Weekend Project: Making Biodiesel


Make your own backyard biodiesel. It’s easy to make a small batch that will work in any diesel engine. You won’t need any special equipment–an old juice bottle will serve as the “reactor” vessel–and on such a small scale, you can quickly refine your technique and perform further experiments. Thanks go to Rob Elam for the original article in Make Volume 3

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Check out the complete Making Biodiesel article MAKE 03 “Making Biodiesel” & You can see that in our digital edition.

20 thoughts on “Weekend Project: Making Biodiesel

  1. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t it great that this “green” process requires “flammable, poisonous and caustic” (and mostly petrochemically based) chemicals in the trans-esterification and creates so much toxic waste? I wonder what the local sewage treatment plant thinks of the residue going down the drain?

    Wear your safety glasses!

  2. ap1.myopenid.com says:

    When measuring out powdered chemicals, don’t put them directly on the surface of your scale. Place s bit of paper (often with a crease in the middle) on the scale first and tare it, then measure the chemicals out onto the paper. It makes it much easier to get the powder into the next vessel and you don’t end up with a scale covered in toxic crap.

  3. Bob says:

    What is the cost of making a gallon of biodiesel? It seems like the Lye and the ‘Heet’ would be pretty expensive.

    BTW: KipKay Rocks!

  4. ap1.myopenid.com says:

    Bob, I’d guess cheap enough to be a fun project; expensive enough not to be a practical solution.

  5. justDIY says:

    Locally, clean veggy oil costs $11 a gallon as generic brand and about $15 a gallon as name brand. Petro-diesel is about $5 a gallon.

    Friends have tried buying used grease from local shops, but they’ve all got a deal with a regional collector who sells to a pet food maker.

  6. Tom says:

    Just read this on the Wikipedia page and thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone was thinking of skipping the use of gloves:

    “Sodium methoxide in methanol is a liquid that kills human nerve cells before any pain can be felt. In the event of contact with methoxide, rinse the contacted area with water, seek medical attention immediately.”


  7. tm says:

    Gylcerin is the only waste product from the making of the biodiesel, and is sometimes used as a dust retardant . Its not toxic waste.

    I do have friends who make biodiesel on a large scale , and a local company near by that makes biodiesel (5 million gallons a year.)

  8. Anonymous says:

    don’t use virgin vegetable oil. it completely defeats the purpose of trying to make green fuels.

  9. Ayaz says:

    Hi i am a B.E student and made the biodiesel as my final year project. I have followed the instructions properly and have recovered the glycerine and soap. But the quantity of the remaining liquid is very very small and i am not sure whether it is biodiesel or not. What if it is not the biodiesel and I test it on the engine, could there be serious damage to the engine please help.

  10. bachterman says:

    while it is fun to make biodiesel in the US, in Hungary it is against the law to make fuel at your home, because of the fuel-tax. actually they think you cheat on taxation. :/

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