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Thinning epoxy/cleaning hands&tools


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build of hull 24

i know many of you have been using epoxy for years but while surfing the net I came across an article about thinning epoxy. The article said that denatured alcohol will thin your epoxy without doing anything to the chemical compound after it evaporated. So later that day I tried that method to thin some first coat epoxy the next day when I checked the epoxy it had cured rock hard like it should have. It also cleaned my hands of epoxy without the harsh effects of acetone.while doing more research on the subject I came across an article using 91% isopropyl alcohol to obtain the same results. I found 91% alcohol at Walmart for under 3$ a quart.that makes it much less costly than acetone and safer to use. So if anyone has a take on this please respond I would like to hear what others think 

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I believe that alcohol is nearly as harmful to your body as acetone.  I’ve used vinegar and water for years, but have recently learned that it is also harmful.  The techs at WEST recommend soap and water.  I pressed them for the type of soap that might actually work, and they said the orange soap.  By that I think they mean ZEP Citrus Cleaner.  I haven’t tried it yet.

 

There used to be a video on YouTube from MAS Epoxies, where they recommended diluting their epoxy a bit with denatured (not isopropyl) alcohol.  But when I mentioned this to Graham, he was against it.

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If your epoxy were meant to be thinned, it would come that way.  You are sacrificing tensil strength and ability to water proof when you thin it. In boat building there is no need to try and improve penetration into the wood.  Epoxy bonds so well it just isn't necessary.  And thinking that epoxy repairs rotten wood is delusion.  It makes it hard, but does almost nothing for strength. It's what you do to avoid doing the proper repair.

 

As to cleaning, vinegar, alcohol, mineral spirits and acetone all work. Citrus cleaners also work because they contain acid, like vinegar does. For really clean hands, I use alcohol or mineral spirits, then citrus cleaner.

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Years ago I hired a guy to repair some hull damage.  He was very careful to wear gloves and never seems to get epoxy on his hands or clothes.  I think he even wore a respirator.  When questioned, he explained he wanted to work professionally with epoxy for years to come and hoped to avoid acquiring chemical sensitivity. 

The lesson I think is the more often you use epoxy the more careful you should be. 

I'm not as careful as him but I start every project with the fantasy of a clean project and have occasionally succeeded.          

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I asked the tech department at WEST System.  Here is their answer, which I respect:

 

Thank you for inquiring about the safe use of our products.

While most alcohols are effective at dissolving epoxy and cleaning epoxy from  surfaces of tools, etc., the problem with using alcohols and other solvents to clean epoxy from your skin is that the are also readily absorbed through the skin tissues. Further, when a solvent breaks down the epoxy on the skin surface not only will the solvent absorb into skin tissue but it is not more likely to carry some of the epoxy with it. This situation exacerbates and speeds up the likely of an allergic reaction and long-term sensitization to the epoxy, as well as other possible toxic effects from the solvent, depending on which ones were used.
As far as vinegar goes, the same phenomenon can occur, only a much milder level and the vinegar will not have the same toxic effects as the other harsh industrial solvents. 
For these reasons, we suggest staying with the recommendations of using waterless skin cleaners. Waterless cleaners do not breakdown the epoxy chemistry. They merely work by separating the epoxy from the surface of the skin via the rubbing agitation and once the epoxy is encapsulated by the cleaner it is no longer "sticky" and can be washed away with soap and water. 

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have any other questions. 

Glenn House | Director of Product Safety & Regulatory Compliance
Gougeon Brothers, Inc.

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Thank you all for your input this will help me in the future care of my skin health I use gloves when I Remember to and since the COVID-19 problem I noticed that gloves have doubled in price but I guess what price do you put on your health  

thank you all

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Guys,

I just got a correction back from Glenn House at WEST SYSTEMS.  He made a typo in the second paragraph.  I think we probably all caught it, but here it is, just to be sure:

 

Original Message Reads:  "...but it is not more likely to carry some of the epoxy with it."

 

Message Should Read:  "...but it is not more likely to carry some of the epoxy with it."

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  • 1 month later...

I may be late on this topic.

Some time ago, I asked about using pure citric acid for cleaning epoxy. 

From the replies then, I gathered that it hasn’t been tried by many. So I gave it a go. Works fine for me, doesn’t stink and  it’s cheaply available - here at least. It comes as a powder to be mixed with water. 

No idea if it penetrates the skin but it is definitely easy to wash away.

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6 hours ago, Thrillsbe said:

In the past, I’ve used vinegar.  But the word on the street is that it also allows some penetration.  Waterless hand cleaner is the safest, and is readily available.

This is the latest and best information from a reliable source. So until something else is proven better..........................

 

On a side note, some citrus hand cleaners have skin softeners in them.  If anyone needs that it is people who handle the stuff we do.

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  • 2 months later...

I tried vegetable oil recently, and it worked really well.

 

I knew about using vegetable oil to help get adhesive and sticky stuff off of glass, but i found that it works pretty well with epoxy/skin.  I dab on a little oil, scrub, and then use soap & water to get rid of the oil.  I think the oil coats little glue globs when you scrub and doesn't allow them to re-stick.

 

Waterless cleaner would be my #1 choice since that's what Gougeon Bros recommend, but in a pinch, there's always some oil in the kitchen.

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