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Old 04-21-2021, 10:12 AM
chuck40219
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Safe storage of oily rags



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Safe storage of oily rags we use to oil our guns after cleaning.

My bil had a issue with a small fire starting in a house he was renovating for his daughter. No real harm done but could have burnt the whole place down.

Does the warning about oily rags apply to oil we use on our guns or only to woodworking materials?

I have always kept my oily rag I use for final wipe down in a zip lock bag after use.

Have checked on the internet and can not find any guidelines except hanging them up to air dry.

Looking for guidance.

Chuck40219
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  #2  
Old 04-21-2021, 10:16 AM
David Valdina
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Talk to your fire department.

Talk to your fire department for straight info. A single piece of cloth laid out flat should probably be ok. If any heat develops, it will vent away. Crumpling up, bunching up is bad and if then placed into a confined space, worse. I would think all oil and similar present this problem.
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Old 04-21-2021, 10:37 AM
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Spontaneous combustion is real, and dangerous. No bagges, no cans, leave them out, if you cant stand the smell throw them out.
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Old 04-21-2021, 10:44 AM
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IIRC, one of the worst offenders is linseed oil or boiled linseed oil. I don't remember if it's both types or just one, and if it's just one, I don't remember which.

Hector
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Old 04-21-2021, 10:45 AM
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I would like to know more about the conditions that cause combustion. I've put them in baggies, I've put them in bottles, I've put them in ammo cans. Never seen one ignite on its own either motor oil or 3 in 1, nor WD40. Is there maybe a particular combination of cloth and oil that is more likely to react on its own? I know in shops you should not keep a whole barrel of oil soaked rags but it's just super flammable. Maybe during a renovation something sparked. I would think a 30 cal steel can would be a good place. Even if it ignites which I doubt, the can would be fire proof and the oxygen would be so limited it would put itself out. I think there is a much greater risk from a pile of damp hay.
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Old 04-21-2021, 11:18 AM
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Just had a close friend, building his house. Was to the point of doing the interior trim. Was staining it in the garage portion of the new construction. Left the rags sitting on the floor afterwards and left for the night. That was about 1900. At 2300 the whole structure was ingulfed in flames. The fire marshal just came back with the findings, the stain rags ignited and started sawdust on fire, moving to the walls and the whole structure. Total loss and 8 months of construction gone. Thank heavens he had construction insurance on it. Fully covered.

I've always been told to treat oil stain rags and BLO rags, as combustible and put them in a metal container or in water.

Never been told that any other oil will spontaneously combust.

Anyone ask Rhody? He was a pro firefighter in an earlier life.

Craig...
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Old 04-21-2021, 11:39 AM
Kestrel4k
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For this characteristic, there are two types of oils - curing and non-curing.

BLO, linseed oil, Tung oil, etc; react with oxygen as part of their curing process.
This generates heat; and can spontaneously combust if cooling airflow is restricted.

Other more typical oils - lubricating oils or common solvents - are far more stable in air, and do not cure. These aren't really an issue in a comparable way.

Edit: there is a very good recent thread over at CMP Forums on this topic:
PSA: Boiled Linseed Oil Flammability--It's Real.

Last edited by Kestrel4k; 04-21-2021 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 04-21-2021, 11:41 AM
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A sealed metal can is the proper way to handle the situation.
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Old 04-21-2021, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kestrel4k View Post
For this characteristic, there are two types of oils - curing and non-curing.

BLO, linseed oil, Tung oil, etc; react with oxygen as part of their curing process.
This generates heat; and can spontaneously combust if cooling airflow is restricted.

Other more typical oils - lubricating oils or common solvents - are far more stable in air, and do not cure. These aren't really an issue in a comparable way.

Edit: there is a very good recent thread over at CMP Forums on this topic:
PSA: Boiled Linseed Oil Flammability--It's Real.
Agreed Kestrel. To keep it simple I treat ANY wood finish coating rags as potential fire bombs. When done applying finish I lay them flat out in the grass to dry off and then into the shop dumpster.

Had a floor refinishing business in a unit behind us go up in flames overnight a few years ago when their crew came back from doing a gymnasium floor and left soaked rags in a van parked inside. Total loss and wrecked several of their neighbors too from smoke damage.

I don't believe lightly oiled gun wiping cloths are a concern in this regard. But stock finishing rags absolutely!

Frank
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Old 04-21-2021, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toomany22s View Post
Spontaneous combustion is real, and dangerous. No bagges, no cans, leave them out, if you cant stand the smell throw them out.
Not trying to be a wise arse, but how do you throw them out without committing the same problem as discussed in the prior post(s)? If you lay them out flat to dry before disposing of them, won't you still be smelling them?

NEVER MIND - My brain just woke up! Dry them outside!

Last edited by vet6771; 04-21-2021 at 01:39 PM. Reason: Reddeming self for stupid question!
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Old 04-21-2021, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by vet6771 View Post
NEVER MIND - My brain just woke up! Dry them outside!
Yep! The chain link fence right outside my detached garage comes in quite handy for this.

Roger
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  #12  
Old 04-21-2021, 02:31 PM
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Oily rag steel cans are what I have always seen used. They have a thermo link that will melt and close lid if left open. Made of steal about 5 gal.
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Old 04-21-2021, 03:06 PM
chuck40219
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let me clarify

Speaking of the lube/rust oils, not wood finishing. 1 small rag with gun oil.

chuck40219
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Old 04-21-2021, 03:18 PM
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I've worked in several industries and oily rag storage cans were acceptable from OSHA. If you are using one rag at a time throw it away. I have seen several instances the can stopped a combustion. None of those industries had anything to do with wood working.

You need a can that minimizes ventilation, or will shut completely when a certain temp is reached. You can find these cans for 70 bucks. Me I stick mine outside in a galvanized bucked and then burn them.
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Old 04-21-2021, 03:23 PM
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How did I make it to middle age and never hear about this?

I clean my guns with cotton patches and paper towels, so I don't have a rag storage issue, but this thread was an education.

Last edited by zukiphile; 04-21-2021 at 09:03 PM.
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