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Solvent for degreasing/cleaning?

Old 09-15-21, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson
The degreaser itself may be biodegradeable, but the stuff it removes from your bike components is not biodegradeable.

I like OMS because it is safe and effective, and can be reused multiple times by letting the particulate matter settle out and decanting clean solvent off the top.
I decant through a paper coffee filter, which further removes some of the particulates, but the used OMS is yellow compared to new OMS.
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Old 09-15-21, 10:05 PM
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Here in S Ind kerosene is about the same or a little cheaper than #2D. Marathon’s have a couple pumps separate from the gas pumps.
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Old 09-15-21, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
Around here I can buy K1 kerosene at the pump at a number of fuel stations.
Lucky you!
BTW in my former life (machine tool service business) I would always carry along a 5 gallon can of Kerosene since some of my customers would use the cheaper Varsol to clean/wash parts etc.
I'm allergic to that stuff and apart from that it is harder to get a proper lube film back on parts if they are cleaned with Varsol. Not the real McCoy if any kind of bearing/transmission is involved!
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Old 09-15-21, 10:22 PM
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Being cheap I carefully use gasoline. When I am worried about parts that contain plastic or rubber I use automatic transmission fluid or the old WD40. Marvel Mystery Oil is also an excellent cleaner. And lets not forget Diesel and Simple Green. Gone are the old Army days of using Barsol and MEK.

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Old 09-15-21, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
cyccommute If my Lowes order of odorless mineral spirits does not come through, and I no longer want to pay >$20/L to an art supply store to buy more, is it more dangerous to use kerosene or naphtha? Both are available as camp fuel from my local REI, and their respective costs are almost the same (~ $8/qt). I generally do my bike maintenance in an attached garage with the garage door open
Kerosene has similar issues to diesel. It doesn’t evaporate completely. Naphtha (camp fuel) is a reasonable replacement for mineral spirits as long as you are careful with it.

To be clear, you don’t need buckets full of mineral spirits. A cup of mineral spirits will clean a dozen or more chains. I put mine in a wide mouth Gatorade bottle (16 oz). I feed the chain in, cap it, and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. For surface cleaning, I use a bit on a rag. As I’ve shown in this post, my drivetrain doesn’t need a lot of cleaning.
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Old 09-15-21, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
Being cheap I carefully use gasoline.
You probably don’t want to post this on-line. When you set your house on fire, the insurance company can find this post and then your gasoline isn’t so “cheap”.

When I am worried about parts that contain plastic or rubber I use automatic transmission fluid or the old WD40.
Where do people get these ideas? Automatic transmission fluid is incompatible with styrene-butadiene rubber. It’s also an oil which, if the point it to remove oil, why use “oil”? WD-40 also contains 25% oil.

Marvel Mystery Oil is also an excellent cleaner.
Again, oil to clean oil?

And lets not forget Diesel and Simple Green.
Okay. But why not mineral spirits? It’s easier for most people to get even a gallon of mineral spirits a lot easier than they can get a gallon of diesel fuel. I’d have to go to a hardware store to get a gas can (hopefully in a different color than red so as to avoid dumping it into a gasoline engine). I’d have to go to Tractor Supply since hardware stores don’t have 1 gallon version. I’d pay $15 for the can and about $4 for the diesel fuel.

Or I could go to the same Tractor Supply and buy a gallon of mineral spirits for $12.


Gone are the old Army days of using Barsol and MEK.
Barsol is still available, although I suspect the stuff you look back on so fondly was a chlorinated solvent. And MEK can be be purchased from Home Depot or Lowes. This chemist wouldn’t use it as a solvent for oil based materials, however. It’s just not a good oil solvent. There are better ones out there…like mineral spirits. It’s safe, effect, and clean.
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Old 09-16-21, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Kerosene has similar issues to diesel. It doesn’t evaporate completely. Naphtha (camp fuel) is a reasonable replacement for mineral spirits as long as you are careful with it.
Perhaps kerosene and diesel don't fully evaporate. Aren't those fractions going to be long chain hydrocarbons? And lubricating oils and paraffin, aren't those also long chain hydrocarbons? And won't any part of the solvent that evaporate leave behind anything that was dissolved in it?

I don't see the "so what?" point. Am I missing something?
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Old 09-16-21, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
Perhaps kerosene and diesel don't fully evaporate. Aren't those fractions going to be long chain hydrocarbons? And lubricating oils and paraffin, aren't those also long chain hydrocarbons? And won't any part of the solvent that evaporate leave behind anything that was dissolved in it?

I don't see the "so what?" point. Am I missing something?
Whatever you clean using kerosene or WD-40 or whatever that leaves an oily film will have that oily film completely coating the part you cleaned, where it will collect dirt and grit while in use. If you clean with a solvent that completely evaporates, there is no oily film to collect dirt, and lubrication can be selectively applied to the locations that actually require lubrication.
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Old 09-16-21, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Really? Kerosene at the pump? What for?

Here in SoCal 1-K kerosene (same thing?) is almost $8/qt. at REI, naphtha is a quarter more, while 91 unleaded gas is $4.55/gal.
Several local gas stations have a Kerosene pump. It's used in space heaters, kerosene lamps, etc.

My local Home Depot shows OMS at $8.28/qt and $13/gallon. It also sells K-1 Kerosine for heater use at about the same cost per gallon.

Note to cyccommute: Years ago, "white gas" was sold as a heater fuel and the name implied it was lead-free, unlike motor fuel gas at the time. It was not intended for use in automobiles.
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Old 09-16-21, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
Perhaps kerosene and diesel don't fully evaporate. Aren't those fractions going to be long chain hydrocarbons?
Yes, they are long chain hydrocarbons which is the problem. The longer the chain, the lower the vapor pressure… i.e. the less likely the material is to evaporate.

And lubricating oils and paraffin, aren't those also long chain hydrocarbons?
Yes, even longer ones. Paraffin is long enough that it starts to solidify at room temperature.

And won't any part of the solvent that evaporate leave behind anything that was dissolved in it?
That depends on how much is dissolved in the solvent or if anything is dissolve in the solvent. Some components on the bike aren’t harmed by a little dissolve oil…chains being the prime example. Other components like disc rotors and brake tracks would experience detrimental effects if an oily solvent or a solvent with oil in it is used.

I don't see the "so what?" point. Am I missing something?
It depends on what the end goal is. I somewhat agree that people go overboard with cleaning…they use far too elaborate schemes. But I also like to keep any cleaning I do cheap, effective, and as minimal (both in time and chemicals) as possible. As I pointed out above, getting single gallon of diesel fuel would be more expensive than just getting a gallon of mineral spirits.

Even getting a whole gallon of mineral spirits is sort of silly. I have a couple of liter cans of mineral spirits that are a couple of decades old. They may last me another couple of decades. I use a cup (250ml) of the solvent to clean a chain one time at installation. By using a chain lubricant that is clean, I never have to clean the chain again until I replace the chain about 3500 miles later. I basically get over 40,000 miles out of that cup of mineral spirits. Since there are 4 cups in the liter, I’m looking at north of 150,000 miles of bicycle riding before I need another quart. A gallon of mineral spirits would last me 620,000 miles

I think I’m getting my money’s worth.
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Old 09-16-21, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
Note to cyccommute: Years ago, "white gas" was sold as a heater fuel and the name implied it was lead-free, unlike motor fuel gas at the time. It was not intended for use in automobiles.
I’ve had this discussion before. Post 42 sums up what I’ve found. “White gas” at gas stations was likely a naphtha byproduct that the petroleum companies need to get rid of because they didn’t have the catalyst technology we have now to reform it. The name may have implied it was lead-free but it would never have had lead put into it in the first place. Tetraethyl lead was put in to gasoline (different distillation cut) to improve the octane rating. But the octane rating of gasoline without tetraethyl lead would have been much higher than the 50 octane rating of “white gas”.

In a refinery, naphtha is passed over a catalyst where it is forced to undergo chemical reactions that “reform” it into hydrocarbons that can be used in gasoline. But without that reformation, no amount of additives is going to make it suitable for running in an engine. In other words, “white gas” isn’t gasoline with or without additives.

All this confusion comes about because we humans are sloppy in our word useage. Gas, whether it is gasoline or “white gas”, isn’t…gas that is. They are both liquids. Even in use in stoves or cars, the liquid isn’t in a gaseous form, it a mist with small droplets of liquid suspended in air.

The term “gasoline” appears to be due to a bit of fraud. According to Wikipedia

"Gasoline" is an English word that denotes fuel for automobiles. The term is thought to have been influenced by the trademark "Cazeline" or "Gazeline", named after the surname of British publisher, coffee merchant, and social campaigner John Cassell. On 27 November 1862, Cassell placed an advertisement in The Times of London:
The Patent Cazeline Oil, safe, economical, and brilliant … possesses all the requisites which have so long been desired as a means of powerful artificial light.[10]
This is the earliest occurrence of the word to have been found. Cassell discovered that a shopkeeper in Dublin named Samuel Boyd was selling counterfeit cazeline and wrote to him to ask him to stop. Boyd did not reply and changed every ‘C’ into a ‘G’, thus coining the word "gazeline".[10] The Oxford English Dictionary dates its first recorded use to 1863 when it was spelled "gasolene". The term "gasoline" was first used in North America in 1864.[11]
So the name is just a long gone game of telephone. Perhaps the English are correct in call it “petrol”.

Finally, I really do love these discussions. It makes me go out and find more information for my personal game of “how many useless…but interesting…facts can I cram into my brain”.
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Old 09-16-21, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Kerosene has similar issues to diesel. It doesn’t evaporate completely. Naphtha (camp fuel) is a reasonable replacement for mineral spirits as long as you are careful with it.
Thank you. Lowes finally came through, so no need to take the risk of using naphtha for a while.

Originally Posted by cyccommute
To be clear, you don’t need buckets full of mineral spirits. A cup of mineral spirits will clean a dozen or more chains. I put mine in a wide mouth Gatorade bottle (16 oz). I feed the chain in, cap it, and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. For surface cleaning, I use a bit on a rag. As I’ve shown in this post, my drivetrain doesn’t need a lot of cleaning.
Yeah, I use 300 mL in a 500 mL (16.9 oz.) tea bottle for shaking and soaking overnight, and like you said, the solvent can be decanted, filtered, and reused several times. (I do need to buy a couple of bottles of Gatorade or another drink that comes in wide mouth bottles, to make it easier to extricate the chain which gets kinked after vigorous shaking.) Now that I am waxing my chains, acetone is good enough for surface cleaning. So my 1 L + 1 qt. of OMS will last for a while.
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Old 09-16-21, 11:38 AM
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Honestly the reason I want something I can get in bulk is so I can fill a decent size Tupperware tub with it, toss all the crap that needs to be degreased in, and forget about it for awhile. That's what we did at the shop.

It sounds like mineral spirits is a great option, even if it's a little more expensive than some other options. I do bike stuff for fun mostly. I guess it's an expensive enough hobby that, even if it costs me $10 in mineral spirits everytime I do a bike, that's pretty small compared to the overall costs. What's another drop in the bucket, right?
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Old 09-16-21, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by cyrano138
Honestly the reason I want something I can get in bulk is so I can fill a decent size Tupperware tub with it, toss all the crap that needs to be degreased in, and forget about it for awhile. That's what we did at the shop.

It sounds like mineral spirits is a great option, even if it's a little more expensive than some other options. I do bike stuff for fun mostly. I guess it's an expensive enough hobby that, even if it costs me $10 in mineral spirits everytime I do a bike, that's pretty small compared to the overall costs. What's another drop in the bucket, right?
In my admittedly limited experience, using odorless mineral spirits require both vigorous agitation (for a minute or so) and soaking overnight; I am not sure whether soaking alone, even for longer than that, will degrease effectively.
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Old 09-16-21, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by cyrano138
Honestly the reason I want something I can get in bulk is so I can fill a decent size Tupperware tub with it, toss all the crap that needs to be degreased in, and forget about it for awhile. That's what we did at the shop.

It sounds like mineral spirits is a great option, even if it's a little more expensive than some other options. I do bike stuff for fun mostly. I guess it's an expensive enough hobby that, even if it costs me $10 in mineral spirits everytime I do a bike, that's pretty small compared to the overall costs. What's another drop in the bucket, right?
You shouldn’t need “$10 in mineral spirits every time” you clean a bike. Mineral spirits and oil are almost like ethanol in water, i.e. infinitely soluble. There really isn’t a point where the oil will come out of the mineral spirits nor where the mineral spirits will come out of the oil. Additionally, if you need to clean parts, you don’t need any more mineral spirits than what is necessary to just cover the part. The widest part…and likely largest part…you are likely to put into mineral spirits is a crank which would need less than 3” in a relatively small tub. A 9”x11” would be big enough for a 175mm crank with a 52 tooth chainring.

I’d probably not completely immerse a rear derailer in solvent. It has grease in the knuckles that would be flushed out by solvent.
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Old 09-16-21, 12:21 PM
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Don't discount what you can get done with some dish detergent and water and some good scrubbing. I like dawn honestly. Totally good for getting things like cassettes clean, is what Shimano officially recommends for cleaning derailleurs, etc. For mild cleaning that needs not to leave residue isopropyl alcohol is fine.

For heavier cleaning OMS or naptha is good stuff, but I like to handle heavy solvents as little as possible especially at home, particularly given I'm a professional mechanic who handles too many chemicals as it is.
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Old 09-16-21, 12:46 PM
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Having worked in bike shops for over 10 years now, I would honestly recommend muc-off drivetrain cleaner for cassettes & chainrings and their quick drying degreaser for chains. Easy to work with and biodegradable. Plus get yourself a "lakeland home tile & grout brush" off amazon, hands down best solid brush that will last longer than any bike specific brush.
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Old 09-16-21, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
You shouldn’t need “$10 in mineral spirits every time” you clean a bike. Mineral spirits and oil are almost like ethanol in water, i.e. infinitely soluble. There really isn’t a point where the oil will come out of the mineral spirits nor where the mineral spirits will come out of the oil. Additionally, if you need to clean parts, you don’t need any more mineral spirits than what is necessary to just cover the part. The widest part…and likely largest part…you are likely to put into mineral spirits is a crank which would need less than 3” in a relatively small tub. A 9”x11” would be big enough for a 175mm crank with a 52 tooth chainring.

I’d probably not completely immerse a rear derailer in solvent. It has grease in the knuckles that would be flushed out by solvent.
Thanks fornthe heads up about the rear derailleurs. That is a huge bummer. Nothing more satisfying than throwing that one in the bucket.

I was using the $10/clean thing just to make a point. Even if I needed $10 worth I'd be fine with it so there's really need to worry about (for me anyway) finding a cheaper option.
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Old 09-16-21, 02:11 PM
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Lots of "Fuel" mentions.. What does this stuff fuel anyway? aka Denatured alcohol, used after OMS for some chain cleaning routines. How does denatured alcohol differ from rubbing alcohol (ie. Isopropyl)?
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Old 09-16-21, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
Lots of "Fuel" mentions.. What does this stuff fuel anyway? aka Denatured alcohol, used after OMS for some chain cleaning routines. How does denatured alcohol differ from rubbing alcohol (ie. Isopropyl)?
Denatured alcohol is ethanol that has been made undrinkable by the addition of compounds to make it poisonous or foul tasting. There are numerous ways to denature ethanol.

“Alcohol” is a class of compounds with the generic formula of CnH2n+1OH (where n is the number of carbon atoms in the molecule). The class of compounds can also be represented by CnH2n+2O. Rubbing alcohol is 2-propanol with a formula of C3H7OH (C3H8O). Ethanol, which everyone calls “alcohol”, has a formula of C2H5OH. Alcohols are toxic but some are worse than others.

Both ethanol and 2-propanol are infinitely soluble in water. Both are polar which makes them really poor at dissolving oil and grease. If they are used after mineral spirits in chain cleaning schemes, it’s a waste of solvent. The mineral spirits will evaporate without chasing it with either denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol.

If, on the other hand, you use water based degreasers, the alcohol is almost a necessity to remove water.

Ethanol is a fuel for either mass burning or for engines. It’s not necessarily an energy dense one…it’s already partially oxidized…but it does burn.
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Old 09-16-21, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute

Both ethanol and 2-propanol are infinitely soluble in water. Both are polar which makes them really poor at dissolving oil and grease. If they are used after mineral spirits in chain cleaning schemes, it’s a waste of solvent. The mineral spirits will evaporate without chasing it with either denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol.
.
Thanks for the complete rundown. The OMS + Denatured Alcohol thing is part of the somewhat well known Molten Speedwax prep instructions. Googling, "do Mineral Spirits leave behind a residue" -- it seems to be split on hits that say yes vs no. Those that say 'yes' refer to an oily residue -- ostensibly it's this residue that the alcohol is used to get rid of.


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Old 09-16-21, 04:00 PM
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While 2-propanol isn't a good choice for degreasing I have always thought that the polar nature of isopropyl made it a good choice to get that last remaining film of almost invisible oily residue off of brake rotors.

When I use to very stupidly use gasoline to clean things in, the rotors on my vehicles in particular and they would always squeal. Then I saw a recommendation to use isopropyl as a final cleaning and I never had squally rotors again.

And it seems there was something about it's polar nature letting it lift or get under other contaminates. But only when there were few remaining contaminates.
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Old 09-16-21, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
The OMS + Denatured Alcohol thing is part of the somewhat well known Molten Speedwax prep instructions. Googling, "do Mineral Spirits leave behind a residue" -- it seems to be split on hits that say yes vs no. Those that say 'yes' refer to an oily residue -- ostensibly it's this residue that the alcohol is used to get rid of.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI0tZqIpguk
I have also read the MSW instructions (MSPEEDWAX | Molten Speed Wax - How To Clean Your Bicycle Chain Before Hot Waxing) and the alcohol after mineral spirits part does not make sense. To the extent that mineral spirits leave a residue (which I don't see), I think an acetone bath would work better to chase that off.
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Old 09-16-21, 05:34 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
Thanks for the complete rundown. The OMS + Denatured Alcohol thing is part of the somewhat well known Molten Speedwax prep instructions. Googling, "do Mineral Spirits leave behind a residue" -- it seems to be split on hits that say yes vs no. Those that say 'yes' refer to an oily residue -- ostensibly it's this residue that the alcohol is used to get rid of.
From the stand point of chain lubrication, the answer is a resounding no! Or at least a resounding “It doesn’t matter.” If you are going to paint a part, you might be able to make an argument that mineral spirits leaves a residue but when lubricating a chain…whether with wax or oil…it’s not going to change the way the lubricant works.

If you are using wax, the hot liquid wax is a solvent too. Most of the hard waxes people are using for chain lubrication could benefit from a little oil/oily residue to soften it a little.

And, finally, every 97 step chain cleaning process has 96 too many steps. Even if you do all 97 steps, you aren’t going to see any gains that are more than marginal…if that. If it takes more than 20 minutes to clean a chain, you are wasting your time.
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Old 09-16-21, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS
Buying cleaning solvent by the quart is far more expensive than by the gallon. I pay about $8.50 a gallon for crown camp stove fuel - half the price of OMS. If gasoline and camp stove fuel are so dangerous, how do I manage to fill up my cars, three lawnmowers and a an emergency generator and not blow myself up. By accounts here, gas stations should be blowing up right and left. Yes, l know that gasoline related fires happen. My workshop has an electric water heater, placed 8 feet above floor level.

I reuse my solvent many times, to minimize the amount I use. Once there's enough oil in it, it won't always light if I throw a match in some, to burn it off.
I'm going to guess that it happens more than you're aware of. The pumps themselves are designed to minimize risk but replicate doing the wrong things it can happen.

It's not clear to me what the strong argument is in favor of using something that's specifically designed to be ignited easily in vapor form and burn hot and fast instead of something that's purpose-made to clean things. Just to prove you can get away with it and to save a few bucks doesn't sound like a good reason but's that's just me.

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