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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Spontaneous Combustion of Oil Soaked Rags

6/16/2021 (Permalink)

Now that winter is gone and summer is here, the lists of “Honey Do’s” are in full swing. One common item on a few of our lists is staining or re-staining a deck or wood items in the home.

Did you know that one of the most common type of Spontaneous Combustion fires are those caused by improperly disposing of oil and stain-soaked rags? Examples of these products are oil-based paints, stains, teak, linseed oils, varnishes, polyurethane, paint thinners, etc. Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when rag or cloth is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation. The oils commonly used in oil-based paints and stains release heat as they dry. If the heat is not released in the air, it builds up. If this heat has no way to escape, like in a pile, the temperature will rise to a level high enough to ignite the oil and ignite the rag or cloth. The fire from this can spread quickly to other combustibles and cause great damage to your home or property.

Prevention of spontaneous combustion fires begins with good housekeeping. A clean work area can prevent a fire from spreading and getting bigger by not allowing the fire fuel to burn. Also understanding the potential for self-heating of rags soiled with oils such as linseed oil and turpentine is a key step in eliminating these preventable fires. To dispose of oily rags properly and safely,

 Use a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.  Place soiled and used rags inside and then fill the rest the way with water, seal the top and do not open it. This will prevent the oils from oxidizing, and thus keeping the rags from heating up and igniting.

If you have questions, feel free to call SERVPRO of Bend at 541-385-7044.

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