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Using motor oil on a fence

May 12, 2017

Thought I would share this cool video using 50/50 used motor oil and diesel as a treatment for your fence, would probably work well on a deck as well. The diesel acts as a penetrant so it sounds like going thicker on the
mix would cause less penetration and more oil residue on the surface. From the comments it says "takes a few hours to dry... it will leave a little a little oily feel
for about 4 days - then it's gone.. the wood soaks it right up. I could
lean on my fence right now in a white t shirt and it would be fine."


Comments (16)

  • PRO
    Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

    Guess where all the toxins end up

  • Vith

    You spray it on the fence, not the ground. He does note this in the video to be responsible with it. Pretty sure stain at the store has similar qualities. This is a green approach in my opinion, gives a use for the used oil that doesnt require reprocessing and using more energy for it to be usable again. That and if your going for that color it looks pretty good.

  • rwiegand

    Sounds like a recipe to create a Superfund site in your own back yard. Dumping used motor oil into the environment (eg by spraying it on a fence) is illegal everyplace I know of, as well as being a really dumb thing to do. Absolutely nothing "green" about it.

  • Vith

    Explain to me how staining a fence is equivalent to dumping. I am very curious.

  • John 9a

    I would propose that used engine oil is less toxic than it used to be now that gasoline has a much lower lead content. Used engine oil shouldn't have such a high lead content now but it still has lots of components in it that do pollute the environment. Ultimately, the oil you put on your fence will end up in the soil and in runoff water. That being said, I think Vith was right when he pointed out there are bad components in commercially available fence stains and sealers. Right there on the can it will say that breathing the fumes should be avoided and to use in a well-ventilated area, I'm not going to encourage people to paint their fences with used engine oil but Google USGS and PAH Asphalt Sealers and you will find that thousands or even million gallons of toxic gunk is applied to parking lots and highways and no one knows. Pointing out someone else is polluting doesn't make it right for me to pollute too but let's put everything in perspective and not jump on our neighbor for painting his fence with used engine oil right after we had our driveway seal coated.

  • geoffrey_b

    The most stupid idea I've heard yet.

  • John 9a

    I just watched the video and it is funny given how much money and effort is spent trying to get people to dispose of used engine oil properly. In environmentally sensitive circles, you will hear the adage, "what you put on the ground winds up in your water". What goes on the fence will also end up on the ground and in your water as the fence weathers and rain ultimately leaches off the oil. But, again, is it worse than lots of other things that are approved to be applied to the fence? Here is where common sense and knee-jerk environmental activism part ways. Just because the EPA or some other group approved it doesn't mean it's fine for the environment. I assume the EPA is fine with creosote-covered railroad ties being used by the billions all over the country, even running right across rivers where the runoff drips straight in the river rather than leaching through the soil first. Think used engine oil is toxic? Check out creosote! Again, I'm not condoning pollution, just pointing out the problems with pointing fingers. Ben and Jerry's ice cream jumped on the environmental activist bandwagon and came out and declared that it's just wrong for dioxin to be allowed in wastewater discharges and the level allowed should be zero. Some bright person recognized Ben and Jerry's ice cream is packaged in bleached white paper containers and so they tested Ben and Jerry's ice cream for dioxin...yep, right there in their own ice cream. Dioxin is a byproduct of the paper bleaching process so I'm not saying Ben and Jerry's ice cream is any different from other brands. What I'm saying is that I have little patience for knee-jerk environmental activism. There is seldom a case when we aren't doing something just as bad or worse.

    Vith thanked John 9a
  • MiMi

    That smell would never go away.. why would you want that????

  • Vith

    John I couldnt agree more with the common sense vs knee-jerk environmental activism comment. My argument is that preservative is preservative, doesnt matter what you use. One could also argue if you dont use any preservative you need a new fence faster which requires more wood which ultimately requires more resources (cutting trees, processing the trees, transporting them).

    This is a farmer/rancher trick, and for the most part will stay that way. That being said, I still find it as a pretty cool trick that solves a problem for them. I highly doubt it continues to smell MiMi.

  • toxcrusadr

    Good posts here. I too would not advocate using used oil on a fence, but everyone has to make their own choices. Used oil does have PAHs that form in the hot temperatures so it has some toxicity of its own. Having said that, petroleum oils are relatively biodegradable in soil, in small amounts.

    Creosote and coal tar based asphalt are loaded with PAHs and other toxic hydrocarbons. If you use driveway sealer, select petroleum based, it has a different hydrocarbon mix with a lot less PAHs.

    As for Ben & Jerry's: 1) to an analytical chemist, there is no such thing as zero, only "less than the detection limit." 2) Paper bleaching has gone almost entirely away from chlorine, so the production of dioxin in the bleaching process has dropped considerably. 3) Since dioxins as well as many other fat-soluble persistent contaminants are ubiquitous in the environment, there are tiny amounts of them in milk and processed dairy products. And in your own fat. Something to think about when reaching for more chemicals at the store.

    Vith thanked toxcrusadr
  • Dale Ferguson

    I've seen it happened with homes in Alabama recycled oil.

    The dry wood acts like a sponge and sex it deep into the wood I can't see it seeping out into the soil...

    I could see the products that we use to stain and coat with poisons could probably even be worse.

    I'm with the guy recycling the oil.

  • toxcrusadr

    Problem is that the motor oil isn't going to stick around. It does evaporate to some extent, and it will also wash away in very tiny concentrations as it's rained upon. What I'm getting at is not the pollution aspect so much as the longevity and effectiveness of used oil as a wood treatment. I'm not sure what they put into wood sealers, and they don't last forever either. But they don't stink like used oil and won't turn your fence blackish.

    If this worked so well, it seems like more people would be doing it.

    If you take used oil to a collection center, it goes to a refinery where it's reprocessed into new products. I consider that a better reuse. JMHO.

  • DavidR

    Some 40+ years ago, a friend of mine tried rustproofing his car with used motor oil. It dripped and oozed and smelled the rest of the time he owned the car. Probably still does, even if it's been through the crusher. :\

    Brush that foul stuff on my fences? Ehhh, no thanks.

  • Nicholas Austin

    This technique has been around for well over 100 years. How do you think farmers stain their fences and barns? You can actually find how toos on treating you yard with used oil and it's benefits. I would argue that $30+ over the counter stain is much worse. Yes, it will hold a smell for a few days like any other stain. Big deal. Unlike regular stains whwhich ch you must reapply every year spreading more hazardous waste you might have to do this method 4 times in your life. Your grandkids will have to jack up the barn to pour a new foundation because the wood will outlast it. Not a joke. So all in all the wood will last forever, no more staining every year, no new trees to kill. You do realize anything can be FDA approved for the right amount of money. If you think old oil and diesel is any more hazardous than overpriced store bought stain you probably should not be commenting.

  • sambah006

    This is an old technique. But I thought the base of the wooden fence posts were soaked in the used oil for a time, then put into the ground. Because what's the point of everything up top being preserved if the portion in the ground rots out?

    I'd probably want to do an experiment first to make sure the smell goes away depending on the location of the fence on my property.

    Motor Oil/diesel mix is certainly less expensive than a pine tar/turpentine mix, which would have a similar effect.

  • toxcrusadr

    @Nicholas it's amusing that you think stain products are 'hazardous waste' but used oil and diesel are not.

    Also, FDA does not approve paints and stains. Only food and drugs.

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