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Rag Storage (Read 74 times)
 
Jim Canning
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Rag Storage
Aug 1st, 2022 at 10:32am
 
I am rearranging  my shop up(yet again) and I have a ton of rags and I have been just throwing them in a cardboard box. Well my wife seems to think I could burn the house down if they were to ignite. So my question is what is the best way to store them? In a metal can? hang them on a rack? Not at all?
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Glenn Jacobs
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Re: Rag Storage
Reply #1 - Aug 1st, 2022 at 4:37pm
 
1: What's on the rags?
  a: oil/finish:  Store in metal container away from anything flammable.
  b. H2O: let dry in air
Oily rags can self ignite. also activated epoxy in cups can too. Many of us have been fortunate to not burned down house/shop due to droppong rags on floor or in wood chips.

Glenn J.
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Bill Neff
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Re: Rag Storage
Reply #2 - Aug 2nd, 2022 at 9:02am
 
Clean rags I keep in a plastic tub to keep them clean & in one place.  Used rags... hung over the rim of a metal trash can outside until they are Hard (from cured finish) then put in the trash.
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Louie Powell
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Re: Rag Storage
Reply #3 - Aug 3rd, 2022 at 6:27am
 
The problem of disposing of oily rags self-combusting and starting fires comes about when there is a large mass of oily material.  The process of drying (to be correct, polymerization) is exothermic - it gives off heat.  If that heat is concentrated, it can cause the mass to combust.  So the basic principle is to avoid high concentrations of oily combustible material, and also to avoid close contact with other flammable material while it is polymerizing.

I don't use fabric rags - instead, I use paper towel and toilet paper to apply finishes and for cleanup in my shop.

But my approach is very similar to Bill - I have a garbage can in the shop with a plastic bag liner, and I prefer wipe-on  oil finishes.  When I complete the finishing process, I lay the bit of oily paper over the edge of the garbage can.  When it becomes dry and stiff (typically a day or so), I drop it into the can/bag to eventually be thrown out with whatever else is in there. 

Because I mainly do turning, the bits of oily paper I have to dispose of are fairly small (perhaps 4" square), and they dry quickly when spread out in open air.  I don't worry about doing that in the shop because they are so small, and each bit is spread out and isolated from any other flammable material until it has dried. 

I do understand however that the folks who do larger projects and have more (and larger) rags to dispose of may need to take more precautions such as drying their stuff out doors.  Really careful folks put their oily rags in containers of water to dry (actually, polymerize - that will happen even if the rag is in water) but I don't think that is necessary in my situation.
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« Last Edit: Aug 3rd, 2022 at 6:28am by Louie Powell »  

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