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Thread: What to do with bucket filled with water and danish oil rags

  1. #1
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    What to do with bucket filled with water and danish oil rags

    So I have a little bit of a problem. A couple weeks ago i finsihed a maple magazen rack with danish oil. I took a bucket and filled it with water and put all the rags and news paper that had danish oil on it because i was concerned about the rags catching on fire. Now i have a bucket filled with danish oil soaked rags and i dont know what to do with it now. I dont know if i should just dump it out in the street and get the water to go down the drain out there. I know i should of thought ahead but I dident and know I dont know what to do.

  2. #2
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    If you're concerned about contaminating the storm sewer, just wring out the rags in some kind of wide tub, pour the rest of the water in there, and let the water evaporate outside. There should not be much residue left in the tub, but what there is, you could wipe with paper towels, spread them out to dry, and dispose of in the trash. You can also spread out the rags to dry (on the ground or a fence or somewhere like that) and dispose of them in the trash. Initially, you could have done that with the oily rags without the bucket of water. That's what I do with mine. I hang them over the edge of my trash cans until they are cured and hard and then throw them away. The danger of spontaneous combustion comes when the rags are balled up, and the heat of oxidation builds up inside the wad enough to ignite the oil. If the rags are spread out, any heat from oxidation dissipates into the air with no problem.

  3. #3
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    Hi Ryan, you have received great advice from Joe, let the water evaporate from the bucket and deal with the residue.

    When using an oil finish simply hang them in a manner in which they are all a single layer on a fence, clothes line etc, or lay them out flat on the floor until they are dry.

    Regards, Rod.

  4. #4
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    I agree. I never could understand why the safety types give the bucket-of-water solution instead of just recommending that you spread them out until they dry. I don't think they were thinking ahead to the problem you experienced. I have a hunch some corporate attorneys were performing a CYA trick.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice. I am going to put the bucket outside and hang the rags up. Sorry i took so long to reply

  6. #6
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    I had a utility sink/tub installed in my garage when we built our home. It is one of the best decisions I made. I simply take my oil soaked rags and rince them under the running water then hang them over the edge of the sink to dry before placing them in my dedicated red oily waste can (which I very highly recommend every woodworker get).
    "I've cut the dang thing three times and it's STILL too darn short"
    Name withheld to protect the guilty

    Stew Hagerty

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stew Hagerty View Post
    I had a utility sink/tub installed in my garage when we built our home. It is one of the best decisions I made. I simply take my oil soaked rags and rince them under the running water then hang them over the edge of the sink to dry before placing them in my dedicated red oily waste can (which I very highly recommend every woodworker get).
    Rinsing oily rags under running water? Unless you add detergent and scrub them, the oil is still in them and when they dry, you are back where you started. I don't see what you gained.

  8. #8
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    I just hang mine to dry (or they make really good starters for a bonfire).
    Bill
    On the other hand, I still have five fingers.

  9. #9
    The Danish oil is not soluble in the water. If the water displaces any DO in the rags, the DO will be on the top and can/should be skimmed off. However, it will likely evaporate quickly, leaving little/no film on the top. Therefore, the water will remain fairly relatively uncontaminated.

    Because of this insolubility, if you just dip an oily rag in water and take it out, you really haven't done much to prevent any issues of flammability. If you let it soak for a long time, then some of the water may displace the oil in the rag, rendering it less flammable while any remaining oil dries if the rag be taken out of the water. But I don't know how to control that. I'm with the camp that leaves them spread out until crusty.

  10. #10
    I spritz them with water before putting them outside so they don't blow away.

  11. #11
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    For what it's worth, and that isn't much... How would dumping the water down the drain be any different than say washing those oily rags in your washing machine?
    Trying to follow the example of the master...

  12. #12
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    Count me as another who never understood the "store the rags in a container of water" advice. That eventually just leads to the problem the OP is experiencing.

    I wash my oil-soaked rags in the shop sink using Dawn dishwashing liquid, wring them out and hang them to dry. They eventually get tossed onto the burn pile with the wood scraps and sawdust.

    FWIW, I take no chances in my shop but I have intentionally tried to get drying oil-soaked rags to self-combust by placing them in the burn pile with wood scraps and burying them in a dry sawdust pile. I've thrown them in there loose, wadded up and even tied into a ball with string but haven't had them catch fire yet. I'm talking BLO soaked, too, not Danish oil. Maybe i'm not holding my mouth right.
    Cody


    He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Anderson View Post
    Rinsing oily rags under running water? Unless you add detergent and scrub them, the oil is still in them and when they dry, you are back where you started. I don't see what you gained.
    It keeps the rags moist while the oil dries. The object is not to "wash" the oil out, but to saturate the fabric with water. Wet rags are much less likely to ignite than dry ones. By the time the water has evaporated, the oil has mostly dried. I was taught to do this by an old master furniture maker and finisher years ago, and I've never done it any other way.
    "I've cut the dang thing three times and it's STILL too darn short"
    Name withheld to protect the guilty

    Stew Hagerty

  14. #14
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    A few years ago I threw my Watco soaked rags in my van and left the job site with the intention of spreading them out on the my shop's gravel drive. Before going to the shop, I went to my son's baseball game. About the 7th inning a spectator yelled, "That van is on fire!" Fortunately the rags were just smoldering - no fire. But I got them out of my van and they started to flame! I guess there was not enough oxygen in the van or being bunched up did not let them get oxygen. Now I always take oily rags outside and spread them on a gravel drive or some other non flammable surface and anchor them down with something like a rock so the wind will not blow them away. For me, I just am not comfortable spreading them out on the edge of a trash can or elsewhere inside my wood shop - maybe I am being paranoid. If I had lost my van to a oily rag fire, it would have been an inconvenience. If I lose my shop to an oily rag fire I will need some serious counseling in a mental ward. I dodged bullet once - I am not taking any more chances.
    Last edited by Jerry Hillenburg; 06-18-2012 at 9:46 PM.

  15. #15
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    If you spread them outside on a non-flammable surface (trash can, driveway, wire fence), it doesn't really matter if they are soaked with water. They are not going to ignite in either case..

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