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Close call... paint can... toxic fumes


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I've been smelling a paint type smell downstairs (unfinished, workshop & storage) for a day or so and I've been looking for some paint or thinner can with a loose cap. My wife has been mostly gone at an event for a town group she's President of, so we've not conversed much. I thought she might have painted a sign & she thought I might have... But the odor persisted... I kept looking...

I was down stairs & began feeling nauseous... I could not leave the sliding door down there open because the ramp blocks the screen. I climbed over some things to get one window open. I came upstairs & opened the upstairs slider & windows & started fans to get some air moving. I became worried the concentration was dangerous... both for breathing & possibly flamable/explosive.

After some fresh air, I went down again & found an old spray paint can... had leaked through the base! It wasn't rusty or anything. It was in a small steel cabinette & the shelf had spillage but was too dry to wipe up (And disguard out the door after the can!) I emptied the cabinette & moved it... discovered a puddle of who knows what... solvent??? underneath. I mopped that up & dragged the cabinette (and the paper towels) to the slider & dumped it down the ramp to air out. (Evaporate & dissapate... away from people)

Just a note... never put solvent soaked cloths, rags or tissue in a closed container... they can spontaineously combust... Recommendations are to spread rags etc out single thickness & let the solvent evaporate.

I woke dear wife up, snoozing in front of TV, so my dragging caninette wouldn't startle her (& make sure she could be awakened). I really don't want to be in a house full of fumes.

Pretty nasty... hopefully this headache will disappate by bed time...


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My 80 yr old mother fell asleep in her easy chair. She has a small house cat that used to be a ferrel cat. It kept jumping up on her lap which is nothing unusual except the cat kept batting at her face till she finally woke up with a very sick feeling. The smell of natural gas was throughout the home. Fortunatly my mother was able to get outside and call the gas company. They found a leak in the gas line behind the kitchen stove.

Animals never fail to surprise me.

I'm glad you were able to find the source of the fumes before it resulted in a bad situation.

Edited by JAG1
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Just a note... never put solvent soaked cloths, rags or tissue in a closed container... they can spontaineously combust... Recommendations are to spread rags etc out single thickness & let the solvent evaporate.



laying them out is what will make them spontaneously combust. what you should do is soak them in a pail of water and seal the lid on it. at MINIMUM soak them in water.

ive seen many new "painters" driving down the road with the back of their truck smoking from rags not disposed of correctly.

i've been professional painter for the better part of 15 years. never once have i had them light up. but i've sure seen others lay them out on the deck or ground and watch them start smoldering.

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I don't think my spray paint had linseed oil base.  Oil based products are becoming a specialty item.  I DO use 50/50 linseed oil & thinner mix to penitrate primitive wood bows & arrows.  Instances I am familiar with were all bundles,  trash bags, cans with multiple oil soaked rags...  concentrating heat & fumes.   The combustion is part of the drying process...     Note: raw linseed oil never seems to dry. 


I remove the rags from the buildings.  Also lets any evaporating solvent go into the outside air & not into living spaces.  When I had a burn barrel, I'd hang them on the rim of the cold barrel, single thickness, to dry.  Once they are dry, there should be no more danger.


I note the article also mentions placing them in a can with water which makes sense on a job site where they need to be removed.   


We are rural located...  the local FD tries it's best but often can not save much of the original structure.  With no hydrants, mutual aid does the tanker shuttle. 

We also take pains to remove wood stove ash in a metal bucket which gets well removed from the house & structures, placed on a non-combustable surface & covered.  It's not emptied until we need the bucket again several days later.  It's not unusual for the bucket to get HOT before it gets cold.  Very few coals in the ash will do it.   

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Flagman. you might look into watco oil instead of the linseed oil and thinner mix. the Watco it much better oil and can be made to shine or be dull. i've used it many time on my long bows with yes real wooden arrows.

i know the linseed oil was a rage years past for decks and old wagons. but mind you this, it offer very little if any UV protection.

Woods oil is a great preservative. holds up well on the log homes around here.

penofine is another good one. if you want to keep the natural look of the wood and no colorant.


as i'm sure you know only the railroad is aloud to poison the earth with creosote oil. it was the best around. kept the horses from cribbing. and the pole barns from rotting. now just used used motor oil.

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