In normal use, impurities that include dirt, grime, metal catalysts, varnish, chemicals and water can easily become mixed into engine oil. Unfortunately, this means that, in time, the product may no longer be able to perform to desired expectations. Eventually, there will come a time when this used engine oil must be replenished with a new or re-refined lubricant so that it can serve the engine it is applied to effectively.
It is vital that machine operators and vehicle drivers that change their own engine oil understand what is involved when used oil is removed from a mechanical system. This includes how to handle the engine oil correctly, but also how to dispose of it safely. Used engine oil is entirely insoluble and will typically contain harmful elements like heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
It is imperative that all users changing lubricants remember that prolonged contact between used engine oil and human skin can put their health at serious risk.
Disposal of engine oil
For engine oil that has been used to be disposed of properly, the following practices must be adhered to.
Used engine oil must never be disposed of directly into the natural world. This means it shouldn’t be poured on the ground or into a ditch, in a field, river, stream, lake or the sea. It must also never be disposed of in a drain, sewer or with regular rubbish.
Used engine oil must also never be mixed with other substances, such as antifreeze, gasoline, pesticides and solvents.
The oil that has been used must be transferred to a leak-proof container with a screw cap that will ensure no spillage will occur. The easiest solution to use is an empty oil container, as it has been designed to carry the lubricant.
Where can engine oil be disposed of safely?
Here in the UK, oil banks can be found that specifically deal with the safe disposal of used engine oil, but local councils also run recycling plants across the country that have means for waste lubricants to be disposed of properly, in keeping with environmental law.
Before discarding an oil filter that is used, punch an air hole into the dome end. You can use a simple screwdriver, but ensure you are careful not to hurt your hand when you make the puncture. Next, pierce a hole in the anti-drain back-valve. If one is present, it can be found at the filter’s flat end. Now, allow all the oil to drain out from the filter over a period of multiple hours. Next, combine this additional oil you have drained out with the other used engine oil ready for recycling. When you contact the oil bank or recycling centre, ask if they will also take the used oil filter.
Used engine oil drained in a single oil change has the capability to contaminate a million gallons of water. Just one cup of used engine oil can create a sheen on a one-acre pool of water, such as a pond. Considering the damage that it can cause, it is absolutely critical that used engine oil is always disposed of correctly.