Best Oil Absorbent Solutions for Industry – Compare Programs
Are you in search of the best oil absorbent solution to handle the leaks, drips, and spills at your facility? From t-shirts to kitty litter to mats and pads, there are many oil absorbent options readily available.
In this article, we’ll compare the three most common solutions. We’ll help you choose an absorbent solution that will maximize performance, environmental impact, and cost. Below, you’ll see that we ranked each of the top three solutions from 1 to 5 in each of these categories.
Let’s get started and see which one came out on top.
Types of Absorbent Materials
Here are some of the most common absorbent materials:
- Reusable oil absorbents (cotton & other natural fibers)
- Absorbents made of recycled or eco-friendly material
- Disposable oil absorbent mats, pads, socks
- Clay pellets (also known as kitty litter or oil dry)
- T-shirts, rags
Different absorbent materials may be used for different absorbent applications. For example, some absorbents are designed to absorb oil only. Some absorbents may be used for hazardous liquids, while others are for non-hazardous liquids only. Here are a few examples of how absorbents can serve different purposes in your facility:
- Oil only absorbents (for use on water or outdoors)
- Oil absorbent mats for walkways (for use in slippery walkways)
- Chemical absorbents (for absorbing hazardous material)
- Ergonomic oil mats (for workstations near oily machines)
- Heat-sealed absorbents – the material is heat-sealed to prevent metal chips from getting in the absorbent (for use around metal cutting machines)
- Quilted absorbent padding – Extremely durable and versatile absorbent pads (under tools, near the source of leaks)
- Absorbent socks – Snake-like absorbents (wrap around machines for secondary containment)
In this article, we compare the three most common absorbents in this list: clay pellets, disposable oil absorbent pads, and reusable oil absorbent pads.
When you look at absorbent costs, look beyond the initial purchase price. For example, while kitty litter is the cheapest to buy, it comes with hidden costs of cleanup time and disposal.
Cheapest to purchase, but they come with hidden costs – labor-intensive cleanup, the risk of causing long-term employee respiratory problems, and the environmental cost of sending the pellets to landfill.
Cheap to buy, expensive to discard. Special waste handling for single use absorbents can range anywhere from $30 a drum to upwards of $275. Incineration typically starts at $80 a drum, and goes up from there. The variance is due primarily to geography.
May initially seem more expensive than disposables because they include full-service benefits of pick-up, delivery, and laundering. But because of the increased absorbency and elimination of disposal costs, reusable absorbents are typically lower in cost.
To see the cost difference, try the SorbIts® Savings Calculator.
A more absorbent product will require fewer change-outs and can improve housekeeping. Fewer change-outs means your employees will spend less time managing absorbents and more time producing!
Clay is not actually absorbent – it’s adsorbent (non-porous). The difference is that with adsorption, the liquid forms a layer on the outside of the surface instead of moving inside an object.
More effective than oil dry
Reusable absorbents are extremely durable and absorb more fluid volume because they are designed to withstand industrial laundering. In absorbency testing, they absorb 2-3 times more than disposables, requiring significantly fewer absorbents to get the job done.
A more sustainable solution also leads to cost efficiencices by eliminating the cost of manifesting and special waste handling.
Bottom of the sustainability pyramid. The soiled pellets go directly from a customer’s facility into the landfill, waste-to-energy, or incineration. While incineration is preferred to landfill, incineration still generates emissions and waste.
Bottom of the sustainability pyramid. The soiled absorbents go directly from a customer’s facility into the landfill, waste-to-energy, or incineration. While incineration is preferred to landfill, incineration still generates emissions and waste. Infographic: Waste Options for Single Use Towels and Absorbents
Resue is the most sustainable option, as it’s a true Zero Waste to Landfill solution.
For more on disposal options and costs, check out our blog article: How to Dispose of Used Rags and Oil Absorbents.
And the Winner is…
The best overall oil absorbent solution is reusable absorbents. Reusable oil absorbents outperform single-use absorbents, recycled absorbents, and oil dry in cost, absorbency, and sustainability, with the exception of clay or oil-dry being cheaper to purchase.
All of these options do a fair job of preventing slips and spills. However, if you are conducting a 5S or lean project, you are looking to reduce facility costs, or you want to reduce your landfill liability, consider a reusable oil absorbent solution from ITU AbsorbTech for your leaks, drips, and spills.