Survival Guides

Homemade Biodiesel

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There are some important rules to follow when arranging for WVO:

  • Ensure the oil is in fact vegetable oil. It’s fine if the product is lard or other animal based product, but you need to know that in advance before making your biodiesel. Knowing what material you are starting with is essential.
  • Be prompt and punctual when obtaining the oil. They are doing you a favor – but wait – you are also doing them a favor. Keep the relationship good on both ends.
  • Ask how much oil they go through – don’t commit to taking all the oil without knowing the sorts of quantities they make! A good size restaurant can overwhelm your biodiesel production capacity and you don’t want to be locked into an endless cycle of pickups. You do have to store this stuff, after all.
  • Ensure you have a method to pump the oil and a place to transport it in. The restaurant will most likely freely give you the oil, but you need to get it off the premises yourself. Don’t look to them for help or you’ll be viewed as a nuisance, and the oil given to someone who can take it off their hands.

If you’re really ambitious, consider buying some used (clean) oil drums and leaving them at the restaurants themselves, making it easier for the establishment to dump their oil. This way you simply pick up and rotate the drums as needed, preferably with a truck that has a lift gate. If you go this route, make sure to clearly mark your drums as being private property.

Most of all, don’t commit to blindly taking the restaurant’s oil if it winds up being inadequate for biodiesel production. What could make it inadequate? Specifically, oils that are full of fat, food bits, garbage, or even soap from the grill are bad for making biodiesel and will require an inordinate amount of refining to make it work. Sample testing kits are available for testing food oil for this purpose – check it out first! Warning signs are oil that is black, thick, or smells rancid.

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