Burning used oil for heat
As cold weather sets in, some hazardous waste generators burn used oil as a source of heat. While this practice is allowable, it’s important to understand the safety implications, recommendations and (sometimes complex) regulations. Here’s what you need to know.
- Make sure you understand the fire safety requirements in the Minnesota fire code.
- Read the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) factsheets on used oil and related wastes, used oil burning, and marketing used oil and related wastes.
- Keep records of how much used oil you burn.
- Contact your hazardous waste inspector with questions.
Accepting used oil
You may accept used oil from other businesses to burn as long as you provide them with a receipt, keep records, and make sure the oil is not a hazardous waste.
Before burning, either you or the business you’re receiving from does the following:
- Test the received used oil to make sure it is safe for the environment for burning (also called “on-specification”). In most cases, you only need to do this once for each business you receive from unless their operations change.
- Register with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as a “used oil marketer”. The business that declares the used oil is on-specification should register.
In some cases, you can burn untested or off-specification used oil for heat only if you meet the MPCA’s conditions, outlined on page three of the used oil and related wastes factsheet.
Mixing fuel with used oil
You can put gasoline in used oil and burn it for heat as long as the gasoline is considered a product. However, we don’t recommend this practice because it could present a fire hazard. Don’t put gasoline in used oil if it was originally used as a solvent. Spent solvent gasoline is considered a waste is subject to hazardous waste regulation.
You can put diesel in used oil and burn it for heat. If the diesel was originally used as a solvent, follow the next section below.
You can put petroleum-based solvents in used oil if you meet the following:
- You are a Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG).
- It does not contain gasoline, chlorinated solvent, or paint waste with hazardous metals.
- The final mixture contains a max of 10% solvent waste.
- Only your employees mix this waste into used oil containers.
- Records are kept of how much solvent waste is mixed in used oil. Include these volumes in your hazardous waste report.
If you’re unsure you’re in compliance for burning used oil for heat, contact your inspector for support and assistance.