How to Dispose Of Linseed Oil Rags- In 3 Safe Steps

Linseed oil is an excellent finish for wood product in both exterior and interior projects. However, you need wiping cloths or lint-free rags to deliver complete and an impressive coverage. How to dispose of linseed oil rags is a topic that must be given all attention for the greater good of the environment.

One thing that you should know is that this oil catches fire with ease and any careless handling can end up being catastrophic, so it is important that you follow all the safety procedures to minimize damages.

Here’s what you need to know about how to dispose of linseed oil rags:

There are a few disposal strategies for linseed oil rags: Air dry them individually and discard them with your regular trash.

Or soak the cloths in a metal container filled with water and seal it tightly. Then, store them safely until you dispose of them in a hazardous waste facility.

It is valuable to discard linseed oil rags safely as they can burst into flames, causing irreversible damage. This article will offer reliable techniques without exposing you and the environment to more hazards.

How to Dry Excess Boiled Linseed Oil Rags For Disposal

Another alternative is to let the rags dry separately before discarding them. Remember that petroleum needs to distillate and evaporate in an open space. Therefore, the oxidation heat dissipates without building up and thus ignites the cloth.

The drying process is pretty straightforward:

  • Lay Out the Linseed Oil Rags

Spread out or hang the rags individually in a well-ventilated area or outside under the shade away from direct sunlight. Also, please avoid laying them on combustible surfaces, like a recently oiled deck. Otherwise, you’ll only catalyze ignition.

Consider placing the rags on metal hangers, the garage floor, or a chair’s backrest, ensuring that the surface guarantees unrestricted airflow.

  • Allow the Rags to Dry

Leave the rags for at least two days or longer for complete drying. Also, some materials may need more time, depending on the fabric. But ensure that the rags are dry to the touch and the oily smell is not strong.

  • Dispose of the Rags

Discard the dried rags with your regular trash pickup services; it is no longer a threat. Alternatively, you can leave it at the hazardous waste disposal center for added safety.

NB: Please do not attempt to wash and reuse linseed oil rags. Petroleum distillates and oil-based formulas contain resins that harden into the material as the liquids evaporate. So, washing liberates these components and sends them into the drain system.

How Do Oily Rags Start Fire?

Some oil-based products cure through oxidation, requiring oxygen to generate heat. Moreover, when oily rags are in a pile, they create and trap heat and can reach an ignition temperature.

This fire spreads quickly to other combustibles and causes significant damage to your property.

Although it appears spontaneous, the oily rags need to sit around for about four to six hours before there is enough heat for combustion. In addition, an external heat source or spark accelerates the process.

Common spontaneous combustion fires come from improperly disposed of oil and stain-soaked rags. These products include oil-based polyurethane, paint, varnishes, thinners, and linseed oils. 

Fill a metal container with water and soak the soiled and used oily rags. Then, cover the package with a tight-fitting lead, seal the top, and do not open it. This way, you prevent the oil from oxidizing and later heating up and igniting.

Nest, contact your local trash disposal company for the appropriate waste disposal policies. Also, you can consult with the authorities for the Hazardous Waste Collection schedule for soaked rags.

Can You Reuse Linseed Oil Rags?

outdoor furniture oil, boiled linseed oilYou can reuse linseed oil rags, but it is usually more work to clean the oil rag than it’s worth. Therefore, most woodworkers prefer using paper towels or buying more rags.

In addition, oily rags are as toxic and harmful as the oil-based formula. So, you’d need countless rounds of detergent and paint thinner for a successful outcome.

Linseed oil rags are not safe for your washing machine or pipes. Also, most oil-based products have resins that harden after drying. Thus, there is a high likelihood of clogging your cleaning appliances.

Finally, although the combustible carrier is clean, the resin remains solid, rendering the rags useless for any other project.

How Do You Dispose of Linseed Oil With Paper Towels?

Spread out the linseed paper towels on hangers or concrete to dry. However, ensure that you put down the individual papers and hold them down. Otherwise, they will float away and create a mess.

The paper towels are no longer a threat when dry. Therefore, you can safely discard them in your regular waste bag.

Can I Pour Linseed Oil Down the Drain?

It is not advisable to pour linseed oil down the stain as it cures hard and may block the sewer system. In addition, please avoid covering the oil and allow it to dry for 24 hours in a well-ventilated area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most rampant questions around the topic of discussion. 

How Do I Dispose Of Linseed Oil Rags Soaked in Water

Water can help curb the possible heat and fire ignition from oily rags. Besides, you only need a metal can with a tight-seal cover and soak the fabric. This way, you can keep the rags around before discarding them properly.

Here are simple steps for the procedure:

  • First, put the rags in the metal container. It could be a specialized metal oily rags can or empty paint thinner containers.
  • Fill the can with water to submerge the oily rags. Also, consider using a stone or any reasonable weight to keep the rags in the water. Otherwise, the fabrics will stay afloat and combust.
  • Seal the lid tightly and take the container to a hazardous waste disposal center or store it until your local trash collectors come. Also, please avoid pouring the oily water down the drain as it dries and hardens the pipes.

Is there a Difference Between Boiled and Raw Linseed Oil?

Manufacturers treat boiled linseed oil with metallic compounds to speed up its drying process. On the other hand, raw linseed oil or flaxseed oil does not feature any additions.

Also, boiled linseed oil needs about 24 hours to cure, while raw linseed oil needs three to four days to dry to the touch.

Can I Wash Linseed Oil Rags?

You can wash linseed oil rags as you would any oily material. But it is practical to have enough rags to avoid the washing hassle. Besides, only a few woodworkers bother to wash these accessories as it is a tedious process.

Is Linseed Oil Hazardous Waste?

Linseed oil is a hazardous waste as it can break out into flames. Therefore, it is advisable to combine the product with other toxic solvents and oil-based formulas for proper disposal at the recommended waste disposal units.

How Do I Store And Dispose Of Boiled Linseed Oil Rags?

One of the surest strategies to store boiled linseed oil rags for safe disposal is to store them in oily metal containers. Moreover, the accessories can stay in this container as long as you keep the can closed tight.

In addition, if the oily rags burst into flames, the fire will soon die out due to a lack of external oxygen supply.

Below are the recommended steps for safe storage and disposal.

  • Find a clean and empty metal container. You could buy a metal trash can for storing oily fabrics or use an empty paint jar. However, ensure that the latter is clean and has a fitting metal cover.
  • Place the oily rags in the chosen container and seal it tightly. Then, place the can in a secure place. But ensure that there is nothing valuable in the storage area if a fire overpowers the metal jar.
  • Discard the oily rags container. Consider arranging for a pick up by the local trash collectors or personally disposing of the accessories at the specified hazardous waste disposal centers.

What Is Linseed Oil?

Linseed oil is a yellowish oil from dried, ripened flax seeds. It is a drying oil and oxidizes into a solid form after curing. Therefore, you can blend it with other solvents and resins to deliver an efficient finish.

The oil comes in handy as an impregnator and varnish, a hardener in putty, a pigment binder in oil formulas, and an ingredient in linoleum manufacture. Therefore, it is suitable for finishing and refinishing wooden surfaces.

We have two linseed oil types on the market: Raw linseed oil comes from flax seed and contains no additional additives or preservatives. It dries very slowly and takes weeks to cure.

In addition, the formula is excellent when protecting outdoor surfaces in harsh weather conditions. And it works best when drying time is not a consideration.

On the other hand, boiled linseed oil consists of additional solvents to help it dry more quickly and act as boiled. Also, the product is suitable for projects requiring a quicker drying time.

Can You Drink Raw Linseed Oil?

Raw linseed oil is pretty safe for human consumption and does not threaten your health. Moreover, many sources indicate that it is secure for household use. 

Also, you will find it in three various types: polymerized, raw, and steamed. So, please note which ones to ingest and those to use carefully.

The formula has multiple benefits for your health. For instance, it helps reduce cancer cell growth, treats diarrhea and constipation, improves skin health, may reduce inflammation, and contributes to heart health.

Linseed oil is an edible and sought-after nutritional supplement. Besides, it is an omega three essential fatty acid and an origin of -Linolenic acidity.

The product is a delicacy in some European regions thanks to its hearty taste and skill in enhancing quark flavor.

In addition, raw linseed oil is suitable for increasing bowel movements every day. But beware not to consume too much as it has adverse effects such as bloating, stomachache, gas, and nausea.

Lastly, flaxseed oil is pure and ideal for drinking, but not boiled linseed oil. The formula undergoes a refinement process and thus contains additives to improve its paint and stain-cleaning attributes.

What Chemicals Are In Boiled Linseed Oil?

Mineral spirits, naphtha, and di propylene glycol monomethyl are some oil-based compounds you’ll find in linseed oil. In addition, some manufacturers also add metal siccatives like manganese and cobalt.

Is Boiled Linseed Oil Toxic to Humans?

Pure, 100% linseed oil poses little or no toxic threat to the environment or human health. However, it emits a smell during drying, requiring you to work in a well-ventilated area.

In addition, Material Data Safety Sheets on the product confirms that it is safe for use.

Is It Safe to Use Boiled Linseed Oil on a Cutting Board?

It is advisable to use food-grade and unboiled linseed oil products for your cutting boards. In addition, the product is a drying oil and will deliver a plastic-like shield around the wood to safeguard it from moisture damage.

How Long Does it Take For Oily Rags to Combust?

Any oily rags left in a bin, pile, or bag can self-heat and pose a fire threat. Moreover, fire investigators support that these rags are potential ignition sources from one hour to two to three days.

Temperature levels also govern the chemical reaction. For example, the reaction rate doubles every 10 degrees C increase in temperatures. Therefore, piles of oil rags are more susceptible to self-heating in higher temperatures.

How Do I Prevent Oily Rags From Starting Fires?

Prevention of spontaneous combustion fires starts with good housekeeping. For instance, a clean work area can prevent fire from getting bigger and spreading by not allowing the fire fuel to combust.

In addition, understanding the potential for self-heating cloths soiled with turpentine and linseed oil is vital in eliminating these fires. Therefore, learn how to safely and adequately discard oily rags.


The concern that linseed oil rags can spontaneously catch fire is no urban tale. It happens more often than you think, requiring woodworkers to be careful in handling and disposing of the accessories. Hence, the discourse:

How to Dispose Of Linseed Oil Rags

You can soak the linseed oil rags in water inside a metal container. Also, consider air-drying them away from direct sunlight and storing them in a non-combustible can until the garbage collectors come.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.