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Forum topic by katilicous posted 03-11-2012 06:24 AM 3627 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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42 posts in 2432 days

03-11-2012 06:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: fire boiled linseed oil rags smolder disposal

After smothering some old barn wood in Boiled Linseed Oil with a staining pad and wiping clean with a nice soft rag I left the garage for approx 2 hours. When I came back to throw another coat on my wood the pad and rag were charred. Where the two fabrics had touched the oil had combusted and a small fire had begun and then thankfully self extinguished. The whole rag and pad weren’t ash, but it was a nice crunchy wake up call to just how little it takes to do potential damage.
OK, so question… What do I do with all my Linseed Oil soaked things? I know metal can full of water, metal lid and then what… Do I throw this stuff in the washer or dry it out somehow ? I love using the oil, but am I filling up landfills with old paint cans full of water and rags? The directions on the back just leave you with a metal container full and closed and I think there is a next step they have failed to provide.
What do other people do with theirs? Thanks.

-- If you fall, I'll be there. -Floor

16 replies so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3772 days

#1 posted 03-11-2012 12:24 PM

I just hang mine up until they dry, then throw them in the trash.

View Trapshter's profile


64 posts in 2421 days

#2 posted 03-11-2012 12:32 PM

I do the same.

-- Smile and wave boys just smile and wave

View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2720 days

#3 posted 03-11-2012 12:44 PM

I too just hang mine to dry and toss them but I make sure I hang them on something metal away from all other combustable items.
I read a story in The Mother Earth News one time about these folks who built a nice cabin out in an open wilderness area. When they finished coating the outside with linseed oil, which I understand you can properly do, they hung the rags on the porch rail and went about their business. In the sun laying on the newly oiled wood the rags combusted and burned the whole cabin to the ground. They were so far out in the wilderness that they couldn’t call the fire company even if they were able. Total loss, aboslute devistation seeing all your months of work go up in flames.
In industry they use a closed covered container for oily rags, less circulating air and if they do ignite they will burn out quickly.
You were lucky, be safe.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2389 days

#4 posted 03-11-2012 01:57 PM

BLO has no other use than starting fires. Whenever I use an oil based finish, I dispose of any tainted rags in a lidded coffee can that’s partially filled with water.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3391 days

#5 posted 03-11-2012 02:07 PM

I use a ziplock type bag half full of water to soak all contaminated rags or applicators. At the end of the finishing project, the excess water is drained and the headspace air is squeezed out. The entire bag with the water wet stuff is thrown away.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3583 days

#6 posted 03-11-2012 05:10 PM

Another vote for hangem up and let em dry out, then toss

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View jonmulzer's profile


48 posts in 2693 days

#7 posted 03-11-2012 05:13 PM

My shop is in my garage with a concrete slab. When I use any oil based finish, I lay the rags and such out on the garage floor and let them dry. Lay them out flat so they can dry easily. Folds and crumples are what start the fires. If you are insistent on using the staining pads, I suppose you would need a metal container. I just use old t-shirts that I fold over several times.

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2702 days

#8 posted 03-11-2012 05:57 PM


Thanks for posting this question! It is a wake up call/reminder, that needs to be aired.

I knew about the possibilty of combustion, but it slipped my mind, just how easily it can happen. I suppose I lucked out, as I did spread my used rags (t-shirts) out to dry. However, once out of sight, thay were also out of mind! NOT neccessarily a good thing. I think it is time to (re)address general shop safety procedures & practices.

My question for folks that let them dry. Do you dry them indoors or outdoors???

Again, thanks for asking your question. It just possibly may save someone (many) life & home, literally!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View foneman's profile


112 posts in 4122 days

#9 posted 03-11-2012 06:12 PM

I dry my blo soaked rags by hanging them over the edge of a galvanized trash can. They are unfolded and a single layer. Usually they will be dry in a day or two, but will be left hanging until trash day when they are thrown out. I am always open to better and safer ideas.


View jonmulzer's profile


48 posts in 2693 days

#10 posted 03-11-2012 06:16 PM

I dry them indoors, in the middle of the garage slab, with nothing around them for several feet. If you lay them out flat they cannot insulate themselves and reach a high enough temperature for combustion. Even better than my way would be to have some sort of metal folding rack where they could get air from both sides.

If you are really worried about it, you could get a pedal bin that is made just for this.

I am not a fan for the home shop though. I prefer to lay them out and let them dry. Once they are dry, they are inert and you can dispose of them however you wish.

View katilicous's profile


42 posts in 2432 days

#11 posted 03-11-2012 10:09 PM

Love the pedal bin (know I get the reason for these in shop) and all the feedback. What I’m getting from everyone is that laying them flat single layer will remove some or most danger until they are dry and then they wont combust.
once they dry can they be reused? Thanks for all the input

-- If you fall, I'll be there. -Floor

View joebloe's profile


157 posts in 2321 days

#12 posted 03-11-2012 10:43 PM

Thank you for posting this. I am working on a project and have applied BLO ,first time I have ever used it.I didn’t even think about the rags combusting.As soon as I finished reading this post ,I grabbed a coffee can and put water in it and headed out to the shop.The rag is under water now.THANKS FOR THE INFO.This post has probably has saved my shop,not this time,but I will remember this for future reference.

View jonmulzer's profile


48 posts in 2693 days

#13 posted 03-12-2012 04:48 AM

If you lay them out in a single, unrumpled, unfolded layer and allow them to dry on an uncombustible surface away from other combustibles, you have removed all the danger of spontaneous combustion. Then you can dispose of them as you would anything else. Once they are dried, they are crusty and stiff so I do not think I would attempt to reuse them. I suppose it is possible, but rags are cheap.

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 2493 days

#14 posted 03-12-2012 05:54 AM

I put them in a metal container and light them on fire in a safe location, then throw the ashes away. They cant light on fire twice! nah just kidding (hehe)

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3078 days

#15 posted 03-12-2012 08:08 AM

Hang them, dry them and toss them. Don’t burn your shop downm and stay safe in everything you do.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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