How to Dispose of Automotive Fluids - Oils, Coolants, etc.
February 16, 20216 min read
Vehicles need a lot of fluids to keep running well, including motor oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and antifreeze, just to name a few. These automotive fluids cannot be thrown away for many reasons, which begs the question of how to dispose of automotive liquids properly?
Safely remove automotive fluids and transport them in a specified utility jug to a disposal facility. Different types of fluids need to be sealed in separate containers. Never dispose of auto fluids down the drain as they cause adverse physical symptoms and ravage the environment.
There are several types of automotive fluids that may be best disposed of differently depending on their condition. There is also specific equipment that can help keep you safe from the effects of contact or inhalation of toxic auto gasses.
What gear should you use to help you dispose of automotive fluid safely?
The right equipment can make the disposal process much safer. The first thing is a good-quality utility jug, such as the EZ utility jug, a 5-gallon or 3-gallon jug with a triple handle design that allows for maximum control and safety in transportation.
It provides adequate ventilation and good stability, as well. The construction is sturdy, made from thick-walled, high-density polyethylene plastic. This material is chemical resistant making it perfect for any fluids you may need to transport.
The EZ utility jug also has an anodized aluminum breather top, which ensures ventilation and fast easy pours reducing user fatigue, glugging, and spills. The spout also has design features to help make sure the transition of fluids is easy and reduces spills. The Hose Bender feature allows users to enter and exit the fill container with ease. It also features a stability hook to ensure your pour goes where you intend it to.
This reduces spilling and spraying when your container fills up. It makes the whole process of collecting and disposing of auto fluid smooth.
Finally, you may need to transport your fluids to the proper recycling center to properly dispose of them. The EZ jugs offer a transport mount. This is a rare feature for any utility jug and if you have ever spilled an entire jug of automotive fluids, you will know it is worth its weight in gold! Just be sure to follow all local and state guidelines for safely and legally transporting different types of fluids, and never transport them inside a closed vehicle.
You may need a few of these if you plan to transport more than one type of liquid because you cannot pour different types of auto fluids into the same container. The EZ Jug is available in 3 gallon and 5 gallon sizes, so get the size that works best for your projects.
You may also want to invest in a few further safety precautions. Disposable nitrate gloves are a great way to eliminate skin exposure by creating an absorption-proof barrier. However, latex gloves work alright if you don’t have a latex allergy.
You will also want sturdy work boots, a medical-grade face mask, and long sleeves and pants to keep your skin covered. You will also need to wear safety goggles to keep your eyes safe.
Even with all the safety gear in the world, you could still put yourself at risk if your practices are unsafe. Practice common sense to keep yourself safe while disposing of automotive fluid.
What should you do with used antifreeze?
Antifreeze can be a particularly troubling fluid to dispose of. It is a compound within the engine coolant that helps keep engine temperature steady and increasing the boiling point of the water in your engine.
Antifreeze is made of the chemicals: ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and methanol. All are highly toxic to humans.
Pouring antifreeze down the drain is incredibly dangerous because it is toxic to humans and animals. There are two types of antifreeze, each of which causes a different range of problems when ingested.
The first type, ethylene glycol antifreeze, is associated with birth defects, reproductive damage, and potential death. The second type, propylene glycol antifreeze, is less toxic than ethylene glycol. However, it is still harmful if a large amount is ingested.
Both types taste sweet to children and animals, making them incredibly dangerous if not stored and disposed of correctly.
Sometimes you need to drain your coolant but can reuse it again instantly. If this is the case, make sure you have a safe container to pour the liquid into, and then return it back into your cooling system.
You can test the coolant with a ball-type or other testing system to check that it is still useable before putting it back into your engine.
Antifreeze should be disposed of by dropping them off at a local recycling center, service station, or auto shop. There is no EPA regulation regarding how to dispose of antifreeze. Still, all these places should be happy to accept and dispose of your used antifreeze.
Antifreeze should never be mixed with any other fluids, including older antifreeze contaminated with metal or other debris. Each of those conditions needs to be treated and disposed of differently.
Tainted antifreeze may contain heavy metals and is considered to be hazardous waste. Which means you can only take it to facilities with the capability to dispose of hazardous waste.
It is also worth noting that some facilities can remove glycol from old coolant and can then add a substance that makes it reusable. This is a great way to keep fluid from becoming trash and helping out the environment.
This process requires that the antifreeze be pure, not tainted with other materials, or the process will not work.
Can you pour antifreeze down the toilet?
Many people use antifreeze in their plumbing to help keep their pipes at a consistent temperature throughout harsh winters. Disposing of used or tainted antifreeze is a terrible idea, however, because it will enter your local sewage treatment system.
This will raise the BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) of the influent and cause problems with the sewage treatment process. The source of the BOD may even be traced back to your residence. As previously discussed, antifreeze is highly toxic and can cause a range of negative symptoms if ingested.
Adding antifreeze to your home plumbing is a different process entirely and should be undertaken by a professional. Do not dump used or fresh antifreeze down the toilet, the drain, a storm pipe, or pour it onto the grass.
What should you do with the used oil?
Car oil needs to be changed regularly, and if you think about how much oil is coming out of all the cars on the road each time it is changed, you may find yourself wondering where all that oil has to go.
Luckily, oil recycling is becoming more and more common. If you want to recycle your oil, you will need first to drain it, pour it into a high-quality container that can be tightly sealed, and safely transport your oil.
Another handy item to help with disposing of oil is a drip tray. This will prevent any excess oil from reaching the ground, stopping oil slicks, and ensuring that the maximum amount of oil gets recycled. You should also bring in an oil filter when you go to get your oil recycled.
Be sure to never mix any other materials with oil because you will no longer be able to recycle them. Also, you may create a toxic concoction by combining different types of automotive fluid.
Responsibly disposing of oil is just as important as regular car maintenance. It differs somewhat depending on the type of fluid being disposed of, but overall, it is a very straightforward process.
Both antifreeze and motor oil can be recycled, depending on the condition it is in. This will give you a second round of these fluids at a much lower price. Just make sure that you have good-quality containers that keep your fluids sealed and ventilated, minimizing inhalation.
Keep each fluid separate, and find a recycling or disposal facility close to you to eliminate or recycle your used automotive fluids.
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