Removing Silicone Lubricants

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Randy_

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Nov 29, 2004
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Dallas suburb, Texas, USA.
One of my questions in this year's Birthday Bash had to do with removing silicone lubricants. The primary reason for the question was to help folks who might get their blanks contaminated and have problems with the finishing process. Here is the question as it was posed in the contest.

"Most of us have some sort of silicone based lubricant in our shop and it is a wonderful material. Unfortunately, it can be a major annoyance when it gets somewhere it is not supposed to be. If you have some on your hands and transfer it to a pen blank, you can forget about a finish sticking the blank. Soap and water don’t do very much for clean up nor do most of the commonly used solvents. What is the best material to use to remove silicone lubricants?"[/font=Arial]


I received a wonderful selection of responses. Some from folks who had actually tried to clean up a mess, some from folks who had just read about a solution and were passing it along, some from folks who apparently misread the question, and some just plain guesses.

Many of these suggestions I had never seen posted before and thought others at IAP might profit from seeing so I am posting them at the end of this message. The answers will be posted anonymously.....you will understand why after you have read the suggestions.

One thing I learned from the Trivia Contest is that it is very difficult to write a good.....unambiguous.....question. "What is the best material to use to remove silicone lubricants?" The answer to this question is quite different depending upon whether you are trying to clean up a silicone lubricant from the impervious bed of your table saw or the very porous surface of a rare wooden pen blank. And there would be different solutions depending upon whether you were dealing with a finished vs. an unfinished wood, a plastic or some sort vs. a metal.

I'm going to start another thread shortly so we can delve into more detail and look at the specifics of dealing with differing materials. In the meantime, here are the responses to the trivia question.

denatured alcohol

Go-be-gone

Silicone thermosets, so there is really not much that will "dissolve" it. Naptha, rubbing alcohol and mineral spirits are often used in clean up, but present their own problems. Acetone is said to work, but I've not tried it. Silicone-Be-Gone (by DAP) works fairly well but takes a long, long time. Oh! And cleaning vinegar will work…not the stuff you put on salad, but the cleaning product which is a much higher concentration of acid (generally in excess of 7%).

Rubbing alcohol

Use 99% isopropyl alcohol

To remove silicones from a wood surface, use a cloth dampened with
turpentine and sprinkled with powdered laundry detergent. Rub the
surface of the wood in the direction of the grain to wash the finish.
Change cloths frequently to prevent the dirt and silicones from being
redeposited on the finish.

Randy we have the exact same problem in rodbuilding, the strongest chemical for removing silicone is acetone but even that tends to dilute and simply spread out the problem the only sure way of removing it is sanding and getting a water break free surface to work with.

Acetone?

Hmmm, interesting. I've seen several suggestions on how to remove silicone oil (from gasoline to ammonia), but was not aware of consensus on which was "best". The most popular material seems to be a mix of turpentine and powdered laundry detergent (ammonized detergent). If there's something better, I'd like to know.

My guess is 70% ISO

Nail polish remover
Mineral spirits
rubbing alcohol
There are special products on the market that 'digest' silicone, such as the one below. However, for something as small as a pen one of the above will work. Dicone NC9 is a specially formulated silicone "digestant", for removing silicone-based sealants and adhesives, cured silicone elastomers and silicone water repellent over spray.

Okay I may get myself in trouble here but I found two things that will
remove silicone based lubricants (one I've tried, one I haven't). The one I've tried is called Orange-Sol (although there are probably other brands out there). The other one I haven't tried (and I suppose a little more personal) is sex toy cleaners (I could say more but I'd most likely get myself in trouble.)

Any orange citrus cleaner should work or just orange juice if thats all you have.

Drycleaning Fluid

Sulfuric acid

Naptha can help with Silicone residue.

Isopropyl Alcohol

While many solvents abound...
Orange Glo (citrus based cleaning solvent)
Oxyclean
Tri-Chloro-Ethane
Pre-Kleano (Automotive product)
PST Silicone Grease Remover (PolySi Technologies)

Denatured Alcohol seems to be the best option for removing silicone lubricant, rubbing alcohol would probably do just as well.

The best I've found to clean off silicone lubricants is formula 409.

We used naptha in the automotive paint industry to remove silicone contamination, but for pens I’ve had pretty good luck with wet sanding followed by a few applications of acetone.

I've been told to steal the rubbing alcohol from the medicine cabinet to cleanup silicone.

iso propyl alcohol

Randy I guess denatured alchohol.

I'm going to say... Rubbing Alcohol.

my guess would be acetone.

The best way to remove silicone lubricants spilled in the shop is with an inert non-combustible material.
That being said … the most commonly used material by most at IAP will likely be SAWDUST.
It is not however, the safest method. Kitty litter would be a safer alternative given that it is generally not a combustible material. (I’m sure some idiot somewhere is making some that is.)

Denatured alcohol.

mineral spirits/paint thinner?

6:1 mix of iso alcohol and ammonia

Straight from the horse’s mouth: or in this case the manufactures web page.
Remove with soap & water, CRC HydroForce® All Purpose, etc. and elbow power (scrubbing).

That is an easy one, rubbing alcohol !

Denatured Alcohol.,

I haven’t a clue really, but I’ll guess sandpaper?

Rubbing alcohol ??????

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70% ISO (ALCOHOL)

The best chemical I know of to remove silicone lubricants is
methylsiloxane. Unless the silicone is in the wood, and then your best
bet is sandpaper! :)

Sandpaper

DNA (denatured alcohol), I believe is effective in cleaning silicone.

I don't think that soap, water or even a solvent will remove the silicone - the best way would be to sand it off....

To remove silicone based lubricants you can use a spray bottle with 70% ISO alchohol.
Also stated elsewhere is says you can use a cloth wet with turpentine and sprinkle with powdered heavy laundry detergent.
 
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Jarheaded

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Nov 30, 2007
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Fairfield county, CT, USA.
The best way to fully remove silicone from wood is one of the oldest forms of sterilizing....FIRE. It probably would not be advisable in a shop full of sawdust and shavings though. And it may cause dicoloring of the pen blank. This gives me an idea though, so off to the shop to try it. I will post a picture of my results.
 

pssherman

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Jan 19, 2006
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Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA.
Originally posted by loglugger

Johnnie, you might want to dail 911 first to get started on there way. :D:D
Bob
Johnnie's time in the military seems to have given him a very distorted perception of what is considered 'safe'.[:eek:)][:eek:)][:eek:)] This is in reference to some of the other things he says he has done or tryed to do.
 

redfishsc

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Feb 11, 2006
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Summerville, SC
Originally posted by Jarheaded

The best way to fully remove silicone from wood is one of the oldest forms of sterilizing....FIRE. It probably would not be advisable in a shop full of sawdust and shavings though. And it may cause dicoloring of the pen blank. This gives me an idea though, so off to the shop to try it. I will post a picture of my results.



Jarheaded is 100% RIGHT!!!

My training is in professional cabinetry/furniture finishing (which is why I spray my pens with stuff most people haven't heard of and can't find...:D)

Silicone prevents proper adhesion of the finish (basically every film finish) to the wood, and on tables/cabinets it is called "fish eye" and looks like a brain surface after the finish is sprayed.

Here are some fact about silicone contamination that EVERY woodworker needs to be aware of.

1) So far as I've researched, which is quite extensively, silicone contamination CANNOT be removed. It's like removing dried wood stain from carpet (don't ask me about that one[B)]). If you don't believe me, read the story below.

2) Silicone contamination is best avoided by NEVER purchasing and using anything with silicone in your shop. Toss them out. (BTW, one scapegoat is WD40-- is has NO silicone but is accused of it all the time-- it is safe).

3) Furniture polish has silicone, usually. Just know that if you go to refinish something, you may deal with silicone contamination (which, when finish is sprayed onto it, causes "fish eyes"-- a brain-like texture).

4) Learn from this HORRIBLE experience I had. I had a co-worker, the office clerk, commission me to refinish her family heirloom oak kitchen table (100+ years old). It had been cleaned with furniture polish, and even with the thick, thick coats of old varnish on it, the silicone was WAY DOWN into the wood grain. I had to break all the glue joints in the table top (which were breaking from age), cut fresh glue joints, glue the table back together, re-round the table with a router, and then, GET THIS: PLANE OFF MORE THAN 1/16" OF MATERIAL from the surface of the table to flatten it out. IT STILL HAD SILICONE "FISH EYE" CONTAMINATION. If a planer won't remove the contamination, NO solvent will. I used the trick below to get it right, and the table turned out fabulous, but at twice the man-hours I had hoped for.



There is ONE, and only ONE way that I have found to combat silicone contamination (notice I did NOT say "remove"). You must buy "fish eye eliminator" from a specialty finish store (sometimes Sherwin Williams has it). It isn't cheap ($40 a quart usually) and you only need to add a few drops to a quart of finish. All it does is allow the finish to lay flat, and it has to be experimented with b/c the level of contamination varies from piece to piece. I usually wind up spraying 2X the number of coats I would normally spray, with heavy sanding in between, as I sneak up on the right amount of fish-eye killer. BTW, you don't want to just dump in a ton of fish-eye killer b/c it can make the finish brittle and cloudy if you use too much. You have to sneak up on it per the Mfr's instructions (if they give you any).



So, all this to say, silicone=[}:)]. Best keep it OUT of your shop I don't care how useful it is.:(
 

My2Pennies

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Sep 17, 2021
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Canada
I realize this is an old post, but this may help someone. Several years ago a good amount of hydraulic fluid leaked onto and seeped into our (unsealed) exposed aggregate driveway overnight. The contractor who owned the leaky equipment tried cleaning up the mess, but a large deep stain remained. A concrete restorer made several attempts to remove the stain, but was unsuccessful. Eventually he was able to “draw out” the stain using a poultice of some sort (sorry, I don’t know the ingredients). For wood, I would think along the same lines – i.e., a poultice using a product (or products) capable of attracting and drawing out the silicone lube from within the pores of the wood...WITHOUT leaving behind a residue that can’t “easily” be removed. I personally have had success removing silicone lube from plastic using GoJo natural orange pumice hand cleaner, although it did take a couple applications and may not work on materials as porous as wood.
 
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