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Re: [Orchid] Alternatives to denatured alcohol?
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R.E.Rourke Monday, January 17, 2011
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    isopropyl alcohol isn't as effective nor does it dissolve acids as
    readily as denatured alcohol or a pure, ingestible grain alcohol like
    everclear (180 proof). Stick with the denatured alcohol and use pure
    borax over 20 mule team- the laundry stuff contains fillers and
    excipients that make up about 6% of the composition. Grate, chip or
    grind a cone down to a usable form and then dissolve it in alcohol,
    store in a non-metallic closed jar (ordinary canning jars metallic
    rings, though they have a fairly thin sealing area of rubber, rust
    readily- so if you can find an all glass stoppered container that
    screws or bails shut (usually with a rubber or even better, a
    silicone gasket -bed, bath and beyond has them, or make your own
    silicone discs out of sheet silicone (a silicone pot holder, or tub
    sealant piped onto a non-stick surface and fully cured: if you go
    that route, make sure to form the ring/gasket a bit larger in
    outside diameter than the opening of the jar/vessel you intend to
    store the mixture in). It will last a long time if tightly sealed.
    boric acid is more intended to add to the melting of scrap or in
    making an alloy in the crucible..or anytime the metal needs a degree
    of cleaning. If you are doing the first fluxing in a simple two part
    soldering application a product like Cupronil, or your own mixture of
    borax and alcohol works well particularly if you build up the coats
    by warming the metal between each subsequent spray of chemical
    preparation. They are relatively non-toxic if you don't position your
    face over the soldering operation, if you have at least adequate, if
    not excellent, ventilation and direction of the fumes away from your
    respiratory system. Peroxide, citric acid or sour salt are
    alternatives to borax, but they can't be used to glaze a crucible and
    aren't intended to use as a flux, so if money or storing chemicals is
    a consideration in your studio one product- borax - would be my first
    recommendation. For pickling though, sodium bisulfite, or pool pH
    down is readily available at most hardware stores, home stores, and
    x-marts... it is less than half the cost of Sparex (I personally
    wouldn't support Krohn industries in any way) for the same basic
    chemical. Again most brands of pH down have a few fillers, so if you
    want the purer stuff a source like www. cheapchemicals. com sells it-
    still less than Krohn's Sparex, and with far less fillers than Krohn
    adds in either form (pure or pH down as Sparex is getting more and
    more additive-full as the years is filled presently with
    clay from sewerage sludge that has been somewhat refined and as such
    leaves a slick of brown goo on the top of a new batch of Sparex.
    Whatever size container you may buy they all have at least 10% junk
    added at a premium cost because its sold to the jewelry industry
    compared to buying it as a chemical in its pure form, or intended
    for a pool..If Its a question of what works best in the studio borax
    is the best bet, if you do alot of scrap reclaimation, then having
    pure boric acid most roach away products contain nothing but 100%
    boric acid and far cheaper than buying the USP stuff at a pharmacy in
    the "simples" section (near the rosewater) is beneficial..they are
    not 100% interchangeable though, boric acid is slightly more toxic
    melted -again, if you are breathing it in... - but you positively
    need borax to glaze a crucible as nothing else works on clay or
    silica crucibles (graphite crucibles do not need glazing if intended
    for an electro-melt furnace)..and I have known people that tried
    using enamel (vitreous/ glass) for glazing a crucible but it doesn't
    work-it cracks when cooling and makes a mess with anything requiring
    more than 1700 degrees fahrenheit- like borax which can be
    repeatedly reheated or replaced provided the crucible is still usable
    and the borax has absorbed all the oxides possible (it will turn
    opaque blue, through blue-greens with silvers, and red through
    reddish browns with golds once saturated with oxides. If the crucible
    is worth saving you can heat the glass flux to molten and drive it
    off with gravity into a metal bucket of water, or cast iron pan with
    sand..never use a plastic container as the molten flux glass can melt
    through the bottom of the vessel holding water due to its weight when
    the mass hits bottom)... rer

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