One of the questions I get asked most often is "What's the best way to filter Waste Vegetable Oil?"
To successfully filter WVO for vehicle use you need to
There are lots of alternative ways of filtering your WVO and, because I'm a bit sad like that, I've experimented with all of them. If you're looking for the quick answer - I went with number 4, my multi-tank settling system . But with that asside, here are the methods I suggest you look into:
Don't just stick with my site for ideas - there are many more useful sites on the subject out there, so get browsing. But do yourself a favour and don't spend any money on fancy gizmos until you've tested the incredible abilities of settling first.
For those of you that want minimum of fuss, minimum investment of time, energy and money, then my Really Easy method is probably for you.
It is a basic method. It should only take a few minutes each day to secure as much ready WVO as you need, and it's cheap to set up.
If you're a little more serious about collecting and filtering your own Waste Vegetable Oil and you have the time and enthusiasm to invest in something a little less basic than described above, you could do worse than the basic two-tank, two-stage system which served me well in the past. As the name suggests, two tanks are used. Into the first tank is poured roughly-filtered WVO (100 microns). This is allowed to settle for a few weeks, then some (not the top bit, not the bottom bit) of this settled oil is passed through a couple of filter socks into the second barrel and allowed to sit a little longer. The end result is usable oil, dewatered and filtered to one micron.
The above links will describe the process more fully. The following links will describe the equipment and setup necessary:
The above is a simple enough process, fairly easy to set up and relatively cheap too. There are far more complex procedures available, but if you're new to WVO filtering be warned, it's not a glamorous pastime. It's dirty, it's messy and you always, always, end up spilling the damn stuff. So if you're new to the process, stick with the above.
After using the above method for a while I became a little fed up with cleaning out my settling tank of gunk every few months. It was at that point that I got creative and designed a more advanced version of the settling method.
This set up uses 4 tanks and produces remarkably clean oil. It takes more effort to set up which is why I describe it as advanced. But once completed, you'll not regret it.
Personally I believe this is the best system I have come up with so far. Using a number of tanks to settle the oil, each tank feeds the next so oil is progressively cleaning by natural settling.
It really is a case of pouring in dirty oil and emptying out beautifully clean oil.
Probably the most talked about and certainly the most expensive way of filtering WVO is by means of a Centrifugal Filter, commonly called a "fuge" amongst their users (read more here - centrifugal filtering).
I acquired a centrifuge in September 2012 and I can tell you that with pumps, fittings, piping, gauges and a lot of effort, this is not a route for folks without deep pockets. I can also say, in honesty, I wish I hadn't bothered. I really wouldn't recommend this route.
To use a centrifuge properly, you need to heat the WVO. When you do that, you liquify the fats contained within. These then pass through the centrifuge ready to congeal again at a later stage - possibly in the tank of your vehicle.
Trying to use a centrifuge at low temperature is problematic at best. They have very fine outlets and WVO is usually too thick to pass through them.
Currently I'm cleaning WVO using my Multi Settling Tank method. It's so easy and convenient I can't imagine right now that there's a better way.
If you've already got a centrifuge and want to improve upon (which frankly you should), read my advanced centrifuge setup.
“True gnerosity is an offering given freely” - Suze Orman
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