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Step By Step Guide To Making Fuel from Animal Fat

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In today’s post we’re going to be talking about biodiesel, specifically making your own biodiesel from animal fats. Making fuel from animal fat has the potential to eliminate our reliance on outside fuel sources for vehicles and machinery. If we are ever in a long-term, grid down scenario, fuel will be a precious commodity. Knowing how to make biodiesel from animal fat could keep your generator and other machines going well after everyone else is thrown back into the dark ages when conventional gasoline runs out.


Step 1 – Can you even use the fuel we’re going to make?


First and foremost before you start hacking up animal fat and trying to shove it in your gas tank, there’s some things we need to go over first.


First, what we’re creating is biodiesel, and that being said, this fuel will only operate diesel engines. Unfortunately, biodiesel will not run a gasoline-powered vehicle or generator. So if you already have a gas powered generator you’ll have to replace it with a diesel or flex-fuel generator in order to make and use biodiesel. You can mix biodiesel with conventional diesel petrol fuel, but not gasoline.


Step 2 – Animal selection


When making biodiesel from animal fat, the general consensus is that beef tallow is the best fat you can use. However, that’s not “completely” true. The biggest reason that beef tallow is generally thought of as being the best animal fat to use for biodiesel production is simply because there’s a lot more fat on a cow than there is a pig or chicken (both of which you can use to produce fuel).


It’s actually a tradeoff; although you can make more fuel from the fat of one cow, the fuel made from beef tallow will actually solidify at a higher temperature than pig lard will. Chicken or turkey fat will actually stay in a liquid state at lower temperature than both of beef tallow and pork lard. If you want to verify this, put a couple jars on your counter and fill one with liquid beef tallow, liquid pork lard and the last with liquid chicken fat. The beef and pork fat will solidify much faster than the chicken will.


“You’re confusing me….What does this mean?”


Basically it means that if you can get your hands on a lot of chicken fat it’s actually a better performing fuel because you don’t have to be as cautious about it solidifying while it’s being used. However, you’re going to need a heck of a lot of chickens to make the same amount of fuel as you’d get with 1 pig or especially 1 cow.


Either way, any of these fats can be used to make fuel, and yes they can all be rendered at the same time together to make the same fuel… it’s pretty forgiving as long as its rendered and filtered correctly. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to find a way to keep the fuel warm while it’s being used….especially if you’re using beef or pork fat.


Step 2 – Butchering


If you are butchering your own animals for their fat it’s extremely important that you cut off as little of the actual meat as possible. You don’t want to waste meat; all the solids in the rendering process will be thrown out because any solids that get into your fuel could potentially damage the engine you’re trying to run with it. You can include the bones in the rendering vat, just split the bones down the middle (easier said than done) so that the fat in the bone marrow can melt easier.


Step 3 – Choose your vessel


You’re going to need something to render this fat in. Rendering is simply slowly heating up fat under low heat so that it turns into a liquid but doesn’t burn. The best rendering vat choices would be a steel bathtub or steel tub or trough. However, for smaller batches of fuel you could use a steel bucket.


Anything that won’t burn (remember we’re going to be heating this thing up for a LONG time), is large enough to hold all your solid fat (without stacking it) and has a drainage hole that you can plug will work just fine. You’ll also want to find some sort of pole or stick that you can use for unclogging the drainage hole if it gets clogged and for stirring the fat while it’s rendering.


Step 4 – FIRE!


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