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spontaneous combustion questions: oily rags.

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by bobwilson1977, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. Jul 30, 2009 at 8:05 AM
    #1
    bobwilson1977

    bobwilson1977 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I've always been a tad paranoid about fire hazards. Out in my shop I almost always have 2-3 oily rag from working on cars, lawn mowers ect. I leave these hanging on nails so they get lots of air. But when its time to get rid of them I usually put them in a bucket of water and degreaser for a few days then put the soaked rags in 4-5 layers of plastic bag and dispose of them. From what I've read it sounds like things like motor oil, wheel bearing grease, and transmission fluid aren't all that combustible to start with. Its more like finishes, solvents, and thinners that are.

    I know there are a few firemen on here. Just making sure this sounds about right.
     
  2. Jul 30, 2009 at 8:18 AM
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    98tacoma27

    98tacoma27 is gooder 'en chicken Moderator

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    The flash point of oil is pretty high when compared to solvents. Remember, it isn't the liquid that burns, it's the vapors. I would suggest keeping oil/dirty rags in a metal container with a lid. Mark it as "OILY RAGS ONLY" and only use it for that purpose.
     
  3. Jul 30, 2009 at 8:27 AM
    #3
    98tacoma27

    98tacoma27 is gooder 'en chicken Moderator

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    The flashpoint of mobile one

    = 446 degree Fahrenheit

    From personal experience, welding near an oily rag will produce a smoldering effect and ignition (should an ember lnd on it). It isn't any where near what a solvent rag produces.
     
  4. Jul 30, 2009 at 8:34 AM
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    bobwilson1977

    bobwilson1977 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I read that too. Seems to me that almost all fires related to spontaneous combustion is from woodworking shops where the rags were soaked in linseed oil, tung oil, or some other wood finish or solvent. Apparently that stuff can ignite easily. If I ever get anything like gasoline on a rag, I let it air out and dry. I've been working on cars and mowers for years and never had any issues with the rags. But I still try to be wary of having rags in piles.
     
  5. Jul 30, 2009 at 8:35 AM
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    98tacoma27

    98tacoma27 is gooder 'en chicken Moderator

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    Same here. Gas soaked rags I will take outside to dry also, well away from any possible combustibles.
     
  6. Jul 30, 2009 at 8:39 AM
    #6
    bobwilson1977

    bobwilson1977 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I will say that the last few times I've dropped off used oil at the parts store that all around the big storage container they have in the back for the used oil were piles of rags for soaking up spills. These rags were just soaked in oil. Somehow that doesn't seem terribly safe.
     
  7. Jul 30, 2009 at 8:52 AM
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    98tacoma27

    98tacoma27 is gooder 'en chicken Moderator

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    It really isn't that bad as long as it's just oil. Try an experiment. Take a small rag and saturate it with oil. See if you can get it to light with an off the shelf lighter. It won't light. Try it again with a torch (propane kind). It will still have trouble igniting.

    DISCLAIMER = Use all safety precautions
     
  8. Jul 30, 2009 at 8:55 AM
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    bobwilson1977

    bobwilson1977 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    well, its not just oil. More like a combination of motor oil, hub grease, transmission fluid, gear oil, brake fluid, and just about everything else automotive related. But I suspect the same is true with these as well. They all have around a 400 degree flash point.
     
  9. Jul 30, 2009 at 9:00 AM
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    T@co_Pr3runn3r

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    I always thought spontaneous combustion was when a loud stinky obnoxious fart burst forth without warning or chance to squelch it usually in a crowded place or when people caught on fire & burnt up because they were very bad in some way.
     
  10. Jul 30, 2009 at 9:03 AM
    #10
    bobwilson1977

    bobwilson1977 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Yes- I've heard of this too. The devil was at work. Its similar to the story of the fat guy who lived in a trailer and farted himself ( gassed) to death by his own farts.
     
  11. Jul 30, 2009 at 10:20 AM
    #11
    Janster

    Janster Old & Forgetful

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    Start looking for MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets). They tell you everything you want/need to know about chemical hazards and how to handle them safely. Every liquid material should have an MSDS and that information should be FREE if you request it from any companies that sell chemicals.

    http://www.ilpi.com/MSDS/

    Here at work - we have to be completely OSHA compliant. All chemicals are labeled with special tags that designate their hazards & proper PPE (personal protection equipment) to wear. Any oily or chemical soaked rags have to be collected and put in special barrels. Our Safety Coordinator has them disposed of according to OSHA requirements.
     
  12. Jul 30, 2009 at 10:46 AM
    #12
    Fire931

    Fire931 Well-Known Member Vendor

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    well i've been on the fire dept for about 9 years now.... as far as oily rags go.. if its just simple motor oil, tranny fluid, brake fluid, ect. then i wouldnt be to concerned about them.... just make a point to put them up somewhere that you wont be welding, grinding, using a torch around them.... now if you have rags that have been soaked in gasoline, paint thinner, ect. then i would make sure to put them outside and let them thoroughly dry, maybe even spray them down with water afterwards and let them dry again... then put them away. as far as disposal of said rags... just wrap them up in a plastic bag so they dont get oil everywhere and you should be good.

    out of the majority of garage/shop fires i've been to theres typically two things that happen. one is someone was welding or using a torch and had combustibles laying directly around them, or they are using a high current machine such as a welder or plasma cutter on a electrical circuit that wasnt designed to handle such a load and stuff started melting....
     
  13. Jul 30, 2009 at 10:57 AM
    #13
    bobwilson1977

    bobwilson1977 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Fire931,
    Definitely appreciate it. Yes, pretty much all car related oils, etc etc.
     
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