Hemp Seed to Diesel Fuel

You could say that making your own bio diesel from hemp seed would be a labour of love.

I mean, how delicious would it be to roar past fuelling stations in your big F350 diesel and not care about the cost at the pump.  Can you picture yourself smugly hammering down on the throttle knowing you’re not polluting the environment or taking non renewable resources from your grandchildren?  All the while you’re leaving a fragrant trail of popcorn.   Yes, that would be a labour of love.

Fantasy hemp truck

What would it take?

So, hypothetically, just how hard would it be for someone with, say, 20 acres to produce the hemp bio diesel they would need to be self sustaining.

Let’s start with calculating how much fuel the plot could produce.

Agri Canada’s estimates hemp yields at 800 kilograms of grain per hectares or 743 pounds per acre. (1)   Out of that, the pressed seed will produce roughly 200 litres of oil per hectare (2.37 acres).

If I have 20 acres to grow hemp on I could yield about 1,700 litres of oil.

Turns out that’s just about how much diesel I use each year to run the diesel truck a few times a month and use the backup diesel generator (14 Kw) during extended power outages.  

The annual fuel bill for the truck and generator is about $2,400 (based on $1.39/litre).  Not bad, however the same hemp oil sold at current market prices for food would gross me $8,000 (current prices for hemp oil is apparently $1,000 per 45 gallon barrel).  I’d be taking a $5,600 loss on the crop to shove it in my tank.

I did say it was a labour of love.  

A bottle of hempseed oil

Hemp with Benefits.

Keep in mind, the smart hemp farmer will also benefit from the bi-product of flour and grain meal after the pressing of the seeds.  As well, the stock fibre can be used in a variety of products.  So if you’re not a totally cash starved farmer you can pull off the hemp oil for your own bio diesel and sell off the stock and grain meal. 

Okay, the economics aren’t there for diesel at the moment.  A remedy for this of course is to increase supply.  More hemp needs to be grown for the price of hemp oil to drop.  Currently, hemp seed oil is being used for food and this niche market drives prices up but for 30 years after the invention of the internal combustion engine (until prohibition in 1937), hemp was used as the primary fuel.

1938 Electric / Hemp Diesel Truck

Supply from where it counts.

It can be done, all we need now is a willing government and some forward thinking entrepreneurs, engineers, and farmers.  Biomass energy expert Lynn Osburn estimates that 1.5 to 3.5 million acres of hemp would replace all of Canada’s fossil fuel demands. (2)  That sounds like a lot but take into consideration that the total national area just for wheat is 24.1 million acres (2014)  (3)

Not shy of space.

Saskatchewan alone farms 8.7 million acres in spring wheat and 4.2 million acres of durum.  According to the last land census taken in 2006, Canadians farmed 167 million acres of land. (4)

If we needed 3.5 million acres to be in hemp, that represents barely 2% of the farmed land.  To be fossil fuel free and have national security, that's a small price to pay in my view.

Be the Love!

If you're interested in making your own, here’s how you can turn your hemp seed into bio diesel.

First, you must expeller press the hemp seed and extract the oil.  Two short videos I’ve listed below show how this is done, footnote numbers 5 and 6.

Next, gather protective clothing and eyewear as well as Isopropyl alcohol, lye, methanol and distilled water.

Then go to one of the websites that shows you in detail how to make it happen.

I’ve listed two below, footnotes 7 and 8.

It would probably take all day of it to make enough hemp bio diesel to fill a car, a truck probably two days, but hey, what else you got to do.

Welcome to energy self sufficiency, the holy grail of self sufficiency.

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And a relevant, legal use for your Breaking bad cosplay.


(1)  http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/industry-markets-and-trade/statistics-and-market-information/by-product-sector/crops/pulses-and-special-crops-canadian-industry/industrial-hemp/?id=1174595656066

(2)  http://eap.mcgill.ca/CPH_3.htm

(3)  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/140627/dq140627b-eng.htm

(4)  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/ca-ra2006/articles/snapshot-portrait-eng.htm

(5) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olDGNLf65aY&list=PLwzOza6n7zyeWc53WujJmRBQeytQljVAO  Oil press seeds cannabis sativa expeller  (1:09)

(6) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXMGpZj4Vdo   (cold pressed hemp seed)  (4:35)

(7) http://www.hemp.com/hemp-education/uses-of-hemp/hemp-fuel/making-hemp-biodiesel/  Make Hemp Biodiesel

(8)  http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Biodiesel/#step1