Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Soaked oil rag safety disposal

aherring
aherring Member Posts: 4
Our furnace was recently serviced, and the tech left behind two oil soaked rags (soaked with heating oil) that had dripped from a faulty filter canister. How do I safely dispose of them? Thanks!

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    Good grief. They shouldn't have left them behind. Sloppy. That said the only safe way to handle them is in a sealed, airtight, metal container -- or completely out in the open, outside any building, unfolded or scrunched up -- laid out.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,688
    Call them up and tell them to come get them.
    steve
    BoonEdTheHeaterManethicalpaulSuperTech
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    Did they just leave them laying on the floor or put them into your waste can?
  • Joe V_2
    Joe V_2 Member Posts: 234
    You can toss in trash. It is not considered an oil spill.
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 541
    @joe V, The issue is not so much environmental, but the potential for spontaneous combustion. The advice @Jamie Hall posted addresses this concern.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    I've heard of linseed oil spontaneously igniting, but never Diesel fuel.

    That's a new one on me.

    I mean I could be wrong, but I don't believe it's possible.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    rick in Alaskamattmia2SuperTech
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    ChrisJ said:

    I've heard of linseed oil spontaneously igniting, but never Diesel fuel.

    That's a new one on me.

    I mean I could be wrong, but I don't believe it's possible.

    It is, unless the rag is perfectly clean and and not cotton or wool. But why take chances? A nice fire in the basement can ruin your whole day...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    margsuarez
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,334
    Flash point of #2 oil is between 126-204...
    ChrisJSuperTech426hemi
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,590
    > @Danny Scully said:
    > Flash point of #2 oil is between 126-204...

    >>Atomized. Used to toss my cigarette buts in my waste oil all the time.
    Put the rags in a bag and leave it at the door of the service company.
    mattmia2SuperTech426hemi
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    edited July 2017

    ChrisJ said:

    I've heard of linseed oil spontaneously igniting, but never Diesel fuel.

    That's a new one on me.

    I mean I could be wrong, but I don't believe it's possible.

    It is, unless the rag is perfectly clean and and not cotton or wool. But why take chances? A nice fire in the basement can ruin your whole day...
    Being safe is always wise, personally I'd throw oil soaked rags in a can out side for the stink alone.

    That said, there's also a point of going too far for no reason. For example, we don't store bread in a lead lined container as we would Plutonium.

    Also keep in mind, most including OSHA do not consider Diesel or #2 heating oil to be flammable.

    As @Danny Scully said, flash point of 126-204F.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,988
    what @Jamie Hall said is correct. I would put them outside the house & let them dry completely in the sun. After that toss in the trash.

    Same thing as rags which have kerosene, turpentine, paint thinner or stain.

    Will any of those self combust? Probably not but don't take a chance.

    Better to be safe than sorry

    I would certainly call them and complain, sloppy and LAZY. no wonder people switch to gas.
    Zman
  • Joe V_2
    Joe V_2 Member Posts: 234
    on the hazard/safety diamond, diesel has a flammability rating of 2.
    environmentally, diesel will breakdown in a landfill. Two rags doesnt qualify you as a waste oil generator.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,910
    Joe V said:

    on the hazard/safety diamond, diesel has a flammability rating of 2.
    environmentally, diesel will breakdown in a landfill. Two rags doesnt qualify you as a waste oil generator.

    No one said it did. I'm just being cautious...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,988
    Once had a job with a really old burner that had sagged a little and the burner blast tube was pitched back toward the burner instead of down toward the fire box.

    The cutoff in the old Webster Pump failed and oil dripped into the blast tube and ignited on the hot tube after the burner shut off.

    The fire follow the blast tube and dripped out on the floor still burning. They had stored paper bags with empty soda cans near the boiler, the bags caught fire and only the soda cans were left.

    Lucky for them the Firomatic valve melted and shut the oil off.

    It still could have burned down the house. They were lucky old 1860s house would have gone up quick.

    I don't give a dam about flash points or what class of flammability fuel oil has.

    use common sense.

    What if those rags were under the burner and the same situation happened?

    Sometimes it's not one hazard. Sometimes several things go wrong at the same time and the results are horrific.

    What would those who said it's not hazardous say if the place burned down?

    The book says it's ok???

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    @EBEBRATT-Ed Have you checked your PM's lately?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    IIRC and the reports are correct a movie theater a few miles from here had spontaneous combustion of cleaning rags from the popcorn oil. Fire in the lobby/concession area was enough to total the building with smoke damage.

    Also another interesting event was an explosion of a underground diesel fuel storage tank, (5-10,000 gallon) lighting hit the ground and the tank exploded making quite a crater. As the C-store was closed, I was told the tank was empty and would have only fumes which were the source of the explosion. FWIW
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    edited July 2017
    JUGHNE said:

    IIRC and the reports are correct a movie theater a few miles from here had spontaneous combustion of cleaning rags from the popcorn oil. Fire in the lobby/concession area was enough to total the building with smoke damage.

    Also another interesting event was an explosion of a underground diesel fuel storage tank, (5-10,000 gallon) lighting hit the ground and the tank exploded making quite a crater. As the C-store was closed, I was told the tank was empty and would have only fumes which were the source of the explosion. FWIW

    Yes, popcorn oil I can see.
    A petroleum product I cannot.


    From another site.

    "It's oxidation that creates the potential for spontaneous combustion. Petroleum products like motor oil and gasoline, while flammable, do not undergo oxidation. Also, the tendency of oil to spontaneously combust is related to its iodine number — if it's 130 or greater, the potential is there."



    This of course doesn't mean something containing rags soaked in gasoline or Diesel cannot be ignited. That should be obvious. But they won't just burst into flames on their own like Linseed oil has been known to do. I was always warned about this with Linseed oil.



    That's my understanding.
    I'm by no means an expert, I know only what word of mouth and a quick Google search provided me.

    @Jamie Hall Seems to feel the material of the rag may come into play. I have no idea, that's well above my knowledge. I just couldn't find anything to suggest it was true. Doesn't mean he's wrong either.

    Like @EBEBRATT-Ed said, use common sense. Of course the rags should not be left on the floor. Like I said, even if they weren't dangerous, they stink!

    No one should ever store combustible or flammable items near a boiler regardless. That too, should be common sense.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Pumpguy
    Pumpguy Member Posts: 541
    Back when I was a boy, we had a situation where a wool navy watchcap that was wet from melted snow and stuffed into a jacket pocket spontaneously combust.

    I wouldn't have thought that could happen, but it did. Fortunately we smelled the smoke and found the source before it burst into flames.

    We were lucky that day with no loss other than the charred watchcap and jacket.
    Dennis Pataki. Former Service Manager and Heating Pump Product Manager for Nash Engineering Company. Phone: 1-888 853 9963
    Website: www.nashjenningspumps.com

    The first step in solving any problem is TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.
  • FranklinD
    FranklinD Member Posts: 399
    When I was just starting out as a mechanic, I worked with an old salt that would regularly cut rusty steel fuel lines full of gasoline with an abrasive cutoff wheel chucked into his high-speed die grinder, sparks flying everywhere. When I asked him about the intelligence of doing so, he told me that "liquid gasoline isn't all that dangerous...it's the vapors...so cut quick." He also did everything (fuel filters, tanks, pumps, injectors) with a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Ah, Rick, I hope you're still alive...but if you're not I can guess why.

    At work we have a 55 gal drum that old spent oil sorbent goes into...floor dry, absorbent pads, sawdust, anything soaked with oil. Then the local waste oil company picks it up when full and incinerates the contents.

    Side note: drained oil filters are still allowed to go in the municipal garbage collection around here. Always thought that was odd.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,988
    How many people have died cutting into a steel drum or tank that has been drained with a cutting torch.......they "only" had fumes in them
    ChrisJ426hemi
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,328
    As for the oily rags, I would dry them and throw the away. If you want to make a point, take them to the oil companies office and set them on the front desk.

    If you have seen the movie Spinal Tap you would know how common spontaneous combustion is. Particularly with drummers...
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    CanuckerGrallert
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    Zman said:

    As for the oily rags, I would dry them and throw the away. If you want to make a point, take them to the oil companies office and set them on the front desk.

    If you have seen the movie Spinal Tap you would know how common spontaneous combustion is. Particularly with drummers...

    So wait,
    I should trust a movie over what chemists say now?

    :o
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    Or trust the internet for info? >:)
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,819
    JUGHNE said:

    Or trust the internet for info? >:)

    When multiple reputable sources say the same thing, I tend to trust it.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    Just rattling your chain.....I agree with the sources ;)
    ChrisJ
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,328
    Always good to be careful with oily things, plastic and heat. I have seen some scary things catch fire.All it would take would be another product on the rag from another job and poof....

    Just as long as the nobody is arguing with the Rock and Roll drummers combusting. Those guys have unique chemical makeup. :D
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    The chemical composition of materials can change also.
    Some years ago I was pounding staples on the sides of floor joists in an old basement when the light bulb popped and as the burning filament flamed up the light socket burst into flames. It was the typical surface mount "barn light" fixture as I refer to them. These are brown surface mount wiring devices that double as junction boxes for feed thru etc....switches, outlets, light sockets and J-boxes.
    They are made from Bakelite or some Phenolic type material.
    My best guess is that having a 300 watt bulb in it for 50 years caused the plastic to carbonize back to flammable carbon.

    This can happen to wood inside walls behind plaster/lath that is near a wood burning stove pipe........as a fireman helped carry the stove out of the house late one night.
    The wood gets baked into charcoal lowering its ignition point.
    How it baked the studs and not the lath I don't know.
    Zman
  • TheKeymaster
    TheKeymaster Member Posts: 36
    Throw them in your fire pit and burn them.
    Alan Welch
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,183
    @ChrisJ said:
    ...From another site.

    "It's oxidation that creates the potential for spontaneous combustion. Petroleum products like motor oil and gasoline, while flammable, do not undergo oxidation. Also, the tendency of oil to spontaneously combust is related to its iodine number — if it's 130 or greater, the potential is there."

    What if Oxygen is the problem with us?
    I believe that oxygen is Killing all of us... It just takes between 70 to 100 years to happen.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    LS123
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,506
    More specifically raw linseed oil. Boiled linseed oil won't oxidize in an exothermic reaction.

    When I was a kid the oil burner tech would ask my mom for some old newspapers and wrap up the old filters and sometimes the contents of their soot vac in it and throw it in the trash can outside.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,506
    edited March 2021
    Hmm, not sure about the bakelite pony cleat light socket itself burning. I could see it shorting with the broken filament swinging around and temporarily drawing more current and a bad connection arcing. Sometimes they put wood in bakelite as a filler although i wouldn't think they would do that for electrical products.

    Maybe the socket was some other early plastic like acetate or nitrocellulose.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,750
    I distinctly remember the socket itself burning. The broken bulb may have tripped the CB. Once the bulb is broken the filament quickly burns up. My head has broken many bulbs with this result.
    I recall having to beat the fire out with my hat. FWIW
  • 426hemi
    426hemi Member Posts: 80
    I personally just throw them in the washer and wash them with my work clothes then you have clean rags and clean clothes