Soaking Oilfilled Rags

I agree with Mr. Lauren's co7nments (Woodsmith No. 31) on properly storing and disposing of oillvarnish-soaked rags in closed conta iners filled with water. But my question is how can we economize?

After all, good imping rags are no longer inexpensive, especially if they're disposed of after every use.

If I understand spontaneous combustion correctly, exposure to air is required for ignition. With this in mind, my question is: Can we safely store our oil-filled rags in a closed container filled with m ineral spirits (which eliminates aU but a very small amount of air), so that they can be wrung out and used again later?

Robert We.ifra Rolling Meadows, Illinois

Because of the potential problems associated with both spontaneous combustion and the use of mineral spirits, we decided to call Mi: Lauren (Executive Director of the Coating Research Group) to get his opinion on soaking oil-filled rags in a mineral spirits bath.

According to Mi-. Lauren, soaking rags in a closed container filled with mineral spirits will prevent spontaneous combustion from taking place because of the lack of oxygen in the container. He also mentioned that the same general conditions exist when oil-filled rags are submerged in water until they can be thrown away. Again, the key to preventing spontaneous combustion from occurring is the lack of oxygen.

Although this practice will prevent spontaneous combustion, Mr. Lauren cautioned that it may create more problems that it cures. The biggest problem is that when the rags are wrung out and reused, they're still saturated with a very flammable solvent. And when combined with the remaining problem of spontaneous combustion (from the finish still in the rags), this poses a double threat.

It's Mr. Lauren's opinion (and ours), that the potential hazards of reusing old rags that have been soaked in mineral spirits are too great to justify saving a few dollars on the cost of rags.

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