Since my first year at Perhentian Islands, I have never stopped hearing people talking about waste issues, including the discharge of used cooking oil, petrol and diesel. Once, Department of Solid Waste suggested to do a demo on how to filter cooking oil but that programme did not happen.
This year, Ecoteer found out about a machine created by UTM to convert used cooking oil to biodiesel and glycerine. We conducted survey to collect data on whether or not it is feasible and sustainable to start this project. In order for the project to be sustainable, the profit of selling biodiesel and soaps made of glycerine should cover the cost of operation and materials needed. Currently, we are still in the midst of report writing.
At the same time, Adelyn, a friend of mine, who is doing Go Green Th3ree Project at her school with an aim to create awareness of the importance of going green. She shared on the Facebook page about candle-making session using used cooking oil conducted by Environmental Action Centre Sabah. Excited after knowing that there is a simple, cheap and eco-friendly way to recycle cooking oil, we decided to try it out.
I will not go into details but click here for the instruction of making candle from used cooking oil. The best is we do not only recycle waste cooking oil, but glass jars, bottles, broken mugs, left-over crayons, etc, as well! The only cost is the coagulant, which is RM5 of 5 packets of 20g coagulant. We used pandan leaves as fragrance.
The instructions are simple and straight to the point and Adelyn assured me it is easy. We tried it out today and it turned out to be fun! We followed the instruction step-by-step. Before mixing the cooking oil and coagulant, it is better to filter if there is any residue. The filter we used had larger mesh size, which is why for the next time, we will try with a tea stainer to filter tiny residues. After the coagulant dissolved in the heated cooking oil, we poured it into a glass jar. We smashed blue Buncho crayon into powder. Instead of turning blue, it turned green as the oil was yellow in colour. It smelled like cooking oil so we grabbed a few pandan leaves and cooked it the mixture again but this time with pandan leaves. It absorbed the smell of the pandan.
When we heated the cooking oil, it actually boiled as we have less cooking oil to experiment with. Therefore, it took longer to harden. Initially we thought it did not work but as we left the glass jar for a while, it started to harden. The only last thing to check is whether or not it smells good when the candle is burning. We tried it out and fortunately it smelled pleasant. The pandan smell is quite strong so we figure that if we use more pandan leaves, the smell will be stronger.
This is just a trial and we plan to make candles of different colours and flavours. This can definitely be a great project with the local kids!