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Thread: Spontaneous Combustion

  1. #1

    Spontaneous Combustion

    Have to admit I always thought spontaneous combustion was an urban myth (except in the case of the drummer from Spinal Tap)

    But I always followed the rules anyways....pic attached is what if found left over of an old paint can with some oil soaked rags on it....set it on the shelf of my bbq to dry out. Note the gallon can was not squished down when I put it there.

    Spontaneous Combustion.jpg

  2. #2
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    Scary stuff! The town grocery store burned when I was young for the same reason. How many rags were there?

  3. #3
    Nothing to do with oil but when we mix epoxy to fill the crack where two counters meet at work and leave it in the cup, it will start to smoke so I guess its possible that it could catch on fire if you weren't careful.
    "The key to a long life is when you start to die, don't"

  4. #4
    Very. Scary. Thanks for the reminder. Glad you are safe and your home is ok.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  5. #5
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    My brother in laws wife and kids stained their deck and threw all their rags in a pile and left them on the deck. They awoke to a fire on their deck. Lucky they caught it early enough to get it put out them self's. Could have burnt the house down. They didn't even think about the combustion part.
    I have never had it happen to me but always lay rags out flat on concrete after using. It does happen...

  6. #6
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    I bought a Oily waste garbage can, or whatever they call them, and wet the rags. But, wow.

    FWIW, when using epoxy, I put the cup with the leftover epoxy in another plastic container with an inch or two of water in the bottom.

    Again, impressive picture. Thankfully, nothing burned down.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
    - Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

  7. #7
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    I understand this can happen with various items that produce heat during cure (exothermic reaction for the full nerd term).
    However, I'm curious what specifically this paint/oil was. I expect it was a very common finish.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Arnsdorff View Post
    I understand this can happen with various items that produce heat during cure (exothermic reaction for the full nerd term).
    However, I'm curious what specifically this paint/oil was. I expect it was a very common finish.
    It's obvious - just read the label on the can.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
    - Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

  9. #9
    It's a good think the can was outside! Here's a video from Atomic Ryan showing his experience with boiled linseed oil.


  10. #10
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    By putting oily rags in a can you created the de-facto test setup used to demonstrate this dangerous practice. Lay the rags out flat to dry, then throw in the trash. I am glad folks post these things since despite numerous warnings on forums and being mentioned in almost any book on workshops these fires keep happening.

    The same goes for extension cord reels whether spring loaded or not.

    Extension Cord Fire-2.JPGExtension Cord Fire.JPG

    We keep seeing folks load the cord without unreeling it and having a meltdown. If it wasn't so dangerous it would be funny. Let's all be careful out there.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  11. #11
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    My OCD mentality after seeing this happen in a high school wood shop class years ago causes me to immerse any finish soaked applicator including foam brushes in water in an old Tupperware container and put it outside on a non combustible surface. Probably overkill but better than a fire especially in a shop filled with dust and wood.

  12. #12
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    As I'm working I'll put the rags in a bucket of water, and at the end of the day I dump the bucket full of rags and brushes on the fire pit out back. Never had any fires but it only takes once - not worth the risk.

    Glen - somehow I didn't know that about cord reels. Must have been my sheltered childhood. Thanks for bringing it up.
    You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens.
    Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.
    - Bob Curtin

  13. #13
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    Wait, what about cord reels? I haven't heard that one before, please tell
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Riefer View Post
    Wait, what about cord reels? I haven't heard that one before, please tell
    I hadn't heard that either (though I don't use reels), but I could infer that if you had a long extension cord on a reel and were using a significant draw over a long period of time that the heat from the center (of the corded area) of the reel would not be able to radiate it's heat away. It would just sink into the surrounding cords. Do this for long enough with a thick enough reel and you might eventually cause a fire?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Riefer View Post
    Wait, what about cord reels? I haven't heard that one before, please tell
    The instructions that came with my Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner, with retractable power cord, stated the cord must be pulled out to the yellow marker before using. The reason given was excessive heat in the cable during use would build up if the cable was only pulled partially out and could be a fire hazard.

    I noticed one of my 25-meter extension cords was hot after about 20 minutes of continuous use with my shop vac when I had pulled out about two meters of cable from the reel. When I pulled all of the cable off the reel, the cable didn't even get warm for the rest of the day of similar use.

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