What Happens to Your Old Engine Oil?

February 16, 2022

Most of us like to do what we can to live a lower-impact life. It’s important to minimize our own footprint on our world, and, in many instances, it’s not terribly difficult to do so.

Recycling your used engine oil is one such instance. No matter if you’re a DIY-er gearhead or the owner of a large auto shop, recycling used engine oil is a great way to turn old materials into new while also minimizing the need for massive industrial production that creates more original oil.

That said, many of our customers wonder exactly what happens to their old engine oil after they turn it into us. For example, many folks wonder if engine oil is the same as fuel and also question what uses oil has after it’s been recycled.

Read on for some insight into our process and the usages of used motor oil after it’s been recycled.

The used oil recycling process

When used oil is given to a recycling facility, a regimented process is typically followed.

First, water needs to be separated from the oil. If you remember high school science, this is done by just letting it sit in large settling tanks so the denser water can sink below the oil. Next the oil is filtered to remove any additives or other materials. Next base oil is produced by taking out all of the larger chunks; this base oil is then distilled into multiple, usable forms at this point, including some combustible materials which prove that used engine oil can be used as fuel.

Uses for recycled engine oil

Lots of folks are curious not just about the recycling process but also about what the end products can be used for. For starters, the idea that engine oil is the same as fuel is tricky. It’s certainly not the standard gasoline that most automobiles take, but it can be used as other types of fuels.

In our experience, we’ve mostly seen recycled motor oil used in heavy industrial applications. Plant boilers, blast furnaces and cement kilns can all run by burning recycled oil rather than newly-produced original fuels. Recycled oils can also be used as lubricants in similar settings—mostly heavy commercial applications or in a wide spectrum of industrial usages.

Oil for heat

Another less common usage of this material is to use it as power for space heaters, mostly for small businesses. Again, this is a place where used engine oil can be used as fuel in a safe and productive manner; however, this can’t be used on just any old HVAC system. You need a special furnace called a waste oil burner that is built to consume old oil. These heating systems are another way to help ensure that old oil is used efficiently and that the environmental risk of improperly-disposed oil is minimal.

If you’re in the market for a collector and recycler of old engine oil, then you’ve come to the right place. Our team at Safeway Used Oil and Grease has been at this for almost a quarter of a century, and our longevity speaks for itself. We handle everything from grease trap cleaning to motor oil recycling, so call us today.

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