A contaminated engine oil, after being mixed with water or any other substance can be damaging to your automobile’s engine. Water in the engine oil not only denaturalizes the oil but also takes away its ability to lubricate the engine parts.
The gases and the other components present in the recommended engine oil combine with water to give birth to corrosion and sludge in the crankshaft.
Rust and corrosion can impact the durability of your vehicle’s engine severely, and hinder the natural cooling process.
Fortunately, the removal of water from oil is a fairly common process that can be modified according to the type of water-oil mix you have. The engine oil contamination caused by water can be cured using diverse methods.
How to Remove Water from Engine Oil (First Method):
Worried about water in engine oil, how to clean? The following methods will help you get rid of water contaminations from your engine oil. Naturally, water and oil do not mix which is why you can easily separate them using these methods:
Step 1: Gather the tools
For this method, you need a couple of things including:
- Plastic bottle with cap
- Drain pan or oil container
- A large bucket
Step 2: Make holes in the bottle cap
Take the plastic bottle in which you will have to collect the contaminated engine oil later on, and make a couple of holes in its cap. The holes can be made using pushpins or any other pointed object.
Step 3: Empty the contaminated oil into the bottle
Using a funnel, pour all of the contaminated engine oil into the plastic bottle and close the cap of the bottle tightly.
Make sure that the bottle you are using can hold at least 2 liters of fluid so that you don’t have to use two bottles for the engine oil.
Step 4: Turn the bottle over the bucket
After firmly closing the lid of the bottle, adjust it upside-down onto the bucket. To avoid leakage of oil from the cap side, when the bottle is turned, make sure the cap is secured tightly.
Step 5: Let the air out by making more holes
Using the same pushpin, pinch some more holes on the bottom side of the plastic bottle. Technically, that is the top side in the bucket now, since the bottle is now upside-down.
Those holes on the opposite side of the cap allow air to come out from the bottle and create a steady flow of the fluid.
Step 6: Gather the water in the bucket
Once the setup of the bottle is complete the gravity will allow the water to gush out of the holes in the cap, into the bucket. Oil and water do not mix naturally, which is why oil will be on top, and water will be at the base.
Final Step: Pour the clean oil into a container
Wait for all of the water contents to separate from the oil and gather in the bucket. Once there is no more water remaining, the engine oil will be seen leaking from the cap holes.
At this stage remove the bottle from the bucket and pour all of the oil into a large container, and your motor oil is cleaned.
How to Remove Water from Engine Oil (Second Method):
Here is another water in engine oil fix that can be used for making your engine oil clean. This method doesn’t require any special materials for the process. You can directly separate the water from the engine oil via an oil pan. Here is it:
Step 1: Open the drain plug
Locate the drain plug on the oil pan and place a container underneath it for collecting the dirty water and oil spillage. Now remove the drain plug slowly and see if the water comes out.
Step 2: Let the water out from the oil pan
To check that the water and oil have properly separated and the water is on the bottom, loosen the plug a bit. If you notice water drops coming out of the hole, it means you can continue removing the plug.
The water will start gathering into the container or whatever you have put for that purpose.
Step 3: Keep holding the plug
Let all of the water rush out of the hole while holding the plug slightly below the oil pan opening. The purpose of doing this is to avoid wasting engine oil if it starts coming out all of a sudden after the dirty water.
Step 4: Pause the flow
As soon as you notice oil coming out of the oil pan, put the drain plug back in for a moment so that the remaining water content can settle at the bottom.
Repeat the process and when there is no water left behind, you can either close the drain plug or take out the engine oil to recycle.
How to Separate Water from Oil:
Separating water from used oil is an everyday practice that is done at higher industrial levels as well as domestic levels.
At home you can easily separate the oil-water mixture using the natural phenomenon of gravity or by freezing the mixture. Here is how both of these procedures work:
- Pour the oil-water mixture into a plastic container with a lid and shake well. shaking the mixture separates the molecules of water and oil.
- The water molecules will sit at the bottom due to gravity whereas the oil being the lighter compound will stay on top.
- Now place the plastic container upside-down on top of another container after making a couple of holes in the lid.
- The water will not start coming out of the plastic container unless you make a tiny hole at the other side of the bottle as well. It creates the air to come out and the flow of water starts.
- Using gravity all of the water will automatically start pouring out of the bottle first and you will be left with just clean oil.
- You can separate water and oil by freezing the mixture for some time.
- Take the blend of water and oil molecules and put it into ice cubes or in a bowl that can be fit in your freezer.
- Take out the frozen mixture and you will see that the ice has two layers. One layer is of oil and the other is water.
- Depending on the weight of the ice and water contents oil can either be on the top or bottom side.
- You can skim the oil layer from the cubes and put it aside for it to change into its original state.
How Can I Tell if Water is in My Motor Oil?
Having water in your motor oil is not a good sign for the performance of your vehicle. That’s why experts have devised several ways for the early detection of water in motor oil.
As most of them are a bit complicated and technical for a common driver to understand, we have shared a simple yet experienced method of detecting water presence.
This test is known as the Hot Plate Crackle Test. Using the crackle test, you can spot the water contamination in your engine oil and take necessary actions for its removal. Here is what you need for the crackle test and how to perform it:
What you need?
- A dipstick
- A hotplate
- Protective gloves
- Safety Goggles
How to perform?
- Put your safety goggles and protective gloves on, and place the hotplate in a well-lit and wide area.
- Turn the hotplate on and heat it up to 400 degrees F.
- Take the dipstick and dip it into the motor oil of your vehicle.
- Once the hotplate is ready, pour a drop or two of the motor oil of your engine onto the hotplate and observe carefully.
- Instead of using a dipstick, you can also pour a drop of motor oil using a dropper.
- The common indication of the moisture present in the motor oil is that the oil drop will make a crackling sound.
- You can also detect the presence of water contamination in the motor oil by seeing the bubbles produced in the oil drop.
- The more the crackling sound and the bubbles being produced, the more contaminated your motor oil is.
How Do I Recycle Oil That Has Water in it?
If you are someone who does all of their auto-related tasks themselves, you must be aware of the significance of recycled oil.
On average, motor oil from just one oil change has the ability to contaminate millions of gallons of fresh drinking water.
So why not recycle it, if it saves so much water and helps the ecosystem? The problem, however, is that sometimes the oil gets contaminated with water itself, and at that point, the first thing is to learn is, how to separate water from oil?
Recycling the motor oil includes different steps, after which the oil can be used for transport or other purposes again. These are the step used in the oil recycling centers for the re-refining of the contaminated motor oil.
You can perform the first step at home and then take water-free motor oil to the nearest oil collection centers for recycling.
These are the professional steps involved in the reprocessing of contaminated motor oil.
Removal of water (Dewatering)
This is the first step of recycling the motor oil that has water in it, and it can be done at home easily. For dewatering, pour the contaminated oil into a container and use any of the above-mentioned methods for removing water from oil.
The most common way of doing this includes putting the mixtures into layers of two different densities, where the heavier one separates into a container.
The dewatering process is a pre-treatment, it is not required for the oil that has already been cleaned from the water contamination.
In this step, the treated oil is filtered for any solid particles, such as gravel and stones. The filtering process also removes any additives that you might put in your oil for different reasons.
To make the motor oil good as new, every impurity has to be removed and filtered during this step.
As the name suggests, this step involves the removal of inorganic mineral substances from the motor oil in the recycling phase. Some additional chemical components are added that make the oil base more refine.
Distillation is the last step in which the oil components are separated using higher boiling points. The distillation method turns the motor oil into the virgin oil form, and the recycling process of motor oil is completed.
Additives to Remove Water from Engine Oil
Water contamination in the engine oil can easily be removed using the simple techniques listed above. However, for the smaller quantity of water present in the engine oil, gravity and other methods get less effective.
There are many substances available that can be used to absorb the smaller amounts of water contents present in the engine oil. Such substances are called additives, and here are some of them:
There are many alcohol-based additives that you can put into an oil tank of your vehicle to absorb minute quantities of water. Those additives are water dispersants and they naturally soak up all the water contents from the engine oil.
The alcohol-based additives have the ability to remove sludge as well as absorb moisture from the oil.
Water Absorbing Socks:
Another substance that can be used as an additive for removing water from the motor oil is the water-absorbing sock. The absorbent sock is put into the oil tank for some time after which it is taken out, and the oil is cleaned.
There is some chemical material with porous properties present in the sock which removes the water from the engine oil after it is taken out. This type of additive can be reused.
1. Can I put rubbing alcohol in my gas tank to take water out?
Adding rubbing alcohol in the gas tank helps water to settle down at the bottom because the alcohol has a natural drying tendency. However, only the pure isopropyl alcohol will remove water from the engine oil by absorbing the water.
2. What happens if you put water in your engine oil?
Putting water in your engine oil is never a good idea because the engine oil with water contamination loses its ability to cool down the engine.
Moreover, if the coolant or any other water substance enters engine oil, it no longer stays effective.
3. How long does it take for water to separate from engine oil?
It may take just a few minutes to days, depending on how contaminated your engine oil is. Other factors that contribute to the difference in time for the water separation include; the density of the fluids, oil type, and size of oil droplets.
4. Is it good to flush engine oil?
Flushing the engine oil is good for the overall performance of the engine as it breaks down and dissolves the sludge and engine deposits. The engine oil flush, however, does not clean the engine valves and pipes.
5. Can a water-damaged engine be fixed?
Yes, most engines that have been damaged due to water contamination can be fixed and brought back to their original state. But such a task requires professional mechanical expertise, therefore cannot be done at home.
6. How much water in oil is bad?
Engine oil with even a few drops of water loses its efficiency to perform at a hundred percent. The oil with smaller amounts of water can be restored but as the water content increases, the engine faces severe consequences and it gets worse.
Your car can very easily be contaminated by moisture and stop giving its hundred percent engine performance.
Sometimes the water or moisture enters the engine oil due to a blown head or leaking gasket, while other times the fractured engine castings give it away.
You can check your engine oil for water or leaking coolant using the dipstick and hotplate method. Diagnosing the water contamination and learning how to remove oil from water can be achieved from this article.
Because unless you know how to treat the water contamination of your engine oil, you will have to pay loads of money to mechanics now and then.