Safley storing and disposing of finishes/solvents and rags

Hey Folks,

 I know a lot of us work with finishes and solvents, and I wanted to see what folks do about storing and disposing of rags. I've seen people use mixtures of Naptha and Machine Oil for cleaning rusty parts, and was wondering if it was safe to store that mixture pre-mixed. I've gone over a few MSDS's of Naptha and haven't seen any mention of mixing it with any other chemicals, but you never know, and was seeing if anyone has had any bad experiences with it.

 Also, what are peoples system for dealing with rags that are soaked in a flammable substance. My technique is; for naptha and mineral spirits , to hang them to dry, hung on part of the metal base on a table saw until they have dried and then put  them in the garbage; for lacquer, lacquer remover, stains, and other volatile chemicals, to wet them first and then hang them to dry. I've been wanting to get one of those flame-proof sealed trash cans, and wanted to see peoples experience with them. I worked for a wood flooring company for a few years and we would hang stain soaked rags in the back of the truck until they dried, this seemed to work well, but I want to get the safest system I can get and feel like my time in the flooring industry didn't give me the best knowledge for dealing with some of these volatile chemicals. Thanks everyone!

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I could not sleep at night if I didn't have a flammables cabinet and safety rag can. The guy that used to live across the street from me burnt down his house by throwing a rag saturated with tung oil into a trash basket. You might be able to find these safety items on Craigslist or a local auction of commercial machine or wood shop equipment. If you have any semiconductor plants in your area, that would be a great place to start. That's where mine came from. I used to be a consultant to the semiconductor industry and saw many of these safety items in the facilities I used to visit. These plants usually sell used and unneeded equipment for a reasonable cost.

Regards, Phil


Depending on how many rags you generate you can always use an old metal paint can to seal them in.  After you put the rags in lay a layer of plastic, of aluminum foil if the chemicals will dissolve the plastic, on top with the edges bent up and add about an about 1/2" layer of baking soda.  If the can starts to heat significantly the baking soda will release carbon dioxide and either smother or slow the reaction.  Unfortunately roofing tar and drywall compound and all the things that used to come in 5 gallon steel containers are now in plastic.  While is some smaller communities the site/system is hard to find but Federal Law in the USA requires local governments to accept hazardous materials but often it's just for only one day per year and you have to deliver them.  Call you local public works dept and inquire that way if you find you have a few paint cans of rags you've forgotten about you can legally dispose of the.  Oh, take a sharpie, etc., and when you add a rag to the can write on the can what the rag's contaminated with and the date you put it there.  While it's a slight bit more work it makes getting the local hazmat system to receive them much easier (and if you use it can often isopropyl alcohol will remove the sharpie so you can erase and write anew).



If I could fine a FLAMMABLES cabinet like Phil, I would be super happy. I just have my chemicals  together sitting under the desk I am using right now. I've made it impossible for the plastic bottles to tip over is about all I do. As to the rags, the simplest system is the best for me. I immediately bring them outside, and hang them over a railing to dry out.

You can make a flammables cabinet out of a used heavy duty office cabinet using your imagination and native wit.

As you all know, the cabinets come in all different sizes. .

File cabinets may also be used.

Buy a new or used metal garbage can with a metal flip-top, & paint "Dirty Rags Only" on the top.

Kerry, I still throw all of my rags that might experience spontaneous combustion outside (force of habit and the safest way to do it).

I also rigged up a CO2 fire extinguishing system for my flammables cabinet and paint booth.

I've got grounded bare copper wire in all of my vacuum ducting and dust/chip separator.

I turn all the power off at night. My climate control runs on it's own circuit.

The only thing I worry about is one the crazed squirrels that live in the trees around my shop. Theoretically, one of these rats with furry tails could catch fire and run thru my shop.  

Regards to all,



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