Wind Oil for Soapmaking
Last post I explored how I would go about turning our manufacturing process completely farm-to-skin. Today I want to talk about one of the inspirations for wanting to take more control over our raw material production, and possibly one of the tools that would help us do so: wind oil. A few years ago, Dutch designer Dave Hakkens made a sleek and functional wind-powered oil press. It is basically a mini-windmill for your backyard. All you have to do is gather the nuts, place them in the hopper, and wait for the wind to do the work.
Wind oil design
The wind oil-machine is about seven feet tall. The wind turbine looks similar to that of the old mid-western agricultural windmills. It has fifteen blades made out of sheet metal. A worm drive gear arrangement sits behind the turbine, which turns the spinning of the blades into slow, powerful rotation around a vertical driveshaft. The driveshaft extends to an auger that is housed in a copper press assembly, which is located about halfway up the windmill. There is a platform under the copper press, with space for two bottles. One bottle collects the oil, while another bottle collects the leftover pulp.
Other oil expellers
The closest thing on the market to Dave Hakkens’ wind oil press is the Piteba hand crank oil expeller that is, interestingly, also from the Netherlands. The mechanism of the Piteba oil expeller also utilizes an auger that rotates within a metal tube, and it similarly separates the oil from the pulp. However, the Piteba mechanism is oriented horizontally compared to the wind oil machine, no gear assembly is needed to turn horizontal rotation into vertical, and a hand crank, of course, supplies all the necessary torque.
Making cold-pressed oil
Both Hakkens’ wind oil machine and the Piteba produce cold pressed oil, which just means no heat is used in the oil extraction. (If heat is used, more oil can be extracted, but heat may alter the taste of the oil.) The Piteba website mentions that it can press any seed nut or dried fruit that is at least 25 percent oil. I would expect the wind oil machine to have similar capabilities. Some of the nuts and seeds Dave Hakkens likes to press include hazelnuts, walnuts, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds! If you read our post on creating a farm-to-face soapmaking operation, you’ll know why I have a special affinity for pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
One of the features of Dave Hakkens’ projects are that they are open source. At some point I think I read that he intended to make wind oil plans available so we can all build our own wind oil presses. I emailed him in 2015 or so asking if he would send me some plans, and he emailed back saying he was too busy! Well, it looks like he’s been working on spreading a DIY plastic recycling movement all around the world, so I suppose that’s more important than pressing a few seeds.
Metaphor wind oil?
Is a wind oil press in our future? Maybe. Most of the pieces look pretty easy to duplicate, except the auger. Maybe you can get a replacement Piteba auger somewhere. If not, it looks like there are plenty of Piteba oil expeller hacks documented online, including…one with a bicycle? But first, we have plenty of half-finished projects, such as increasing our revenue a bit by getting more of y’all to the website. So, perhaps, not in the near future. But…you never know.