Ever since we started helping folks make Biodiesel, one thing has remained the same. If you want to make a quality batch of Biodiesel, you need to test your batch at various points along the way to ensure everything is going as planned. By doing the proper tests, you’ll be able to catch any problems and solve them before they become big headaches.
With this testing in mind, below is a list of the 4 test kits we think every small scale Biodiesel producer should have on hand and use on a regular basis. When used consistently, these tests will allow you to ensure that you’re making great Biodiesel, batch after batch.
1) Water Test Kit
When reacting Biodiesel from organic oils, one of the biggest enemies of a successful reaction is having too much water in the oil. The water mixes with the catalyst and oil to form soap instead of making Biodiesel. Get too much water in the mix and you can end up with a nasty batch of soap, lots of unreacted oil, and a small amount of Biodiesel & glycerin.
To avoid this problem, the oil should be tested for water. Our favorite kit for water testing is our Deluxe Water Test Kit.
It uses a reagent called calcium hydride inside a small pressure vessel. A sample of oil is added to the vessel along with the reagent and solvent. If water is present, the reagent reacts with it forming a gas. The gas generates pressure which then registers on the gauge. The reading can then be converted into parts per million of water in the oil which lets you know if there’s too much water.
The kit is easy to use and gives extremely accurate results. It can be used on pretty much any oil including the vegetable oil we most commonly make Biodiesel out of. It can also be used to test the finished Biodiesel product to ensure that it’s dry as well. It’s in use at several commercial Biodiesel facilities, schools, businesses, and small homebrewing operations across the world. It’s accurate down to 50 ppm (0.005%) making it ideal for testing oil and Biodiesel.
Watch The Kit In Action!
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2) Oil Titration Kit
When we make Biodiesel, it’s important to know how much catalyst should be added. Add too little and the reaction won’t go to completion. Overdo it and you can end up with excess soap which can cause problems when the fuel is water washed or dry washed.
To identify just how much catalyst should be used, we recommend using an oil titration kit. It uses a mixture of isopropyl alcohol, titration solution, and a pH indicator to identify what an oil’s titration value is. This value is then used to figure out the right amount of catalyst required.
We offer three titration kits on our site. For those just starting out, pick up the Basic or Deluxe Titration Kit. If you already have the chemicals needed but lack the labware, then our Mini Titration Kit is perfect! All three come with detailed instructions for performing a titration and figuring out how much catalyst you’ll need. We also have some handy conversion factors listed to let you identify an approximate free fatty acid level in your oil too!
See How To Perform An Oil Titration!
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3) Biodiesel Conversion Test Kit
Commonly known as the 27/3 or 3/27 test, this test allows you to see if the oil you reacted into Biodiesel is truly well reacted. To perform the test, you add 3 mL of Biodiesel to 27 mL of methanol. Both the methanol and Biodiesel need to be between 68° F and 72° F for the test to be accurate. If the Biodiesel completely dissolves into the methanol, then there’s a high likelihood that the batch is well reacted and may pass the ASTM standard for Total & Free Glycerin.
To make it easy to perform this test, our Biodiesel Conversion Test Kits includes snap top vials. syringes, and our Deluxe Biodiesel Conversion Test Kit even includes a handy bottle to keep your methanol in. While all the tests we discuss here are important, if you had to choose one test to perform, this would be it. We perform it religiously on every batch of Biodiesel we make and recommend you do the same.
Learn more about how the test works.
See How The 3/27 Test Works!
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4) Biodiesel Soap Test Kit
One of the byproducts produced when we react oil into Biodiesel is soap. Even with oil that titrates extremely low, there will always be a bit of soap made. The soap is considered a contaminant and if not removed can plug up fuel filters and leave deposits inside diesel engines.
Soap can be removed from Biodiesel in a number of ways including water washing, dry washing, or even bubbling and settling. No matter which way is utilized, it’s important that the washed Biodiesel be tested to see if enough of the soap has been removed.
To make this process simple, we’ve created soap test kits that have everything required to perform a soap test. They include bromophenol blue, hydrochloric acid, isopropyl alcohol, specialized glass pipettes, and some even offer a portable magnetic stirrer that we highly recommend using when soap testing.
All the tests includes detailed instructions for measuring the soap content in Biodiesel in parts per million. When used according to the instructions, you’ll be able to easily identify if you’ve washed your Biodiesel well enough or if you need to continue washing a little more.
See How To Perform A Soap Test!
Link to video
And Possibly One More…
Methanol Purity Test Kit
If you’re methanol is old, or it’s been left unsealed for a while, or you’re using recovered methanol from Biodiesel or Biodiesel glycerin, then we strongly recommend checking it’s purity.
This is because the typical contaminant in methanol is water. And, like we mentioned before with our water test kit, water in the Biodiesel reaction can really mess things up.
To make it easy to test methanol, we offer simple to use methanol purity test kits. These kits include a hydrometer, an extremely accurate thermometer, a glass cylinder perfectly sized for methanol testing, a calculator, and detailed instructions for performing the test. You can also purchase a kit with a protective carrying case, testing stand and testing clamp.
Watch A Methanol Purity Test!
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Click Here for details on how to perform all of these tests as well as what test results should be!
Utah Biodiesel Supply