preserving and conditioning leather 

Old leather chairs and sofas can be made to shine again by rubbing them with some cooking oil on them. Use a clean rag to spread the rancid oil evenly across the surface. Wipe off the excess with another rag or with some paper tissues. The same trick works for leather boots and leather coats as well. To ensure that the treatment is effective, you should do this at least two times a year. You don’t need to apply any other leather conditioners. 

That’s it for my take on how to repurpose old cooking oil. Of course, there are many ways to use rancid veggie oil around the house. So, if you feel that there’s anything missing from this list, do send me an email. 

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