How to distil used motor oil for diesel fuel

Written by david roberts
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How to distil used motor oil for diesel fuel
Used oil can be distilled into usable diesel fuel. (oil platform image by michael langley from

Oil lasts for thousands of years. Once it is refined and used in our vehicles only to be discarded 4,800 km (3,000 miles) later, it is still in a form that will keep for many years. The same technology however that distils motor oil from crude oil is essentially the same technology that distils used oil into diesel fuel. The process to re-refine used motor oil is, according to David Layzell, a scientist for Dominion Oil Refining, easier than refining crude oil. There are several machines that have been created to do just this.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • High heat container
  • Distillation pipes
  • Cooling chamber
  • Fractional distillation processor

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  1. 1

    Remove the water from the used oil. This is done by pouring the used oil into the high heat chamber and allowing it to settle for a day or two so that the water and other solids that are not part of the oil can float to the surface. The chamber is then heated to 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit). The water and solids are boiled off and the oil is considered dehydrated.

    How to distil used motor oil for diesel fuel
    The water separates from the oil and is boiled away. (wasser und öl image by Angelika Bentin from
  2. 2

    Connect the distillation pipes to the top of the high heat chamber and run the pipe in a downward slant to the cooling chamber. One way to cool these vapours quickly is by inserting the end of the pipe into a container with cool water in it.

  3. 3

    Distil the petrol content first. Heat the chamber to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and the vapours will rise into the distillation pipes and collect in the cooling chamber. Remove the petrol from the cooling chamber and you are ready for distilling the kerosene content.

  4. 4

    Increase the heat to 260 degrees Celsius (500 degrees Fahrenheit) and repeat the process you did earlier. The kerosene will condense and fall into the cooling chamber. Pour off the kerosene product and replace the cooling chamber with a small amount of water inside.

  5. 5

    Increase the temperature to the boiling point of diesel fuel at about 330 degrees Celsius (626 degrees Fahrenheit). The vapours that come from the used oil travel upward into the condensing coil and down into the cooling chamber where the vapours condense into diesel fuel. The fuel floats on top of the water which is then removed to get the diesel fuel out. Pour diesel product into a cleaned high heat chamber and repeat this step to further distil the fuel into a cleaner burning diesel.

  6. 6

    Increase the heat to 400 degrees Celsius (752 degrees Fahrenheit) to distil off the remaining components of the used oil. You can distil lube oil from the remaining used oil.

  7. 7

    Wait for the high heat chamber to cool and pour off the remaining contents, this material is a thick sludge tar material that can be used for building roads or in construction.

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