A waste oil burner is a type of heating system that turns used oil into thermal energy or heat. Waste oil burners are usually applied in premises of businesses that produce waste oil such as restaurants, which produce excess cooking oil. With an oil burner, such businesses get energy virtually for free, as the fuel is nothing but just waste from their business processes, and it’s always available in large quantities.

Used cooking oil is not the only type of waste oil. Motor lubricants, crankcase oils, oil from various industrial and transport processes are also a nuisance once they become waste. Some of these can’t simply be burnt. Some are very poisonous and it’s forbidden to burn them, while others can be burned under specific conditions.

waste oil burner sample setup

A sample waste oil burner assembly

Most of these oils have different viscosity, density, energy potential and other properties and are not intended for burning in home oil furnaces, which are designed only to burn diesel fuel oil, or blends of diesel and vegetable oil  where 80% to 95% of contents still come from crude.

For that purpose, businesses and even homes may want to install waste oil burners.

A waste oil heater can have various purposes in a business environment. Other than heating premises or hot water, it can also yield high temperature environments for some processes, such as melting lead or other metals.

Homes can also use waste oil for heating, but you should be using vegetable oil, primarily used cooking oil. Due to difference in properties when compared with diesel fuel oil, you will need a different type of burner for your furnace. Maintaining a waste oil burner requires somewhat more frequent maintenance – especially cleaning and filter replacement. While fuel oil burners require an annual oil filter replacement, in a waste oil burner you may need to replace the filter several times a year. Cleaning is also essential. You need to clean both the burner parts and the fuel itself – waste cooking oil contains very high amount of particles, which is clearly visible to the naked eye! You can find various filters and similar devices which would help you make the waste oil cleaner before burning it.

Waste oil viscosity and impurity content may vary greatly. The burner nozzle can sometimes get clogged or abruptly become less efficient, causing increased fuel consumption. Although waste fuel is free or sold cheaply by businesses who produce it, it’s not available in unlimited amounts.

You will also need to install smoke detectors or sensors, since levels of dangerous ingredients in waste oils can also change with every supply. This applies mostly to oils from various industrial processes.

Another major property of waste oil burners is that they require compressed air to atomize the fuel. For a greater convenience try to find a burner that features its own air compressor. These will need no additional installation, will have a proper air compression power and consume less electricity.