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Biodiesel raw materials can be inexpensive, sometimes free!

There are only three biodiesel raw materials needed.

  • Vegetable Oil or Animal Fats
  • Methanol
  • Caustic Soda or Potassium Hydroxide.

Lets look at them one by one.

Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are the most commonly used biodiesel raw materials. The reason is that compared to animal fats they are easy to use and do not have a bad odor.

Virgin Oils

biodiesel raw materials sunflower

Virgin Oils are much easier to use when making biodiesel, but they are just too expensive for making home made biodiesel. Big commercial plants prefer to use virgin oil as it makes the design of the plant much easier. Small margin, high turnover and possibly government subsidy makes the business viable. Plants in the US widely use Soybean Oil while plants in Europe mostly use Rapeseed. Plants in tropical countries usually use oils that come from plants that grow in the tropics like Palm, Jatropha Curcas and Coconut.

Used Oils

Most home diy biodiesel is made from used vegetable oil. It is the biodiesel raw material material of choice. The cost is good, in many countries it is free and it is available with little work.

Animal Fat

Although they make great fuel (with some cold weather issues) the problem with animal products is the smell. For the sake of peace in the home they are best avoided.

One of the other issues with rendered animal fats are that they tend to have a high free fatty acid content. Usually this is caused by the fats breaking down during storage or rendering which uses high temperatures. Usually an esterfication process is better suited to high FFA feedstock.

Chicken fat tends to make pale yellow biodiesel with relatively good cold weather properties while mammal fats tend to make biodiesel with poor cold weather properties.

Biodiesel from Algae

biodiesel raw materials algaeA number of species of Algae have up to 60% oil content. This together with the very high yields per Hectare for Algae makes it a very exciting possible crop for biodiesel production.

Algae to biodiesel is still very much in the research and development stage. As algae is such a topical subject we have a whole section dedicated to Algae.





Biodiesel from Corn

Corn is a starch crop but does have a small amount of oil in it. Corn oil does make good biodiesel but it is not a good crop to grow specifically to make biodiesel from. If the crop is fermented and turned into Ethanol then the oil can also be separated and used for making Biodiesel in which case it may be viable.


Biodiesel from Used Motor Oil

biodiesel raw materials old oilMost motor oil is produced from crude oil. Some is synthetically manufactured. The molecular structure of crude oil products is totally different from vegetable oils and animal fats. This means that is is not possible to make biodiesel from used motor oils and they are not suitable biodiesel raw materials. There is machinery available that can turn old motor oil into fuel but it is a lot more expensive that biodiesel equipment and uses a totally different process.


Methanol is a product of the petroleum industry. It was made in the 1800's from wood but this is no longer done. It is the most common industrial solvent and is widely used by industry. It is also used as antifreeze. Google for Methanol or industrial solvent suppliers in your area then follow the results.

Methanol is also widely used at racetracks as a racing fuel. The main reason for this is that Methanol fires (unlike Petrol) can be put out with water.

Caustic Soda or Potassium Hydroxide

Caustic Soda is found in most supermarkets and is sold as a drain cleaner. Look at the back of the container - you are looking for 99% or better purity. Avoid any product that has other strange things in it, a good indication of this is low purity. Also avoid liquids, you are looking for pellets, flakes or powder. Both these chemicals are also used in the soap making industry. You can buy Caustic Soda from . A word of warning though, some suppliers will need proof of who you are as these chemicals are also used in the manufacture of drugs. Mostly these chemicals are imported from the East.


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Hi, My name is Jameela and I would like to know how to make Biodiesel at home from raw materials. R.S.V.P. as soon as possible. …

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this can benefit tropical countries like us, the Philippines, it can lessen cost of consumers and can add income to our farmers

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biodiesel can be made locally in kenya using avocado oil since they are readily available in the coutry.

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biodiesel can be made locally in kenya using avocado oil since they are readily available in the coutry.

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