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Monday, September 20, 2010

Public Service Announcement

This has no relation whatsoever to anything I regularly blog about, but I want to warn you about something that can pose a danger in your home.  The furniture in the kids' bedroom here is constructed from unpainted wood. When it was purchased about a zillion years ago, I was instructed to apply boiled linseed oil to it from time to time to protect it and keep it looking nice. I've done that a couple of times. On Sunday, my stepdaughter and I used old cotton diaper cloths to apply linseed oil to the furniture in the bedroom. I left the linseed oil-soaked rags on top of the dryer to be laundered later.

After that, we all left home, had a meal at a restaurant, visited the Bass Pro Outdoor World (very cool place) for a while, then we dropped off the girls at their mom's house and returned home. We had been home quite a while when I started smelling very strong fumes of linseed oil, enough to make my eyes burn (which was really strange because its smell when it's applied to the wood furniture is totally inoffensive, it doesn't even necessitate any special ventilation during the application). After searching for the source of the odor, I went to the laundry room and found that the linseed oil-soaked cotton rags were very hot, fumey, sort of scorched-looking, and even smoking a little. I took them outside and put them on the concrete sidewalk, where they cooled off.

I Googled "linseed oil chemical reaction," and found this article about the dangers posed by linseed oil   This stuff if left on a rag can spontaneously combust! We're really lucky that we were back home before it became a problem. I've used the linseed oil on the furniture before, albeit a long time ago, and didn't have any problem, so I didn't even glance at the label this time. The label does warn about this danger. Lesson learned: If you use boiled linseed oil, dispose of your rags in a metal can filled with water, and read the labeling on any product you're about to use.

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