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Oily Rags are a Fire Hazard

Old 11-25-16, 06:18 PM
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TimothyH
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Oily Rags are a Fire Hazard

A home near me burned recently and it came out that the ignition source was oily rags.

Many of us do our own maintenance but many people don't know that oily rags can ignite by themselves and should never be left laying around or in a pile.
In home structure fires (homes are defined as one- and two-family homes, apartments, and manufactured housing), the garage was the most common area of origin (20% of fires) and oily rags were the most common item first ignited (35%).
NFPA report - Spontaneous combustion or chemical reaction
Lay the rags flat to dry or drape them over a fence or garbage can outside. Do not pile them up or just toss them in the garbage can. After they are dry, put them in an old paint can full of water and dish soap and seal tightly.

Hope you all have a safe holiday season.


-Tim-
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Old 11-25-16, 08:24 PM
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[good info for wrenchers]
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Old 11-26-16, 08:44 AM
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Burning them in the paint can is easiest.
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Old 11-26-16, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
A home near me burned recently and it came out that the ignition source was oily rags.

Many of us do our own maintenance but many people don't know that oily rags can ignite by themselves and should never be left laying around or in a pile.
In home structure fires (homes are defined as one- and two-family homes, apartments, and manufactured housing), the garage was the most common area of origin (20% of fires) and oily rags were the most common item first ignited (35%).
NFPA report - Spontaneous combustion or chemical reaction
Lay the rags flat to dry or drape them over a fence or garbage can outside. Do not pile them up or just toss them in the garbage can. After they are dry, put them in an old paint can full of water and dish soap and seal tightly.

Hope you all have a safe holiday season.


-Tim-
As a 30 year firefighter, I feel compelled to point out the the passage quoted above is only applicable on the context of "Fires Caused by Spontaneous Combustion or Chemical Reaction". The greatest percentage of home structure fires (46%) is caused by cooking equipment.

Anecdotally, I can assure you that the statistic bears out at the street level.

Cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries and ties with heating as the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
Smoking was the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths. Heating equipment was the second most common cause of home fires, fire deaths, (tied with cooking), and fire injuries.


NFPA Report - "Home Structure Fires"

Your point is still very relevant and should be a concern for anyone doing his own wrenching, I just wanted to clarify the context of the data.
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Old 11-26-16, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tgmcmonigle View Post
As a 30 year firefighter, I feel compelled to point out the the passage quoted above is only applicable on the context of "Fires Caused by Spontaneous Combustion or Chemical Reaction". The greatest percentage of home structure fires (46%) is caused by cooking equipment.

Anecdotally, I can assure you that the statistic bears out at the street level.

Cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries and ties with heating as the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
Smoking was the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths. Heating equipment was the second most common cause of home fires, fire deaths, (tied with cooking), and fire injuries.


NFPA Report - "Home Structure Fires"

Your point is still very relevant and should be a concern for anyone doing his own wrenching, I just wanted to clarify the context of the data.
Thanks for this.
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Old 11-26-16, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by AristoNYC View Post


[good info for wrenchers]
There Will Be Blood?
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Old 11-26-16, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
There Will Be Blood?
heck yes, great movie.
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Old 11-26-16, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by AristoNYC View Post
heck yes, great movie.
I've seen it a bunch of times and the ending is an enigma.

"I'm finished." and then the violins...

But yes, a seriously good movie.


-Tim-
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Old 11-26-16, 09:02 PM
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2016 & ppl need to start oily rag danger threads. Jesus Christ newbs are the worst...
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Old 11-27-16, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I've seen it a bunch of times and the ending is an enigma.

"I'm finished." and then the violins...

But yes, a seriously good movie.


-Tim-

That movie has one of the best opening scenes in cinema history.

Then it get bogged down by the overacting unfocused narrative.

Then the ending finishes off the collapse.

Wanted to love it, but couldn't.
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Old 11-27-16, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Nagrom_ View Post
Burning them in the paint can is easiest.
Yeah, might as well burn the stuff proactively and keep an eye on it, then you don't have to worry about "what-if".
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Old 11-27-16, 01:39 PM
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...dear @TimothyH:

There is great confusion about this oily rags spontaneously combusting business, and it comes up a lot here over the years.

AFAIK, there is no reason to worry about your mechanic rags, soaked in various lubricants (although you ought still to be very careful with the more combustible solvents). The oils in question are usually associated with painting...Linseed oil is the principle culprit, although some of the other organic seed oils will also spontaneously combust.

Anyway, I know you mean well, and I'm not here to pee on the parade. But the science of spontaneous combustion is quite interesting, from an accidental fire POV.

http://www.waltersforensic.com/artic.../vol1-no17.htm
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Old 11-27-16, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Nagrom_ View Post
Burning them in the paint can is easiest.
...all you really have to do is hang them somewhere so they can dry with some air circulation to carry away the heat generated in the drying process. Generally, it is a poor idea from a fire safety standpoint to prevent fire by starting one you think you can control, if there is another workable option.
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Old 11-27-16, 01:51 PM
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Burning them is faster.
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Old 11-27-16, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...dear @TimothyH:

There is great confusion about this oily rags spontaneously combusting business, and it comes up a lot here over the years.

AFAIK, there is no reason to worry about your mechanic rags, soaked in various lubricants (although you ought still to be very careful with the more combustible solvents). The oils in question are usually associated with painting...Linseed oil is the principle culprit, although some of the other organic seed oils will also spontaneously combust.

Anyway, I know you mean well, and I'm not here to pee on the parade. But the science of spontaneous combustion is quite interesting, from an accidental fire POV.

http://www.waltersforensic.com/artic.../vol1-no17.htm

I never said I was worried.

People use some pretty wacky stuff on bikes such as Pledge furniture polish on frames.

Linseed oil soaked rags are one of the worst in terms of spontaneous combustion. I know some use this to build wheels.

I do a fair amount of work on cars and have a disposal can I got when a manufacturing facility I worked at went out of business.


-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 11-27-16 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 11-27-16, 04:02 PM
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good reminder

I try to give them a cursory rinse is a sudsy Dawn bucket and leave to dry somewhere, but also wash in the commercial laundromat when I can. reminds me the time I had some solvent on rags in my hatchback & tossed a cigarette out the window but it blew back onto them & they started smoldering. took a while for me to notice & pull over to extinguish them
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