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Did you know that stain rags can spontaneously combust?

Oil-based stains are prevalent in woodworking projects. As oily rags begin to dry, heat is produced. If the rags are thrown into a pile, such as a garbage bag or bucket, the oxygen is trapped underneath. Combining heat, oxygen, and cloth can lead to spontaneous combustion, which results in a fire that could destroy your home.

How do you dispose of flammable rags?

Use a metal container with a tight-fitting lid to properly and safely dispose of oily rags. Place soiled and used rags inside and then fill the rest of the way with water, seal the top, and do not open it. Doing this will prevent the oils from oxidizing, thus keeping the rags from heating up and igniting. The second best way is to lay the rags flat on a nonflammable surface for five days, allowing them to dry.

How long does it take for rags to spontaneously combust?

Solvent-based rags don’t combust, but linseed oil and several other oils dry by oxidation. Any cloths or rags left in a pile, bin, or bag have the propensity to self-heat and pose a fire risk. The fire investigator should consider it plausible that rags left wetted with drying oil- anywhere from 1 hour to even 2 or 3 days– could be a potential ignition source.

Don’t let this be the reason a fire destroys your home!

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