Managing Hazardous Waste

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Re-Refined Oil Fact Sheet

July 2003*

Best Environmental Practices for Auto Repair and Fleet Maintenance

What is Re-Refined Oil?

Oil pouring out of a containerUsed motor oil is treated to remove contaminants, such as dirt, fuel, and water and distilled to separate light and heavy oils. Three products are made, asphalt flux (roofing materials), gas oil (refinery fuel) and base oil. The base oil is sold to blenders, who combine the base oils with  additives to make finished lubricants like motor oil, transmission fluid and grease. Re-refined oil is the finished blend of base oils with additives and may be 100% re-refined content or blended with virgin base oil. Used oil can be re-refined over and over again, it never wears out – it just gets dirty.

Are Re-Refined Lubricants Safe to Use?

  • Re-refined oil is subject to the same stringent refining, compounding, and performance standards as virgin oil.
  • Lubricants made from re-refined base stocks must meet the same standards as virgin lubricants in order to receive the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) certification.
  • Major auto and engine manufacturers, Mercedes Benz, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and Detroit Diesel warranties allow the use of re-refined oils as long as they are API certified.

Where Can I Buy Re-Refined Oil Products?

To find distributors in California, check the Rerefined Oil (opens new window) web pages on CalRecycle’s website. You can also find distributors of other recycled content products on CalRecycle’s Recyled-Product Content Manufacturers (opens new window) web page.

Re-Refined Oil — Make Change for the better!

Get Paid for Recycling

If you own or operate equipment that generates used oil, you are considered an industrial generator of used oil. If you become a registered industrial generator, you can receive a 16¢ per gallon recycling incentive for all the used oil generated by your equipment.

Curbside collection programs that pick up used oil may also become registered with the State. Once registered, program operators can receive the 16¢ per gallon recycling incentive for all the used oil collected at curbside as well as used oil generated by program vehicles.

Private businesses, local governments, or special districts may become registered industrial generators or registered curbside collection programs.

The Industrial Generator Registration Program is administered by CalRecycle. For more information, visit CalRecycle’s Rerefined Oil (opens new window) web page, or call the Used Oil Recycling Program at (916) 341-6457.

Does Re-refined Oil Cost More?

There is no real price difference between re-refined and virgin oils. In fact, re-refined oil may sometimes be a few cents per quart cheaper. The final cost is dependent on factors such as blend, quantity and supplier. Group procurement agreements can also save money. If you are a California state or local government agency you may buy re-refined oil, as well as other products, through the statewide commodity contract. Visit the Department of General Services (opens new window) web site for information on their recycled products contract.

Why Buy Re-Refined Oil?

  • Conserve a natural resource
  • Increase market demand for high end uses of used oil
  • Reduce dependence on foreign oil and trade deficit
  • Provide jobs

Re-Refined Oil Facts

  • 2.5 quarts of lube oil can be produced from one gallon of used oil.
  • Re-refining is energy efficient – it takes less energy to produce a gallon of re-refined base stock than to produce a base stock from crude oil.
  • Re-refined oil prices are competitive with virgin oil products.
  • Re-refined oils that are API certified meet warranty requirements for new cars and trucks.
  • Mercedes-Benz installs oil with re-refined content in their new cars at the factory.

More Information & Contacts

For assistance or additional information, contact the DTSC office nearest you, or call our Regulatory Assistance Officers at:

Toll-Free in CA: 800-728-6942 or 800 72-TOXIC
Outside CA: 916-324-2439

For a list of all DTSC offices, go to our Office Address and Phone Numbers web page.


This fact sheet does not replace or supersede relevant statutes and regulations. The information contained in this fact sheet is based upon the statutes and regulations in effect as of the date of the fact sheet. Interested parties should keep apprised of subsequent changes to relevant statutes and regulations.