The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homemade oil, trial 1

Black oilAfter plugging away in the office a few hours a week for the last two months, I've finally cleared out enough mouse nests, deleted enough junk, and organized enough tools that I figured I deserved a treat --- putting the oil expeller to work!  I had a few jars of dried sunflower seeds (still in their hulls) leftover from the 2010 garden, so I decided they would be my first experiment.

Taking Daddy's advice, I used some kerosene we had in the barn instead of the lamp oil recommended by the manufacturers.  Big mistake!  The impure kerosene blackened the surface of the expeller so much that the dark color made its way into the oil.  Meanwhile, foul-smelling smoke filled the air, and I had to open all of the windows to make expelling possible.

Sunflower seed cakeMost people would have stopped there and tried again once they bought lamp oil, but I really wanted to see if the expeller worked, figuring I could always mix the blackened oil back into the seed cake and feed it all to the chickens.  On my first try, the wick was too high, causing a large flame that overheated the expeller tube and made oil come out the seed cake end rather than out of the slit partway down the expeller tube.  After trimming the wick much lower, though, I was able to get a seed cake to form in the end of the expeller and soon had (black) oil dribbling out into my jar.  All told, I spent maybe half an hour expelling 5.5 cups of sunflower seeds and ended up with around a quarter of a cup of oil.

The conclusion?  The Rajkumar oil expeller works as advertised.  It's not terribly fast, but I figure we could probably crank out a week's worth of oil pretty easily in an hour or less, producing nutritious seed cake in the process to feed to the chickens.  Next experiment will involve using actual lamp oil (and storebought sunflower seeds since I've run out of the homegrown ones) to produce homemade oil good enough for a taste test.  Stay tuned!

Our homemade chicken waterer is the best way to get your chicks off to a healthy start.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Neither the oil nor the seed cake look very appetizing. Have you tried tasting the oil?

Luckily I cannot imagine what a mixture of sunflower seed oil and kerosene would taste like. That'll be one of life's experiences that I will not be sorry to miss. :-)

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Jan 24 14:25:52 2011
I didn't taste either --- I figured the kerosene taste wouldn't be that appealing. And I have to admit that even the chickens turned up their noses. Hopefully trial 2 with lamp oil will be more appetizing.
Comment by anna Mon Jan 24 14:34:50 2011

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