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Solvent for degreasing/cleaning?

Old 09-20-21, 12:48 PM
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Aside from the flammability of most of the solvents discussed here, and the cavalier approach to their handling, I would be concerned about toxicity and carcinogenicity, from vapor inhalation or through skin absorption. Benzene, a component of gasoline, for example, causes testicular cancer.
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Old 09-20-21, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by cyrano138
I worked very briefly at a bike shop and miss almost nothing about it, except the cleaning station. It was like a water fountain but with mineral spirits (?) or some other kind of solvent you could just dunk stuff in. The grease would wash away like my problems when I get to the third or fourth tequila.

I guess the closest I can get is to get a Tupperware tub and fill it with solvent at home. But I don't know what's the optimal solvent.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks!
i went to the local hardware store. Explained what i needed. Walked out with a gallon of purple super clean degreaserócost about $10-$15 like 5 yrs ago.. Itís hardly the only brand, just the one that i ended up with. I also have a set of pedros cleaning brushes. It keeps my drive train sparkling.
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Old 09-20-21, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by WinterCommuter
i went to the local hardware store. Explained what i needed. Walked out with a gallon of purple super clean degreaserócost about $10-$15 like 5 yrs ago.. Itís hardly the only brand, just the one that i ended up with. I also have a set of pedros cleaning brushes. It keeps my drive train sparkling.
Purple degreaser is excellent for cleaning, but may also result in chain link breakages due to hydrogen embrittlement if incorrectly used, as I learned the hard way.
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Old 09-20-21, 02:30 PM
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Assuming OMS is the answer, does anyone use it in a chain cleaner such as Park Tool Chain Scrubber? I prefer to not remove my chain if possible; I usually use Shimano chains, and they use those reinforcing pins to connect links rather than a master link. PITA to reinstall a removed chain with those links.
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Old 09-20-21, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Purple degreaser is excellent for cleaning, but may also result in chain link breakages due to hydrogen embrittlement if incorrectly used, as I learned the hard way.
bummer. I havenít had any chain breakage issues after roughly 5 years of once a month or so use. How were you using purple clean incorrectly?
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Old 09-20-21, 03:57 PM
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[QUOTE=tonymarch;22238455]Assuming OMS is the answer, does anyone use it in a chain cleaner such as Park Tool Chain Scrubber? I prefer to not remove my chain if possible; I usually use Shimano chains, and they use those reinforcing pins to connect links rather than a master link. PITA to reinstall a removed chain with those links.[/QUOT

For my chains I use a chain scrubber (Performance brand) with citrus degreaser to get the worst of it, they dry with a rag. Then I spray each roller with wd-40, a tip from a bike mechanic. Then clean and dry with a rag, not only the rollers, but the outside plates too. This is so easy and works so well that I stopped breaking my chain years ago.

Then when I realized what a great solvent WD-40 is, I started using it to clean parts. Amazing what a small squirt of WD-40 and an old oily rag will do. Old towels are the best because they have an abrasive quality.
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Old 09-20-21, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Artmo
Aside from the flammability of most of the solvents discussed here, and the cavalier approach to their handling, I would be concerned about toxicity and carcinogenicity, from vapor inhalation or through skin absorption. Benzene, a component of gasoline, for example, causes testicular cancer.
Gasoline, definitely. Naphtha, maybe. Odorless mineral spirits, unlikely. The key, as you pointed out, is decreasing benzene content.
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Old 09-20-21, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tonymarch
I prefer to not remove my chain if possible; I usually use Shimano chains, and they use those reinforcing pins to connect links rather than a master link. PITA to reinstall a removed chain with those links.
Shimano now (finally) also offers quick links. For example, here is the 11 speed version: Shimano SM-Cn9001 Speed Quick Link | Jenson USA

These chain pliers can easily remove and/or install quick links: Amazon.com : Super B 2-in-1 Master Link Pliers (The Trident) : Sports & Outdoors

Originally Posted by WinterCommuter
bummer. I havenít had any chain breakage issues after roughly 5 years of once a month or so use. How were you using purple clean incorrectly?
I left my 11 speed 105 chain in Purple Power degreaser to soak for a few hours or overnight; I don't remember exactly how long, but at most half a day. A few months later, this happened:

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Old 09-20-21, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Gasoline, definitely. Naphtha, maybe. Odorless mineral spirits, unlikely. The key, as you pointed out, is decreasing benzene content.
More or less than found in the suntan lotions people are probably using?
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Old 09-20-21, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Shimano now (finally) also offers quick links. For example, here is the 11 speed version: Shimano SM-Cn9001 Speed Quick Link | Jenson USA

These chain pliers can easily remove and/or install quick links: Amazon.com : Super B 2-in-1 Master Link Pliers (The Trident) : Sports & Outdoors



I left my 11 speed 105 chain in Purple Power degreaser to soak for a few hours or overnight; I don't remember exactly how long, but at most half a day. A few months later, this happened:

yep bummer.

Iíve never let my chain soak in degreaser. The thought never occurred to me; since, i loath removing chains. the only time i ever remove a chain is to replace it.

I bush the chain/parts with purple degreaser and wash off with warm, soapy water. I repeat the process until my sponge doesnít show any sign of grease from the chain. Next, i give the chain and parts a good rinse. Finally, give the chain a fresh lube and it sparkles until i get caught in the rain again or the next month whichever comes first.

thanks for the heads up!
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Old 09-20-21, 06:16 PM
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Odorless mineral spirits, shake chain in Gatorade bottle, repeat until clean. Follow up shake with denatured alcohol shakes. YBN quick links.
Made for reuse. Not Shimano one use.
The bible for data driven chain maintenance: Zerofrictioncycling.com.Au

Point is, really only ever have to do this once. On new chain to remove harmful dirt attracting factory grease.
Redip in Silca Secret Wax or Molten Sp33dwwx every 200 miles or so. 2st drop in boiling water if excessively dirty or wet ride
Extremely simple. Saves money, chain and cassette wear, and watts.

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Old 09-21-21, 09:47 AM
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TSP - Tri-sodium Phosphate
Zep industrial purple at Home Depot. $10 gallon
Nothing it wont clean, soak old crusty parts and they clean right off.
Also removes light rust film and paint oxidation immediately.
Will take color off decals
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Old 09-21-21, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
More or less than found in the suntan lotions people are probably using?
Bit of a non sequitur. Considering that sunscreens don’t have benzene in them, I’d say more. The benzene you are referring to was a manufacturing error but sunscreens aren’t allowed to used benzene, nor would there be any reason for them.
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Old 09-21-21, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
I left my 11 speed 105 chain in Purple Power degreaser to soak for a few hours or overnight; I don't remember exactly how long, but at most half a day. A few months later, this happened:
Thatís quite a leap of logic. A lot of things can happen to a chain over the course of a few months. There is nothing in the Purple Power degreaser that would cause a chain to break, especially if you just soaked it once overnight. I once got a chain to crack by soaking it in salt water but that took weeks and sodium chloride.
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Old 09-21-21, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Pantah
More to that point, stove fuel vapor is explosive. Not something you want to be cleaning parts with.

Diesel has an even higher flash point, around 150F.
when we were kids we had glass jars in the bedroom half full with gasoline to clean our paint brushes we used on our model car kits.
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Old 09-21-21, 04:09 PM
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That's...not exactly the wisest thing. My dad had a bottle of paint thinner for that in his shop.
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Old 09-21-21, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Thatís quite a leap of logic. A lot of things can happen to a chain over the course of a few months. There is nothing in the Purple Power degreaser that would cause a chain to break, especially if you just soaked it once overnight. I once got a chain to crack by soaking it in salt water but that took weeks and sodium chloride.
Yes, perhaps I overstated. I cannot prove causation or even statistically relevant correlation, but the two events are at least associated in my head. Now that I have finally managed to get some OMS, no more worries.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:50 PM
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As a retired chemist I always love reading these threads on chain cleaning. It makes me wonder how some of you have survived for so long without self destruction. Careless use of very flammable solvents concerns me a lot. I had a professor in graduate school who had extensive burn scars that he carried since he was a child. He was refilling a Coleman liquid fuel lantern when the can of Coleman fuel burst into flame and the fuel got on his clothing and arms. It could have been caused by filling the lantern too soon without letting it cool down below the ignition temperature of the fuel or from some other source of flame. Be very careful with either stove fuel or gasoline. Don't ever use either one for cleaning inside a building. Never use them around open flames or anything hot enough to cause them to ignite. Unless you own an explosion proof ultrasonic cleaner, never fill it with flammable solvents.

In my last job we had to undergo annual training on use of a fire extinguisher. It involved filling a small metal wading pool with a mixture of diesel fuel and gasoline on top of water. When I asked why they didn't just use pure gasoline the instructor said it was far too dangerous. Even the mixture of about 25% gasoline and 75% diesel fuel was extremely hot and hard to extinguish.

For those of you too young to remember the days of leaded gasoline (phased out gradually beginning in 1973), the government required all gasoline containing lead to be colored so you would know to limit contact with it as tetraethyllead in gasoline could be absorbed through the skin. White gasoline contained no lead. The only brand I remember that always had a pump with unleaded gas was Amoco "white gas" and it was not junk. It was the equivalent of premium gas and cost about 10% more than regular leaded gas. I tested gas while was in the US Army for lead content. It was surprising how much lead we were putting in the air. When I asked about obtaining a sample of tetraethyllead, the source of lead in gas I was told it was too toxic for us the handle in the lab. Good riddance. Cars last longer. I never replaced an exhaust system on an unleaded only car. Engines last a lot longer without lead.

It's my personal opinion that WD40 is vastly overrated. It was designed as a "water displacement" solvent, not an all purpose lubricant/cleaner. It stinks too. I hate the smell on anything that was sprayed with it.
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Old 09-22-21, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
And diesel doesnít evaporate, at least not completely. It leaves behind an oil film. You can use mineral spirits to clean disc rotors but donít do that with diesel fuel.
Also, diesel fuel absolutely stinks, unless it's some additive that we use in the UK. Once upon a time filling stations used to supply disposable gloves for people filling their cars with diesel so as to avoid getting it on their hands. I haven't seen that lately - I guess we now have too many diesel engined vehicles.
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Old 09-22-21, 05:55 AM
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I can take the dirty kerosene I've used to clean parts -- with its dissolved grease -- to a local city-operated recycling place. I guess they burn it, or whatever. How are you supposed to safely dispose of "environmentally friendly" cleaners, like citrus cleaners, that now have grease floating on the surface of them?
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Old 09-22-21, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Ol Danl
I can take the dirty kerosene I've used to clean parts -- with its dissolved grease -- to a local city-operated recycling place. I guess they burn it, or whatever.
It may be refined or it may be incinerated or it may be used as a boiler fuel. It depends on the locality.

How are you supposed to safely dispose of "environmentally friendly" cleaners, like citrus cleaners, that now have grease floating on the surface of them?
According to EPA rules, in an industrial setting everything that comes in contact with a contaminant is the contaminant. If you have 80 L of water with 10g of oil floating on top, you have 80 L of waste. You arenít allowed to treat the wasteÖfilter, distill, skim, etcÖto remove the oil unless it is part of the process. Even if you are recycling a solvent in an industrial process, the rules are kind of gray.

At home most people are going to pour it down a drain but municipal water treatment really doesnít do petroleum products all that well. Technically, you should be treating the waste material the same as if it were all petroleum product. Hereís what one state EPA says to do with it
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Old 09-22-21, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jgwilliams
Also, diesel fuel absolutely stinks, unless it's some additive that we use in the UK. Once upon a time filling stations used to supply disposable gloves for people filling their cars with diesel so as to avoid getting it on their hands. I haven't seen that lately - I guess we now have too many diesel engined vehicles.
Maybe it's something specific to the UK? Diesel this side of the pond does have a unique smell but I rather like it. It's not strong like gasoline fumes, which I hate. However, I'm weird and I also like the strong and bitter smell of gear oil, so I'm not a good barometer for the quality of smells for a great many things.

Quick point on the leaded gas, a good friend races go karts, like the kind that go 80mph, and those are mostly two strokes and typically leaded race gas is used. He's also a chemist, knows what happens if you get any of it on your skin, and refuses to handle any of the leaded gas without gloves. Nasty stuff.
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Old 09-26-21, 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by cyrano138
I worked very briefly at a bike shop and miss almost nothing about it, except the cleaning station.
I can relate. I used to be an auto mechanic. I miss working on my car at place with a lift, air compressor, space, dispose of fluids, cleaning tank etc... I don't miss working on old cars that fall apart, rusted bolts/nuts etc.. Book time was for when the car was new. Service writer wants to keep the customer happier so the mechanic is supposed to just eat the time.


You can't dispose diesel fuel when are done with it. How do you get rid of it?

Can you dispose of mineral spirits since it's biodegradable ?
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Old 09-26-21, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by sean.hwy
I can relate. I used to be an auto mechanic. I miss working on my car at place with a lift, air compressor, space, dispose of fluids, cleaning tank etc... I don't miss working on old cars that fall apart, rusted bolts/nuts etc.. Book time was for when the car was new. Service writer wants to keep the customer happier so the mechanic is supposed to just eat the time.


You can't dispose diesel fuel when are done with it. How do you get rid of it?

Can you dispose of mineral spirits since it's biodegradable ?
Both diesel and mineral spirits are disposed of as hazardous waste. For home use, use the smallest amount possibleÖdonít go doing 8 washes of the chain with mineral spirits since itís unnecessaryÖand collect the waste for disposal with household hazardous materials. Check with your city or county for their disposal days.
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Old 09-27-21, 10:55 AM
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You can dispose of diesel by using it to burn the contents of the pull-out cutoff oil drum under your outhouse. Just sayin.
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