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Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Brian D, Sep 22, 2006.
Does anybody use lacquer thinner as a degreaser????
To begin with, Lacquer thinner can be any number of different chemicals. It is a mixture of many different solvents attempting to be a solve-all formula. In truth, you would have to have a complete current analysis to even know what is in the solution.
For example lacquer thinner from this company http://www.lancergroup.com/MSDS/msds-lqt.html is composed of varying amounts of toluene, methanol, methyl ethyl ketone and butyl acetate.
This company http://www.setonresourcecenter.com/msds/docs/wcd00034/wcd03410.htm sells the same common name of lacquer thinner composed of acetone, toluene, propylene glycol ether acetate, isopropyl alcohol, and petroleum distallates.
You could probably find a dozen other companies selling very different combinations of chemicals as this material. Many of these base ingredients are hazardous waste materials and cancer causing agents. Should you use these chemicals in cleaning a skull, the solvent will have grease in it, and then proper disposal of the chemical becomes a problem. By rights you should then use a hazardous waste disposal facility which would cost you big bucks.
Each of the components in lacquer thinner would work in degreasing, some better than others. Acetone and toluene would probably work best, and isopropyl worse of those chemicals listed above. But, what do you do with the end solution....
My local land fill takes it at no charge...I'm a contractor so I know because my painters take it there...Its kind of pricey around 60 for 5 gallons...But thought i read some were that it would work good...?
I wouldn't try laquer thinner. It has too many extra additives to it. I have a barrel of Acetone that works really well for degreasing. It can be hazardous to use and you have to be careful. I stand back when opening the barrel, wait a bit for some of the fumes to escape and then reach in with stainless steel tongs to pull out whatever I put in there. Do not reach your arm into a deep container of Acetone even if you don't put your hand into it. The fumes themselves burn like the dickens and they will ruin your clothes. Acetone is nasty and dangerous stuff but it does work. I have been tempted to use Ammonium Hydroxide but I have to read up on this more. Dawn detergent works well for smaller things and that is really safe. Soak small skulls and bones in a strong solution of Dawn for a week or so and they should come out nice. Rinse well, dry and whiten with peroxide. NEVER use chlorine bleach.
I'll probably have this etched on my tombstone but lacquer thinner, acetone, MEK, toluene, white gas, mineral spirits, et all, are NOT DEGREASERS. They are SOLVENTS. Solvents don't actually remove grease, but rather disolve (as in 'solvent') i. They all leave some sort of residual. Soap (and to a large extent) detergents are DEGREASERS. Using both in combination is sometimes the only way to clean a skull, but to be completely degreased, soap is going to have to come into the agenda sometime.
Suddenly lacquer thinner HAS gotten high and I'm not sure why that is. It does make soap a much cheaper option however.
On all my skulls dish soap and hot water. Bears need more, at least mine do. I used to do Acetone after the initial soapy solution which removes the surface grease & crud. Acetone is expensive and does evaporate. I tried Thinner and learned from an auto body man the difference in quality. Was told the Do-It-Self-Stores thinner is like water. Suggested I try NAPA Stores in the Auto Paint Dept. Found it cheaper than Wal-mart. He explained that he could leave an unopened "plastic" cup with thinner to clean his nozzels and it would keep potency for a good long time and clean without effort. I soaked a bear skull the same amount of time as I did Acetone and it came out perfect. I also do an overnight soapy soak after the thinner soak to remove chemical residue/smell. Another thing I do that some may find unnecessary is to dry the skull between each step. Everybody has a different formula for what works. I am always interested in a better way.
Seems to me even if lacquer thinner was effective it would be cost prohibitive and very dangerous to have in a large quantities
I've been using mineral spirits to degrease my salmonid skins and it does take out the grease. It's quite evident by the residual grease in the bottom of the bucket. However, I am gong with a more environmetally safe chemical degreaser that I mix with water as I can't really get rid of used solvents in my area. And of course I'm not comfortable dumping them into the driveway. If I am correct I belive they can contaminate the ground water. I've burned it but believe it or not it's hard to start it burning, and it leaves a nasty black sooty residue in the burn container.
With the one I will be going to it's biodegradable and I can dump it down the drain. Available from McKenzie.
Taxidermologist: Does mineral sprits vary in compostion like lacquer thinner. I got some at Wallmart once and I could have sworn it has a gasoline odor to it.
From what I learned years ago in organic chemistry, Mineral spirits is purely a specific distillate in the refinement of oil, of which gasoline is also. Because I hate to put my foot in my mouth, i read a little on the internet, and it appears some companies hydrogenate the particular distillate to lower the level of aromatics.
In oil refinement, (and it has been a while) you get all sorts of fractions of hydrocarbons from methane one carbon four hydrogen, ethane two carbon six hydrogen, propane three carbon eight hydrogen, etc. up to eight carbon compounds. In the distilling though, if there is not enough hydrogen available, there are double bonds formed between the carbons, such that ethane as an example becomes ethene composed of 2 carbons and only four hydrogens. Ethene is a much more dangerous chemical to humans because it has higher volatility and also more reactive with other chemicals. When gasoline, which is measured by octane levels (8 carbon) does not have as much hydrogen, it often has double bonds which form easily and reasonably stable into 6 carbon chains with various permutations of carbon and hydrogen hanging off it. The common 6 carbon chain is much more volatile and much more dangerous. Benzene is the standard 6 carbon ring with only 6 hydrogens off the corners of the hexagon. Toluene, is a 7 carbon compound with a methane hanging hanging off one side. There are rings created with 8 carbons having two "methane's hanging off.
By hydrogenating a set of distillates, the end product will have fully loaded hydrogen on all carbons, so that an octane would be 8 carbons and 18 hydrogens. It would be safer and be less volatile. However, I do believe mineral spirits can vary depending on what base amount of carbons are in it. a 5 carbon, hydrogenated, aliphatic hydrocarbon would be a better solvent than an 8 carbon hydrogenated aliphatic hydrocarbon. The former might be considered "light" mineral spirits by a company, and the other a heavy mineral spirits or less volatile.
Cecil, what I want you to do is take a washcloth and wet it thoroughly, and wipe it in some slime of a fish tomorrow before you skin it. Then take the wet washcloth and swirl it around in a small vat of mineral spirits. Tell me after a 15 minute time of soaking exactly what do you see in the bottom of the vat. It is water which you displaced. The "stuff" you see at the bottom is probably the same mixture you get out of your fish skins. (At least it should work out that way - I haven't used mineral spirits in a long time)