Biodiesel Kits Safety Part I: What are the potential hazards?

Making your own biodiesel is a potentially dangerous activity if you don’t stick to the safety rules.  Before you can take the proper precautions, you need to know what exactly you need to look out for! Here are the reasons making biodiesel requires special safety precautions:

1. Oil and Lye. When making biodiesel, you will need to heat the oil to extremely high temperatures.  If the hot oil comes into contact with exposed skin, a severe burn can result.  In addition, you will also need to use lye.  Lye is caustic and can also burn your skin. Make sure to be completely covered and wear the appropriate safety gear in order to avoid burns.

2.  Methanol.
Methanol is a potentially dangerous chemical that can even be fatal.  The vapors are poisonous and dangerous to inhale. When working with methanol, you need to work in a well ventilated area and where a mask.

3.  Sudden Fires.
There are many different ways that fire can start when making biodiesel.  One thing that could potentially happen is that oily rags can spontaneously combust without specifically being lit. The oil can react with the air and auto-ignite in certain situations like being if the sun or the dryer.  A fire can also be started by forgetting to turn off a heating element. Heating elements can overheat when your away and cause the oil to get to hot and start a fire.  People have burned down their homes this way!

4. Electric Shock.
Any time you are working with electricity and water, extra care must be taken.  Equipment is often not bonded properly and this can lead to a charge build up that can cause a shock.

Don’t let these potential hazards deter you from making biodiesel  In the next article we will address the above safety concerns and provide solutions to minimize the risks.

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