Warning: Read The Label

What you’re looking at is the aftermath of a backyard fire. The cause: improper disposal of a wood finishing product.

We hear stories like this from time to time, and the most troubling part is that these tragedies are preventable. Simply heeding the warning labels on these products can save you from losing thousands of dollars—or worse.

Wood finishes are important in any woodworking project because they protect the wood and enhance its beauty. However, most of these products also have a low flash point, which means they can spontaneously combust at relatively low temperatures. The picture above is the result of used rags left in an empty can under a sawhorse. As night fell, the rags ignited; no prolonged exposure to sunlight required. The homeowner who sent us this photo was lucky to have some attentive neighbors who called the fire department and kept the damage from getting any worse.

Fortunately, spontaneous combustion requires certain conditions, and the instructions that come with wood finishing products will help you avoid these conditions. Read the warning labels in their entirety, follow the directions, and you can keep your family safe.

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