Frequently Asked Questions
What is "non-biodegradable" and why is it important?
For our purposes, "non-biodegradable" is a classification for sorbents that
is required for that sorbent to be put into a landfill. The sorbent is tested
for it's ability to remain in its natural biodegraded state and will not have a
secondary release of the liquid originally sorbed. This is crucial for a sorbent
to pass because if it fails the tests ASTM G22-76 and ASTM G21-90 (reference
Test Data & Results section) it can not go into a landfill. If the sorbent is
biodegradable it will leach or release the liquid into the landfill through the
leachate water from normal weathering (rain, snow, etc.). In short, the sorbents
that are non-biodegradable are better for the environment and will not release
or leach the oils in a secondary release. As non-biodegradable absorbent, P.O.L.
Sorb® may be placed in a landfill (check federal, state, and local laws and
regulations which set the guidelines for disposal in landfills).
What is "hydrophobic" and why is it important?
Hydrophobic means "fear of water." A sorbent that is hydrophobic can be used on
top of water for the absorption of hydrocarbons off that water; it will float
for a period of time and will not "fall out" or sink. It is important for a
sorbent to be hydrophobic so a response team can place a sorbent on contaminated
water and have time to go and take care of another more important part of the
spill. They can then come back later to clean up the spill on water without risk
of that contaminant spreading over a larger area. P.O.L. Sorb® is hydrophobic
and has been tested to show that it can float on top of water for at least 51
days (reference Test Data & Results section).
Why is releasing and leaching liquids so significant in the clean up process?
When a sorbent releases or leaches the liquid originally sorbed it will leave a
residue on the floor after clean up demonstrated using polypropylene or clay.
Leaching is significant because if your sorbent releases or leaches the liquid,
you will be cleaning up a spill longer and using more product, thus increasing
your total cost of clean up. P.O.L. Sorb® encapsulates the liquid sorbed and
will hold the liquid in its cellular structure while biodegrading the oil.
How does P.O.L. Sorb enhance the biodegradation of the hydrocarbons and
P.O.L. Sorb® encapsulates the hydrocarbons and entraps them into its cellular
structure. After the hydrocarbon is encapsulated, the action of naturally
occurring microorganisms enhance the natural breakdown of the hydrocarbons. The
microbial activity will break the hydrocarbons down into carbon dioxide and
water. This breakdown occurs within a period of three months to a year,
depending on variables such as sunlight, oxygen, temperatures, etc.
What does abrasion have to do with cleaning a spill?
Abrasion is sometimes useful in "grinding" a substance from a surface. The
traction and the abrasive qualities of clay adsorbents were their original
purpose; Clay was used as an adsorbent by default because better alternatives
were not available. Eventually, people using clay found out that their machinery
was depreciating faster than usual. What was found was that the clay's dust had
silica in it, which would then get into seals, pumps, and moving parts. This
dust has a hardness factor of 7 (on the Mohr's Hardness Scale), whereas steel
has a hardness factor of 6. With the hardness factor of clay being higher than
that of steel, the silica particles will be abrasive on these machines and the
wear and tear will depreciate the machine faster than normal. P.O.L. Sorb® has a
hardness factor of less than 1 and is safe for use around machinery without the
fear of ruining those machines.
What is "silica" and why is it harmful to me?
Silica and quartz are crystalline compounds, known carcinogens, which cause
cancer. These carcinogens are within the clay and the clay dust. People who are
using these products must wear respirators, not dust masks, because the
breathing of this dust is so harmful and can cause silicosis (cancer of the
lungs). P.O.L. Sorb® contains no silica or quartz and has no known health risks
other than dust. Prolonged exposure in excess of the permissible exposure limits
of any dust is not good. With P.O.L. Sorb® you only have to use a dust mask for
prolonged use of the product.
When incinerating waste, why is BTU content and ash residue important?
First, BTU content is important because this gives the incinerator added
fuel or energy when it is burned. This energy is used as an alternative fuel
source. When the BTU content is high the bigger the price break you get on
incinerating your waste. Second, ash residue is the amount of waste left behind
after incineration that will be taken to a landfill. The lower the ash residue
the less waste that must be taken to a landfill. P.O.L. Sorb® has over 17,000
BTU's when incinerated after it has sorbed light crude oil and only 2% ash
residue that will have to go to a landfill. This is very favorable when compared
to clay which has 5,000 BTU's and 99.99% ash residue when
soaked with light crude oil and incinerated.
How can P.O.L. Sorb® suppress vapors of a petrochemical like gasoline?
P.O.L. Sorb® encapsulates the gasoline into its cellular structure and actually
will suppress the vapors. This happens because the P.O.L. Sorb® is being used as
a buffer to the environment. The liquid gasoline is trapped inside the P.O.L.
Sorb® and an extra layer of P.O.L. Sorb® over the top of it is used as the
buffer. This helps in cleaning up spills of liquids which give off these
flammable vapors and turns a volatile condition into a manageable situation.
Will P.O.L. Sorb® have a consistent absorption ratio with all types of
No, it will be more absorbent with thicker viscosity hydrocarbons and less
absorbent with thinner viscosity hydrocarbons. Thinner viscosity oils will
require more P.O.L. Sorb® per gallon to be absorbed than thicker, higher
What is the ratio for usage per pound, per quart or per gallon?
With P.O.L. Sorb® the ratio is approximately 1 pound of P.O.L. Sorb® to 1 gallon
of oil. A gallon of oil weighs 7.5 lbs. depending on viscosity.
Can we just throw our clay and oil mix in the trash now? Can I really put
P.O.L. Sorb® in the trash legally?
All clays and other adsorbents leach free-liquids. When you have a presence of a
free-liquid you could be subject to a $25,000 EPA fine per day (maximum per day
penalty for failing the "free standing liquids" test per Federal Register
Section 264.314(d)). You may be permitted to dispose of used P.O.L. Sorb® in a
sanitary landfill depending on local regulations. We recommend checking with
your landfill on their classifications and requirements, because the state and
local EPA may classify certain situations differently. Knowledge of local EPA
requirements is important, and is the user's responsibility. Even when paying to
dispose of P.O.L. Sorb®, you save considerable costs on disposal.