Using polypropylene pads to clean-up spill in your shop, may be one of the easiest ways to clean-up a spill in the shop. There are many different types of absorbent material on the market today to help you respond to an oil leak or spill and polypropylene pads have an advantage over other types of absorbents in the MRO Industry. Let’s take a look at what they are and some of their benefits over loose absorbents.
Polypropylene pads, often referred to as “poly pads”and “pig pads” are constructed from a Polypropylene material, in essence, it is fine strands of plastics, that are formed together in layers, to create a thin pad. In the spill control industry, these pads are used like a disposable towel. Typical industrial use is to simply place a pad below a leaky piece of equipment or on top of a spill, where they absorb the oil and prevent the oil from migrating on the shop floor to create a “slip-and-fall” hazard. Once the pad has been consumed with oil, it is discarded according to local, state and federal guidelines.
So what is Polypropylene? Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic “addition polymer” made from the combination of propylene monomers. It is used in a variety of applications to include packaging for consumer products, plastic parts for various industries including the automotive industry, special devices like living hinges, and textiles. Today it is one of the most commonly produced plastics in the world.
Polypropylene pads are made in a very similar way to how cotton candy is made. Polypropylene material is heated until it reaches a liquid form and then it is sprayed through a manifold system, creating thin strings of plastic which are layered until they reach the proper thickness and then they are cut into into the desired shape. You may be thinking how does plastic absorb oil then? The poly pad does not physically absorb the oil into the plastic strands, but traps it between the hundreds of thin strands of plastic in the pad construction, which is also a downfall of the poly pad. Although poly pads can hold a good amount of oil, the retained oil has a tendency to quickly leach from the pad. But just like many absorbents, Polypropylene pads are an excellent choice for the proper conditions.
What are the Advantages of Polypropylene Pads?
- Polypropylene pads are readily available and relatively inexpensive.
- Polypropylene pads are clean and easy to store.
- Polypropylene is very resistant to absorbing moisture, which makes them ideal for use spills on the water.
- Polypropylene comes in pads come in a general size of 16″-18″ square and varying thicknesses ranging from 1/16″ to 1/4″.
- Polypropylene absorbents are also available in socks (3″ x 48″) and up to 10″ and 50′ in length.
- They can easily be carried in off-road spill kits or emergency spill kits.
- Polypropylene has good chemical resistance over a wide range of bases and acids.
- Polypropylene pads are available in “Oil Only” (white), Universal (grey) and Acid absorbing (yellow)
What are the Disadvantages of Polypropylene Pads?
- Polypropylene pads will leach under pressure or gravity
- Polypropylene is susceptible to UV degradation.
- Polypropylene has poor resistance to chlorinated solvents and aromatics.
- Polypropylene is highly flammable.
- Can be a more costly option if not used properly.
- Potential disposal issues with leaching and bio-biodegradability
- Lightweight and can easily blow away in gusty or windy conditions.
- Polypropylene is susceptible to oxidation.
At Oil Sponge we like to make it easy and cost effective for you and for this reason we only recommend and carry the “light weight”, oil only pads. The reason for this is that you can stack light weight pads on top of each other to create a “thicker” or more “heavy weight” pad, but you cannot deconstruct a “heavy weight” pad for a smaller spill. This means that you are only using “enough” absorbent material to handle the spill and not wasting money. We do not feel the need to stock a “universal” pad and an “oil only” pad, when the main purpose of the pad is oil recovery. For other “non-oil” spills, rags or towels might be a more cost effective option for you. If you do plan to use poly pads for your spill recovery operations, make sure you use the complete pad for absorption. Too often, people use the pad until there is a 6″ circle of oil on the pad and then they change it out. In the long run, this type of protocol can and will become very costly. Make sure that you continually move the pad around so the oil drips onto an unused portion of the pad and that the pad is completely saturated before disposing of it.
A big selling point for many suppliers is the weight of the actual pad. Weight does factor into the value of the bundle of pads, but again, if not used properly, that value can quickly disappear. Most of today’s manufactures have reduced the size and weight of the pad, to keep costs in check. There are other options to pads that can be of a value, but really isn’t. The first is “dimpled” pads. The dimples don’t do anything other than help keep the integrity of the pad as it gains more “absorptive” weight. Polypropylene pads that are perforated pads like ours have a great benefit. Not only can these pads be easily folded over to instantly double the thickness, but they can easily torn in half, if you don’t need the whole pad.
When it comes time to buy some absorbents for those foreseeable shop spills, polypropylene pads give you a good option for immediate spill response. Feel free to contact us you have any questions about your absorbent buying decisions.
Oil Sponge– The Fastest Way to Absorb a Spill!