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What can I burn in my oil burner?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by velvetfoot, Jun 22, 2008.

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  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I have an oil burning boiler with a separate tank for hot water.
    I also have about 6 gallons or so of kerosene for a backup heater that I'd like to change out, as well as a little diesel fuel conditioner, also a gallon or so of new lube oil for a diesel I no longer have.
    My plan it to burn it in the oil burning boiler, substantially diluted by the usual fuel oil.
    I'm thinking I'd be fine.
    Opinions?

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  2. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    I don't think you will have a problem. Oil burners aren't that picky. If you were doing a lot of "other" oil, you might want to develop a mixing ratio and have the burner adjusted for it, but for such a small quantity, I think you will be fine. Gear oil might be an issue...

    Chris
  3. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Oil companies mic a percentage of kero in the heating oil in the winter, to help keep it from gelling.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks.
    I didn't know cut fuel oil as well as diesel.
  5. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    I might avoid the gear/lube oil. But as was stated, an oil burner is intended to burn pretty nasty stuff, and if you dilute it with a couple hundred gallons of decent fuel oil, it won't matter.

    Steve
  6. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    I tossed a little K1 into mine for the same reason. No problem yet.
    But my main question...all the items mentioned are new. Have you looked at used motor oil? (Has this already been covered elsewhere?) Years ago, it was not so uncommon to add motor lube to the tank, but I imagine newer oil nozzles to be fussier. So the questions becomes, is there a cheap-n-easy way to filter it? (I doubt that the old cheesecloth would do it.)

    I know there are used-oil burners sold for heating autoshops, etc.
  7. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I have a filter system for used oil.You can get a filter and housing out of Northern for about $15 and plumb it into a 55 gal drum sitting on its side with your filter plumbing at 4 or 8 oclock so that sediment settles to the bottom and doesn't go through your filter.I also stuck a couple of welding mags on the bottom of the drum to catch any metal before going into filter. I put a garden hose style valve on it so I can fill 1 gallon jugs.We mix the filtered oil in with diesel at about 5%( gained about 20% better mileage since doing this) and also use it for bar oil. My dad at one time mixed it in with his heating oil but I don't know at what ratio.
  8. mjbrown

    mjbrown Feeling the Heat

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    in my mobile home furnace here in maine i have burned straight K-1, deisel, and no. 2 ...but i have never heard of anyone putting gear oil in.you dont need to mix or dilute any of the first 3, burn them straight...if they have been used as a parts clean cleaner i would definately strain and filter it though.
  9. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    On a related note, the oil man just made a delivery yesterday.
    $4.56 a gallon for 95 gallons.
    Geesh.
    And that's for heating water!
  10. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    How long will that last you?

    Chris
  11. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    C'mon hunting season!
    I bet not nearly as long as the complaining!!! ;~)
  12. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

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    There is an entire yahoo group dedicated to burning waste vegetable and waste motor oil in regular boilers and furnaces. Lots of folks mix old filtered car drain oil in with theirs and it works but works better if its preheated by some sort of electric heating element. They manage ok on larger size nozzles over 1 gph but do plug up unpredictably which can be a hassle. It is getting more worth it all the time though if you don't mind tearing out and cleaning or replacing nozzles. Its a lot easier on units which have swing out hinged front plates than ones like mine that just bolt on. Check out yahoo groups and you will find it quick enough,
  13. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    I have been burning about 10-15% waste motor oil in my furnace for over ten years now. I haven't had to do any maintenance for several years either. I have a .75 GPH nozzle in it.

    When I first started I was a little anxious so I got a spare filter and such but there hasn't been a lot of crud collected. After the second year I took out the large inline filter expecting it to be sludged up but it was still fine and flowed great. Keep in mind that oil drained from cars is already filtered, the dirt should mostly remain in the car's oil filter.

    There are three filters in most oil burner installations. The canister type at the tank or the burner, a monel screen in the fuel pump, and finally the sintered bronze or extra fine monel screen in the burner nozzle itself. I have found the monel screens in the oil pump to be usually almost clogged by gummy crud in all the burners I check, and all but my own haven't had (I presume) old oil run through them. An ultrasonic cleaner is best to clean them.

    Gear oil is not really that much thicker than motor oil, the measuring scale is different. Thus an SAE 90 gear oil is similar in viscosity to a 40 weight motor oil. However I would choose the thinner oil I could if I had a choice which to put in the furnace. Automatic Transmission Fluid is very thin, as is 0W30 motor oil.

    I don't preheat my fuel oil or do any other special treatment. That's why I keep the waste oil down to 15%. One year I used about 25%, but to compensate (help thin it down) I filled the tank with No. 1 fuel oil. The main concern is to keep the viscosity within the acceptable limits of the oil burner. Old oil burner books are great for this sort of information. For instance they explain how, oddly enough, a thicker fuel oil will increase the amount of oil going through the nozzle.

    Finally, when using fuel like this it is important to have (or add) a return line from the burner to the tank, so the fuel gets thoroughly mixed as the furnace runs. The waste oils won't settle once they're mixed, but they might not ever mix properly if they never get stirred up in the first place. But that's not a concern with a little kerosene addition.
  14. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for all the info.
  15. steam man

    steam man Minister of Fire

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    "I don’t preheat my fuel oil or do any other special treatment. That’s why I keep the waste oil down to 15%. One year I used about 25%, but to compensate (help thin it down) I filled the tank with No. 1 fuel oil. The main concern is to keep the viscosity within the acceptable limits of the oil burner. Old oil burner books are great for this sort of information. For instance they explain how, oddly enough, a thicker fuel oil will increase the amount of oil going through the nozzle."

    This hadn't entered my mind in a long time. Thicker oil has a higher density per unit volume and generally will have more BTU's per unit volume-longer carbon atom chains. Lighter oil less per unit volume. The opposite is true for using weight-heavier oils have less BTU's per lb and lighter oils have more. Burner nozzles are designed for a specific viscosity for proper atomization. That's why heavy oils require a preheat-to lower the viscosity for atomization. On the industrial boilers I run, #2 diesel oil can't give the output a #6 will give. There are other parameters but basically that's about it. Even though a heavy oil may burn improper atomization may be sooting up the boiler internals thus it won't run as efficient. Keep in mind that all the components of a system are designed for a specific fuel, i.e. filters, pumps, nozzles, etc. Some burners will probably be more forgiving than others when using a mix of oils.

    Mike
  16. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Its been along time, but I will try to remember everything. First of all, replace your existing nossle with a "multi-fuel" nozzle. This takes care of a lot of problems before they start. Next, I set up a settling tank, one 275, suspended over another, piped together,(required some welding). The oil burner drew from the top tank, the idea being that water would sink to the bottom tank and could be drawn off. We put whatever light oil we could find in there and ran up to 50% used motor oil. Mostly straight 40, from big diesels. If I were to do this again, in my home, I would use no more than 20% used motor oil, a cartridge style water seperater, and like I said, a multi_fuel nossle. If you can get your hands on a centrifical filter, life could get easy.
  17. mjbrown

    mjbrown Feeling the Heat

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    thank you VERY much for this information. i am an avid DIY er and do the most i can for myself...no point to paying someone to do something i can and will learn to do for myself. again, thank you much!

    mike
  18. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    You're quite welcome. You have to do the work yourself with this kind of thing, or you'll pay far more for service than you'll save in fuel. Also you can take the time to do the best job.

    Try to find an old book on oil burners. Internet forums are good but a book from the 50s or 60s is much better for basic information.
  19. JB40

    JB40 New Member

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  20. jheat

    jheat New Member

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    Used vehicle oil sediment will eventually clog the outlet of the storage tank. It's a buildup of sludge over time that will require you to buy a new tank and have the old one disposed of according to local environmental regulations. This happens in a few years with a "one line" system (fed from the bottom of the tank).
    On a two line system (fed from two lines, a supply and return) you could, theoretically, keep raising the lines until you have a tank full of toxic sludge. At this point I'd hate to estimate what it would cost to dispose of it unless you're hady to love canal.

    I guess you have to decide whether you're being environmental or just cheap.
    You might also want to consider what the exhaust of this untested/unmeasured incomplete combustion process is doing to yourself and your neighbours.
  21. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    "Used vehicle oil sediment will eventually clog the outlet of the storage tank. It’s a buildup of sludge over time that will require you to buy a new tank and have the old one disposed of according to local environmental regulations. This happens in a few years with a “one line” system (fed from the bottom of the tank).
    On a two line system (fed from two lines, a supply and return) you could, theoretically, keep raising the lines until you have a tank full of toxic sludge. At this point I’d hate to estimate what it would cost to dispose of it unless you’re hady to love canal."

    I've been adding some waste oil to the tank for over ten years now, no sign of this clogging. The primary canister type filter has minimal sludge in it after about five years. The only real bad filter clogging occurred in the fine monel screen in the pump itself, but this also seems to occur in furnaces that burn only the usual fuel oil.



    "I guess you have to decide whether you’re being environmental or just cheap.
    You might also want to consider what the exhaust of this untested/unmeasured incomplete combustion process is doing to yourself and your neighbours."

    No visible smoke or odour from chimney, and inside looks quite clean after all these years. Exposure to exhaust from any combustion is generally considered unhealthy, which is why we have chimneys. I don't believe this exhaust is worse than straight diesel exhaust. Perhaps the writer is thinking of exhaust from oil burning cars, which indeed is noticeably polluting. An oil burner however, can burn a wider range of fuels with no more pollution than when burning store bought fuel oils. Waste oil burner sellers frequently have to refute this type of allegation.
  22. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    A friend's brother just bought a house with an oil furnace which he wanted gone... He gave me the 65-70 Imperial gallons of oil in exchange for hauling away the tank. I used a little 12V pump and borrowed a 45 gallon drum to transfer the oil to my house... good deal! The two of us easily loaded up the tank and then dropped it off at the local scrap steel yard, at no cost.
    Keep an eye out for this kind of deal!
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