Tuesday 7 June 2016

Cleaning off uncured epoxy

Cleaning off uncured epoxy

My earliest experiences of working with epoxy were as a young boy helping my father put together frames for the next boat he was starting to build. Part of the experience was learning how hard uncured epoxy is to remove from the skin or the garage floor.  From memory back in those days it was soap water and a small scrubbing brush that almost removed the first layer of skin while removing the uncured adhesive.

Epoxy adhesive is almost a universal item in most onboard tool kits. Knowing how to use it properly includes how to remove any in the event that you accidentally put some epoxy adhesive on yourself or something else that may cause problems, here are a few ways you can remove this material. You can choose from a reasonable safe and simple remedy to more powerful removers. The reality is that skin contact with uncured epoxy should be avoided due to most people building up sensitivity with prolonged contact. Use gloves, cover-alls and work carefully, then if you do happen to come into contact with the product, here are a couple of tips to remove it easily.

Vinegar: Most people I have talked to have vinegar on board, besides being great for poring in the head to remove calcium buildup it’s also good as a general cleaner. I have found it’s great to remove epoxy adhesive from brushes as well as your skin. Soak a paper towel or cloth then place it over the area of your skin that has the epoxy. When you can see that the epoxy adhesive begins to soften wipe the area with the cloth to remove the adhesive. I have been told you can remove cured epoxy adhesive with vinegar, doesn’t make any sense and when I gave it a go it didn’t work.

Citrus-Based Hand Cleaner: I have found a citrus-based waterless hand cleaner can also remove uncured epoxy on your skin, while its not as good as using vinegar due to the need of having to reapply the cleaner two or three times, it is effective. Rub the hand cleaner on the affected area remove with a cloth or paper towel then wash the area thoroughly.

Acetone: Acetone is effective, if you plan to use acetone, caution is advised, work in a well-ventilated space away from any ignition sources and read the MSDS so you are advised of the dangers. Just like vinegar, you can use acetone to remove residue on your skin. It works as well as vinegar, however acetone is flammable, volatile and may cause harm in the long term.

Isopropyl alcohol: You can use isopropyl alcohol to remove uncured epoxy adhesive, again caution is advised; work in a well-ventilated space away from ignition sources while not as volatile as acetone its still quite flammable. Soak a cloth and apply to the affected area then wipe clean.

Epoxy/Lacquer Thinners and or Toluene: are a generic group of organic solvents that work similarly to acetone, there are different formulations. Fumes are easily detectable, they are not quite as volatile as acetone, yet they are still highly flammable. Inhalation of organic solvents can cause tiredness, confusion, through to unconsciousness and even death, contact with the skin is not recommended due to the irritating properties

In my mind Vinegar is the safest and works the best. Keep in mind the best thing to do is to wear vinyl gloves, I do know repeated exposure can end up causing a sensitivity reaction when it get on you, similar to a hives outbreak.  

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