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How to Use Sorbent Socks for Spill Response

Sorbent socks (also called adsorbent or absorbent socks) are lightweight, flexible materials used to create containment barriers around oils and other liquids. In industrial environments, sorbent socks play a crucial role in spill response, and personnel should understand how to use them safely. How to Use Sorbent Socks for Spill Response

The first step is to perform a hazard assessment and select appropriate materials. Once you’ve gathered information about the types of spills your operation might encounter — and you’ve researched your professional requirements for chemical PPE in the workplace — you can make a knowledgeable purchase

Selecting Sorbent Socks and Other Spill Response Supplies for Your Facility

Most sorbent socks have a polypropylene skin, but fillers — which bond to specific types of liquid — vary greatly. Before buying, look for each product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS). This document provides key information regarding materials and applications.


Look for sorbent materials that will enable workers to respond to a variety of spills. If you’re ordering separate socks for oil and acid cleanup, your workers will need to understand the applications of each product — and in an emergency, they may not have the time to grab the right materials.

For industrial applications, universal socks are well-equipped to handle most spills. These typically contain a mixture of expanded silica and volcanic ash (or other natural fillers). Universal socks can contain and solidify oils, caustics, acids, and most other chemicals; however, most are not intended for use on hydrofluoric acid or HF compounds.

Sorbent socks are ideal for creating barriers around a spill or cleaning fluids from hard-to-reach areas. However, your spill response kit should have other supplies including loose sorbents, absorbent pads, and absorbent pillows. Your spill response team will need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Look for complete spill clean-up kits that will provide enough materials to address spills safely and efficiently.

Products to Consider

Universal Sorbent Barrier Socks - Available in several sizes, Universal Sorbent Socks reach saturation in less than 30 seconds, absorbing up to 14 times their own weight. They’re effective for reducing fire hazards by inhibiting vaporization, and their flexible design allows workers to create quick barriers around spills.

Battery Acid Spill Kit - This kit (available in several capacities) provides all necessary materials for battery room spill response. In addition to five 4-foot universal chemical socks, the kit includes essential PPE, chemical pads, chemical pillows, and safe disposal supplies.

Spill Response Tips for Using Sorbent Socks

To ensure an effective spill response, make sure your workers understand how to use sorbents properly. OSHA mandates training for workers who might encounter acids, oils, and other potentially hazardous materials, so provide your team with the information they need to work safely.

Make sure sorbents are evenly distributed throughout the fabric.

Sorbents can clump together, particularly when stored for long periods of time. By gripping each end of the sock and gently shaking, workers can distribute sorbents evenly.

Socks should be placed directly on the floor. Put them several inches away from the spill, then move the barrier in towards the liquids. Linking the socks can help to make the barrier more effective.

Take advantage of sorbent socks' flexibility.

Socks fill an important niche in your spill response kit. While they’re fantastic tools for containing spills, they’re also useful for tucking into tight spaces or adding an extra layer of protection around oil drums, forklift battery charging stations, and other problem areas.

If you leave sorbent socks on the floor, make sure that they don’t create a trip-and-fall hazard. Dispose of used sorbent socks regularly, and don’t use them as a permanent solution for leaking drums or damaged equipment.

Use proper disposal methods for all sorbent materials.

Sorbent socks require disposal when they’re no longer holding liquid. Workers should wear gloves and other PPE when handling fully saturated sorbents. Dispose of all used sorbents in accordance with municipal, state, and federal guidelines.

Solus Group provides an extensive selection of absorbent socks, pads, pillows, and other cleanup supplies. To find the best solutions for your facility, call us at 314-696-0200.