View Full Version : New and stumbling

13th May 2010, 01:01 PM
Hi Guys

This has been some realy interesting reading and keen to get into it.

Maybe I should have put this in the intro section, but I'm sure someone will move it if they thing so.

Only just picked up an old diesel 4x4 Hilux to play with and with the price of diesel not getting any cheaper I'm looking forward to being that little bit more self sufficient with biodiesel, hand cleaner and fertilizer.

Just like most things taking that first step can be a bit daunting.

I see the brisbane branch has been rather quiet in the forum and I realy hope there is someone still out there that could give me some guidance in the intracacies of the boidiesel process.

I'm a hands on type of person and learn best when doing something, probably just a male thing or even the typical tradesman/hands on type person.

Just for a bit of background, I'm a motor mechanic by trade, but haven't got my hands dirty for too many years except for family and friends (gotta love a friend in need). In IT now, cos I can spell it. :rolleyes: Ergo love forums and the wealth of knowledge gained from then.

Anyway back on topic.

Its been over a month now reading stuff here and journeytoforever. Had the 1 litre of clean vegy oil sitting on the breakfast bar for a week. Got the day off and was going out today to get some KOH and Methanol. Still gotta source some containers and stuff to get moving with this.

Been ringing around chemical suppliers around the southside and haven't been able to find anyone that carries KOH. Anyone know where I could get some in small quantities? Looked at the Mechanix caustic soda tub at woolies and read it was NaOH and it gives no indication of the purity.

Just read the bit on titration properly, nice to see its not all a guessing game with how much ingredience you need to use. But will need to look into this a little further.

Anyway, if anyones keen to have a chat and part with any hands on info I would be very appreciative.

That first steps always scary.



13th May 2010, 02:37 PM
Hi wheelbarrow
you could try a farm supply store for KOH, Naho, thermometer, measuring jugs they might even have a ph meter and test tubes. If you ring arond engine rebuliders they maybe able to put you onto some with a race car that runs on methonle they will most likely be happy to sell you a small amount. for the test soultion (isoproyl alcohol) I use Isocol rubbing alcohol from the super market. I know some on the forum use meths and tumric with good results, Ive not tryed it yet
I have a hilux and it runs great on 100% bio, it even started this morning in the frost.
good luck with it.

13th May 2010, 06:26 PM
Hello Wheelbarrow,
If you are wanting to make a test batch as a trial don't bother trying to find KOH in small quantities. You probably won't find any unless a Forum member will sell/give you a couple of KG's. Otherwise look in the Yellow Pages under the heading 'CHEMICAL SUPPLIES' - cleaning.

Your best bet it so try Bunnings and use NaOH. Then when you start processing batches you can then use KOH. The quantities of chemical is different. With NaOH usually a base amout of 5 grams ans for KOH 8 grams.

Titration is very easy and doesn't require any thing fancy. Metho, tumeric, and a 1 ml and a 2.5 ml syringe is about all you need.
Titration is not required for new oil.

A word of WARNING !!!! That webside you mentioned should not be taken to seriously. It may be a source of information, but most of the information is very old and outdated, and some of the stuff contained there is just jokable.

There is/was a much better site but it is either down or has been closed.

13th May 2010, 11:07 PM
Thanks guys for the response. Looks like the local Brisbane branch is busy making bio.

Thanks for the heads up smithw. I never would have thought the local farm produce would have anything I might need. Been having a hard time just finding a thermometer that does 200C.

I found a larger fuel depo that sells methanol. $45+gst for 20lt or $250 for 200lt. Going to pick up a 20lt when I've got everything together unless someone local would like to go halves in the 200 or part there of. How well does the Isocol rubbing alcohol from the super market work and is it cost effective? I've heard of tumric but wouldn't have a clue what it is. Might have to google that one.

What years your Hilux smithw. Mines an 86 2l 2.4. Looking at picking up a second tank for it this weekend. Was hoping not to have to run bio in one and straight diesel in the other for those crispy morning.

Thanks Qwarla , great minds mate. I did the yellow pages and rang around the cleaning chemical supplies this morning with no luck. They all get their product premixed. So I ended up ringing Industrial Cleansers at Geebung from the thread about Brisbane supplies. Considering that threads a few years old they are still around and more than helpful. Will be picking up 5kg for $30+gst and in a sealed container. Don't want to stock 25kg right now after working out how much you use. Plus a few air tight containers won't go astray.

Again mate, day ja vo. I did a walk around bunning today. The garden thermometers wouldn't cut it and for the life of me I could not find and NaoH or KOH. Didn't ask but thought I would find it in the plumbing section. Mind you I did go up every isle to no avail.

I understand titration isn't required for new oil, but I thought it would be a good exercise to see how straight stuff works and then compare that with some dirty stuff.

Thanks for the warning about the site. It was my first intro to bio so that's one good thing.

Any other recommendations would be much appreciated along with any advise.

Cheers guys and I hope to hear from some locals also.


14th May 2010, 09:34 AM
Hi Daniel,

I was keeping reasonably quiet as there is people on this forum who put a lot more effort and science into their bio manufacturing than I do, perhaps they will offer some assitance. although I think that all the info you need is buried within the posts and forums on this site. Some well thought out searches will more than likely reveal all you need to know.

Here's some of my experiences and tips though:

Titrations - keep them simple and use easily obtainable consumables that are of a reliable and consistant quality. I have always used isopropanol, however I did do a comparison last week against metholated spirits and the results were exactly the same, however there was a slight difference in the final shade of the indicator. Tumeric is a spice that is available in your supermarket and comes in a handy little jar that keeps air out. it is a finely ground powder. do a search on tumeric in this site and you will get lots of info.

Catilyst - I use Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic soda). For a contact on the supplier PM me. I have always used Sodium with great success. My base rate has always been 3.5 grams / litre, however it does not make full conversion fuel. My vehicle does not require full conversion fuel, so I dont bump it up to 5 grams / litre. I tried it a month or two ago and the by product went hard so quickly, I was lucky to get it out of the mixer. I did acheive a full conversion though, so if I bought a car with a sensitive fuel injection system, I would take the extra effort and use the 5 grams. I find it a lot easier to stick to 3.5 grams plus titration for the moment.

Methanol - If you need a supplier on the south side let me know. ($225 per 200 litre drum)

Storage - Let the fuel sit for as long as you can before using. I add half strength chemtec power boost and biocide to a full drum of fuel and it let it age. This means you need to get a stock ahead of time. Let it sit at least a month before use. Quality of fuel increases dramatically (especialy for fuel that has not completely converted from oil to fuel)

Start out simple and then once you have a handle on the process and your car is running happily, then if you feel the need and desire, you can start to ramp up the process. I have kept mine simple and straight forward by using an appleseed processor, and encounter very little problems and make wonderful fuel. Cost to set up is minimal if you go about it the right way. :cool:

If you would like to get in contact with me, feel free via PM. As you see in my profile, I live on the north side of brissy.

Good luck with the learning curve:D.

14th May 2010, 01:46 PM
Hi wheelbarrow
Ive got a 1980 hilux with the 2.2 l engine which is almost the same as your 2.4

14th May 2010, 09:35 PM
Hi Cade,

Thanks for the tips. Doing what I can to search out the info here and on the net, just finding a few dead ends. I probably have found all I need just need to get it all together, both in the equipment and in my head.

Hows the isopropanol compare to the methanol in price and do you use the same amounts? So you can use metholated spirits? Must have a look at a cost comparison with the three. Is there any other benefit using one over the other?

I was under the impression that using Sodium you couldn't do anything with the byproduct? That it couldn't be used for fertilizer or soap.

How do you work out if your vehicle needs a full conversion fuel or not? If your letting it sit for a month before using it, would that be like processing it fully in the first place?

Starting simple are my intentions. Going to work on the Dr Pepper version first. Still trying to get everything I need for that. Got enough KOH now for 500 odd litres of bio.

Thanks again Cade, PM to follow...

Smithw, glad your bus started ok with the cold. I had to clutch mine this morning. Think the battery might be on he way out, but once she kicked over I couldn't stop it. Oh what a feeling.

Tony From West Oz
14th May 2010, 10:18 PM
Neither Isopropyl or methylated spirits (metho) can be used to make biodiesel.

Either Isopropyl alcohol or methylated spirity can be used to dissolve the oil for titration. I believe that Isopropyl is slightly better with solidifying oils.

Methanol should not be used to dissolve the oil for titration as the oil does not dissolve well in methanol.

The byproduct from the biodiesel process using NaOH or KOH can be used to make soap or condition soil. NaOH byproduct can be problematic if it solidifies in your processor. Some people add 5% (of the volume of the batch) of water to the batch and re-mix after the processing. This supposedly allows more of the biodiesel to be released from the byproduct. It also would help keep the NaOH byproduct liquid. How much help, I don't know.

I hope this helps,


14th May 2010, 11:53 PM
I did a walk around bunning today. The garden thermometers wouldn't cut it and for the life of me I could not find and NaoH or KOH.

Depending on how your B store is set out, NaOH is in the paint section. Here it is in the short isle behind where they do the tinting, also with the 20 litre drums of turps and metho and the like.

Probably the best place to find a good thermometer is a Home Brew shop.
Mine goes up to 120oC.
That should be more than you need.

15th May 2010, 10:51 AM
hi Wheel barrow
Diesel engines do need the battery, leads, glow plugs and starter motor to be in top condition, or they will get hard to start. when mine started cranking a bit slow i put the old battery in the misses petrol car it lasted another 2 years.
you probably dont need 2 tanks unless it get very cold where you are, you could always make a fuel heater
YouTube - liquidhandwash's Channel (http://www.youtube.com/liquidhandwash)
works well for me

15th May 2010, 02:04 PM
Thanks for the heads up Tony. I see you're a fountain of knowledge when it comes to this art, just hope you don't get too annoyed with the repeated dumb questions or anyone else for that matter. I misread something with titration along the line. I'm not that bright but I can lift heavy things. That is a very handy link on how to google this site and others. Have after much searching found the chopsticks. :P> Might leave doing any fancy remixing after I've done a few.

Thanks again Qwarla. I saw some 190oC thermometers at Big W, but thought I should get something over 200 so to check the temp of the wvo when de-watering it before processing. All good I'm sure I could use more than one somewhere along the line.

Smithw, Only had the ute a couple of months so still sorting things out on it. I'll put a multimeter over the battery and alternator sometime this weekend and nut it out. With the second tank, I'm just lazy, don't like filling up too much, will hopefully not get caught running on empty in the wrong spot.

Bloody after lunch and all I've done is read stuff, little steps, I'm sure I'll get there.



Tony From West Oz
15th May 2010, 09:59 PM
Take small steps, this is a steep learning curve you are on.

You will get there soon.


1st June 2010, 10:10 PM
The star ship Getnoprize was getting closer to creating enough energy to run her photon boosters for more than a couple of milliseconds.

I know its all old hate to you guys but I got a buzz out of finally doing my first titration. Wife's still laughing at me for pronouncing it wrong, I knew she was a brain surgeon but had no idea she taught English as well.

Had a hard time finding scales that went to 0.01 grams, but should have know the local crack dealer put me onto a tobacconist that had just what I was after or the second best thing. Just joking about the crack dealer, the guy in the shop thought it was funny. Don't know how useful scales that only do 50 grams will be in the long run, but they're accurate.

Anyway some constructive stuff, the star ship chopstick (no disrespect, awesome tutorial) wasn't as big a deal as it first appeared to be. Tumeric is incredible stuff. I looked at a few videos from the Utah Biodiesel site and tried mixing the stuff by just swirling around in the jar. Worked great. Wife was still laughing.

I only used new oil to do it, but it was a good experiment to see how it works. Picking up some used oil in a few weeks if I don't come across another source sooner. Really looking forward to seeing some different readings in older oils and even more excited about running the ute on it.

Hope you don't mind me sharing this with you guys and again thanks for the tips.


Tony From West Oz
1st June 2010, 10:58 PM
Wbarrow, get the Mrs involved, have her do the tit-ration ;) while you watch next time.

This is exciting and you should both be involved. You never know when you could be incapacitated after a few too many ales one day and need her to whip up a batch of bio so she can go to town for more beer for U.

Have fun, but do it safely. Methanol is flammable, caustic will cause chemical burns, mix them together and you could have serious issues with any spills.
Hot oil will melt plastic containers, cause burns and can ignite easily. Do not leave oil unattended while heating it.

Take reasonable precautions and work in a well ventilated space.



2nd June 2010, 04:00 PM
I'll ask the minister for war and finances if she'd try that. Can't see it, but it would save time but killing 2 birds with one stone.

Read and seen some video on the dangers. All the good sites stress the dangers, but thanks for bringing it up again Tony. Can't be stressed enough.

Are the pet 2 containers ok to handle 50oC or should I do all my processing in steel drums?

Anyone ever use the heaters that wrap around 200lt drums?

Anyone know where you can get submersible bar heaters?



2nd June 2010, 06:00 PM
hi wheelbarrow.
I would be very careful about using any sort of plastic as a reaction tank, as the heat and methanol may cause it to suddenly fail.
I use an old hot water cylinder upside down with a tap where the anode was. They are well insulated and you can pick them up for free. the come with a heating element too.
also I found you can buy isopropyl from jaycar cheaper than the supermarket.
Jaycar Electronics - Search results Isopropyl (http://jaycar.com.au/productResults.asp?keywords=Isopropyl&keyform=KEYWORD&SUBMIT.x=28&SUBMIT.y=9)
good luck with it.

2nd June 2010, 06:50 PM
Thanks Smithw, was wondering if the plastic would stand up to it.

I've just used metholated spirits instead of isopropyl. That is for the titration you're refering to? Don't tell me I'm doing it wrong. :/>

Still a little nervous about doing anything in a sealed container without being able to see things working until I do see it.

2nd June 2010, 07:54 PM
It sounds like your doing it right, ive never used metho for the titration so you could probably teach me something. I started out makeing 1 liter batchs in V8 juice bottles, which are glass, 1.5 liter, just so i could watch the reaction take place until I had the confidence to make a BIG 20liter batch in a plastic water cooler bottle. the methanol attacked it and It cracked and leaked everywhere. Now i do 300l at a time. experience is the best teacher, the more batches you do, the more you will learn.

2nd June 2010, 09:29 PM
Don't know about teaching you anything smithw, your running bio in a vehicle. I can't use chopsticks.

The first place I read about metho for titration was infopop where Tilly gave the chopstick technique. Utah Bio have some great video on it. Just did a bit of blending between 3 sites. Also compared Murphy's Machines, which was well layed out.

Was a little confused about the NAOH and the KOH. You need less NAOH for the reaction than KOH but you still only use 1 gram of either when titrating. Well thats what I nutted out between the different sites.

I might try titrating with rain water next just to see if I even need to buy distilled water. I did read washing the bio with rain water was not good because its too soft and could make more foam. Another thing to play with and test.

2nd June 2010, 10:05 PM
Just to confuse you some more this is the method i use It works well for me as i get oil with a lot of fat and a high gel point.

5th June 2010, 07:48 PM
Thanks for that smithw, I read though the method you use and have a couple questions.

With adding the NaOH to the 40ml of water, does it matter if you use KOH instead?

And with this method, aren't you doubling up with how much catalyst you use?

I understand it titrates lower but....

Thinks might get clearer when I start cooking with oil. :P>

5th June 2010, 09:12 PM
I havent tryed mixing water with koh, and it proably does matter. I got this method from Paul Martin and his mates one of which is an industrial chemist and they have been working on this for a number of years, so they could use animal fat. they really know there stuff.
I use frytol,and the temps are get down to 2 degrees at night, still no sign of clouding or gelling. before i used this method i would have problems with gelling a less than 15 degrees
If you are using good veg oil you proably dont need to worry about this method.
I find i use less methanol and koh and the naoh is cheap and easy to get.
for example for 100 liter of WVO you would normally use 20l of methanol and the titration could be 4,or 5 or even higher so you would use around 850 grams of naoh or 1300 grams of koh.and you should end up with around 80 liters of bio
with the 2 stage, the gystrene will lower the titration result, to around 2 you ad your water and caustic mix so about 550 grams of naoh to 4 liters of water. you would end up draining about 20-25 liters of soap from the bottom.
the second stage everything is for 80 liters so you need 16 liter of methanol and the titration will be very low usually less than .5 so you will need 960 grams of KOH
you would end up with about 80 liter of fuel at the end of the process.
the bonus is that the guys who dont use this method or run on WVO dont like fat or frytol so more for me:D

6th June 2010, 11:18 AM
I think I understand a little better, thanks smithw. I think it will be clearer once I start playing with this myself.

I read reusing the gystrene from a previous batch lowers the titration, which makes since. I would think there would be some unused caustic in it and that's why it lowers the titration. Also sounds brilliant to be able to reuse the byproduct. Is this easy to do with NaOH? Doesn't it go hard quickly?

With the Caustic stripping it looks like you might save on a few liters of methanol and the amount of caustic wouldn't change too much., but the big benefit is getting a low gel point with the animal fat.

I've been talking to fish and chip shops and restaurants to get some supplies and found 2 out of 5 so far that use animal fat. Will probably pay me to try it once I get my head around it all.

Haven't seen too much on what the gel points are for the different oils used. Anyone know of any specs on the net regarding this?

6th June 2010, 12:53 PM
koh gysterin will stay liquid if kept in a sealed container. the first stage with naoh and water the by product is soap, so dont mix that up with the gystrein. the soap will go hard as it cools down so be careful not to leave it the bottom of the reactor too long or it will get real hard to get out.

24th June 2010, 05:41 AM
Not that this is new to anyone, but very interesting to me.

Using 20 litres of the same oil, split it into 10 litre batches, which is all I am doing at the moment.

Titrated both lots of oil and it came to 3 extra grams ok KOH.

I reused the glycerin from the last batch on one 10 litre lot and and heated it up to only about 75C cos it took too long on my little hotplate and wanted to process 2 lots.

Let the glycerin mix settle down while I processed the straight oil. Awesome seeing the mix of mothoxide and oil changing.

Separated the oil and glycerin then titrated. Came up as 0

Processed it and reacted fine.

Just letting both batches settle over night and I'll compare them tomorrow.

Forgot to settle some out in a jar, but I'll do it with the wash.

All very exciting.

Thanks guys

24th June 2010, 09:13 AM
hi wheelbarrow is this a typo?

I reused the glycerin from the last batch on one 10 litre lot and and heated it up to only about 75C cos it took too long on my little hotplate and wanted to process 2 lots.

you only need to heat it to 55c

The glycrein does a great job of cleaning up dirty oil, and lowering the tytration, which means less chemicals, less soap, less washing and much better bio.
did you find a hot water cylinder?
If your in my area you can have my old 100 liter proesser.

28th July 2010, 08:31 PM
Hi Guys.

I have noticed that most people are paying upwards of $2.00 for Methanol. I buy it for $1.70 on the north side and even then I call that expensive. Mind you I only buy small amounts so would like to be able to pay less for more. ???? I'm only onto my very second batch so I'm hoping that all will be ok. I'm going to mix it 50/50 for my fairly new Suzuki cause I don't want to explode and have my wife say I told you so.

28th July 2010, 09:46 PM

Somewhere in your post I thought I read you bought a 25kg bag of Kaoh ? I spoke to a client of my company today and asked where quantities of Kaoh can be purchased. 25 KG bags are a bit big for me and also will ruin fast as the Qld moister content will get into to it fast. Woolies have the smaller 350Gram containers but if you try the thrifty link or home hardwares , they should have 2kg tubs. It's good to see other people in Brisbane making Bio Diesel. I have close to 12 WVO suppliers around my comunity all willing to give. I've started small with the 1 litre pet bottles and am slowly working my way up to 5 litres. The next step is building a 44gal processor with 20 litre settling drums. So far the car seems to enjoy the fuel with no problems.

Anyway , hope all goes well.
Does anyone know if there is a group that gets together and compares oils ?

Brisbane North:confused:

23rd September 2010, 02:33 PM

Somewhere in your post I thought I read you bought a 25kg bag of Kaoh ? I spoke to a client of my company today and asked where quantities of Kaoh can be purchased. 25 KG bags are a bit big for me and also will ruin fast as the Qld moister content will get into to it fast. Woolies have the smaller 350Gram containers but if you try the thrifty link or home hardwares , they should have 2kg tubs. It's good to see other people in Brisbane making Bio Diesel. I have close to 12 WVO suppliers around my comunity all willing to give. I've started small with the 1 litre pet bottles and am slowly working my way up to 5 litres. The next step is building a 44gal processor with 20 litre settling drums. So far the car seems to enjoy the fuel with no problems.

Anyway , hope all goes well.
Does anyone know if there is a group that gets together and compares oils ?

Brisbane North:confused:

You probably found it but here goes.

Industrial Cleansers
Unit 2a / 424 Bilsen Rd
Geebung, Qld 4034
(07) 3265 6311

I have bought 5 kg tub from them.