Sunday, February 9, 2014

About oil soaked rags and spontaneous combustion..

Apparently oil-soaked rags generate heat as they dry (exothermic cure) and like to burn things down. Read plenty of horror stories, though mostly from people who really soak rags in oil, whereas I put little dabs of oil very thinly on them. The solution I kept seeing was to 'dispose of oil soaked rags in a metal container with a lid filled with water'.

Wait - wat?!

That doesn't actually solve the problem, now does it? I guess that would keep them from bursting into flames, but how do you really get rid of them?

As it turns out, that advice is only a partial solution, coming from some legal manual on disposal of waste products - it's only a way to store the rags until your rag disposal truck comes round each week or month or whatever. Yeah, I know - I don't have that service either.

So I dug around some more - several ways to actually get rid of those incendiary little buggers. You can chuck them on a fire, or hang them to dry. Important though - they can't be more than one layer thick anywhere - no doubling up, and you can't hang them on anything absorbent like wood. One guy reported hanging them on wheelbarrow handles to find the handles themselves smoldering in the morning. Wood absorbs the oil and does the same thing.

I settled on using one of my lighting c stands with a pair of arms on it (steel tubing) so I can hang rags over both arms, leaving plenty of air space so the two halves don't come together. Probably total overkill, but better safe than sorry when it comes to fire.

Next day the danger is past and you can safely trash em.

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