How to Use or Dispose of Grease While Camping


You couldn’t resist: you brought bacon with you camping. I don’t blame you! You should be able to bring what you want with you camping, depending on your goals of course. While I wouldn’t bring bacon on a hike with me, I would definitely bring it with me in a cooler to the car campground. 

Bacon!

Whether it be bacon grease, cooking oil, or any other type of oil, you have the option of packing it out if the material is inorganic, burning it if it is organic by soaking it up in paper towels or even using it to supplement your caloric intake for the trip you are on. The biggest concern is the attraction of bears and other predators towards the smell of oil or bacon. 

In this article we are going to discuss the ways you can safely and correctly dispose of grease on a camping trip, how to use grease to your benefit while camping, bears and what to bring into bear country, and finally the Leave No Trace Principles pertaining to this specific subject. 

Disposing of Grease While Camping

The most important thing is to not leave anything behind. If you leave anything behind that brings the possibility that animals will come and become dependent on food scraps and then they will be eventually get shot for their efforts in getting more from future campers for the safety of humans over animals. Do what you can to make sure this doesn’t happen.

If your campground has animal-proof dumpsters, these are by far the most convenient and easy option for disposing of grease. Do your park staff a favor though and put your grease into a disposable container that won’t leak.

If you’re wilderness camping, or at a campground that doesn’t have animal proof dumpsters (many parks opt to put the burden of trash on the camper) the best option to dispose of grease is to take your grease home with you. A grease container where you pour your grease is a must in this case.

Burning your grease in the fire is considered burning food according to Leave No Trace principles. Use your judgment based on your situation.

Avoiding Grease

The best policy, if you can manage it, is to avoid grease altogether! Bacon makes a lot of grease and because grease is a little tricky to manage in the wilderness, to take care of grease before you get there!

One easy trick to avoid grease is to precook your meats. You can even find precooked bacon at the grocery store. Precooking takes out the bulk of the grease so you don’t have to worry about it.

Storing Leftover Grease

You could also keep the grease in an airtight container and stow it away in your car for later use. If you are wilderness camping, or car camping in bear country, make sure you do what you can to hide the scent. Put it in your under some blankets and double bag it in plastic bags for the most protection possible.

Another precaution you can take is to use an odor-proof bag such as this one on Amazon (paid link).

You have many more options if you are car camping than if you are thinking of hiking. Hiking with bacon grease is most likely going to be inconvenient.

Using Grease While Camping

The next best option if you’re out camping for disposing of grease is to re-use it!

You can do many things with grease on a camping trip, and some of these options may be surprising to you, as they were to me as I started researching and asking my camping buddies. Here is a list of things you can do with edible oil on a camping trip. This site has a few more options if you are interested in this section.

You Should…

  • Use grease to add calories to your food, such as bread, on your trip. This will give you a much-needed fatty intake for your overall energy.
  • Food grease can be used for eggs, for quesadillas, pan-seared cheese sandwiches, and so on and so forth.
  • Food grease could potentially be used for a fuel source. Grease fires have never been so helpful! (Check out this video to see how bacon grease can power its own fire after this list)
  • Season your cast iron to add years to its life.
  • Use this to moisturize parched hiking boots so that they are given some healing from walking around all around the place.

Bears 

Bears have an amazing sense of smell in order to make up for their sense of sight, which is strangely very poor. Because of this, you need to make sure that you are being smart with the food that you are bringing with you into bear country.

And when I say food, I mean materials that smell like food, not just food. what we consider “food” is not the same as what bears consider food based on the scent. All “food” items must be secured in the appropriate locations. This includes:

  • Canned food
  • Sunscreen
  • Fuel
  • Items for preparing and eating meals
  • Drinks
  • Bottles
  • Trash
  • Soaps
  • Bug Repellant
  • Perfume
  • Food crumbs

This is why it is important to be smart with the materials that you are bringing into bear country if that is where you are planning on camping (and, let’s be honest, all the cool places have bears at them). For more information about bears, check out this article that I wrote about bears breaking into car windows. 

Here are a few tips on how to keep bears away from your campsite: 

  • Do not sleep in the same clothes that you cooked food in 
  • Follow the “Triangle of Safety” rule. Store your food items at least 100 yards from your campsite, and your kitchen area should also be 100 yards away from both of these locations. 
  • Also, add a washing station that is 100 yards away from all of these as well, creating a “Square of Safety”, which is safer and a bit catchier as a saying! 
  • Keep your tent free of garbage and wrappers. 
  • Do not pour out cooking oil at a campsite. Instead, either burn it in a fire or put it in an airtight container. 

Leave No Trace Principles

The following are the seven Leave No Trace Principles. Here is a link to the official website for more information and examples.

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.                                                                         
  4. Leave what you find.                                            
  5. Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
  6. Respect wildlife.  
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

For the scope of this article, we will focus on disposing of waste properly. The guidelines call us to follow the golden rule of camping: Pack It In, Pack It Out. Everything that you bring you should be able to bring back with you after you leave. This means that you should inspect your campsite after you enjoy your stay and leave the place cleaner than when you found it.

If you are able to do this (you are able to do this), then you will be a wonderful steward of the great outdoors so that you and many after you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors together. The Leave No Trace Principles should be known to all would-be campers.

Conclusion

Again, the most important thing is that you should not leave anything behind, so do what you need to do to make sure that you are disposing or using grease in the proper way. As always, check with the regulations of the particular place you are planning on going to make sure that everything you are doing is up to code.

There are plenty of options for those of you that don’t want to leave home without the comforts of bacon or other greasy foods/oils. Upon reflecting on the contents of this article, I hope that you feel more prepared to go out into the wilderness with the proper materials so that you also feel comfortable enough to focus on the things that really matter; the people you are around, the beauty of nature and solitude, and bacon.

Peter

Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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