Disposing of chemicals.....

What’s the easiest, safest way to get rid of chemicals like buckets of gelled resin, dirty acetone, etc…Just want to make sure I’m not breaking any laws or being unsafe… Right now I’m just taking all the chemicals into my main bathroom and either storing them under the cupboard or dumping the whole mix down the toilet…Ok, ok, just kidding. What’s the proper way?

I believe hardened resin is considered to be non-hazardous waste and can be place in the trash. You can mix your unused resin and catalyst together let it set then dispose. As for the other chemicals check out your city/town. Many hold Household Hazardous Waste events for citizens to bring hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals. Some have a designated year round location. This is especially true in Southern California. This is the best way especially because it is free. However, some have limitations on how much you bring at one time. This is to stop businesses from sending their waste. Many of these sites/events are run by the local fire department. You may want to give them a call.

Thanks John…Actually, now that I think aout it, I’m pretty sure there’s a special part of our local landfill designated for dumping hazardous waste…Except it’s $12 a visit!

For $12 bucks that not too bad. Hazardous waste disposal is big business. I’ve seen how much business’ spend on disposal. Much of that is actually wasted unused product that has expired.

I guess as much as you safely can so you can get more bang for your buck. If you change your own car oil you can ask if they take that too.


This may be old hat for you but I pass it along to anyone interested. I don’t use acetone in my board building since moving to epoxy. When I did use polyesters I used to keep 3 cans of acetone. One was fresh/new, next was once used and the third was dirty. I would rinse my tools and brushes in #3 first, then on to #2. The #1 can was reserved for final rinse of my glossing/hotcoat brush. After each use I dumped the used acetone into the next can down the line. The next time you go to your used acetone cans much of the trash has settled to the bottom. I found that I used much less acetone by recycling like this. The #3 can sludge eventually became a solid in the bottom of the can which was disposed of safely.

As it stands now I use one quart of denatured alcohol per 3 gallons of epoxy, used mostly for surface prep between lams or hotcoats, rarely as a solvent. My cloth scraps are my rags and the occasional splash on the skin gets cleaned off with orange oil based hand cleaner.

Tom S.

Thanks Tom,

That is not “old hat” to me at all…sounds like a plan. Do you guys keep like 5 gallon buckets full of acetone laying around or what? When your done glassing a board do you let your tools sit in them or do you simply wipe them off??? Thanks.

I buy acetone a gallon at a time and use:

  • aluminum foil tray for soaking and cleaning squeegees and scissors
  • various sized cups for cleaning brushes (fit to size to avoid waste)
  • lots of rubber gloves

I also go from dirty to clean acetone in steps when cleaning brushes. Greg Loehr has stated that the cost of acetone barely makes brush cleaning cost effective. I agree, I just hate to waste brushes. It isn’t the best air quality method, but I let the dirty acetone evaporate.

San Luis Obispo, Ca has a hazardous waste section outside the landfill entrance. People can drop off paints, pesticides, etc for free(!) As far as I know, hardened resin is OK to dispose at curbside with household garbage.

Just a quick tip if you want to save some money, some of these haz waste drop off sites have a section for recycling material. For example if someone drops off a can of unopened acetone it would be placed in an area where you could HAVE that can for free. Often there will be material (paint, engine cleaner, pesticides, etc.) available that was open but not yet expired but still usable.

I use to work as a Field Supervisor for Onyx Environmental Services, formerly AETS which was a merger between AETC and Chemical Waste Management. We had a contract with the cities of Torrance and Redondo Beach to run their joint Hazard Waste Drop Off Site and Recycling center. I’m not sure if it’s still open. I usually went for a surf before opening if I was assigned there.

If you take a run out to one of these places and it’s closed I highly suggest that you don’t leave your waste at the gate for the guys to get in the morning. It is considered illegal dumping of hazardous materials for which I believe there is a hefty fine ($25,000) and lengthy jail time. We were instructed to take down the license plate number for the car of anyone dumping before or after hours.

FYI, any rags used while cleaning solvents such as actone or alcohol would be considered to be hazardous and need to be disposed of this way. Even if dry, they could even be considered to be flammable solids. Also, as far as California is concerned basically everything is considered as hazardous waste. For a waste to be deemed non-hazardous it has to pass some type of fish toxin test. Basically, if if too many fish die the waste is hazardous.

They should run these tests at every waste water treatment and waste water out flow pipe at the beach.