How to Remove Oil Spills and Stains.

With the first snows of winter forecast for this week I decided to stock up my log store. I had some large boughs on the drying rack ready for cutting. Trying to burn fresh cut "green" wood on an open fire is hopeless so I always have logs seasoning for at least 3 months prior to winters arrival.

The chain saw needed a quick sharpen and I topped up the saws chain oil container. Believe me the saw cuts far better and stays sharp longer if chain oil is used. I don’t quite know how but I clearly forgot to replace the oil cap. The first I knew of it was when my wife pointed out the sinuous trail of oil snaking across the paved drive between the garage and the wood store. It was probably less than 100ml in total but what an unsightly mess it looked.

Spill Aid
Having written extensively on oil spills in the past I knew that the quicker the stain gets attention the better the outcome. There are loads of oil stain removal products on the market but I doubt anyone would be lucky enough to have a bottle on the shelf for such an event. I certainly did not.

So what to do. The first step is to remove as much of the fresh wet oil as possible. Use an absorbent wipe or absorbent pad preferably commercial grade. Lay it over the oil and dab rather than scrub as this just spreads the stain. The next step is to sprinkle over absorbent granules to draw out the oil. You will be surprised how many common household products can be applied.

Cat litter is often used (if you have a cat as we do) but I find it too coarse and suggest putting some in a plastic bag and crushing it with a rolling pin to a finer consistency before applying to maximise the surface contact area. You will need to leave it for a day or two and unfortunately if it rains the resultant slush makes an even bigger mess than the oil and on a windy day it will just blow away. I have also heard of people using dry cement, baking soda, talcum powder, oven cleaner and even salt but have never tried them myself.

Once the oil is dry you can also use a laundry powder detergent. Sprinkle the detergent onto the stain, add a small amount of water to make paste, scrub it into the stain using a stiff brush and leave it overnight. Wipe off the excess and hose down. I have also heard that pouring Cola on the stain is effective but it seems unlikely unless you know different.

Lastly check the type of oil being used. Increasingly modern oils including Chain oils are biodegradable so if you are still left will a faint stain over time the elements will work on the oil until it disappears naturally, although think months rather than days.