Used engine oil is like liquid gold in the hands of the right person.
If you’re a prepper or a homesteader, you’re likely salivating at the chance of being able to recycle and reuse something to maintain your home fortress.
Quickly and simply, these are some of the top uses for used engine oil.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so whether it’s coming from your car or some other source, get your hands on as much as possible.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of uses for used engine oil, we got you covered:
- 1 1. Tool Protection Chambers
- 2 2. Finish a Floor
- 3 3. Fencing Stain
- 4 4. Use it as a Lubricating Oil
- 5 5. Maintain Garden and Lawn Tools
- 6 6. Prevent Undercarriage Rust
- 7 7. Emergency Provision
- 8 8. Soften and Clean Leather Goods
- 9 Related Questions
1. Tool Protection Chambers
Have a few five- and ten-gallon buckets laying around?
Sure you do (or you will soon enough).
Mix oil and sand in a bucket until you have the consistency of wet sand, and use as much as possible for your specific needs.
Then, store your tools in the bucket. Sounds crazy, but in application, wholly useful.
The sand helps to scrape debris and dirt off of your tools, while the oil helps to protect them from rust and erosion. In theory, you could store your tools like this for decades without any issues.
You’ll preserve your tools, but keep in mind that these are going to be heavy.
Heavy sand, dense oil, and the iron and steel of your tools are all going to weigh this thing down, so just be careful when moving them around the garage or shed.
2. Finish a Floor
You won’t want to smoke in your shed or trailer after this, but used engine oil is actually great for getting a solid finish on a wooden floor.
After you’re done sanding, clean the floor with a broom or vacuum and get ready to apply your oil.
Use in small increments, because you’re not going to have a fun time soaking up what remains if you aren’t conservative during application.
It’s recommended to use a sponge to soak up excess oil, and then dispose of the sponge in a safe and eco-friendly manner.
This is the last thing that you want to do in a room, because now the floor is going to be a little hazardous. It’s slightly slippery until some wear and tear occurs.
The reason we said this is good for an outside shed or a trailer is because you’re not likely to be welding near them or smoking in them.
Your floor is slightly flammable, even as the oil soaks into the wood over time. Use this method at your own risk.
3. Fencing Stain
Putting up a new wooden fence?
You might want to think about used motor oil instead of chemical-ridden wood stains to treat the wood.
It looks fantastic, but just be conscious of the fact that you’re also going to have to seal the wood at least once every six months.
While used motor oil is good for staining wooden fences, enough rain is going to drag trace amounts of it into the soil.
If you seal the wood, then it’s not different than using any other stain treatment product.
4. Use it as a Lubricating Oil
You’ll have to be very specific about what you use it for, but you can reuse motor oil for a lubricant.
Use it in place of WD-40 to grease door hinges, grill hinges, or other things around the home.
You do not want to use it on a bicycle or chainsaw chain though, since those are very specific.
Most oil is very lubricating, but chain oil is specifically designed to stick to metal and not fall off of it.
Just know what the requirements of the item are before using motor oil on it, but for basic everyday chores, it will work wonders.
5. Maintain Garden and Lawn Tools
If you’ve ever left your rake out in the rain by accident, you know that slick feeling that it gets on the handles.
That’s the beginning of the wood decomposing, which will eventually lead to splintering.
To prevent this, coat the handles (and hardware, like bolts that keep the rake head attached to the handle) in used motor oil.
Rot doesn’t need a lot to get started, and this will also give a nice stained look like we mentioned earlier with the fences. The good thing is, you don’t need to seal this wood as long as you store it properly.
6. Prevent Undercarriage Rust
Live somewhere with a lot of seasonal snow?
Most of us do. Even if you don’t, maybe you’re near the ocean, or at the very least travel through the snow on occasion to see relatives.
Used motor oil can be applied to the undercarriage of your vehicle to prevent rust and degradation from road salt, snow, and frigid temperatures.
The trick here is to apply a gentle and even coat.
Use a large sponge to dab into the oil, and paint the oil onto the undercarriage in short, even strokes.
The end effect should look like an oil pastel that’s fairly even across everything.
This is something that you can’t really measure how long it will last.
On average, you can expect to do this about once every three months to upkeep the underside of your car.
If you live in an area where half the year is frigid or has snow/road salt, shorten that time and do this every six weeks for optimal car care.
7. Emergency Provision
We don’t like the idea of this one, but it’s still a use and deserves to be on the list.
In the event of a massive blackout or freezing conditions that knock out the power, oil can be burned to provide heat.
It should be noted though that this is toxic, and is not good for the air.
If you absolutely have to, you can fill a soda can with oil, and use it as a lantern providing that you have something to use as a wick.
It’s a survivalist, last-ditch effort sort of thing, but can literally save your skin in a pinch.
8. Soften and Clean Leather Goods
Leather can be a real pain to break in, but a bit of used motor oil can help soften it so that the break-in time is reduced from a few weeks to a couple of days.
If you’re looking to maintain the luster on a leather jacket, leave it alone, because the oil will diminish the aesthetics.
But for boots, this works like a charm.
Apply a gentle coat to your boots, and walk around in them for about fifteen minutes, using dynamic movements to stretch out multiple pressure points. You don’t want to leave the oil on them—remove the oil with an approved disposal rag, and discard it responsibly afterwards.
Here we answer some commonly asked questions:
How do I Store Used Motor Oil?
The best method for storing used motor oil is to place it directly back into an oil container.
Those plastics are not only non-biodegradable (and damaging to the environment considering what they held), but they’re actually just going to end up in a landfill for hazardous waste anyway.
You’re following the eco-friendly creed’s second tenant, which is reuse.
If you reuse oil, filter it even, and put it back in the same container that you purchased it from, then you’re actually not doing any damage to the environment.
If you don’t have the original bottle anymore, don’t worry: there are plenty of containers you could use, especially if you’re looking to recycle at the same time. Some of them include:
- Coffee canisters
- Tattered reusable water bottles
- Glass bottles
- Glass jars
- PVC pipe containers (DIY project)
- Old paint can
This is, of course, only if you are going to use it. If you are going to store it to recycle later, it needs to be in an airtight container.
Is It Free to Recycle Used Motor Oil?
Nearly everywhere in the United States, it’s completely free if you take the oil to a recycling center.
Responsible disposal is something that’s encouraged, and a penalty for doing so (in the form of fees) wouldn’t help matters.
If you live in California, there’s even recycling centers that pay you to bring oil to them, so that they can be assured it isn’t ending up in landfills.
If you want to recycle the oil and aren’t near a recycling center, or have no way to get to one, contact your waste management company.
Provided that there is a decent amount of oil to recycle, they may have a service available to pick up the oil from the curb at your house, and dispose of it properly.
How Many Times Can I Filter Used Oil?
Reasonably, you could do it forever, or until the oil has simply lost volume from being transferred from can to can, or container to container.
Filtering old motor oil and then using it for other purposes, like the ones we’ve listed here, will ensure that it’s being used properly.
If you’re left with any dirty oil at the end, simply filter it, and store it for later use.