The Risks of Mixing Aluminium and Steel Dusts

Aluminium and steel dust, mixed, can be hazardous. Many people in our industry know this; but there are still many people who are not aware of it. We have spent many years warning people that mixing these materials is a bad idea. Usually, customers believe us. Equally, we have met customers who laugh at this – as you would expect “They’ve never had a problem before”.

So. This is a little cautionary tale from our own experience.

In a workshop we know well, there is a small dust collector with attached arm. It is an old unit, and only rarely used. It has not been used at all for 2-3 months; however, the collector bin had not been emptied. While the unit was used generally for steel work, at some point it seems someone had borrowed it for an aluminium grinding process.

Last week, it caught fire. There was no source of ignition, no hot work taking place, and no power connected. Smoke was seen coming from the arm itself; on investigation, it turned out that the bin was on fire.

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