Our oil press is relatively simple, but it must be welded together. Check the construction directions for details. The press consists of a welded tubular frame which accepts a three-ton hydraulic jack. You may already have one. If not, it can be purchased at most auto and hardware stores for about $16. A metal canister with holes drilled in its sides and one end welded shut holds the mashed sunflower seeds. A piston is inserted in the canister and then inverted and slipped over a pedestal on the frame. The jack is set in place, and the pressure gradually increased over half an hour. The oil drips from the sides of the canister into a tray -- the bottom of a plastic jug slipped over the pedestal works fine -- which empties the oil into a cup. You can filter the oil with a coffee filter to remove pieces of seed and other fine particles that would burn if the oil were used for cooking. If it's for salads or mayonnaise, there's no need to filter it.
We first tried using "confectionary" sunflower seeds for oil. These are the regular eating kernels we're used to seeing. They give less than half as much oil as the oilseed types of sunflower. Although you can use confectionary types such as MAMMOTH RUS- SIAN for oil, don't expect to get more than an ounce and a half from a pound of seed. Oilseed produces three or more ounces of oil from a pound of seed and is well worth planting along with confectionary-type seeds. Oilseed has another big advantage -- to prepare it, you can put the whole, unhulled seed into a blender and whiz it until it forms a fine meal, while confectionary seeds must be dehulled first. The entire sequence of grading, dehulling and winnowing is avoided with oilseed.
I just need to get on the ball and find a welder who will make me one!