The First Grease Hunt

The View from the Grease

As we were leaving Kansas City, we decided to stop and top off our tank of veggie oil. We were giddy with excitement as we went “hunting” for some good grease :). We pulled off at an exit with a lot of restaurants and headed toward a little place called “The Waffle House”. Matt got out and inspected the grease. Strike one. It was bad. There are many ways to tell if grease is bad…but I’ll save that for another post. So off we went to check out some more. Here is the official record…I think it’s safe to say that most of these places had just had their rendering service take their grease. Maybe Monday is a bad day?

  • Waffle House: bad grease
  • KFC/Taco Johns: empty
  • McDonald’s: locked
  • Wendy’s/DQ: drive through too close to grease
  • The Big Biscuit: empty
  • Bua Thai: empty
  • Country Cafe: empty
  • Bob Evans Restaurant: empty
  • Country Kitchen: JACKPOT!!

We pulled into Country Kitchen and Matt parked in the HUGE open space in the back. This is key for us. Because we are so large (32 feet plus pulling a car)…it’s harder to find grease that is easily pumped. So we were excited to find that this one was easy in/easy out. Matt went to check to grease first…you don’t want to bother asking about taking it unless it’s good. He gave me the thumbs up sign and headed inside. He got the “ok” and we were off! The first official pumping of veggie oil for the Live Lightly Tour. Momentous. We took what we could from their tank (about 15 gallons) and we were off. We went about 1/2 hour up the interstate and Matt decided to pull off on the exit and “just check”. I have a feeling that we’ll be doing a lot of “just checking” in the next year. :) It’s exciting to find good grease. (Disclaimer:It was our first try at this, so it took us a bit longer. After we get better at this, we’ll kind of know where to go and what places to avoid. Also, if you are converting your car, it’s a lot easier to just pull right in and out! Also when you stay in one place, you get to know the local restaurant owners and you can have a “contract” with them. It’s like your own little gas station…but free).

We found a little mom and pop place called “Toot Toot Family Restaurant”. Family-run or smaller restaurants are usually better for finding good grease than chain fast food restaurants. As we pulled around the back, we both squeeled with glee as we saw THREE grease bins sitting there with a huge parking area surrounding it. Score! Matt filled up our entire 90 gallon tank and we were set for about 900 miles. Considering gas is about $3.00 a gallon, when we fill up a tank on empty, we save $270. 00. I like that! As we set off down the road, the feeling of satisfaction was overwhelming. We are so excited to be doing something that is environmentally friendly, having fun with our family, and at the same time educating others about alternative fuels.

See the photo set of our first fill up here.


  1. Sara, this is really exciting. I want to convert my car. I have been telling everyone about what you & Matt are doing. I am anxious to keep up with this. Come to Tennessee!!!

    Comment by angela — June 27, 2007 @ 1:19 pm

  2. That is awesome! You guys are really living the life and walking the walk. Truly inspirational.
    ps ~ I’m stalking your flickr site. Your photography is gorgeous!!

    Comment by Tracie — June 27, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  3. This is pretty awesome to watch and I have been wanting to do the veggie fuel for quit sometime. If you hit a snag a good couple of guys to contact can be found here:

    They are kayaking bums from your neck of the woods who drove from Alaska to Argentina on nothing but local bio fuels. Pretty cool.

    Good luck and keep living the dream.


    Comment by jamie — June 27, 2007 @ 3:38 pm

  4. I worked in a Waffle House during college… the grease will probably be all yucky!! You are right, the small mom and pop places are your best bet!! Goodluck!

    Comment by Erica — June 27, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

  5. That is so cool!! You guys are really living the dream!! :) May your journey be slippery with tons of good grease LOL

    Comment by Devon — June 27, 2007 @ 11:35 pm

  6. that is so cool! you guys are my heroes! I will definitely be following you on this live light tour! keep postin!

    Comment by kate — June 28, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

  7. Sounds like your having a great adventure. We are praying for you all. Is Bella having fun as well?

    Comment by Ellie — June 28, 2007 @ 6:10 pm

  8. I’ve eaten at Toot Toot’s many times. I hope you ate there. It is darn good eats!

    Comment by Matt — June 28, 2007 @ 8:10 pm

  9. Sounds like a lot of fun. Can’t wait to get out of the Army and have the freedom to tour around the country.

    If you are ever in Central NC e-mail me and stop on by (bout an hour south of Raleigh). I usually have 55 gallons cleaned and ready to go in the garage.

    Good luck and I’ll be checking up on your adventure through out the year.

    Comment by Jason — June 29, 2007 @ 11:36 am

  10. Dang…900 miles on one tank? I’m jealous.
    We’ve got a Dodge Ram 2500 that we’re trying to run biodiesel in where we can find it out West, but stations are few and far between out here. Seems like finding straight grease would be so much easier! Keep up the great work, we’re cheering you on over here.

    Comment by Rene — June 30, 2007 @ 5:37 am

  11. This sounds interesting, do you have any idea how many people could really be out there looking for grease? Is there a limit on how many people can make like you do?

    Comment by Protaganist — July 8, 2007 @ 4:24 am

  12. The Toot Toot! I’m pretty sure that’s the place my college roomies future in-laws owned and where I first ever officially learned to country dance. Did it have a bar upstairs and restaurant down? Of course that was, gulp, 15 years ago.

    Comment by maria — July 10, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

  13. Hey, when you hit Massachusetts you can go to all the fish and chip places. It is a Friday tradition and the good places change their oil all the time.

    Comment by Donna — July 16, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

  14. What are you using to get the oil out of the barrel?

    Comment by Jas — April 17, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  15. Jas…it’s a custom on-board gathering/filtration system installed by Golden Fuel Systems (

    Comment by livelightly2 — April 18, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

  16. Does your onboard filter system have a heater and centrifuge or does it just use filters? Do you pan test the grease for water before collecting it?


    Comment by Steven Keller — August 9, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

  17. Can you tell me more technical details on how you are filtering your oil. Do you us a centrifuge? How are you getting any water out? How much do you spend on filters. We are planning on doing a similiar family trip and run our excursion on veggie.

    I am planning on making a small filtering station using a dieselcraft centrifuge.


    Comment by Steve — August 16, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  18. Never mind my question, I found the answer on your site. Check out
    fasciating approach to filtering oil, and would probably allow you to take oil you would normally have to pass up.


    Comment by Steve — August 16, 2008 @ 8:01 pm

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