Tag Archives: Absorbent granules

Test your absorbent granules knowledge with our fun quiz

Our quiz about absorbent granules has been designed to help you to stretch your knowledge and be prepared to deal with any spillages that occur in your workplace.

In answering these questions, you will discover just how much, or how little, you know about absorbent granules – but be warned; although it’s a multiple choice quiz there may be more than one right answer… or there may be none at all. Don’t cheat by scanning down to the answers first; do that and you won’t know what you didn’t know.


1. Absorbent granules can be made from materials containing which of the following?
a) Celluloid
b) Cellulite
c) Cellulose

2. Spill-Aid is the best-selling super absorbent in the UK, because it can be used to absorb all liquids of any viscosity, with one exception, from any surface. Which of the following is the exception?
a) Hydrofluoric acid
b) Hydrochloric acid
c) Hydrocyanic acid

3. Which of the following is a kind of clay used to make an absorbent granule product?
a) Kryptonite
b) Bentonite
c) Attapulgite

4. A 10g sachet of body fluid absorbent granules is enough to soak up how much blood, urine, vomit or saliva?
a) A litre
b) A pint
c) Half a pint

5. True or false: When absorbent granules have done their job, they can safely be swept up and dumped in the nearest waste bin.

6. The Health and Safety Executive recommends having absorbent granules to hand in case of spills when handling petrol and diesel on garage forecourts, especially during incidents when diesel has been pumped instead of petrol, and vice-versa. How many of the latter incidents take place in the UK each year?
a) Less than 10,000
b) More than 100,000
c) More than 150,000

7. Naturally-occurring organic materials used in the manufacture of absorbent granules are found in the greatest proportion in which of the following?
a) Cotton
b) Wood
c) Maize

8. Spill Control Centre offers a wide range of absorbent granules for a variety of applications. Which of the following statements about them is not true?
a) They come in a variety of pack sizes to suit your needs
b) They are all chemically inert
c) They are all equally effective on any spill

9. On Spill Control Centre, how many different product ranges of absorbent granules (other than body fluid granules) are offered?
a) Five
b) Seven
c) Ten

10. Apart from being effective absorbents, which of the following is true for the absorbent granules offered for sale by Spill Control Centre?
a) They are backed up by friendly and knowledgeable sales advisors
b) They can be delivered free when ordering over £100+ VAT
c) They’re part of a comprehensive range of spill control products ideal for keeping your workplace unhindered by spills at all times

Absorbent Granules


1. C. Cellulose, a chain of linked sugar molecules found in plants. Celluloid is considered to have been the first plastic, with the name registered in 1870; Cellulite is subcutaneous fat that causes dimpling of the skin.

2. A. Hydroflouric acid. This will eat through almost anything, including glass and metal, so storing it can be a bit of a problem. It is a valuable tool in etching glass, cleaning stainless steel, and preparing silicon wafers for use in silicon chips. Storage is in special plastic bottles.

3. B and C. Bentonite and Attapulgite are chemically similar, but have names derived from their source. The former was named by Wilbur C Knight in 1898, after Benton shale found near the Rock River in Wyoming. Attapulgite is most commonly found in the south-eastern USA. The name comes from the town of Attapulgus, Georgia, where the mineral is surface mined. Kryptonite is pure fiction; part of the Superman story.

4. A, B and C. 10g of granules can absorb a litre, so it naturally follows that the same amount can also soak up the two smaller quantities. These granules are best supplied with other equipment, such as PPE, as part of a body fluid spill kit, allowing employers to extend their duty of care to whoever is cleaning up the spill.

5. False. Absorbent granules are chemically inert, so although they have soaked up what’s been spilled, the properties of the spilled liquid have not been changed. Used granules should therefore be disposed of in the same way that the spilled liquid ought to have been disposed of, in clearly-labelled bags.

6. B. More than 100,000. The HSE believes the number to be about 120,000, or more than 325 a day.

7. A. Cotton. The material in question is cellulose, which makes up about 90% of cotton, making it the obvious choice for towels.

8. C. Although many of the products are very versatile, they are not all equally effective on every spill. Our product pages contain details of each one’s suitability for your kind of spill.

9. C. Ten. A list of our current product ranges is 1) Spill-Aid, 2) Multi Zorb, 3) Esorb, 4) Absonet Plus, 5) Organic Compound, 6) Absonet Multisorb, 7) Spill Fix, 8) Isol8, 9) Absodan and 10) Safety Tread. This comprehensive range each offers different solutions so visit our product pages to understand the best for your needs.

10. A, B and C. Spill Control Centre is the home of an extremely comprehensive range of spill control products, of which absorbent granules, in all their forms, are just a small part.

Picture: © Dtfoxfoto | Dreamstime.com

Moisture absorbent granules: where the magic happens when there’s a spill

They all do basically the same job, but picking the right absorbent granules for your potential spill requires careful thought. What might be spilled? How much spillage might there be? Spill Control Centre guides you through what’s available, and highlights what each absorbent granule is good at.

I can’t help thinking that, every time a customer buys one of our absorbent granule products, they’re ready to perform a little bit of magic because of the science behind the product. It’s as though millions of tiny sponges are deployed over the spill, which can’t be picked up, to turn liquid into a solid that’s easily and safely cleared away with a brush and shovel, or even a dustpan, for the smaller ones.

Of course it’s not really magic, unless you count organic chemistry as magic, because that’s exactly what’s happening. Key to the success of absorbent granules is illustrated by their use of cellulose, the world’s most common organic polymer, making up about a third of all vegetable matter.

It has a complicated chemical formula involving carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which makes it a kind of sugar, and we know how readily that dissolves.

Science has moved on a little way from using cellulose, though it still works well, to use sodium polyacrylate, which can hold 200 times its own weight of liquid, and is found in disposable nappies.

A range of absorbent materials

The arrival of alternative chemicals means absorbent granules can be more easily tailored to suit the spill they’re intended to clean up, but their effectiveness is quite remarkable.

Take a 10g pack of granules for mopping up body fluids; that can absorb a litre of fluid, turning it into a solid for easy and safe cleaning up. Not only that, but it works equally well on carpet and solid floors.

Cleaning up body fluids is a specialised area, and involves far less liquid than other spills such as chemicals, oils, and acids. For these, different materials are available, made from particular kinds of clay and even softwood.

Thank Attapulgus for clay granules!

The clay, one of the types of Fuller’s Earth, has diverse names like Bentonite, Palygorskite and Attapulgite, all derived from the places they are found – respectively near the Rock River in the US state of Wyoming, in central America, and the town of Attapulgus in Georgia, USA, where it’s surface mined and shipped around the world.
The absorbing powers of different kinds of absorbent granules come with a variety of other properties too. Some are suitable for use where vehicles need to go, because they are crush resistant; some are guaranteed to be non-slip, and others are suited to indoor garage areas or haulage yards.

Products may also be approved by the Ministry of Defence or conform to European Road Safety Regulations. What they have in common, apart from their absorbing capacity, is that they’re chemically inert and fire retardant to BS 476 Part 7.

A question of scale

At the opposite end of the scale from the 10g bag of granules for body fluid absorption are 20kg bags of construction clay granules, which are available on pallets of 70 bags.
Between those extremes there is certain to be the right product to deal with any kind of spill, and they are also available thoughtfully packed with appropriate PPE to keep the user safe when there’s a clean up to be done.

And finally…

Absorbent granules have a role to play in every cat owner’s home. Cat litter is just one type of absorbent granules product with a very specific use – which the kitten in our picture is just learning about.

Cat litter
Check our range of absorbent granules to deal with problematic spills.

Mineral Oil Spill blamed for bird contamination

Hundreds of seabirds washed up in an oil spill on the south coast from Sussex to Cornwall on Thursday 31st January were contaminated with a waxy substance that is now believed to be a mixture of refined mineral oils, most probably jettisoned from a ship passing through the Western approaches to the English Channel.
A major rescue operation has been launched by the RSPCA and other local charities to capture and clean the affected birds. Inevitably it is highly likely that many more birds have perished out to sea than have been rescued and even then it has proved such a major task to remove the contamination that not all the birds rescued will survive.


Preventing environmental pollution both on land and sea is now given top priority and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have sent a counter pollution surveillance aircraft to investigate the sea areas between Dover and the Isles of Scilly looking for the source. Shipping schedules and cargo records are also being scoured to try and pinpoint the culprit.
The fact that the captain of the vessel did not report the spill suggests it was not accidental and more likely to do with saving money. Let’s hope the authorities can track the ship down and prosecute the offender at least as a deterrent to others. Sadly as far as the Guillemots are concerned the damage is already done and worse still right at the start of the breeding season.
The incident, and the expensive resources put behind locating the source should act as a reminder to all those involved in the transport, storage and use of oils, fuels and other hazardous materials. It is a legal obligation to ensure appropriate spill control and containment measures such as absorbent products, bunds and spill kits are in place should a spill occur.

The Environment Agency is ever more vigilant and can force the perpetrator to foot the bill for environmental pollution caused by careless or irresponsible actions.

Conducting a spill risk assessment to help formulate a coherent spill control management system is the only sensible approach and will protect the viability of the business as well as the environment.

How to Remove Oil Spills and Stains.

With the first snows of winter forecast for this week I decided to stock up my log store. I had some large boughs on the drying rack ready for cutting. Trying to burn fresh cut “green” wood on an open fire is hopeless so I always have logs seasoning for at least 3 months prior to winters arrival.

The chain saw needed a quick sharpen and I topped up the saws chain oil container. Believe me the saw cuts far better and stays sharp longer if chain oil is used. I don’t quite know how but I clearly forgot to replace the oil cap. The first I knew of it was when my wife pointed out the sinuous trail of oil snaking across the paved drive between the garage and the wood store. It was probably less than 100ml in total but what an unsightly mess it looked.

Spill Aid
Having written extensively on oil spills in the past I knew that the quicker the stain gets attention the better the outcome. There are loads of oil stain removal products on the market but I doubt anyone would be lucky enough to have a bottle on the shelf for such an event. I certainly did not.

So what to do. The first step is to remove as much of the fresh wet oil as possible. Use an absorbent wipe or absorbent pad preferably commercial grade. I have a roll of the Eez Off Heavy duty wipes that I find the best all-rounder for the workshop and garage. Lay it over the oil and dab rather than scrub as this just spreads the stain. The next step is to sprinkle over absorbent granules to draw out the oil. You will be surprised how many common household products can be applied.

Cat litter is often used (if you have a cat as we do) but I find it too coarse and suggest putting some in a plastic bag and crushing it with a rolling pin to a finer consistency before applying to maximise the surface contact area. You will need to leave it for a day or two and unfortunately if it rains the resultant slush makes an even bigger mess than the oil and on a windy day it will just blow away. I have also heard of people using dry cement, baking soda, talcum powder, oven cleaner and even salt but have never tried them myself.

Once the oil is dry you can also use a laundry powder detergent. Sprinkle the detergent onto the stain, add a small amount of water to make paste, scrub it into the stain using a stiff brush and leave it overnight. Wipe off the excess and hose down. I have also heard that pouring Cola on the stain is effective but it seems unlikely unless you know different.

Lastly check the type of oil being used. Increasingly modern oils including Chain oils are biodegradable so if you are still left will a faint stain over time the elements will work on the oil until it disappears naturally, although think months rather than days.

Spill control can protect your business

Accidental spills of oils, chemicals and other toxic pollutants have the potential to severely damage your business operation. If you are found to be negligent not only will the Environment Agency bill you for the clean-up costs you can also be landed with a heavy fine and the adverse publicity may damage your reputation.

So here is a 10 point plan to minimise the risk to your business the environment and your workforce.

Drain Cover

1. First make sure any potentially harmful substances are correctly labelled with an appropriate COSHH hazardous substance warning sign.

2. Put in place stocks of spill control materials and equipment appropriate to the spill hazards identified

3. Make sure all staff know the location of any spill control materials and equipment and how to use them.

4. Provide appropriate PPE equipment such as protective suits, fume masks, gloves and footwear so designated staff can tackle spills safely.

5. Protect environmentally sensitive areas by deploying drain mats and locating hazardous storage well away from drains and watercourses.

6. Preferably construct a bund around storage tanks and to divert spillages away from watercourses. A pile of earth or sand can be used to form a temporary bund in the event of a spill.

7. If a spill does reach a watercourse, deploy absorbent socks or booms to prevent spread.

8. If possible clean up the spill using appropriate absorbent granules, absorbent pillows and absorbent socks.

9. The materials used in the clean-up are also a hazard so dispose of correctly by removal to an authorised waste disposal facility.

10. If a major spill occurs, particularly of toxic or flammable liquids stop all work, inform the emergency services and/or the Environment Agency and move staff to a safe area until the spill is contained

Following these guidelines will ensure that if an accident occurs you can demonstrate your business has taken a responsible approach to spill management and control.