I apologize if this topic has been covered in-depth before; I tried to search through the forums and through The Painter's Handbook and couldn't quite find the information I was looking for. My question is fairly basic: what is the best way to store and dispose of rags that have any combination of oil paint, linseed oil, and mineral spirits on them in a small studio?
I have found multiple similar, but slightly different answers to the question:
- In college we had a red metal rag-can that we would put the fresh rags into, and they would eventually be taken away.
- In my most recent search, however, I read that one shouldn't put soaked rags in a closed container because the fumes will collect and pose a fire threat in that way. I have no idea how credible the source was, but it was enough to make me pause.
- The directions on the back of the linseed oil can say to immediately put the rags in a sealed metal container that has water in it. Then, I assume, this container is to be taken to a local hazardous waste disposal site.
- I have also seen/heard that if the rags are allowed to dry out (to a point of being "hard"), they are no longer at hazard of spontaneously combusting. And these can either be taken to a hazardous waste facility or just thrown away.
- At the same time, I have read that it's when rags have been left lying around that fires start to happen. But perhaps that is only when they're in piles?
So those answers (and please correct any of those if they are inaccurate) lead me to further questions:
- If the metal can/water method is the best (being the one recommended on the can), what counts as an appropriate sealed container? Would a small metal trashcan with a lid be adequate? Or would it be better to use something like an empty paint can, which has a tighter seal and can be taken kit-and-caboodle to a disposal center? If I were to use a metal trashcan with water to store the rags, what would be a safe way to transport the rags to their final disposal destination?
I am only one person painting in a studio, and it will take me time to accumulate enough rags to take somewhere, so a storage solution is important. Something like a trashcan would be ideal, if it is adequate, because I don't really have any access to empty paint cans.
- Or is the dry-the-rags method better perhaps, if that is even an adequate method? Right now I have two small rags sitting on a metal stool in one layer drying out in my studio, just because. I don't have a backyard or anyplace where I could put the rags to dry outside.
Thank you for your time and for this website! I know that rag disposal is a pretty basic part of painting practices, but for some reason I came away from all my perusing unsure about the best solution for me on the scale at which I operate, and thought it would be best just to ask.