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Can Motor Oil Soaked Rags Spontaneously Combust?

Auto oils and gasoline are the substances associated with spontaneous combustion. So, your question is, “can motor oil-soaked rags spontaneously combust?” Engine oil or motor oil, whatever you say, is the same, and both of them are automobile oil. So, there is a massive chance of combustion if rags get fired.

We have many examples of fire accidents that take place from oil-soaked rags. A little pile of soaked rags can burn your whole house. You can’t give any second thought to keeping that truth down. We have seen some of our very reckless clients about motor oil-soaked rags. We have requested them to be sincere. We think as human beings, we must share this topic with you. That’s why we are here apart from our responsibility.

Why Do Oil Soaked Rags Spontaneously Combust?

Oil is a substance of the world that goes through an oxidation process. During oxidation, it produces energy in the form of heat. Moreover, we have enough oxygen in our environment to generate fire from any heated elements. Now, there are different types of oil in our world. They don’t undergo oxidation but generate heat at a specific moment. Vegetable, drying oils, and biodiesel are the oil that can spontaneously combust. Oil-soaked rags and even a pile of hay can also combust if it is oil soaked.

Thanks to motor oil because they don’t oxidize. So, the level of danger is almost null. But oxidizing is a natural characteristic of oil as well as oil-soaked rags because rags absorb the oil without changing oil property. So, everyone must be careful about it. Remember, we are talking only about motor oil or engine oil. If it is fuel, you cannot prevent the danger.

If the fuel is hazardous, won’t the motor oil-soaked rags combust spontaneously?

Can Motor Oil Soaked Rags Spontaneously Combust

Can Engine Oil Soaked Rags Spontaneously Combust?

The chances of spontaneous combustion of engine oil are less, but it can happen if the situation is right. If the oil is oxidized, it will create fire most of the time. Motor oil does not go through oxidation. So, that’s a relief point.

Petroleum oil and engine oil have combustion points like other oils. Spontaneous combustion can occur when motor oil reaches that combustion point. The combustion point of motor oil is related to its iodine number. If the number is more than 130, there is a huge chance of spontaneous combustion from motor oil-soaked rags.

How to Prevent Oil Soaked Rags from Spontaneously Combust?

We have cleared all the connections between oil-soaked rags and combustion. However, only knowing the reasons is not enough. We have to be careful and prevent sudden bursts. Here are some suggestions to save your house from a sudden fire accident.

  • Oily rags should be placed in an OSHA-approved container to prevent spontaneous combustion.
  • Never store motor oil near the rags. 
  • Don’t dry the oily rags under sunlight.
  • Dry the rag properly at a cold temperature before storing.
  • Wash the motor oil-soaked rags with soap or detergent to remove oils.
spontaneously combust

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How long does it take for oily rags to combust?

Ans. Any oily rags left in a pile are risky. The combustion time vary based on the situation and oil type. On average, it takes from 1 hour to 3-4 days.

Which temperature makes motor oil spontaneously combust?

Ans. Motor oil ignites at300°-400° Fahrenheit. So it’s a very high temperature for motor oil to burn.

Can any absorbent eliminate the potential for spontaneous combustion?

Ans. No, no absorbent can eliminate the potential for spontaneous combustion.


Our primary goal is to keep our clients safe. Spontaneously combustion from oily rags is dangerous for every house. Though motor oil ignites at a very high temperature, we should be careful. We have given some safety tips. If you follow them, you will be safe. Hope we have succeeded in answering the question, “Can Motor Oil Soaked Rags Spontaneously Combust?”

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