How can we clean up a kerosene spill on wood?

arlenebJanuary 22, 2009

Our drywall mudders have a Salamander heater going to heat and dry their work. It leaked on our plywood subfloor. The shape of the stain makes it hard to cut that section out and replace it, but that's what I think would be the best solution.

Any suggestions? Is there any way to clean it up? I read somewhere not to even vaccuum over it because of possible sparks igniting the wood.



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I think there may be a way to sand it using a continuous water drip that will keep it cool (sort of like what a dentist does with the drill), but I don't actually know for sure and please don't try anything til you're sure.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 10:12PM
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Kerosene is considered a light fuel. It will dry up eventually. For now spread some kitty litter to absorb it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 8:19AM
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if you just want it cut out, then cut out a square larger than the stain, but make sure you center the cuts on the supports below so that both the patch and the original sub floor are fully supported.

personally i would let it dry up and not worry. kero will totally evaporate in a few days/couple weeks. it may still leave a stain, but it will be safe. keep in mind this is a SUB floor, therefore it won't ever be seen again.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 8:37PM
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Here's what we've decided.

First try: We sprinkled baking soda and kitty litter on the stain and replaced the mudders' protective paper. We'll sweep up and replace those two things every couple of days for the next few weeks and see what effect it has. If the odor persists that long, we'll try sanding and sealing. If it's still there, we'll bite the bullet and replace the plywood; if it's gone, we won't. We have about 6 weeks till carpeting goes in, so in that time we should have a good idea of what's happening.

Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 12:20AM
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New carpet out-gasses formaldehyde, that is the distinct odor you smell in a newly carpeted room. It will probably cover the odor of any kerosene residue that has not yet evaporated. And since carpet is porous, the kerosene vapors can continue to dry out. I am pretty sure you'll be fine.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 2:51AM
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You might try scrubbing some lemon juice on the stain to take out the smell.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 1:22PM
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Depending on how big the area is and how much odor remains, I recommend using a product with oil eating microbes. Unfortunately, the product we use is sold in 30 lb bags and costs $75.00 a bag. IÂm not sure if someone sells this in smaller quantities but Google "oil eating microbes" and you will find a number of different suppliers out there. We have cleaned up many oil spills with this type of product.

Being itÂs only plywood, I recommend just replacing the plywood because itÂs faster and cheaper.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 1:58PM
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You can also put naphtha on the kerosene spill and than absorb it with kitty litter (the clay kind).

paint some naphtha on the spill, let it soak in, then cover with litter.
The naphtha is much more volatile than the kerosene and will help pull it out into the litter.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 3:12PM
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