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Thread: Disposal of oily rags!

  1. #1
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    Disposal of oily rags!

    Hi folks,

    here's an eye-opening reminder to properly dispose of rags used with linseed oil or other oils with driers:

    https://pegsandtails.wordpress.com/2.../the-good-oil/

    my favorite disposal site is my woodstove...
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  2. #2
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    West Lafayette, IN
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    It could have been a lot worse!

  3. #3
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    NW Indiana
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    I have been throwing the used rags, applicators, paper towels etc out on the burn pile for years waiting for that to happen. And so far no go - no combustion. Also no false sense of security. I continue to do it.
    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    We occasionally have conversation about this here at SMC, but this is a good reminder that it truly is important. Yes, a lot of folks have never experienced it, but it only takes one time for disaster to happen. I put the oily paper towels out on a post with hooks on it so they can blow in the wind to dry before I dispose of them

    One other area that folks need to start to think a little bit more about this is the increasing interest in the use of resin for casting, etc. Resin cures with exothermic output...it can get pretty hot, especially on thick pours. It's important to pay attention. The risk is lower than with oily rags, but still...folks should be careful anyway.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
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    Thanks for a good reminder. I am often surprised at how often this happens despite articles in the trade rags, discussions on the forum and what-not. While finishing I have a lidded bucket where used rags go into water until the session is finished. I live where you don't burn waste in the yard so I just lay them flat till the next day and then toss them in the trash.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 12-08-2019 at 2:12 PM.
    I am familiar with modern idioms but they are outside the vocabulary of what I want to say.

    - George Dyson (composer)

  6. #6
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    Glenn, it's such an easy thing to overlook even when someone is generally pretty anal about it. "Oh, I'll take this outside when I'm done working today"...and it's still there on the bench all wadded up when the lights get turned out.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    I wear nitrile gloves while finishing. As soon as I am done with a rag, while still wearing the gloves, I walk to a chainlink gate I have outside and tie the rag through a hole in that fence. Days later when the rag is stiff and dry, it goes into the trash. Those rags never reenter my shop.
    Ken

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    I wear nitrile gloves while finishing. As soon as I am done with a rag, while still wearing the gloves, I walk to a chainlink gate I have outside and tie the rag through a hole in that fence. Days later when the rag is stiff and dry, it goes into the trash. Those rags never reenter my shop.
    That's almost identical to what I do as noted above, Ken...including the gloves!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    It is only when an oily rag gets in a confined space is where spontaneous combustion can occur. If it is spread out to dry nothing will happen or even spread out and hung over the edge of a wast basked nothing will happen. but put it in a closed area like waded up and put in a trash can and look out. That is why the approved containers have spring loaded lids to deprive the rags from ignigniting.

    As far as Nitrile gloves go, it is better and easier to cover up that to remove finish from hands especially with a solvent that can be absorbed through the skin. When it comes to finishing they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    And as far as rages go it is better to lay them out flat, than to have it s still there on the bench all wadded up when the lights get turned out. And outside not in a closed area is even better. Problems occur in a confined space. Prevention is worth a pound of cure.
    Tom

  10. #10
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    I have 15 oily rag containers. Not cheap new, affordable used.

  11. #11
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    Laying them out flat or hanging them flat over the edge of a container doesn't necessarily mitigate the risk...they can inadvertently get moved by brushing by them or air movement from say, an HVAC system, etc. and end up in a position that there is potential for ignition, depending on the specific product, etc. Depriving them of a sustainable oxygen source via a closed container or immersion in water or helping them to dry out/cure quickly out in the breeze is still a best practice.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    I apply oil with a brush. The idea of leaving a rag wet enough with oil for it to ignite sets off my cheapskate nerve. Rags are just way to wasteful. I feel like rags are just vessels for throwing out expensive material. Brushes also do a better job of flooding the surface and moving material. I can usually clean up a fairly large piece with one small rag and it won't be all that wet.

  13. #13
    Would it be safe if you took the oily rag, wadded it up, and put it in a ziplock type bag, squeezing out all the air as you close it?
    Squeezing out means the bag looks like a vacuum sealed Foodsaver bag when you're done.

    The theory here being that combustion cannot happen in the absence of oxygen.

  14. #14
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    About 16 years ago, I was finishing a walnut blanket chest with boiled linseed oil I told my wife the rags were dangerous and set them out on my concrete patio in January when it was 25 degrees outside. The following week we were rushing to see my child's play, and I just tossed the rags in my plastic trash can in my unheated garage. At 2AM my wife smelled something. My smoke detectors then activated. I opened the garage to thick smoke. The garbage can was incinerated. We had fire resistant drywall in the garage, but the fire got into my ductwork. Some courageous firemen saved my house. My insurance paid for an expert restoration costing near $200,000 dollars.

  15. #15
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    This came up a couple of years ago, so I called (I think it was Minwax) and they said if you simply throw them in water so they are totally wet, they are then safe to discard.
    But as one member has already pointed out, epoxy may be unlike drying oils and perhaps water does not work on it.

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