GF Gel Stain - safety questions

Bluejay22July 27, 2014

Hi all - I just did my first coat of GF Java Gel Stain on a test kitchen cabinet, and it looks good so far. I have a few questions related to safety, as I know the gel stain could spontaneously combust...

1) Is it okay to transfer a smaller amount into a plastic container so that I don't have to keep opening and closing the metal quart? The plastic container I'm using is a clear, plastic tupperware-like container.

2) Is it okay to store the used glove and sock in a plastic ziplock bag to use again for the next coat? When I use latex paint, I store my rollers/brushes in a plastic bag for later use (within a day or so), but I'm not sure if I can do the same for oil-based products.

FYI - if any of the advice pertaining to 1) or 2) above would differ for Arm-R-Seal, please let me know, as I would have the same questions for that when I do the top coat.

3) Finally, a non-safety related question...the directions say to brush with the grain, but when I'm doing the recessed part of the panel, I have a really hard time continuing with the grain because I knock up against the lip of the frame. Is there some secret to getting up against the edge of the recessed panel, or do you just do the best you can? What I"m doing is going all the way around the edge (not against the grain on two sides), but then I just try to smooth the edges as best I can when I am doing the final brushes with the grain.

Thanks for any advice, especially on the safety issues!

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Combustion occurs because the drying(curing) process generates heat. In a wad, the heat builds up to combustion temps. If the cloths are spread to dry and allowed to dry completely, no problem with combustion.

Putting the applicators in a Baggie and storing in the fridge/freezer is fine---no worries about combustion.

Gel stain is really a modified paint. With oil/water/alcohol based stains/dyes. applying parallel to the grain helps prevent building up stain material in the different grain consistencies.

Sometimes that is not possible, as you have found. In those cases, you just have to apply as possible. You might need to change the amount/process of application to get good results.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 7:36PM
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handymac - thanks so much for the info. it's really helpful to know that it's the actual curing process that produces heat. i was afraid of the gel stain just spontaneously combusting for no good reason, but now that i understand the process that causes it, i think i can effectively avoid any safety problems. :)

thanks for all the other tips, too. looking forward to doing my second coat tomorrow and if all turns out well after all the coats plus topcoats, doing the rest of my kitchen! :)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:14PM
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Handymac or anyone else, what is the proper way to dispose of the used socks? I've heard to put them in water when wet and then "dispose of properly". Not sure what that means. Can I just lay them out to dry and throw away? If soaked in water, does that mean to throw away wet?..

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:05AM
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Lay them on a non combustable surface and let dry.

Then put in the trash.

Only oil based stains/finishes have the spontaneous combustion problem. The chemistry involved causes the materials to heat as they dry/cure. That heating is only a problem when the cloths/brushes used are put in small contained spaces where oxygen is available. Paint/automotive shops have long used metal trash cans with spring loaded hinged lids---toss the oil based rag in the can and the lid closes, limiting the amount of oxygen.

Putting such a rag in water does not allow the material to dry/cure---which simply delays the process---and could cause it to happen elsewhere.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Handymac or anyone else, what is the proper way to dispose of the used socks? I've heard to put them in water when wet and then "dispose of properly"

I spread them out to dry, and when they are hard, toss them in the trash can.

The heat generates when the oils oxidize and harden ... if it oxidizes in a spread-out cloth, it dissipates. In a tight wad, it can't escape, builds up and may start burning.

Dropping them in a bucket of water is what LARGE shops do during the day because they generate a lot of oil-soaked rags, then someone fishes them out to dry and dump. For the home handyman, draping a used rag over the sawhorse works better.

During the project, I remove the glove and lay it flat, and put the stain rag into a baggie in the frig. Or spread it to dry and use a new one.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:14PM
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I believe the problem is more common with (boiled, i.e., catalyzed with a drier) linseed oil than with varnishes. Problem is, you don't always know what's in that can, so err on the side of safety.

The oxidation (i.e., curing) of linseed oil is exothermic (generates heat). The general rule is these sorts of chemical reactions increase their rate with every rise of 18F / 10C in temperature. So it goes like

reaction generates heat --> heat increases rate of reaction --> faster reaction generates more heat ---> more heat increases rate of reaction -->...repeat... --> ignition temperature reached with ready supply of oxygen and fuel.

Despite what the Arm-r-Seal label says or used to say, "Oil and Urethane Blend" it's a thinned varnish. The label is finish doublespeak for varnish. I tell people it's like picking up a loaf of bread whose label reads "Flour, water, and yeast blend."

But I do as the others, hang the rags up and dry until hard. I use the top edge of an empty metal trash can outside, throw them over a bush leaf-bare in the winter, etc. Every one of those safety cans I've seen has prominently displayed "Empty Every Night" stenciled across the front.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 6:17PM
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