Used cooking oil shows aluminum who the boss is!

This website is sponsored in part by America's waste oil producers.

No matter how nice your propane burner is, propane is still very expensive is many parts of the U.S.A. (and other parts of the world) It cost me $21.00 last time I got a refill on my barbecue sized tank in 2004 (up from $17.00 in 2003). This price gouging has caused many metalcasters to return to cheaper, simpler fuels like; wood, charcoal and even regular coal. But more interestingly it has helped spur an increase in various types of oil burners (kerosine, diesel, waste oil etc.). Now oil in general is the "newest" backyard foundry technology. Used cooking or motor oil fuels the Lab's foundry for free and can melt any metal from lead to iron! -June/20/2005

CAUTION! Working with or around burning and hot oil/grease can be dangerous, especially when proper safety precautions are not taken. Water should never be used to put out an oil or grease fire. Use dry sand or dirt. Because of the variations in materials and workmanship there are no guarantees on the information in/on this web site. This information is simply what I have been successful with in my own experiments. I will not assume responsibility for any injury, loss, or damage that may result from following the instructions, advice or plans on this web site. There are always dangers in foundry work and they have been pointed out whenever possible but it is not the purpose of this web site to, nor is it possible to mention all known or unknown dangers.

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A heap of scrap aluminum

Here is a hefty heap of scrap aluminum that was given to me. All I had to do was take it away and confine it neatly until I had a chance to melt it. It took several hours of bending, folding and cutting to get it to fit "neatly" in several large garbage barrrels Which I stored out of site.

Its almost entirely "extruded" aluminum... meaning that the objects were formed by rolling or stretching the metal etc. rather than casting it. There is a lot of aluminum house sideing, storm doors, lawn chair tubing, rain gutters etc.

This alloy is excellent for decorative castings since it is very shiny after casting. But the drawback is that it shrinks a lot more than alloys used for casting aluminum auto parts.

Used cooking oil fuel

In this photo I'm refilling the fuel tank from a jug of juicy golden-brown USED COOKING OIL. It smells like fried fish and chicken and contains MASSIVE heat energy ready to be unleashed by the burner. When empty the fuel tank can easily accept this entire jug. Since it's painted black it really holds in the sun's heat and warms the oil!

During the summer I don't completely fill the tank since the oil heats up and expands on hot days. One summer day I lost about 1 pint of oil out the vent hole in the tank's cap from the oil expanding and flowing out! Fortunetly the oil is biodegradable and easy to clean with dishwashing soap. For awhile I was wondering how the F all that oil got on the ground. Then it occured to me after I opened the cap and felt how warm the oil was.

Filtering the oil

Here is a piece of window screen in a funnel to filter the oil going into the fuel tank. It is ESSENTIAL that a piece of screen be used to filter out the crud in the oil. This cooking oil contained coagulated chicken fat, crystalized salt and other crap. I use window screen as a filter but mesh sink strainers might work better since they fit the funnel well with their circular shape.

One night, the oil would barely flow through the fuel line. I had just finished refilling the tank with used cooking oil from a restuarant, but I DID NOT filter the oil. To make a long story short... The fuel system was CLOGGED with minced garlic! I had to drain the fuel tank and flush it out with filtered oil. The amount of minced garlic that came out was ridiculous!

Wasteoil flame

Here is the flame from the G2 burner. It produced soot in the beginning but burns cleanly after a few minutes.

This picture was taken during daylight, but the flame is so bright the digital camera automatically adjusts causing everything around the flame to look dark like this.

Popular myth!
Burning used cooking oil smells like doughnuts (or french fries, or etc...) NO! If the oil is burned cleanly there is no smell. I do not smell anything from my oil burner whether the fuel is used cooking oil or used motor oil!

molten aluminum

Here’s a look at a crucible of molten aluminum, the crucible is almost full and I'll be pouring some ingots with this.

This is about 12 pounds of molten metal.

Pouring aluminum ingots

Here I'm pouring some aluminum ingots. The ingot mold is actually an "open face" (no top) greensand mold. I made ingot patterns so I could cast the ingots to the exact shape and size I want.

These ingots are 5 pounds each. The little ridge in the center of each ingot cavity creates a break point for the ingots so I can snap them in half for two 2.5 pound ingots for smaller melts.

This steel crucible is 6" in diameter. It can hold about 14 pounds of aluminum when filled to the brim (dangerous) so to be safe I usually only melt 13.9 pounds at a time.

Aluminum bullion

This is about 215 pounds worth of aluminum ingots. From a heap of scrap to this aluminum bullion. One of the ingots looks darker because it's from a 10 pound crucible load that I accidentally overheated so the ingot oxidized on the surface. Yes, you've gotta be careful with a bad boy like this waste oil burner. As the saying goes... "With great power comes great responsibility."

The ingots are 5 pounds each +/- a few ounces and can be broken in half at the gap. The hammer is for size comparison. Cost of melting this with used cooking oil vs. propane? Don't make me laugh!

Metalcaster #1: The rising costs of a barrel of foreign crude oil is really making my propane foundry expensive!
Metalcaster #2: Gosh, waste oil is $0.00 per barrel but I expect that cost to soon double!

Melting a lawnmower engine

Here I had loaded a complete lawnmower engine in the furnace and let the heat melt it. The molten aluminum dripped out the burner hole in the furnace and into a steel pan. Instant ingots!

Much easier than breaking the engine apart manually. I did this with three lawnmower engines and some alloy wheel parts. This was about 11PM one night.

Page contents copyright © 2005 by L. Oliver II - www.BackyardMetalcasting.com
aluminum logs

It's easily possible to melt so much metal that you run out of molds for it. This is especially the case with the huge scrap piles I had to deal with. So I scraped a trench in the garden and poured metal straight in making these rough ingot logs.

I later remelted the logs to create regular ingots. The short "log" toward the upper right corner is actually bronze left over from a decorative casting session.

Some advice if you use this method is to make sure the "logs" are narrow enough to fit through the vent hole in the lid so you can easily slide them into the crucible from the vent hole and let the logs melt into it.

A few aluminum castings

With this new burner and metal capacity I've been experimenting with metalcasting for profit. In this photo there are two sizes of contoured grip sand rammers (for making sandmolds "big willy" style), and a small aluminum flask.
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Copyright © 2004 by Lionel Oliver II All Rights Reserved.
This site was created Sept. 28, 2000