I've discovered an old can of Alkyl Enamel spray paint that appears to be leaking fluid. It made some ominous kinda whooshy sounds when I moved it slightly; they continued for a few seconds. There is a strong glue-like smell coming from the area and there is some dark reddish gel collected on the surface that the can has been resting on.

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What should I do with the can? Is it dangerous to handle it?

  • 1
    Do you own a .22 rifle?
    – isherwood
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:44
  • @isherwood That's a pistol shot ... lol
    – JACK
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 15:41
  • @isherwood - getting rid of DIY materials seems on topic to me. Think you guys were a little quick here.
    – DMoore
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 15:47
  • That can could be carpet cleaner or air freshener. The question isn't about recycling or disposal, but dealing with a leaky can on a shelf. I'll go along, though.
    – isherwood
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 15:50
  • 1
    @isherwood - its a real question. People should know how to get rid of this stuff. Actually we should have a lot more questions and answers on this site of the disposal of tools, materials, "things that still work", things that have lead, and so on.
    – DMoore
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


Gentle handling is unlikely to make it any worse. I would take it to your local household hazardous waste facility ASAP.

  • How do you propose it be safely transported? No way I'd put that thing in my car.
    – isherwood
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 14:24

I would suggest that you grab a small medium sized plastic trash bag - something large enough to contain the spray paint can and its expanded contents. Gently place the plastic bag over this can then slowly slide the can off the shelf. As it drops off the shelf, gather the plastic into a bundle so if it sprays out everywhere you don't make a huge mess, especially all over yourself.

Once you've got the end of the bag bundled up to contain whatever mess is happening inside, hold it shut, walk outside, and aim it in a safe direction. As noted in TeaToo's comment, the expansion of the propellant in the can will occupy a fair bit of space. As the bag starts to inflate with the can's contents, if it appears that it might be reaching the breaking point, you can loosen your grip and aim it away from anything you don't want painted.

Once the can has finished spilling its guts, tie it, wrap it up with a twist tie or zip tie, tape it, whatever method you choose to seal up the end, and toss it into the HazMat trash pile and take it to the appropriate facility when you get a chance.

  • Note that if it ends up spraying out uncontrollably (the chance of that is likely minimal), sealing the bag is a very bad idea. As the liquid propellant in the can turns into gas, it expands by two orders of magnitude (which is exactly why it's there in the first place). All that gas might well not fit into the bag anymore, thus making a much bigger mess as it burts.
    – TooTea
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:30
  • Oh. Good point, @TooTea... Edited to include those thoughts.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:37
  • hmmm... maybe I got a down vote for answering and voting to close...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 22:15

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