Household Uses for Used Motor Oil

by Robin Reichert
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Used motor oil can be a big problem for do-it-yourself people who like to change their own car oil. You can't pour it down the drain or into the soil, because the Environmental Protection Agency says that just a few quarts can contaminate one million gallons of water. Oil is not water soluble and takes many years to biodegrade. The easiest way to dispose of used motor oil is to take it to an Environmental Protection Agency approved oil recycling center. But are there any household uses for used motor oil?

Waste Oil Home Heating

According to Earth911, a site devoted to recycling, up to 74 percent of all used oil in the United States is burned as fuel for power plants, cement kilns, incinerators and some manufacturing machinery. Some used motor oil, about 11 percent, is used for heating in industrial heaters. Most home heating units that burn waste oil require some pre-treatment like filtering, but the energy savings outweigh the effort it takes to filter the oil. Some used oil furnaces boast a 91 percent efficiency rating. The industry standard for home heating furnaces is 80 percent.

The Environmental Protection Agency has three rules for using an oil burning home heating unit: (1) the furnace must be vented; (2) BTU capacity can not exceed 500.000; and (3) use only oil generated on site.

The Federal government and most state governments have other regulations regarding the burning of used motor oil in home heating units. Always check the laws regarding the burning of oil and oil products.

Fuel Blending

Used motor oil can be filtered and then mixed with diesel fuel up to one percent used oil for use in heavy duty engines. It is not recommended that used motor oil be filtered and blended with diesel powered passenger cars. Used motor oil contains contaminants including metal bits and chemicals that may not be completely filtered using a home filtration system. A manufacturer's warranty on a newer car may be voided if you blend your own fuel using used motor oil.

Used motor oil can be filtered sufficiently at home to blend one percent with the oil used in chainsaws and lawnmowers. Filtered used motor oil can also be used in blended fuels for diesel powered leaf blowers and log splitters. If the chainsaw or lawnmower has a remaining warranty, be sure to check the warranty limitations before using blended fuel.

Other Uses

Do-it-yourself mechanics often filter used motor oil and recycle it for use as a lubricant on mechanical devices. The oil can be used to lubricate rusted parts like screws and frozen bolts. Some people treat metal containers and tables that are exposed to weather with used motor oil, but this might be an environmental concern due to run off from rain and ground contamination.

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