Starting new home lab: alcohol for cleaning?

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by GreenPenInc, May 26, 2007.

  1. GreenPenInc

    Thread Starter Member

    May 13, 2007
    12
    0
    Hi all,

    I'm just starting a new home lab, and I wanted some advice on cleaning supplies. Since I'm a physics grad student, I can get a squeeze bottle and a box of kimwipes for about 5 bucks each in the storeroom. Are these prices good?

    Also, I was wondering where people generally get their isopropanol for cleaning purposes, or whether isopropanol is even the solvent of choice. Any pointers would be appreciated!
     
  2. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    15,815
    282
    It depends on what you are cleaning. Anything that removes the crud and does not leave residue is fine. You might be more specific about the nature of the stuff your are trying to clean off.

    Pure ethyl alcohol is really great for cleaning tape heads and such. Works great with a mixer like orange juice, too, so you can more fully appreciate your labors. Ever-Clear is about as good as the USP variety.

    Kim-wipes are kinda overpriced. Old tee shirts are pretty good.
     
  3. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
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    What are we cleaning here?

    Dave
     
  4. cumesoftware

    Senior Member

    Apr 27, 2007
    1,330
    10
    Alcohol, as a solvent with some apolar affinities, has a tendency to ruin certain plastics, especially those that contain styrene, like ABS. Isopropyl alcohol is more apolar than ethyl alcohol (OH group is less dominant in therms of polarity). Since apolar dissolves apolar, I would expect a more agressive action of isopropyl alcohol agaisnt such plastics.

    I recommend both for cleaning metals (contacts, etc) and glass, but I won't recommend for the appliance's cases (most are made or ABS or contain styrene).
     
  5. GreenPenInc

    Thread Starter Member

    May 13, 2007
    12
    0
    Well, I was thinking for general purpose cleaning, but the specific application I had in mind was making sure that solder joints would be clean enough. I'm eager to begin learning how to solder, and I have a 30W pencil, some 96/4 tin/silver solder, and some old circuit boards and grab bag components on which to practice.

    Just for reference, I'm following the TAB guide to understanding electricity and electronics. I've found it to be an enormously practical and helpful resource. After I started accumulating parts for the power supply project, I found this website, and it seems like another incredibly valuable resource, both for starting out and for continuing beyond.

    One thing's for sure -- I'll save my money on the kimwipes, for now. 5 bucks goes a long way for electronics orders (and at the batting cages), and there are several old T-shirts which my wife would be thrilled to see taken out of the rotation. :)
     
  6. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Are we talking about the kimwipes made from virgin wood fibre? If so, I see no issue with them for general purpose cleaning including the application to which you refer.

    Dave
     
  7. cumesoftware

    Senior Member

    Apr 27, 2007
    1,330
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    Yes, you could use isopropyl alcohol for that. I don't recommend ethyl alcohol, because has a tendency to oxidize copper (maybe because of the 4%of water that contains, don't know).

    I would reccomend lead/tin solder with rosin core, since it melts at a lower temperature, and you will not sacrifice your PCB to much, as you don't need to apply to much heat.
     
  8. mrmeval

    Distinguished Member

    Jun 30, 2006
    833
    2
    A mild butyl cleaner (fantastic) for plastic and glass, it will help dissipate static
    charge.

    IPA (isopropyl alcohol) for cleaning of most fluxes and gunk that gets on electronics.

    I use both daily on electronics.
     
  9. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
    5,072
    6
    No. (But I can hardly blame the University for trying to make ends meet.)

    Check Google's "products" - you can get a box of kimwipes for a couple bucks. I use toilet paper. The t-shirt idea sounds good too. You can get squeze bottles from thrift stores or surplus stores for a quarter.
     
  10. Gadget

    Distinguished Member

    Jan 10, 2006
    613
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    Isopropyl alcohol is commonly used for a number of cleaning tasks not involving plastics in my workshop. Its easy enough to get... most pharmacies will sell 500ml bottles as long as you don't look too shady. My last supplier were the local Police, who where happy to pass on a 20 litre container of the stuff they had siezed from a Home Bake drug lab.
     
  11. GreenPenInc

    Thread Starter Member

    May 13, 2007
    12
    0
    True, but everything seems to be going towards lead-free these days, so I figured I might as well start out with it. If I learn on the classic 60/40 stuff, I'll probably never want to switch, since it's so much easier.

    By the way, thank you all very much for your replies. I appreciate you taking the time to help me out. :)
     
  12. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
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    Perhaps the University boxes of kimwipes are these novelty over-sized boxes!

    Depending on the type of kimwipes you are puchasing they can be quite expensive - look at how much the economic steel blu wipes will set you back.

    Dave
     
  13. recca02

    Senior Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    1,211
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    i ve seen the usage of bucks for Rs(Indian currency) also, though it is incorrect but ppl just take upto any slang without knowing much abt them here.
    for me buck (n) is a vaulting horse.
     
  14. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
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    Funny you should say that because here in the UK we never use the word "bucks" as an expression relating to money although we do know what it means when those from the US use it. We use the word "quid" (amongst others).

    Dave
     
  15. Gadget

    Distinguished Member

    Jan 10, 2006
    613
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    A Buck is a Male Deer....... and several Bucks is TOO dear......
     
  16. GreenPenInc

    Thread Starter Member

    May 13, 2007
    12
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    Thanks again for your help. I ended up getting a bottle of 50% isopropanol from the grocery for 89 cents.
     
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