Eliminate Spontaneous Combustion with Oily Waste Cans


In 2014, a work crew at a Virginia flooring company parked their van in the company warehouse and left for the evening. By 9:12 p.m., disaster struck and fire crews were calling for backup to control the blaze. It took more than an hour to extinguish the fire, which caused damage to multiple vehicles, the warehouse and the company offices. What happened?

The Chesterfield fire department attributed the cause of ignition to spontaneous combustion. Workers left towels containing wood sealing residue behind the driver’s seat of the vehicle. During the night, these towels began to smolder and ignited. Disposing of the oily towels into an approved oily waste can could have prevented this incident.

How Spontaneous Combustion Occurs

As oil dries in a discarded rag, it produces heat. The air inside the folds of the rag combines with the fumes to form a combustible mixture. Under the right conditions, the rag will spontaneously ignite. Of course, there are other sources of ignition. Sparks generated in a workshop environment can fall onto oily rags. Even carelessly discarded smoking materials can provide the source for ignition.

Cloths, wipes and cleaning rags used in ordinary activities across many industries are potential sources of fire. They contain solvents, linseed oil, combustible adhesives, and other flammable liquids.

Features of Oily Waste Cans

Justrite’s line of oily waste cans are approved by FM, UL and TUV. They feature round construction with a raised base and a self-closing lid.

Foot operated models open the lid without the use of hands. The design of Justrite oily waste cans limit the lid opening to 60 degrees. Sparks and ignition sources are kept out of the waste can. The lid also seals tightly in position on closure. This airtight seal cuts off oxygen supply. These features combine to virtually eliminate the risk of spontaneous combustion. Soundgard models reduce the noise of the closing lid by 200% contributing to a comfortable working environment.

Raising the base and adding air holes allow circulation of air around the waste can. The round shape of the can also helps. Circulating air disperses heat and prevents drying solvents from reaching ignition temperature. Air flow also reduces moisture build up and the associated corrosion.

Using Oily Waste Cans

Large warning labels with pictographs indicate the contents of the waste can. Multiple can colors are available to assist with managing waste. This is especially important when segregating waste of different types. Segregation can also be done on a shift or department basis.

The chances of spontaneous combustion increase by the volume of dirty rags collected, the amount of time they spend in the waste can and the availability of oxygen. It is good practice to empty waste cans every day and dispose of the contents. OSHA specifies "at least once daily at the end of each shift."

Call Justrite to Order Your Oily Waste Cans Today

Justrite supplies oily waste cans in a variety of sizes and colors. Qualified personnel will advise you of regulatory codes that affect your business and the best solution for your needs.

Learn more about Oily Waste Cans