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Biodiesel Safety: Biodiesel itself is a very safe substance. When compared to table salt, it is ten times less toxic. It biodegrades easily and has a much higher flashpoint than petroleum diesel.
...The chemicals used to produce it, however, require some respect!
The lowest temperature at which the fuel will ignite when exposed to a flame is referred to as its flashpoint.
B100 must have a flashpoint greater than 266°F (130°C) to be ASTM certified. Flashpoint can vary due to different feedstocks used.
Photo courtesy of Daquella manera
to petroleum diesel which only needs a flashpoint greater than 100°F (38°C) for type #1, or 126°F (52°C) for type #2 in order to pass ASTM standards!
Methanol Biodiesel Safety Precautions:
Methanol is a highly flammable gas. Its boiling point is at 148.3F (64.6C). Its flash point in a closed container is 54F (12C), and its flash point in an open container is 60.1F (15.6C).
• Ingestion - as little as 1-4oz has caused fatalities. Immediate medical attention should be sought; the symptoms may be delayed for many hours. Vomiting should not be induced.
• Contact with skin – there are no known serious effects as long as there is not repeated exposure. If skin comes in contact with the gas, wash with soap and water for 15 minutes or more. If irritation occurs seek medical attention.
• Contact with eyes – flush eyes gently with water for a minimum of 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
• Inhalation – Relocate to fresh air and seek medical attention incase of delayed onset of a serious reaction. A person should be exposed to no more than 200ppm within an eight-hour period, and no more than 250ppm in a 15-minute period.
• Protection Measures - Safety goggles with side shields and appropriate chemical gloves are recommended. Use in a well ventilated area.
Lye and Potash Biodiesel Safety Precautions:
Lye and Potash are corrosive chemicals. They should not come in contact with aluminum, magnesium, brass, bronze, tin, chromium, or galvanized zinc because they can form hydrogen gas, which is highly explosive.
• Ingestion – may cause shock, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, severe pain and permanent damage. Drink a glass of water if possible; do not induce vomiting. Medical attention should be sought immediately.
• Contact with skin – can cause burns and deep ulcers. Remove contaminated clothing and rinse skin for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
• Contact with eyes – may cause burns and blindness. Flush eyes with water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
• Inhalation – may cause burns, coughing, difficulty breathing, and coma. Relocate to fresh air.
• Protection Measures – wear safety goggles with side shields and chemical resistant gloves. Use these chemicals in a well-ventilated area. Also, when dissolving lye in water in an open top container, wear a vapor-resistant mask.
Biodiesel Safety Summary:
For all chemicals involved in biodiesel production, chemical gloves and safety goggles should be worn. Respirators can be avoided by careful planning, such as using a sealed container for methanol recovery to take place in, or mixing your lye out doors.
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