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Learn to Make Your Own Biodiesel - Part 1


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Mixing Sodium Methoxide
Mixing sodium methoxide from lye and methanol
photo © Adrian Gable

Sodium methoxide is the true ingredient that reacts with the vegetable oil to make biodiesel (methyl esters). In this step, the methanol and lye that were measured and dispensed in the previous steps are brought together to make sodium methoxide. Again, sodium methoxide is an extremely caustic base. The vapors that the mixing process emits, as well as the liquid itself, are extremely toxic. Be absolutely certain to wear heavy duty synthetic rubber gloves, eye protection and an approved respirator.

As you can see, the mixing tools are simple. We use a coffee can and a speed-bore bit with the tip ground off and chucked in a hand drill. There really is no need to spend a lot of money for equipment--much of it can be homemade. It takes approximately 5 minutes spinning the blade in the liquid in the coffee can to dissolve the lye crystals. Note: The liquid will get warm as the reaction occurs.

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