A few months ago, my car had a major oil leak ( Rear Main Seal ), and
when I started it up, oil basically POURED right out in A STREAM, and my
car went through one quart of oil in like 5 minutes. There was a HUGE
puddle of oil all over the driveway. I used kitty litter to try to soak
it all up. and then tried to wash it away with some "Dawn Dish Soap".
Anyway, now everytime it rains, the driveway gets puddles of that
"rainbow colored" oily water. When I try to wash it with the "Dawn Dish
Soap", the white foamy bubbles from the Dish Soap turn all Black. So the
bubbles all turn this foamy Black color, and the water underneath is all
So the other day, what I noticed after the snow melted on the grassy
area next to the driveway, was that there was an area about 3-4 feet
long, and about 1 foot wide, where the grass has turned all Black, and
the soil is now a GRAY color. The reason for this, is because the
asphalt driveway is very old, and not perfectly flat, and so the water
and melting snow runs down onto the grass and soil.
So does this mean that the soil is now contaminated with oil? Do I have
to dig out all the grey-colored soil, and reseed the whole area? If so,
how far down do I need to dig?
Instead of digging all the soil out, can I fix the soil, by just
topdressing the gray soil with some compost or organic topsoil, and then
Because its not like the motor oil was dumped or spilled directly on the
grass, but the oily residue in the driveway mixed in with rainwater and
melting snow, and turned the grass Black, and the soil a greasy/oily
Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated!!!
Is there anyway to DRY OUT the oily residue in the driveway, so that
when it rains, the puddles won't have that oily, rainbow color? Will
scattering "rock salt" down on the area where the oil spill was, help to
dry it out? Because doesn't rock salt dry stuff out?
I'd top soil it and let nature do her thing. She'll break down the chemicals
if given time. Remember oil is organic and comes from rotted trees. Soil is
good at breaking most chemicals down into something else, if given some
On the blacktop, I'd take some soil and put it on there too, sweep it
around, let it dry, wet it down and sweep it around a bit. I usually use dry
soil to pick up fresh oil spills on my asphalt. Leave it on there for awhile
if you can and move it around once in awhile.
Did you even try to take a shovel or dust-pan and scoop it up and toss
it in the garbage?
Or did you do exactly as you said - which was to create a muddy mess of
it and they try to wash the whole thing down the road? I don't have to
tell you what a bone-head assinine thing that would be to do.
And Jim - what's your problem? Why are you so keen to have someone come
up with an answer to someone else's problem?
Winter isin't even god-damn over and I can't believe all the people that
are fixated on problems with their lawn.
Is the ground frozen where you are? Don't you think it might be a good
idea to freeking tell us where in North America you are? Don't you
think that us knowing what climate zone you're in might give us a clue
as to how to come up with an answer for you?
What is the daytime outdoor temperature RIGHT NOW where you are?
Is the oily area exposed to direct sunlight?
High temperature and sunlight will breakdown the oil and make it
evaporate. This usually happens in THE SUMMER. But since we don't know
where you are, it's useless trying to help you do anything at this
point. You could be in Florida or North Dakota - who knows?
Pour some gasoline on it (one or two cups worth), take a stiff plastic
scrub-brush to it, follow quickly with detergent and lots of water to
flush it down the road. Do that if it's really bugging your ass at this
point. Nothing is as cheap and effective as gasoline at taking oil
stains and residue out of pavement. But if it's cold out, it's gonna
take more elbow grease.
Salt will pull water out of stuff and dry it - not oil. You put salt
down and mix it with oil and you're going to have a real, ugly mess that
will really screw up your soil.
In article , firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim)
She has her own little Exxon Oil Spill going. On pavement, the kitty
litter was a good idea. The oil that soaked into the soil will continue
to kill vegetation for a decade or two, until it finally remediates.
She can dig it up and replace the topsoil if she wants.
Thanks for all the helpful responses so far, I really do appreciate it!!
Someone asked me if I "SCRUBBED the dish soap into the oil spot". No,
when I used the Dawn dish soap, I DIDN'T scrub it in. I just swept up
all of the oil soaked kitty litter, and then put some Dawn dish soap
over the oil spot, when it was raining.
Also, I DIDN'T "mash" the kitty litter in with my foot, as another
poster suggested. I just poured the kitty litter over the puddle of oil,
let it sit for a few hours, and then swept it up, and disposed of it in
the trash. I will have to try "mashing it in with my foot" next time.
I am not sure if the kitty litter is what turned the soil Grey, because
I used a bag of "Johnny Cat" kitty litter which is White in color.
But I will follow your suggestions and keep putting kitty litter there,
and "mash it in with my foot", to try to dry the oil spot up, so that
when it rains, there is no more "rainbow colored" water.
Hopefully I can just topdress the lawn with some compost or even organic
topsoil, when the weather warms up ( its in the 40's in my area ), and
reseed, and hopefully the grass will come back!?
"Or did you do exactly as you said - which was to create a muddy mess of
it and they try to wash the whole thing down the road? I don't have to
tell you what a bone-head assinine thing that would be to do".
First of all, no need to be rude, and second of all, HUH?????? I NEVER
said ANYTHING about washing it down the road!!!!! My driveway is NOT on
a hill. The driveway is about 125 feet long and it is flat. The leak
happened on the opposite end of the driveway from the road where I park
the car, which is about 100 or so plus feet from the road.
Also, what I said was that the driveway is flat, and paved asphalt, but
is also old ( don't know WHEN it was paved last ), and the driveway has
some cracks and bumps in it. So when it rains or the snow melts, the
water were I park my car runs over to the grassy side of the driveway.
The oil mixed in with the water, and turned the soil GRAY.
Next, this oil leak happened in December, when it was like 20 degrees
outside, and so there was no way I could try to wash it away.
Okay, to answer your questions, I am in the Northeast, and yesterday it
was 60 degrees outside. Today its in the 40's with drizzle, and this
weekend its suppose to be back up into the high 40's and mid 50's. We
have only had about 16 inches of snow for the entire winter, and our
BIGGEST storm was a whopping 4 inches. Every other storm was a mere
dusting, wet slushy snow, or less than 2 inches.
Yes, I have been using rock salt in the driveway, because when the snow
melts off the house roof ( no gutters on driveway side of house ), and
it drips down into the driveway, it freezes at night, and turns the
driveway into a skating rink.
But yesterday was 60 outside. Today 40's and high 40's and mid 50's for
the next week.
NO, the ground is NOT frozen, as it is in the mid 30's at night.
Thanks for the info. about putting some soil on the oil spot to help dry
it out!! Will "Play Sand" work as well?? Because if so, I have a small
bag of "Play Sand" leftover, that I could use on the oil spot.
Please let me know?
That's kind of what I thought too. Only I didn't think he lent his
computer to anyone. :)
I especially liked the opening part:
Did you even try to take a shovel or dust-pan and scoop it up and
it in the garbage?
You think he'd at least read the post before making an ass of himself.
Before doing anything, I'd wait and see if the existing grass is
really dead. It's dormant now and maybe it just got some oil residue
and dirt on it. It may start growing in Spring just fine. If not,
then I'd remove a few inches of the topsoil and apply replacement.
Regarding the oil spill, you did everything I would have done. At
this point, the easiest thing to do with the driveway is nothing.
The small remaining residue will diminish over time, especially with
increasing temp and sun. In a few months the rainbow effect will be
gone. If you want to try to fix it immediately, there are products
meant to clean oil stains off of asphalt. Look for them in the
section of Home Depot or similar where they sell sealcoat products for
driveways. How much more effective that is than liquid soap, I can't
tell you. You could also put down a thick slurry of your liquid soap
and just leave it there for a few days, instead of washing it right
off. That may give it more time to penetrate and work on the oil.
Thanks for the great info, I really do appreciate it!!! Like I asked the
another poster "Bob", do you think "Play Sand" would help dry out the
oil spot in the driveway?? Because I have about half-a-bag of "Play
Sand" left over from the winter??
When I said "I tried to wash it away", I DIDN'T mean that I took the
garden hose in 20' degree December weather, and washed it into the
street and down a storm drain to pollute the towns water!!!!
After I swept up all of the oil soaked "Johnny Cat" kitty litter, and
disposed of it in a Black trash bag, and threw it in the garbage can, I
put some "DAWN" dishsoap over the oil spot when it was raining, hoping
to get rid of it.
I used the "Dawn", because "Dawn" has those commercials saying that
"Dawn Dishsoap" is used to clean oil off wildlife animals when there is
an oil spill somewhere. So I figured that the "Dawn" would help get rid
of the oil spot, but unfortunately its still there.
And because the asphalt driveway is old, there is a rut, where I park my
car, and when it rains the rut fills up with oil and rainbow water, and
starts going over towards the grassy side of the driveway turning the
grass Black, and the soil Grey.
Cat litter is by far the common material of choice. But that is to
soak up initial spills. You could try, but I doubt it would be of any
value in getting the small remaining amount of oil that resides within
the surface of the asphalt. That small amount gets lifted out by
rain and appears as the sheen you see. Kind of like the drops of oil
that are still coming up at Pearl Harbor from the remains of the
Arizona. Hopefully your driveway won't go on that long.
MICHELLE H. wrote the following:
Sand is not absorbent. You need to get some 'Speedy Dry', or equivalent.
Available at your local auto parts store like Autozone, Advance, etc.
It is made to soak up garage floor spills.