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Acetone/IPA cleaning

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laurae
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Acetone/IPA cleaning

Post by laurae » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:39 pm

Has anyone any experience of working with acetone/IPA for cleaning small components?

Many thanks in advance

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Re: Acetone/IPA cleaning

Post by bernicarey » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:23 pm

Really shouldn't use Initials unless they are readily understood.

Personally, I've never used IPA for cleaning...if someone has taken the time and effort to brew it, I'm going to drink it.
IPA.jpg
But then I suspect that we're talking different IPAs... and you're referring to Isopropyl Alcohol ;)

I've certainly used Isopropyl Alcohol for small degreasing jobs in the workplace over my working life; it's a fairly safe thing to use, it is a major part of many medical wipes, hand sanitisers etc.

I wouldn't use acetone for much as it tends to melt many 'plasticy' items, apart from the bottle it comes in strangle enough!
Isn't acetone used in nail varnish remover?

What's your particular interest/concern?
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Re: Acetone/IPA cleaning

Post by laurae » Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:43 pm

Haha unfortunately not the ale

Cleaning small components by hand with acetone is a big role where I work and I'm just wondering if anybody else has experience in it and what, if any, PPE requirements they have. Just generally after an idea of how it's possibly done elsewhere

Many thanks in advance

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Re: Acetone/IPA cleaning

Post by Messy » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:44 pm

I am no expert, but when in the fire service I attended a tragic incident where a young guy in a paper disposable boiler suit was engaged in cleaning tiled walls in an industrial kitchen after a previous fire

He was using acetone to remove the soot. No instruction had been given or assessment carried out.

As he worked, the flammable fumes entered through the paper suit but became trapped in the gap between his skin and plastic inner covering of the suit

Then disaster. Some acetone run down the wall and onto a live electrical socket. A flash fire occured up the wall, and along his sleeve. He literally burst into flames.

He suffered serious burns and lost his arm . So be very careful with PPE and live electrics

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Re: Acetone/IPA cleaning

Post by kevlarion » Mon Aug 19, 2019 8:55 am

Depends how small the small components are.

If you are talking electronics or jewellery, then acetone if fine, don't spray it on, either immerse the parts in the liquid rub the surface of the board with a brush and lift it out, shake off any drops back into the tank and close the lid.

Acetone evaporates at room temperature and it is harmful to inhale the vapours or get it on your skin (dermatitis) so you'll need ventilation (LEV).
Acetone vapour is extremeley flammable with a flashpoint of 21C below zero, so you need to be careful to keep the liquid and the vapours away from sources of heat, sparks (even sparks in the motors and switching gear of LEV), etc. You may need to do a Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres (DSEAR) risk assessment and take some actions as a result if you use acetone, IPA or other highly flammable chemical. You would also be advised to have air monitoring done to measure the concentration in and around the work area it is used.

Acetone is incompatible with some plastics inclusing Polystyrene (often used for plastic containers), and Polycarbonate (eg visors and safety glasses) so if you are using acetone, use an acetate visor for splash protection and containers made of stainless steel, High Density Polythene (HDPE) or glass. Have a safe way of storing waste and safe disposal too. It's Hazardous (Special in Scotland) waste so you'll need to go through the Consignment Note palava to dispose of waste.

There are other degreasers out there, acetone is fast but it is by no means the safest solution to cleaning... for small amounts of cleaning you can often us a monomer or an alchohol based substitute.

Before you invest in a "still" to recycle acetone do a fire risk assessment. It may be easier and better to buy from a supplier who will take waste away and recycle it for you than to have to control the process on site.

IPA (Rubbing Alchohol as it's sometimes referred to) comes in various strengths, and can be diluted with water (distilled water if you are cleaning anything sensitive. I use 99% pure for lab work. The flash point is a bit higher and the rate of evaporation a bit lower so it's a bit safer than acetone.
There are also different versions (molecular structures) of IPA, and I find Propan2ol is more effective and less hazardous that the more common Isopropanol.

If you can find a monomer for the material you are trying to dissolve that will be better because most monomers have high flash points and very low evaporation rates.

If you are removing heavy grease or wax, you might find a soap based product or a propylene carbonate based product is suitable for removing the heaviest contamination then you can follow that up with a quick wash in IPA to remove any residual soap or propylene carbonate. Propylene carbonate is incompatible with ABS plastics causing what looks like stress cracks, but it is an effective degreaser.

There are also some cleaners that use sodium hydroxide (heavily diluted) with surficants, most commonly used in traffic film removes in car washes. The is a high PH indicating that it is corrosively alkaline, so look at the PH value of whatever you decide to use and try to get it as close to 7 as you can, or provide precautions such as gloves and face shields.

Watch out for mixtures which include Xylene or Toluene (or both) because these have very unfortunate side effects even in small exposure values. They do improve cleaning action and are often found in "Standard Thinners" type products.

The basics -
Choose the least hazardous cleaning material you can find (consult an industrial chemist - I'm not one). Consider evaporation pressure, flash point, toxicity, side effects (eg some harm the unborn child or damge fertility), need for extraction, and the PPE you will need to control the hazards.
Keep it in sealed containers in a cool place when not in use.
Keep the amount available in the workplace as low as you can without preventing work being carried out.
Arrange suitable disposal of used product and get the waste out of the workplace quickly. There's no point in limiting product to 250ml bottle of IPA in a room if there is also a 25L waste bucket.

There is a rich repository of information on the Material Safety Data Sheet (sometimes called MSDS or SDS) so you should obtain a copy for any substance you want to try before you get the chemical, then decide if you want to try the chemical. Don't get a load of samples to try and then have to dispose of them as hazardous waste.
If it isn't broken, that doesn't mean you can't improve it. (Do three negatives make a positive ?)


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Re: Acetone/IPA cleaning

Post by laurae » Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:54 am

Thank you for your informative replies!

A bit more detail, the acetone is used for cleaning small components, very small so the dexterity is very important. Latex isn't an option anymore, so currently using nitrile gloves, with a breakdown of about 4 minutes, so not ideal at all but at the minute the only option. I want to encourage glove use but need to find an acceptable option

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