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Spontaneous combustion avoidance tips

By From page A3 | August 01, 2012

Oil based wood stains, paints, sealers, polyurethane finishes, varnish and other finishing products often contain highly flammable Volatile Organic Compounds, or “VOCs.”

Paint brushes get cleaned with mineral spirits or paint thinner, but what about the rags and other materials used that do not get cleaned but just get thrown away? How do you safely dispose of them? If you just throw the rags out or leave them in a pile they may spontaneously combust.

El Dorado Hills Fire Marshal Brad Ballenger recomments these simple steps to safely dispose of flammable oil- or solvent-soaked rags:

• Place the rags in an empty metal container that has a tight metal lid such as a paint or stain can
• Fill the container with water until the rags are submerged
• Place the metal lid tightly over the water soaked formerly combustible rags
• Take the container to a local hazardous waste disposal center or save it for a hazardous waste pick up day in your community

Never dump solvents, paint or any toxics down the drain or sewer.

Mike Roberts

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