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Author Topic:   Spontaneous Combustion
Crabby Mike posted 11-19-2003 07:38 PM ET (US)   Profile for Crabby Mike   Send Email to Crabby Mike  
I have been reading that several members are getting ready for their winter projects. Several mentioned that they will be refinishing the teak on their boats and I wanted to add a word of caution.
If you use an oil finish, whether its tung oil, boiled linseed or “teak oil” (actually a mixture of tung and linseed) NEVER leave ANY rags with oil on them in the shop.
There are many documented cases of spontaneous combustion caused by the oily rags.

Good luck with all of your projects.


ryanwhaler posted 11-19-2003 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
At my Voc high school all used rags are kept in metel trash cans with covers, this is the safest way of doing it.
SpeedBump posted 11-19-2003 09:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for SpeedBump  Send Email to SpeedBump     
Always check the cautions on the container the oil comes in. Generally the best practice to dispose of these rags is to soak the used rags in water then lay them out flat outside to dry. Another option is after soaking them in water, place them in a sealed container of water, if you have a combustion can like Ryan mentioned use that, if they fire up the can contains the fire and they just smolder. Never leave the oil soaked rags rolled up, in a pile or in a confined area, they most certainly will cook to the point of starting a fire as they dry.

WAtco Oil was sued a number of years ago for their "lack of Information" on spontanious combustion. I believe it ruined the company and minwax bought them out.

Also a number of years ago while refinishing a wood paneled board room in the Meridian bank building in Philadelphia a couple of workers set the sky scraper on fire by improperly storing used rags that were oil soaked. A 30+ story, multimillion piece of property burned to the ground because some one left a pile of oil soaked rags out in a pile at the end of a work day. a number of lives lost and a horrible event.

Cicada posted 11-19-2003 11:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
I have a Weber grill that I usually stick them in until they dry. It seems as though the working with oil and grilling occur at different times of year. The grill is kept outside away from anything flammable. Don't know how good of practice this is but it seems to work for me. Never seem to have a metal container around. I don't like fires. The damage can be awsome.


Crabby Mike posted 11-19-2003 11:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Crabby Mike  Send Email to Crabby Mike     
The metal container that Ryan is talking about should not be just a trashcan. Ryan if it is just a trashcan, your teachers know better! The container should be made of very heavy gauge steel with an airtight lid manufactured for the purpose and UL approved. No air, no combustion. While it is safe to keep them around this way, why take a chance?
Speedbump has the right idea in soaking them in water and Cicada's solution of keeping them away from the house sounds safe enough but why save the rags? They usually aren’t usable. Put them in a container of water and throw the whole mess out.
Just my .02


Dick posted 11-21-2003 12:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I don't have any wood on my Montauk but I do a lot of woodworking. I primarily use Watco oil finishes and some MinWax products, all can cause a nasty fire.

The solution I have found is to use the blue paper towels from HD, Lowes etc and disposable brushes.

When finished dunk them in some water, into a plastic bag, seal it and then into the garbage.

Been doing it that way at this house for 16 years and it hasn't burned down yet.


hooter posted 11-21-2003 07:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for hooter    
Ah like t' put mah old erl'y rags on aint piles, them light 'em. really makes them suckers run:-!
Crabby Mike posted 11-21-2003 11:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for Crabby Mike  Send Email to Crabby Mike     
Hooter---LOL! :-)

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