Grow Your Own Cooking Oil





Introduction: Grow Your Own Cooking Oil

About: I am currently taking over my grandparents farm, and working towards getting off the grid, and a sustainable life.

   You want to be more self sufficient? Well here's a way to grow your own cooking oil.

Sunflower Seeds
Place to grow sunflowers
Seed oil Extractor
(plastic bottle tubing small funnel wire screen strainer)
Glass Jars

Step 1: Step One: Sunflower Seeds Buying, Growing, Harvesting

  There are two basic kinds of sunflowers, confectionery the kind you eat, and black oil. the kind you feed to birds.  The black oil sunflower seed is the kind you need. These have twice the amount of oil as the confectionery.  These seeds are easy found at almost anywhere. i bought this 40 pound bag. for $14.00.       This is enough seeds to grow as many sunflowers as you need. I used two flowerbeds on the back of the house and the back of my garage.
     And covered the beds with seeds, i had so many it was like a carpet of sunflower seeds.
  And that was it. Sunflowers grow like weeds they need little water, little room, and grow almost anywhere. And you can grow a large amount in a small space.
  Once they grow and there heads get big and full of seeds, you know when to harvest them when the pedals drop off and the head falls over. Cut off the head and store them in a plastic bucket until they dry out, then shake them the seeds come out pretty easily.
   at the end of summer you should have enough seeds to make cooking oil for the rest of the year.
Unless you deep fry a lot or something.
  But since i didn't want to wait a year to show you the seed oil extractor and how to use it i started grinding the oil out of what was left of the seeds i bought.

Step 2: Step Two: Putting Together a Seed/Nut Oil Extractor

  Seed oil extractors can be made (
 And and sold, most are very expensive then i found the PITEBA seed oil extractor.  This is made in Holland, and is operated by hand.  i paid $125.00 and im glad i did. (soon i will post a instructable on hooking this up to a motor).
  So this is instructions for putting your PITEBA seed oil extractor together.
 1. Make sure you have all the parts, the unit, crank ,spiral, bolts glass bottle, wick/washer, End cap, End cap bolt.
2. Mounting the Piteba, this pretty much has to be mounted to something like a table i used a drill to make some holes in the table 3 2 for bolts, and 1 for a small tube. ( the piteba, has 2 screw holes on two sides.)
3. After mounting this to a table, next is to oil the washers with eatable oil. and slide them onto the back of the spiral. this slides in one way through the front until the shaft comes out the back hole.
 4. Screw in the crank, with the small screw bolt .
5. Screw on the end cap, and lightly screw on the end cap bolt.
6. Fill glass bottle with flammable liquid im sign 92% rubbing alcohol, thread the wick through the washer hole and top the bottle. and light it. ( it takes about 10 minutes for it to heat up to the right temp)
7. Cut the bottom off a 2 liter bottle, i had to sand the top a little to make it fit in the top of the PITEBA seed oil machine.
8. But a bowl at the one end
9. Put a small strainer or a piece of mesh in a small funnel. A plastic tube is threaded through the 3 hole i drilled, and into a glass jar.  this will collect your seed oil

Step 3: Step Three: Extracting Seed Oil

Now that your Piteba is up to temp, START CRANKING!
I took me about 20 minutes to crank out a 2 liter bottle of sunflower seed and got about 12 ounces of sunflower seed oil. Though this does not sound like a lot it is.
    After you have started to crank the seeds through a little stop and remove the end cap bolt.
Now you will see a long dried out "sunflower turd" for lack of a better word. This is good for animal feed or fertilizer.  The oil comes out black, this will be settled out in two weeks.

Ive Included a short video of the seed oil extractor in action.

Step 4: Step Four: Fishing Up

 Now that you have your sunflower seed oil, it needs to settle out the sediment that take like two weeks.
I have tried to strain it, but could not find a mesh size that worked well.
Now you have to clean the Piteba, Make sure you have grind all the seed out. And let it cool down, now the end cap will be blocked SOLID with sunflower seeds, this is like removing concert! I used a drill this seems the easiest way to get this clean. im experimenting with soaking in vinegar or something to loose n up the seed cake.

Wipe the whole machine down and your finished.
 Once the oil is settled you still have to siphon the oil off the top and pour out the think bottom sunflower sludge.

 There Now you will have cooking oil for life! enjoy.



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    46 Discussions

    one forty pound bag makes at least 2 gallons of sunflower seed oil.
     I found one place that sells it Hienens and it was $8.50 for 16 oz

    1 US gallon = 128 US fluid ounces

    16 oz per bottle = 8 bottles
    8 bottles x $8.50 = $68.00
    x 2 Gallons per bag = $136.00
    $125.00 + $15.00    = $140.00

    Plus this is perpetual so only requires a one time investment
    and is you use (2 gallons of cooking oil a year a good average for most households)
     So this will pay its self off in one year. Not to mention The perpetual years after of never having to buy cooking oil ever.

    1 reply

    He's not pressing that bag, he's planting new sunflowers from that bag, only a few handfuls of seeds at a time are needed, and then using the seeds from those flowers to press for oil.

    It is a great unit. I used one for years in Hawaii making gallons of mac nut oil, Kukui nut and coconut oil for soap making. They are now available in the US on ebay and amazon for a bit less that getting them out of Holland.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the info. Do you think you could use walnuts to make oil with it?

    This is totally up my alley.  Thanks.  I have three regular sunflowers growing for eating, but if I can pick up a bag, that would be nice.  Buying the tool is my only concern.  Not sure the price tag is worth it, but it could be. 

    1 reply

    Only the black oil sunflowers produce any good amount of oil the eating kind jsut dont make enough to be worth it

    You don't need to wait 2 weeks for it to settle. Here's an old farmers/mechanics trick from WAY back that was often used to filter used lube and motor oils; Put a length of natural fiber rope, the thicker the better, in the unfiltered oil jar and let the other end dangle out and into another jar that's lower than the first. They used to use manila rope, but I imagine cotton would work too. The oil will siphon (actually the correct term would be capillary action) up, over, and down thru the rope and drip into the lower container, completely filtered. It won't happen fast, but it will be faster than 2 weeks. Nice job! Thanks

    Good, very useful Instructable.  

    I wonder how many years a 40 lb bag of seeds would last when used this way. Also, I wonder whether it would be cost-effective to simply extract the oil from the seeds from the bag rather than planting them first.  How much oil could you expect from a 40 lb bag of seed?

    1 reply

    I would think it's more cost effective to grow a decent batch from your 40lb bag.  Since the sunflower will regrow each year you only need to plant the seeds one time.  Plus to ensure you get a decent harvest you can use the seed cake to fertilize your sunflower bed.

    Well it depends on how much cooking oil you use, bakers would use a lot.
    i am slowly grinding out the rest of the 40 pound bag, i would like to motorize it first.
     But i think i can get at least 2 gallons. And for my household that is a years worth of cooking oil.
    Sunflower oil is a healthy choice for your cooking oil needs. High in vitamin E, it has a light clean taste. There are three types available.
      Plus im using it to make soap and lip balm.

    Based on the colour of the mash I assume the sunflowers seeds were not dehulled? It would make for easier work if one did not have to remove the shells.

    How fast does the oil go rancid? If you make a huge amount it might go bad before you can use it all or is there a way to store it?

    1 reply

    Here is what you do: You only make as much oil as you are going to use in the short term, and store the rest of the unhulled sunflower seeds. As long as the seeds have the hull on them and are kept in a cool dark place the oil in the seed will not go rancid, and when you need more oil you make some more. You don't need to make a year's supply of oil all at once.

    I've been thinking about the possibility of doing this very thing, when it came up on Instructables! With your info I'm ready to purchase an oil press. My question is this: are those seeds in that bag organic?....did they come from China? This is important to me and would love a response. I found a 10lb bag for 5.85 on another site that is for sure organic. BIG price difference!!!

    5 replies

    unfortunately even if the seeds say there organic ORGANIC has never been legally defined, ie no chemicals used to grow but genetically engineered seeds are still classified as organic . The seeds ive used are not labeled organic.

    Well there is the FDA definition of "organic" which is not strict at all and allows for all kinds of questionable practices to be labeled "organic" including Genetic Modification. However, there are independent certification agencies which have strict and high standards for what is considered "organic"... You can look for seeds that are certified organic by some of these independent agencies.

    most of the whole sale bulk sunflowers i have found all grow in Kansas. as for being organically grown there is no way to tell unless you grow it your self, there are no laws defining "organic" for food consumable labeling, there wouldn't be any for bird food.
    but sunflowers are pretty much weeds, they dont have to many bugs so the use of pesticides and fertilizer are less then your normal food crop
    i know there are companies that sell organic black oil sunflower seeds, but there sold in little seed packs but at least if you grow them you can be 100% organic

    Thanks for responding. Next question: what would be the square footage that you would recommend? I'd like to plant the whole 40lb bag and make enough oil to use myself and use the rest for bartering. I bought a 7lb bucket of coconut oil last year and still have half of it left (just to give you an idea how much I use)/

    well i am now growing 200 sq feet of black oil sunflowers, but when i first started, i had a flower bed full of them that was 4 feet by 20 feet and that much sunflowers gave me almost 3 gallons of oil, its about a 1/2 cup of oil per sunflower

    Thanks for this, I literally was wondering this just a few days ago!