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Solvent Rags Can Combust

Monday, July 23rd, 2018 by Susan Hans


Solvent Rags Can Combust!

 

Spontaneous Combustion fires are most often a result of improper disposal of oil/stain soaked rags.  Soaked solvent rags or cloths are extremely susceptible to fire.  This is due to the slow-heating process of these substances which oxidize resulting in self-heat process.  If there is a pile of solvent covered rags or cloths, the heat has no way to escape and the temperature rises to an ignition point you have a fire.  Fire spreads quickly to other combustibles, which will in turn cause great amounts of damage to home, property or personal injury.   In the summer months when air temperatures are already hot, there is a greater potential for a spontaneous combustion fire.  So use every precaution.

Many in Creighton and surrounding areas do projects for their homes either inside or outside that involve highly combustible solvents and may not be aware of these products.  Here are a few examples; oil-based paint and stains, polyurethane, varnishes, teak and linseed oils, paint thinner, acetones, motor oil, etc.   Common items such as nail polish remover, vegetable oil (oils for cooking), flour, sugar are combustibles.   Cotton or linen materials during laundering/drying process that are stacked while still damp or not properly allowed to cool after drying are a risk.

Good housekeeping is the simplest way to avoid these risks that lead to fire.  Rags covered with oils (paint, linseed, etc.) need to be immersed in water immediately after using and then spread out in a safe place to dry.  Oxygen is needed for combustion to take place, so if rags or cloths need transported, put them in a metal sealed container until you are able to wash them completely.  Be certain to dry all cotton or linen items and then let them cool down when heating process is completed before folding and stacking.  For more information:  NFPA.org.

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