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Posted: 6/8/2014 5:39:15 PM EDT
Stupid question.
I am not much of a wood worker. But I am adding shelves to an old industrial file cabinet and I want a real simple finish on the wood. I was thinking linseed oil.

Then I started seeing all these articles saying that the oil can spontaneously combust.

Is this just if there is a pile of used rags, or can wood treated with the oil also spontaneously combust?

Thanks guys!
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:42:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/8/2014 5:43:28 PM EDT by TheOx]
Any organic oil can decompose and spontaneously ignite cotton rags. To prevent this, always spread the oil soaked rags out over a non-combustible surface (metal. concrete) and allow them to dry before discarding them. Do not put them in a pile or container where heat can build up.

No, the treated wood will not spontaneously combust.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:42:53 PM EDT
When you finish w/ the contaminated linseed app rag, place it into an airtight metal trash can w/ lid.

Since I don't have that, I preempt the coming fire by throwing it on an old barbecue and lighting it w/ a match.

"Yeah, it's real, and can be a problem."
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:44:12 PM EDT
NOT on finished wood
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:46:24 PM EDT
TheOx nailed it. I've seen 2 fires started that way.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:46:46 PM EDT
Lots of old military wood stocks have been treated with a linseed oil mixture over the years. No unusual fire hazard there, but the real danger is in the used rags containing the oil.

Metal container for the used rags as they can ignite.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:47:42 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By TheOx:
Any organic oil can decompose and spontaneously ignite cotton rags. To prevent this, always spread the oil soaked rags out over a non-combustible surface (metal. concrete) and allow them to dry before discarding them. Do not put them in a pile or container where heat can build up.

No, the treated wood will not spontaneously combust.
View Quote

FPNI
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:48:29 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By California14er:
When you finish w/ the contaminated linseed app rag, place it into an airtight metal trash can w/ lid.
View Quote


I shouldn't have laughed at that, but I did.

Just don't seal it up, let it breathe while the volatiles evaporate
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:50:59 PM EDT
Years ago I found a oilsoaked rag smoking after I discarded it improperly. Now I soak them in water and leave them outside overnight.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:56:31 PM EDT
Any rag that gets any kind of oil on it gets tossed into a steel can, taken outside and burned at the Piccolo residence.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 5:59:23 PM EDT
Yes it can. Used a product called "Detail Doctor" on the wifes show truck.
Then proceeded to throw the rags into a plastic bucket, Like we do with all car wax gear.
Two hours later we were ready to leave the car show. Thought I would check and make sure the tonneau was latched.
Opened the tail gate and was greeted with a cloud of white smoke. Plastic bucket was melted down one side and rags were glowing.
Thankfully, no damage to the truck. But yes Linseed oil containing products are nothing to screw with. They will cause spontaneously combustion.
P.S. Saw a program on king Tut yesterday. Apparently the skin of the mummy and the first layers of wrappings were burnt. They surmise that his mummification was a rush job and the embalming oils were not dried.He probably cooked for a few days or weeks after they sealed him in the coffin.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:02:50 PM EDT
Linseed oil, which is the same as flaxseed, is an oil that produces polymers. That's why it's so nice to put on cutting boards and such (not boiled linseed oil, has chemicals and is not food safe)

This polymerizing is exothermic, and produces heat. At least that's my understanding. It's readily oxidizing.

It would be cool to see a chemistry expert write the equation for this. I've been trying to explain the difference between linseed oil and mineral oil and why it protects wood better.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:04:50 PM EDT
Thanks guys! Just wanted to make sure it was safe on the wood.
Does storage of the container of oil need any special treatment?
I live in an apartment and I want to make sure.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:04:54 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By sic_ness:


I shouldn't have laughed at that, but I did.

Just don't seal it up, let it breathe while the volatiles evaporate
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By sic_ness:
Originally Posted By California14er:
When you finish w/ the contaminated linseed app rag, place it into an airtight metal trash can w/ lid.


I shouldn't have laughed at that, but I did.

Just don't seal it up, let it breathe while the volatiles evaporate


That is what the safety vid. at school told us to do. I've only run into this issue from refinishing surplus rifle stocks.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:05:03 PM EDT
I always soak the used rags in water and lay them out flat on the gravel overnight until dry.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:07:02 PM EDT
I always spread the rags on the driveway and let them dry before I toss them. They will get hot to the touch if you leave them wadded up.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:17:24 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:24:10 PM EDT
Never seen wood treated with it combust.
The rags are best put in an air tight container with, or without water and disposed of.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:29:24 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By gitarmac:
Linseed oil, which is the same as flaxseed, is an oil that produces polymers. That's why it's so nice to put on cutting boards and such (not boiled linseed oil, has chemicals and is not food safe)

This polymerizing is exothermic, and produces heat. At least that's my understanding. It's readily oxidizing.

It would be cool to see a chemistry expert write the equation for this. I've been trying to explain the difference between linseed oil and mineral oil and why it protects wood better.
View Quote

www.firesciencereviews.com/content/pdf/2193-0414-1-3.pdf

36-page paper describing the chemistry
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:33:12 PM EDT
As has been stated.

Just drape the rags over something outside away from any structure (as you would a towel). Can be on metal, garbage can, etc... I personally use a plastic garbage can and spread the rags around the rim (none on top of each other). Give them a week and they will be dry and hardened and no danger, then I dispose of them in the trash.

No need to put them in a can, burn them, or anything else.
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:43:29 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:45:51 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/8/2014 6:48:49 PM EDT
It's real. A few yrs ago my sister was wiping down some outdoor furniture with boiled linseed oil and left a bunch of saturated rags in a bucket inside the attached garage. It didn't burn the house down, but she got a real smoky fire that forced them out of the home for a month while a fire restoration crew cleaned the mess.
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 8:57:29 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By TheOx:
Any organic oil can decompose and spontaneously ignite cotton rags. To prevent this, always spread the oil soaked rags out over a non-combustible surface (metal. concrete) and allow them to dry before discarding them. Do not put them in a pile or container where heat can build up.

No, the treated wood will not spontaneously combust.
View Quote



This is all correct
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 9:00:02 PM EDT
I have been on a few fires over the years from this.
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 9:05:55 PM EDT
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 9:11:37 PM EDT
It darn near burnt down my uncles house. It was a minor miracle that we happened to be in the area. Put it out right quick before it got going real good.
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 9:14:08 PM EDT
I would like to add a eye opener that I had at my house. Stained a crib, and I used a couple microfiber cloths to wipe off the excess. Placed them in a plastic bag, and set left it on the garage floor. I left the house to go offshore. When I came home, the bag of rags was a burnt like of ashes where I had left it. Nearly burned my house to the ground, as it was less than 2 feet from a monstrous pile of sawdust and wood shavings.

Microfiber towels + wood stain = fire. Bad.
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 9:18:50 PM EDT
Neighbor growing up BBQ'd their house with a blo rag fire. They had a monte carlo parked in front of the garage, back half was fine, melted the engine and wheels off the front half.

Do you have a spare ammo can around? they work perfect for tossing the rags in a sealing it up.
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 9:27:51 PM EDT
Many years ago when oil based paint was still readily available and common (at least in CA) we used it to paint the kitchen and bathroom. I threw a bunch of paint and paint thinner soaked rags into the trash can outside (plastic, hot summer day). My dad came home from work and he almost shit a brick when he saw me throwing in the last of the rags and other painting supplies into the trash. Yelled at me good, demanded I pick all of them out of the trash, and turned the hose on the trash can to soak the rest of the stuff in water. To say he was pissed was an understatement. I don't think he slept well that night worrying about the trash bursting into flames.

Of course, I knew I shouldn't have done any of that but was just being lazy. After that, I now always lay oily rags of any kind on the driveway to dry out overnight and throw them out when they're dry and crusty.


OP- BLO will have an odor for a good while as it dries and cures. It might suck in an apartment. Might want to try shellac. It's alcohol based and dries fast, doesn't really smell, and is non toxic when dry. You can get it in cans to brush and spray cans also. If you're feeling ambitious you can even make your own with denatured alcohol and shellac flakes. There's a clear and amber shellac, the amber will give the wood the "warm glow" that oil does.
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 9:34:49 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By A_G:
OP- BLO will have an odor for a good while as it dries and cures. It might suck in an apartment. Might want to try shellac. It's alcohol based and dries fast, doesn't really smell, and is non toxic when dry. You can get it in cans to brush and spray cans also. If you're feeling ambitious you can even make your own with denatured alcohol and shellac flakes. There's a clear and amber shellac, the amber will give the wood the "warm glow" that oil does.
View Quote


Why not get both?
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 9:51:54 PM EDT
I investigated a fire at a cannery that turned to have been caused by spilled fish oil that had been wiped up with absorbent pads and improperly disposed of .The problem is usually that the rags are put in a refuse container and then covered with other stuff that insulates it and keeps the produced heat from dissipating .Heat builds up ,trouble!
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 10:21:54 PM EDT
My wife's uncle lost a shop and a boat to BLO rags a few years back. Did some furniture work in the morning, tossed them in a bucket next to their detached shop, and several hours later after baking in the central Oregon summer sun, he walked outside to see the whole side of the shop up in flames.

He was able to pull out an ATV and some other things out but couldn't move the truck around in time to pull out the boat.

He got a nice aluminum river boat out of the payout

I always lay them out flat at the end of the driveway, anchored down with a rock or something. Once most of the BLO has dried you can clean them.
Link Posted: 6/19/2014 10:59:12 PM EDT
The oil oxidizes when exposed to oxygen in the air. Normally not a problem. Put it on a rag and you increase the surface area exposed to oxygen many times, it now becomes a problem.
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