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Old 01-21-08, 11:02 PM   #1
peripatetic
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Chemistry geeks: Mineral Spirits harms?

1. What interaction does odorless mineral spirits have with

(a) plastic bottles;
(b) rubber gloves (like nitrile, eg.);
(b) plastic/rubber parts;
(c) human skin?

2. For (a), (b) and (c) above, will they degrade any of these materials over time (if exposed to air, I'd assume the chemical will evaporate before having any real effect, if they normally don't have an effect, but what about if they're just sitting in a plastic bottle, say)?

3. If no effect, why not? Isn't mineral spirits a petroleum product made to soften other petroleum products, and isn't plastic an 'other' petroleum-based product?

Edjamicate me.

PS Anyone know a cheap source for 100-count box of the industrial-grade nitrile gloves? A lot of places I'm seeing online are only cheap if you order in cases.
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Old 01-22-08, 02:39 AM   #2
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Harbor Freight sells nitrile gloves by the box.
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Old 01-22-08, 04:37 AM   #3
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1. What interaction does odorless mineral spirits have with

(a) plastic bottles;
(b) rubber gloves (like nitrile, eg.);
(b) plastic/rubber parts
There are compatabilty charts on the web for that kind of stuff. Like this one: http://www.parker.com/o-ring/fcg/fcg.asp

By selecting Stoddard Solvent in the upper left window, you can see what is compatible. Nitrile fares well.

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(c) human skin?

Here's the MSDS for Stoddard Solvent (Mineral Spirits) http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/s6588.htm
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Old 01-22-08, 10:39 AM   #4
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While there are certain plastic bottles that would safely hold non-polar solvents, I would just use the metal can that mineral spirits usually come in. Glass would be fine too. Nitrile gloves should be ok for use whilst cleaning parts, etc. I wouldn't regularly soak plastic/rubber bike parts in this stuff, because you don't know what kind of plastic/rubber you are dealing with (although a bit of incidental contact doesn't appear to be a problem). These solvents will remove the oils from your skin and long term exposure is not a good idea - see the MSDS that someone else posted.
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Old 01-22-08, 11:43 AM   #5
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Thanks for the points, all. I was mainly concerned about incidental contact, not looking to bathe in the stuff or anything.

And thanks for the tip on the gloves; unfortunately, harbor freight doesn't carry size smalls.
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Old 01-22-08, 12:34 PM   #6
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I buy deodorized mineral spirits in 3 gallon plastic jugs, so it's obviously not harmful to some plastics. I've also had it make some plastic basins and brush handles get brittle after long exposure.
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Old 01-22-08, 12:55 PM   #7
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PS Anyone know a cheap source for 100-count box of the industrial-grade nitrile gloves? A lot of places I'm seeing online are only cheap if you order in cases.
Most automobile techs use nitrile gloves now. Check with the local dealership parts managers for their source. All of their suppliers of non-OEM expendables sell them. The parts manager might even work out a little deal for you for a box or two.

Eric
ex-commercial truck parts manager
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Old 01-22-08, 01:17 PM   #8
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Thanks for the points, all. I was mainly concerned about incidental contact, not looking to bathe in the stuff or anything.

And thanks for the tip on the gloves; unfortunately, harbor freight doesn't carry size smalls.
Here's a little easier to read chart than the Parker one. Just scroll down to mineral spirits and hit 'submit'. You'll get a list.

Nitrile gloves (Buna N) have excellent resistance. LDPE and polypropylene would be good for a few months to maybe a couple of years for storage. Glass or a steel can would be best. Steel has the edge over glass because of the breakability issue.
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Old 01-22-08, 02:18 PM   #9
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There are compatabilty charts on the web for that kind of stuff. Like this one: http://www.parker.com/o-ring/fcg/fcg.asp

By selecting Stoddard Solvent in the upper left window, you can see what is compatible. Nitrile fares well.

Here's the MSDS for Stoddard Solvent (Mineral Spirits) http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/s6588.htm
Thanks for the extremely valuable links. I will be more cognizant in the use of material compatibility when cleaning parts. I have been using MS with abandon and I see that its incompatibility with butyl and silicone is interestingly a "4" on the effect scale. Thanks again.
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Old 01-22-08, 03:12 PM   #10
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The mineral spirits that I have are in a plastic container. The container is marked "hdpe 2" in the triangle.
While cleaning chains, I have used and stored 50-50 mineral / oil solution in an "hdpe 1" for months after filtering for reuse. Never had a problem.
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Old 01-22-08, 03:31 PM   #11
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Mineral spirits are mostly hexanes & heptanes (aka C6/C7 aliphatic hydrocarbons) which are quite flammable. In addition to material compatibility issues of mineral spirits and plastics, please be aware of the static electricity hazards when pouring any flammable solvent out of plastic containers, especially into other plastic or ungrounded containers. Hexanes in particular are quite prone to ignition by static discharge. Most chemical resistant gloves (nitrile, neoprene, vinyl etc.) should be fine for typical light use encountered while cleaning bikes. These gloves are used regularly in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in an environment with far greater potential for exposure to solvents.
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Old 01-22-08, 08:56 PM   #12
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1) Nitrile gloves should be fine. Latex gloves aren't. Rubber can eventually be degraded by such chemicals but more slowly - also depends if you mean latex or butyl rubber. As to plastics generally, solubility in mineral spirits or similar chemicals varies widely, but the ones you're likely to be familiar with aren't too soluble. Polyethylene bottles such as are used in chemistry labs are excellent choices. Human skin is moderately irritated by such things, and the impurities in them are minor carcinogens, but I wouldn't stay up at night thinking about them.

2) Don't know about the effects of them upon nitrile gloves because you shouldn't reuse the gloves.

3) "Plastic" may be a petroleum product technically, but the chemistry is so altered that the relationship doesn't hold. There are many, many different kinds of plastic - some compatible with oil, some with water, some with alcohols, etc. So you can't assume that since plastics are made from petroleum, that they will be soluble in petroleum distillates. Additionally, much depends on the chain length of the polymer, as well as the cross-link density - how networked the plastic is. If the chains are long and if they're crosslinked, the plastic acts like a dense mass of spaghetti - it doesn't untangle easily and is hard to dissolve. Did I mention I like polymer chemistry?

Don't know how cheap you need them, but I get my nitrile gloves in 50-ct boxes at Home Depot. Now that I don't work in a chemistry lab anymore, that is.
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Old 01-22-08, 10:25 PM   #13
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1) ...Polyethylene bottles such as are used in chemistry labs are excellent choices. Human skin is moderately irritated by such things, and the impurities in them are minor carcinogens, but I wouldn't stay up at night thinking about them.
Good to know. I was mainly thinking about occasional splashes on my hands and if I needed to run to the local hazardous cleaning site. I'm now ready to sleep easy.


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2) Don't know about the effects of them upon nitrile gloves because you shouldn't reuse the gloves.
Why not? Because they'll just break easily, or is this bad for one's skin?


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3) "Plastic" may be a petroleum product technically, but the chemistry is so altered that the relationship doesn't hold. There are many, many different kinds of plastic - some compatible with oil, some with water, some with alcohols, etc. So you can't assume that since plastics are made from petroleum, that they will be soluble in petroleum distillates. Additionally, much depends on the chain length of the polymer, as well as the cross-link density - how networked the plastic is. If the chains are long and if they're crosslinked, the plastic acts like a dense mass of spaghetti - it doesn't untangle easily and is hard to dissolve. Did I mention I like polymer chemistry?
Nice, succinct explanation and about as technical as I can understand, thanks.


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Don't know how cheap you need them, but I get my nitrile gloves in 50-ct boxes at Home Depot. Now that I don't work in a chemistry lab anymore, that is.
I didn't need them that cheap, just don't want to be stuck with 400 gloves. That being said, I've found these, which are shipped/sold in orders of 2 boxes, which I can live with.
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Old 01-23-08, 09:48 AM   #14
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Why not? Because they'll just break easily, or is this bad for one's skin?
It's just bad form to reuse gloves. Taking them off and putting them on can lead to tears and holes. The protection is gone if they have a hole in them. Additionally, if you take them off, there's the possibility of transferring the stuff on the outside to the inside. If you are going to do that, why wear the gloves in the first place? Also, even though nitrile has excellent resistance to lots of stuff, the resistance isn't infinite. Stuff like mineral spirits can soak into the material and weaken it...leading to the hole issue again.

Some good and bad practices:

If you are using gloves, take them off before you go walking from the garage into the house. That stuff you are protecting your hands from is on the outside of the glove. If you touch a doorknob while, say, going into the house, you just put the stuff on the doorknob. The next person through it may not be wearing gloves but they will be wearing the stuff you protected yourself against. Not good! (People where I work do this all the time...drives me crazy!)

Don't drink or eat stuff while you are using solvents. Don't have food or drink anywhere near where you are working with it. Colorless applies to about 90% of all chemicals...including water and mineral spirits. It may be difficult to distinguish the bad stuff from the good. Best just to keep it separate.

Don't do your cleaning in stuff that you may use for food preparation...or even stuff that looks like food preparation equipment. That means don't use your wife's mixing bowls to clean parts! Again, you want to keep the bad stuff outside of you.

After you remove your gloves...wash your hands! Gloves shouldn't have holes in them but it happens. Best to remove any traces of bad stuff before you go play with the kids
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Old 01-23-08, 10:17 AM   #15
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It's just bad form to reuse gloves. Taking them off and putting them on can lead to tears and holes. The protection is gone if they have a hole in them. Additionally, if you take them off, there's the possibility of transferring the stuff on the outside to the inside. If you are going to do that, why wear the gloves in the first place? Also, even though nitrile has excellent resistance to lots of stuff, the resistance isn't infinite. Stuff like mineral spirits can soak into the material and weaken it...leading to the hole issue again.
Yup. In addition...you'll never get them back on anyway, because the layer of sweat on the inside has some serious friction. And gloves are cheap, not worth the effort.
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Old 01-23-08, 12:19 PM   #16
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ok.
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