How to choose the right absorbent socks for cleaning up spills
When you reach for an absorbent sock to contain spilled or leaking fluid, do you stop to think about the sock’s color? You should!
Color coding doesn’t just look nice. It has a serious purpose: to help workers respond to a spill quickly and clean it up safely. Each chemical color code indicates the sock’s purpose and serves as a safety precaution for workers in the spill area.
In this post we’ll explain the different types, absorbency, and uses of these handy spill clean-up tools.
What are absorbent socks?
Absorbent socks are long polypropylene tubes containing high absorbency materials like cellulose or corn cob filler. Their uses span general purpose sorbents to containment dikes that stop spills from spreading.
Different types of socks can handle various liquids including water, solvent, coolant and oil spills. They come in lengths of 4′ to 12′ and one sock absorbs up to 2.5 gallons of fluids.
Socks are similar in appearance — and use applications — to absorbent booms. Check out our previous post where we explain the differences in absorbent booms versus socks.
Along with absorbent pads and pillows, socks are a common item in most overpack spill kits. Next we’ll discuss why these spill supplies come in different colors.
Benefits of spill kit color coding
Color coding your absorbent kit contents offers several advantages. First, the sock color informs workers at a glance about the spill type. For instance, alerting them to steer clear of dangerous spills if they do not have the right safety equipment.
Second, color coding can help you train new employees about spills. For example, which socks they’ll need to use when cleaning up different substances. This can be crucial for facilities that handle multiple kinds of chemical fluids.
Finally, the color coding system can save you money. Using the wrong sock for a spill is a waste of resources. However, when the color clearly indicates the sock’s purpose, mistakes are less likely to happen.
Color coding systems can vary between businesses. But, AbsorbentsOnline has fine-tuned a smart, easy-to-understand scheme. And it applies to all our super absorbent pads, rolls, chemical socks and pillows.
Hazmat spills – yellow socks
Yellow indicates the chemical spill absorbent sock is for aggressive and non-aggressive fluids. Although yellow socks are typically for acids and bases, you can also use them with unknown liquids.
The bright yellow color makes a hazmat chemical absorbent sock stand out from its surroundings. This helps warn employees to avoid coming into contact with the sock and spill unless they’re wearing the proper PPE equipment.
Note: yellow socks are not compatible with sulfuric acid. Instead, keep a supply of acid spill neutralizer socks on hand.
Oil-only spills – white socks
Use white oil absorbent socks to soak up oil-based fluids (hydrocarbons). They also repel water, and will not sink even when saturated with oil. As well, the bright white color means they are easy to see.
Use oil-only absorbent socks to dike and absorb spilled oils. Because they’re hydrophobic, and float on water, they’re a great choice for marine applications. For instance, to help soak up waterborne hydrocarbons and oily sheens.
Universal spills – grey socks
Grey universal absorbent socks are for general-purpose uses. They are the best choice for industrial applications and containing non-aggressive fluids. This covers everything from water-based liquids, to solvents, coolants and oil spills.
The grey color indicates to workers that the absorbed fluids are not dangerous to handle. Grey also helps hide dirt and blends in with surroundings. Which means these heavy duty socks are ideal to position around leaky equipment and machinery.
How do you use absorbent socks?
In the workplace, super absorbent socks help keep spills and leaks in check. Which is why these handy sorbents are essentials in many maintenance shops and industrial facilities.
Because they’re flexible, socks are a great way to quickly confine and absorb fluids. For example, wrap universal absorbent socks around the base of coolers or A/C units to soak up condensation puddles.
You can also use them to prevent spills from spreading and becoming a slip hazard. By laying socks around a spill you create a diking dam that also soaks up the liquid. Like encircling a leaky sump pump or IBC tank to create a temporary spill control barrier.
Are absorbent socks reusable?
In short, yes! Specifically, mildew-resistant absorbent socks made of non-biodegradable fillers like cellulose are reusable. You can wring them out and reuse them after they air-dry.
This not only saves you money by recovering the fluid spill, but also on purchasing socks themselves.
Your spill control, cleanup and sorbent specialists
If you don’t already use color-coding in your facility, take advantage of AbsorbentsOnline’s effective system for spill clean-up. Your employees — and your wallet — will be better off for it.
This is a revision to a blog post with an original publish date of March 11, 2015