Brake fluid has gained great importance as well as notoriety in the present era of human civilization. Our modern civilization could come crashing down without this precious natural resource.
However, at the same time, some would say our world will be better off without brake fluid due to less pollution. Whatever views you hold regarding brake fluid, you need to properly dispose of unused brake fluid.
Improper disposal of brake fluid can result in fines and penalties. Moreover, the environmental damage will be worse, resulting in water contamination, destruction of natural habitats, and even a risk of fire.
How to Dispose Of Brake Fluid?
So, how can you properly dispose of brake fluid that has been left sitting for months in the garage?
Dilute with Newer Brake fluid
Brake fluid that has lost efficiency will not be able to power an engine on its own. But it can become usable when mixed with newer brake fluid. When you mix with the right proportion, adding brake fluid can reduce the combustibility of the entire tank.
You should use the right gas jug or jerry that has a jerry can to pour brake fluid in the tank. You should look at the gas level and stop when the gas tank is filled up to just below the safety flap of the tank’s opening. This is important to avoid the spilling of the gas tank.
Ask the local automotive supplier shop if you can add additives to increase the old and new gas ratio in the tank. If so, you should ask what additives are recommended. Generally, injector cleaner and octane boosters are used as an additive to dilute the brake fluid.
Contact a Brake Fluid Disposal Company
You can also take your brake fluid to a disposal center. Make sure to find out the opening hours of the disposal facility. Some of the disposal facilities are open every day while others are open only during the weekends.
You should type ‘hazardous waste disposal facility’ plus the name of the county and city where you reside in Google. Once you locate a local hazardous waste disposal company, call the company to find out the steps required to dispose of brake fluid.
Some brake fluid disposal facilities require the brake fluid to be brought in a government certified container. Use a funnel to carefully transfer old gas from the existing can to a government-certified can used for holding petrol. Most fire codes require that a can should not hold more than 5 gallons (about 19 liters) of brake fluid.
You should pour the brake fluid slowly to avoid spillage. Avoid filling more than 95 percent of the can to leave space for fumes. You should also keep your face as far away from the can as possible to minimize fuel inhalation. After you have poured the brake fluid, you should seal the container tightly and put it in an upright position.
Drive carefully to deliver unused brake fluid to the disposal center. You should never smoke when transferring the brake fluid. Lingering brake fluid on the cloth or hand can also catch fire.
Once you have arrived at the disposal facility, you need to empty the brake fluid tank into the designated storage tank.
It takes only a little brake fluid to catch fire. So, you need to change clothes and wash hands immediately in case of brake fluid spills when transferring it to a disposal facility.
In case brake fluid spills on the floor, you should blot it using a white cloth. You can also use baking soda to cover the spill. Let the soda sit on the floor for a few minutes and then wipe it using a brush.
Remember that cloth with a brake fluid stain can catch fire when heated in a dryer. To prevent fire, you should rub dish soap for five minutes before putting it in a washing machine. Line-dry the cloth and make sure there are no traces of brake fluid before putting it in a washing machine.
Take Brake fluid to Local Recycling Center
The step is slightly different than disposing of through hazardous waste disposal center since the brake fluid is repurposed, and not disposed of. You should call ahead to find out if the recycling company accepts old unused brake fluid.
Call the recycling company to find out about the operating hours. Find it if the company charges any fee for recycling the unused brake fluid.
Most companies offer free recycling services but some charge a fee for disposing of hazardous waste. Find out the fee and any specific instructions for transferring the brake fluid to the company’s location.
Dispose of Brake Fluid to a Community Collection Event
Some communities hold hazardous waste collection events. The details about the events including accepted hazardous materials are usually posted online. You should find out about the proper method such as the required container for bringing the brake fluid.
Various communities in the US hold hazardous waste collection events. Some communities organize the event once a year where the hazardous waste is collected in a single location and disposed of by third-party waste disposal firms.
Others organize the event multiple times in a year and the waste materials are stored in permanent hazardous waste facilities. The waste is disposed of once a year from these facilities by third-party firms.
The community event organizers typically set limitation about the acceptable hazardous waste. You should contact the community organizer in your area to find out if there is any limitation for hazardous waste that you can bring for disposal at the event.
Organize a Brake Fluid Waste Disposal Event
If you own transport or private power company and have a deal with a large amount of unused brake fluid, you should consider organizing a brake fluid waste disposal event yourself. Organizing an event will let you get funds from the county or local government organization.
Most states provide Household Hazardous Waste grants to communities once a year. Eligible applicants who are given the funds can cover up to half the cost of disposing of the waste. You can also over-budget by 50 percent to get funds that cover the entire cost of the disposal.
The requirement for the application changes every year. So, you should submit the latest grant application. Specific requirements for the grant can be found on the county website.
Apart from government funds, you can also consider getting funds from a sponsor. Sponsoring the event will allow the sponsor to promote its brand. Moreover, you can benefit from getting the much-needed money from organizing the household waste program.
Typically the cost of hazardous waste collection events ranges between $5,000 and $10,000. Costs will be less if you use the money to dispose of the waste yourself instead of asking a contractor for the disposal of the waste.
Contact Automobile Repair Shops
Most auto repair shops take unused brake fluid and other leftover auto fluids. Contact your local repair shop to find out if they will take your unused brake fluid.
Some of these shops will take brake fluid for free while others charge a small fee.
Tips for Proper Storage of Brake Fluid Before Disposal
Here are some tips to store brake fluid before disposal.
Never Store Flammable Liquid at Home
You should never store flammable liquids including brake fluid at the home. Storing brake fluid at home poses a high risk of explosion. You need to store brake fluid outside the house in a well-ventilated area.
The place where you store the brake fluid should have no electrical equipment or open flames. Make sure that the place where you store brake fluid has no source of ignition. It should be stored in a covered location away from direct sunlight to minimize evaporation.
A common mistake is storing brake fluid in the basement or garage. This is a dangerous location as there are many heat sources such as water heaters and furnaces.
The heat source can cause an explosion in the event of a leak. Fumes can travel considerable distances. It could ignite causing an explosion if there are sources of heat present near the brake fluid can.
Buy a Commercial Storage Cabinet
In case you don’t have a proper storage area, you should store the brake fluid can in a cabinet outside the house. You can buy a liquid storage cabinet that is built especially for storing brake fluid cans.
The commercial brake fluid cabinets can be purchased from your local safety equipment manufacturer.
Keep Brake Fluid Storage Can Separate
You should never mix brake fluid storage can with cans used for storing other items. Mixing even small amounts of unused brake fluid with other liquids such as diesel, motor oil, antifreeze, and others is dangerous.
You should also not use cans used for storing brake fluid to store food-items. This can lead to contamination of the food leading to a health risk. Lastly, you should keep the storage can out of reach of the children.
The cabinet or storage area should be locked up. This is important to prevent children from being exposed to the brake fluid fume.
Buy Proper Containers for Storing Brake fluid
Make sure that you buy proper storage containers for storing brake fluid. You should note that anti-freeze jugs, milk jugs, and glass containers are not suitable for the storage of brake fluid.
Plastic containers are not appropriate for long term storage of brake fluid. This is because plastic becomes brittle over time that could result in a leak.
Containers suitable for the storage of brake fluid can sustain pressure due to the expansion and contraction of gas caused by temperature changes. Also, the gas containers should be well sealed to prevent spilling.
Consider buying a gas container with Factory Mutual (FM) or Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal. These storage cans are specially built for safe storage of brake fluid.
You can find different sizes of brake fluid storage cans. The storage cans have different mechanisms for the opening of the valve and pour the liquids. Some storage has funnel caps that make it easy to pour the brake fluid without any spills.
While these storage cans are not cheap, they are safer and last much longer resulting in the saving of money.
Here are some of the features you should look for when buying storage cans for disposal.
UL and FM approved filled storage cans remain stable when placed on a 30-degree slope. You won’t have to worry about keeping them completely upright. The joints and seams are completely sealed.
The storage cans don’t leak more than four drops per minute when inverted. So, you won’t have to worry that the entire content will spill if inverted when transporting.
Strong Carrying Handle
The carrying handle of approved storage cans is tested to handle loads between 25 and 125 pounds. The handle won’t break easily when moving to a disposal facility.
Moreover, the cans vent internal pressure reducing the risk of fire and retaining the content. FM-labeled cans have a flame arrester feature that greatly reduces the risk of a fire. The cans are tested bypassing natural gas through one end and burning through the other to ensure that the flame does not cause a fire.
Retain Content When Dropped
Approved cans also are able to withstand a heavy drop. FM approved storage cans can withstand a three-foot drop without causing sufficient damage. As a result, you won’t have to worry about a leakage in case the can is accidentally dropped.
Mark the Brake Fluid Containers
You should clearly mark the brake fluid containers. Consider using a permanent marker for labeling the container. This will warn others about the content of the container.
Make sure to clearly label the container in big, bold letters. The practice will ensure that someone does not accidentally pour other liquids that could react with the brake fluid resulting in an explosion.
Mistakes to Avoid When Disposing of Brake Fluid
Make sure that the brake fluid you are disposal is unfit for use. To check the quality of the brake fluid, you should transfer the content in a glass jar. Use a funnel to partly fill the jar with brake fluid.
Next, you should swirl the glass around to find out if there is any sediment at the lower end of the glass. You should also check the color of the brake fluid. Darker than usual color of the brake fluid indicates that it has become unusable. Also, you should check if a foul odder is coming from the brake fluid.
You should dump unused brake fluid in any way that poses a public health risk. Never dispose of brake fluid in the storm drain. This can lead to the continuation of the water for wildlife and humans.
You should also not pour the brake fluid on the bare ground. The gas can seep and reach underground water sources posing a great threat to the ecology.
States in the US also impose a heavy penalty for illegal disposal of brake fluid. The penalty includes high fees and also jail time. You can avoid landing into legal trouble by taking safe brake fluid disposal tips mentioned in the study.
The Environmental Cost of Unsafe Disposal of Brake Fluid
You need to properly dispose of brake fluid to avoid environmental damage. Tossing the brake fluid down the drain or in the trash can lead to pollution. While unused motor oil is the biggest polluter in the US, brake fluid is also equally toxic.
A gallon of unused brake fluid can pollute nearly 750,000 gallons of water.
Brake fluid degrades with age. Various factors affect the life of brake fluid. It can last a few months to a few years depending on the specific conditions.
When gas sits in the container for a long time, changes in temperature can cause condensation that will contaminate the brake fluid. If the brake fluid is left inside the vehicle, it can damage fuel lines due to rusting. Rust scales can fall inside the fuel that can damage the fuel pump of the filter.
Contaminated brake fluid can cause problems in the engine as well. The gas lines can freeze due to which the engine will not receive adequate oil. Moreover, bacteria formation can also contaminate the brake fluid that is stored unused for a long duration inside a vehicle or can.
Unused brake fluid also poses a fire risk. Since the gas is flammable, it can ignite if ignited by a heat source. So, you need to dispose of the brake fluid properly using the tips mentioned in this blog post.
Brake fluid won’t damage the engine. But it will fail to properly power up a vehicle. There is also a risk of a fire hazard with brake fluid since it’s highly combustible.
You need to properly dispose of the brake fluid. This is important to avoid penalties not to mention grace environmental harm due to improper disposal of brake fluid.
Find out whether the brake fluid can be used again. If the brake fluid is not usable, you can reuse it by adding to a new can of brake fluid in proper proportion. Moreover, you can also add additives to the old gas to make it reusable.
Other options for disposing of brake fluid include contacting hazardous waste disposal or recycling facilities.
You can also take your brake fluid tank to annual waste disposal events. In case your area does not hold any event, you should consider holding an event yourself. This will allow you to get funds that will cover the entire cost of disposing hazardous waste from the community.
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