Oily rags - what now?

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Forum topic by KnickKnack posted 07-20-2012 04:27 PM 3519 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1090 posts in 3592 days

07-20-2012 04:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: safety oily rags linseed oil blo tung oil oil

So I’ve been a good boy, and I now have a small bucket of water full of oily (linseed and tung) rags and steel wool. Everything I’ve ever read says this is the right thing to do to avoid spontaneous combustion, but I don’t recall anywhere seeing what you do with them afterwards.

So, my question … what do I do with them now?

Thanks in advance.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

15 replies so far

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3162 days

#1 posted 07-20-2012 04:34 PM

I’m not a good boy. I spread out my finish-filled rags on the cement outside until they get hard and throw them in the trash. I never understood the logic of adding water to the mix.

-- Greg D.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3094 days

#2 posted 07-20-2012 04:39 PM

My approach is to avoid accumulating much oily waste in the first place. When I’m working with oil based materials, I leave the rags, etc in a shaded, dry, place while they dry out. Then, they go into the garbage can. At most I have some odor to deal with, but I’ve never had anything catch fire.

If you really want to keep it green, get one of the metal cans with a lid that’s designed for oily rags. They’re designed to eliminate (or at least safely contain) combustion. Your local garbage collector can tell you where you can dispose of the waste.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Joe Lyddon's profile (online now)

Joe Lyddon

10123 posts in 4078 days

#3 posted 07-20-2012 05:03 PM

I do pretty much like Greg does…

I spread them out and just hang them on something… side of a box, edge of bench, etc. ...
... when dry & hard, just throw them into the trash!

All gone!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

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Bill White

4948 posts in 3986 days

#4 posted 07-20-2012 05:11 PM

Yep. Dry ‘em and pitch ‘em.


View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2951 days

#5 posted 07-20-2012 05:15 PM

I have one of those yellow metal lidded cans (about twice the size of a 5 gallon pail), never have found a place to dispose of rags other than directly in the trash. And we are big on recycling here.

They do dry out in the can as well after some time. Don’t know how, as it is supposed to be airtight.

I also have never had or heard of any catching fire.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2716 days

#6 posted 07-20-2012 05:40 PM

About 6 years ago I was installing custom cabinetry throughout a very big house. I had all the cabinetry in place and was working on the trim, my contract alone was $200,000 not to mention the wood floors, massive crown and all the other details.
The floor refinishers left their oily rags in a pile on a peice of cardboard. Overnight they ignited and the entire house was gone in the morning. So, now you have proof that it happens. Forget the water, hang each rag individually until it’s dry. Then throw it away.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Oldelm's profile


75 posts in 2201 days

#7 posted 07-20-2012 06:12 PM

More 2 cents. Put rags with Danish oil outside hanging on a stick spread out to dry. In the shade in the early AM. About 2 in the afternoon the sun got to them and the rags and the stick went up in a blaze. Lessoned learned for me. I soak them in water for a day ring them out dry them out outside and then throw them away. I don’t keep anything with wet finish, cardboard etc. inside ever!

-- Jim, Missouri

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3257 days

#8 posted 07-20-2012 06:20 PM

I use disposable rags, those “Shop Rags In A Box”. I simply spread them out to dry on the racks in my smoker, and burn them when dry.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View willie's profile


534 posts in 2480 days

#9 posted 07-20-2012 06:24 PM

Whenever I’m done with any oily rags or paper towels that have had ANY flammable liquids on them, I throw them in my woodburner immediately. If there should be a fire, the only things that get burned are the rags. About once a week I’ll burn them.

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2290 days

#10 posted 07-20-2012 08:25 PM

I’d put them in an airtight container like a paint can (with lid) and wait until your community has a hazardous waste pick up day. If they don’t have one of those, usually the city or county will have instructions on where to bring this type of waste.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2519 days

#11 posted 07-20-2012 09:27 PM

As mentioned (more than once) now you let them dry and dispose of them. It does strike me that the water is an extra unneeded step, but certainly doesn’t hurt anything.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2986 days

#12 posted 07-20-2012 11:00 PM

Hang them up and let them dry. Check with your local authorities as to the proper way to dispose of them.
I worked in sales for a cabinet business- factory and custom. The custom shop had to pay so much per pound of rags for disposal.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3673 days

#13 posted 07-20-2012 11:03 PM

I hang them on a fence of spread them out to dry on
a non-flammable surface. You can put a rock on each one
if you want. Usually on a fence they stay put where you
drape them because they stiffen and hold on pretty
well on their own, but if you get a lot of wind, clamp

Don’t make the mistake I once did of using a piece of
mattress foam (or an old sponge) to apply oil based
stain… even if you squeeze them out they will heat
up and turn black… and may burst into flame outright.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2513 days

#14 posted 07-20-2012 11:04 PM

I use mine to help start our burn pile or just add to the flames and mayhem.

Mixing oil based with water isn’t gonna do much good because they don’t mix.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View whitewulf's profile


454 posts in 2962 days

#15 posted 07-20-2012 11:08 PM

Seal them in metal paint cans still wet, and take to Hazardous Waste Disposal.

I burn’ em, but I am trained in HWD!

-- "ButI'mMuchBetterNow"

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