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Do finishing oil soaked rags really catch fire?

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dedee

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I've always read the tin and as a result tend to leave used rags on the bench to dry out.
Over the weekend I have been using the oil in the kitchen and the missus happened to read the tin and was not at all convinced when I told her that the oil was safe to be used on the candle holders I have been making. I had been using kitchen towel to apply the oil.

What are the circumstances (atmospheric, poximity to other substances) under which rags will spontaneously combust? Has anyone experienced this in the workshop?

Andy
 

Terry Smart

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Hi Andy

First off, the oil is fine for the candle holders. The oil should only be flammable whilst wet; once dry the danger is much less. The oil will burn as a dry film in the same way that most paints and varnishes will (I'm not about to get into flame retardent paints and Class 1 Surface Spread of Flame!) but this really should be the least of your worries if there should be a fire!

Oils tend to give off fumes as you can tell from the smell. If these fumes are trapped in the folds of a cloth and get to the right concentration, they will react with the air also trapped in the cloth and spontaneously ignite. Laying the cloth flat to dry prevents any air or fumes getting trapped, hence this is safe.

As to whether it happens in practice... the lady whose house backs onto one of the houses across the road from where I live burned down her shed and fence and did a lot of damage to her neighbour's garden too. She's been refinishing a table apparently... using oils.

Probably better safe than sorry!
 

Taffy Turner

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I read somewhere that rags soaked in finishing oil, or teak oil, or danish oil etc, can spontaneously combust if they are left scrunched up in a ball.

This is because when the oil is exposed to air it starts to cure. This reaction is exothermic (gives off heat). If the rag is balled up, this heat builds up, causing the curing reaction to accelerate, which gives off more heat, which leads to a runaway reaction which can get hot enough to ignite the oily rag.

If the rags are spread out to dry after being used, the heat is dissipated to the atmosphere, and so is unable to build up.

Once the oil is fully cured, the situation is no longer applicable, as the reaction is complete. Hence the oil is as safe to use on candle holders etc as just about any other kind of finish.

BTW - you should always have a non-flammable barrier between the candle and the wooden holder to prevent a disaster if the candle burns low and ignites the wood. This did happen to some friends of mine. They had a candle in a turned wooden holder (not made by me!!!). They fell asleep, only to be woken by the smell of burning which was the pine candle holder happily smouldering away.

Many places sell suitable candle holders / inserts - try Craft Supplies or Turners Retreat for a selection.
 

Alf

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Taffy Turner":2d6l527n said:
BTW - you should always have a non-flammable barrier between the candle and the wooden holder to prevent a disaster if the candle burns low and ignites the wood. This did happen to some friends of mine. They had a candle in a turned wooden holder (not made by me!!!). They fell asleep, only to be woken by the smell of burning which was the pine candle holder happily smouldering away.
Persons close to me who shall remain nameless (but it was my brother and sister-in-law) managed to do the very same with a candle stick I made them. Fortunately I was able to make a replacement top section (they actually had the cheek to ask me to!). They've subsequently asked for a pair of sticks (to get a real fire going I presume), which Santa's Little Helper here has made for Crimbo - with brass inserts...
The problem with the inserts is they don't seem to actually fit the candles, which is why I hadn't fitted one in the first place.
'Course if you can't actually use the candlesticks 'cos the candle won't fit I suppose that makes them really, really safe...

Sorry, there was a topic round here somewhere... er, can't really add anything. I'd forgotten why, but I always leave oily rags spread to cure before binning them; thanks for the reminder why I do it.

Cheers, Alf
 

dedee

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Terry,
Thanks. I could not believe that a finished marked as safe for toys could catch fire easily.
I find the smell of the Finishing Oil far less overpowering that that of some other finishing products (Briwax and Patina for example). In fact it is the apparent low odour that allows me to do the finishing indoors rather than in the workshop.

Taffy,
The candle holders are for the tea light candles so the candle is enclosed within a metal casing.

I'll post photos if I can remember to bring the camera to work on Wednesday.


Andy
 

Terry Smart

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Hi Andy

You're welcome.

Just to clarify something here, many of our products have been tested to EN71 for use on toys. These tests were carried out at an independent laboratory at some expense.

The test covers the material as a dried film, the state it should be in when given to a child. Our products (and those of nearly every other manufacturer I can think of) are only potentially harmful in liquid form... but then again so is gin or whiskey etc if you put a match to it... or drink it to excess!
 

Noel

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As has been alluded to in previous posts bear in mind that flamable liquids in themselves are not flamable, it's the vapours and oxygen that create the hazard. Does that make sense?

Noel
 

dedee

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I was always confident that it would be OK but once a seed of doubt was planted (by the missus) in the mind I just had to seek clarification.

I am sure the explanations here are more likely to beleived than my assertion that " of course it will be ok".

The schoolboy in me is tempted to soak and then screw up a rag just to see what happens.

Andy
 

Taffy Turner

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dedee":yjz6m8mb said:
The schoolboy in me is tempted to soak and then screw up a rag just to see what happens.

Andy
If you want some real fun, get some 0000 gauge wire wool and put a match to it, or, better still, leave it on the floor where the sparks from your grinder can get to it. It is almost unbelievable the way that steel burns when in wire wool form! :shock:

I did hear of a workshop fire caused by someone leaving a jar of finishing oil and some wire wool on a window sill. The jar of oil acted like a lens, and focussed the sun onto the wire wool, and away it went. Not much damage done fortunately, but the window and sill were a write off! :cry:

I keep all my finishing oils etc in a tin box - it keeps the sun and most if the air away from them - you can't be too careful!!!!
 

Philly

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Hi All
I normally flatten the rags and put them on the paving at the rear of my workshop till they are "dry". Then I bin them.
One Saturday I was applying Danish oil to a piece. Stopped to get my dinner and just put the rag on a corner of my bench on a plastic box lid. "I won't be long" thought I, so was happy to leave it there so I could put another coat on. Well, one thing led to another and it was many hours later when I returned to the shop to finish up. The rag was VERY warm, as was the plastic lid.
Last time I do that! Just chuck them outside to cure....... :D
cheers
Philly :D
 

frank

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alf can you not put the candles on the lath and turn a spigot in the candles to fit the candle sticks . or make a bigger hole to fit the candles .

frank off and running for cover.
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Alf

Alf":b165elv9 said:
The problem with the inserts is they don't seem to actually fit the candles, which is why I hadn't fitted one in the first place.
Have a word with Tony and I'm sure he'll have a jig that will ease the candles into the inserts. :roll:

Cheers
Neil

PS Sorry Tony.
 

Alf

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That's not the problem; the inserts are too big - or maybe the candles are too small...
Perhaps I should have included a packet of Blu-tak with the sticks?


Cheers, Alf
 

Taffy Turner

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Alf":110ydmug said:
That's not the problem; the inserts are too big - or maybe the candles are too small...
Perhaps I should have included a packet of Blu-tak with the sticks?


Cheers, Alf
Alf,

Have you tried Craft Supplies - they do 2 sizes of candle holders - 22mm and 35mm if memory serves me right.

They also doa range of very reasonably priced scented candes which fit the smaller holder just right.

A nice turned candle stick and a box of scented candles goes down very well as a Chrisie Presie!
 

Alf

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Taffy Turner":totn92y0 said:
Have you tried Craft Supplies - they do 2 sizes of candle holders - 22mm and 35mm if memory serves me right.
The ones I've used may have come from them; don't recall. I've had them, well, for a while... I think one problem with them is they're quite shallow, but as my last two are now in Kent, wrapped up, I can't look at them again to remind myself. The trouble with Craft Supplies is I'm loathed to pay the delivery charge if I can possibly help it, but the £100 free delivery point is always more than I want to spend with them, so I end up going elsewhere. So thinking about it I probably got the holders from Axminster.


Taffy Turner":totn92y0 said:
They also do a range of very reasonably priced scented candes which fit the smaller holder just right.
Aaarrrggghhh. Scented candles. Yuck.
Can't stand them. I had the devil of a time finding unscented ones this year; darn near drove me mad.

Cheers, Alf
 

Adam

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Alf":3vsp4782 said:
.
Aaarrrggghhh. Scented candles. Yuck.
Can't stand them. I had the devil of a time finding unscented ones this year; darn near drove me mad.
Cheers, Alf
You want to try a beekeeper - all genuine beeswax is unscented - well - it does have a "honey/beeswax" smell - but it's the real McCoy. I'm sure there is a farm down your way that sells them - it's on a corner - can't remember much about it. But lots of beehives and signs outside.

If you get really stuck - you could make them? Quite fun candle dipping! And you can guarentee they will be the diameter you want!!!

Adam
 

Alf

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asleitch":1lq39spb said:
If you get really stuck - you could make them?
Aww heck, like I need another hobby I never get round to doing.
Anyway, if it comes to that, how about metal spinning and I make my own holders? Hmm, now that's an idea...


Cheers, Alf

Wondering if there's a sensible point to split this thread as we seem to have wandered ever-so slightly off topic. I know, I was shocked too...
 
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