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Thread: WARNING: Linseed oil and rags

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Newnan, GA
    Posts
    31

    WARNING: Linseed oil and rags

    I posted this on several other woodworking forums of which I'm a member but feel so strongly about this that I felt it needed posting here as well. Many of us use BLO in finishing, so the possibility is there.

    I just left a friend's house who left some linseed oil soaked rags, less than 24 hours, in a bucket in his attached garage. They smoked up the garage and were just at the point of ignition when his wife noticed smoke in the garage. She called 911 and firefighters were able to find the problem before damage was done, mainly smoke. The biggest problem was that she is confined to a wheelchair and the only exit ramp is through the garage. Guess you know what we'll be doing pretty quick....building another ramp to the outside.

    I guess I said all that to say....dispose of those oily rags properly!!!

    Joe
    "When the horse is dead....Get Off!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Posts
    8,529
    Yup been posted here before but bears repeating . I personally have had it happen to me. Take them oily rags and open them up and hang em up. Don't let them get bunched up when to smell is gone it is then safe to dispose of them.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Central NY State
    Posts
    3,374
    Thanks Joe, your message is one which can't be repeated too many times.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    13,448
    Good to know, was planning to work with some soon...Thanks.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    2,749
    Yep, I always open them up and leave them outside until dry or disposed of. Back when I had an industrial job there were signs warning about this danger in the shop.
    Cheers,
    Roger


    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    Posts
    4,352
    I've never had this happen to me, but 1. I don't use a lot of linseed oil and 2. I had read this warning somewhere before and took heed... I lay all finish cloths across the edge of the trash can to dry before they get tossed inside... it a good warning and I'm adamant about doing that because of the spontaneous combustion problem.
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    1,448
    How real is this problem? Let me share a story. Our church was being rebuilt - almost done - the painters had just finished oil-staining the ceiling, and in a couple days the pews were going to be installed. The painters had left their stain rags spread out to dry. The general contractor came through to check, and had his helper clean up the messy rags left around by those sloppy painters. He piled them in the corner next to the air conditioning duct. The church burned to the ground overnight, since the AC duct guided the flames to the roof and ceiling.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Posts
    8,529
    Here is proof. I left the rag balled up on a bench and went about doing something else while the BLO was drying on the piece I had finished applying the BLO on. I smelled something burning and turned around and could see smoke coming from the balled up rag. The good news was I was still in the shop. This took only about an hour to occur. I am sure the 100 degree Arizona temps help speed up the reaction.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_1681.jpg  
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Schenectady, NY
    Posts
    912
    Always good to bring this up again. Remember it's not just Linseed oil-most oil based finishes react the same way.
    Don Orr

    Woodturners make the World go ROUND

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    falcon heights, minnesota
    Posts
    5,610
    when i'm done with my rags, i soak them good with water, then put them in a ziploc bag, fill it with water, then remove all air from the bag.
    benedictione omnes bene

    www.burroviejowoodworking.com

    check out my etsy store, buroviejowoodworking

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