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Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcohol?

Robert J. Moore

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Aug 28, 2013
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Research on the net as always yeilds conflicting opinions. I've been experiencing a residue remaining on movement parts after using Zenith Drizebrite. What would be best as a final, final rinse - Acetone, 99% Isopropyl or Denatured Alcohol or none of the above? Seems to be some strong opinions regarding Denatured Alcohol having a tendency to leave a residue after drying because of which additive was put in it to denature it like naphtha or gasoline. Help is appreciated.

Robert
 

LarFure

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Nov 30, 2003
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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

That's odd. I use the Zenith products for cleaning watch parts, and have never seen any residue. Maybe you got a bad batch?
The one problem with anything that dries as fast as alcohol is that is cools metal parts enough for small water droplets to form on the parts. This why there is rust found on some watch parts.
 

glenhead

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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

Both the alcohols are essentially the same. Get whatever is cheaper, which means denatured. Just be sure to avoid colored alcohol. I did an extensive amount of research on solvents and adhesives for a presentation at our horological guild (Capital Area Watchmaker and Clockmaker Guild), and was able to debunk a lot of the rumors. The stuff they put in ethanol to make it undrinkable evaporates just as residue-free as the ethanol. Again, the exception is the colored denatured alcohol - the tints have a likelihood to fall outside the arena of "residue free".

Between the alcohols and acetone, the alcohols will require less care in their use. Acetone eats many plastics and dissolves most paints, so you have to be more careful with it. I have bottles of both isopropyl and denatured alcohols; after my research, future purchases will be all denatured. I have a doctor's-office alcohol bottle for use with cotton pads, and use alcohol to clean work surfaces and tools. I also use it to clean the cups of my ultrasonic cleaner when I discard old solvent or rinse. "Brown goo" is caused by ultrasonic cleaning solution that has gone way past its shelf life, and it gets on *everything*. Every little piece of every part of the screen mesh in your ultrasonic baskets will collect the brown goo. Several passes through denatured alcohol in the cup of the ultrasonic cycle (using fresh alcohol every batch until the alcohol stays completely clear, plus one more batch) will get rid of the brown goo. Acetone doesn't even touch it, neither does hexane, xylene, toluene, or MEK.

I have bottles of acetone on my bench for cleaning things, alongside my bottles of hexane. I have two of each, the one marked "one" for initial cleaning, and the one marked "two" if I perceive a need for a final-final cleanup. If I'm removing fingerprints and skin oils, I use the acetone. Lubricants (like if I dork up assembly on the capped jewel in a shock assembly) get cleaned up in the hexane. I also use hexane for cleaning balance wheels. (One-Dip is primarily heptane.)

If you're not happy with the final results of Drizebrite, you may just need to clean your baskets as described above. If you want to have a final-final rinse, alcohol will do the job nicely.

Standard disclaimers apply, use common sense, don't use it near open flames or sparks, etc. (The stuff IS used in alcohol lamps, after all.)

Hope this helps.
Glen
 

Robert J. Moore

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Aug 28, 2013
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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

Maybe it is my procedure. First parts are placed in a glass jar into which Zenith 667 is added then this jar is immersed into water in the ultrasonic. Run that for 5 minutes, remove parts and then into different jar containing the Drizebrite rinse and then onto a piece of watch paper to dry parts at room temperature. Thinking about trying to wick excess Driizebrite off first and then placing parts into a tin which is placed on top of a laboratory hot plate turned up to approximately 100 degrees F. to dry. Any thoughts?
 

glenhead

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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

Your procedure is pretty good - it's just short a step or two. Use three stages of rinse, two at an absolute minimum. Drain as much cleaning solution as possible from the parts when you remove them from that stage. (You don't have to be compulsive about it, just drain them until they quit dripping.) The first rinse stage is just a swish to clean off as much cleaning solution as possible, followed by a good draining. The second stage goes in the ultrasonic, followed by another draining. The third stage is the coup de grace, in the ultrasonic again. After draining again, it's best to dry the parts with moving warm air - a hair dryer on medium works extremely well; the Drizebrite evaporates quickly with moving warm air. (If you have the parts in baskets, leave them in the same basket for the whole shebang, and don't blow them out of the basket with the hair dryer! If you use another solvent for a final rinse or for cleaning, the moving warm air keeps the moisture from forming on the cooling metal.) When the rinse solution in stage 1 starts looking more amber than clear (usually four-ish baskets in my shop), dump it out, clean the jar, pour stage 2 into that jar, clean its jar, pour stage 3 into THAT jar, clean its jar, and fill it with fresh rinse.

Hope this gives you things to ponder.
Glen
 

glenhead

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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

ONE IMPORTANT NOTE! If you do use alcohol as your final rinse (or for anything else), DO NOT get it on the pallet fork or the balance wheel! Alcohol is the solvent used to make shellac into a liquid for woodworking and it dissolves shellac very, very quickly.

Glen
 

karlmansson

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Apr 20, 2013
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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

Unless the alcohol is heated and the part left in it for a long time it won't dissolve shellac, at least not in my experience. I use different qualities of isopropanol as both my first and second rinse, I immerse and agitate parts in it for two minutes at a time and so far not a single stone has come loose and I haven't noticed any removal of shellac from parts.

Regarding the cooling down issue with alcohols: if you have one available use some sort of heated chamber to dry your parts. Then let them cool down in air slowly to avoid condensation. Heating is done as a final step after all rinses to address the above problem and to make sure that no liquids are hiding in any way.

Best

/Karl
 

Samantha

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Jun 28, 2009
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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

Two or three rinses in the Drizebrite will do the trick. There should not be a need to follow with anything else. And as Glen mentioned, dry with warm, moving air.
Samantha
 

Mikie T

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Jun 25, 2012
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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

ONE IMPORTANT NOTE! If you do use alcohol as your final rinse (or for anything else), DO NOT get it on the pallet fork or the balance wheel! Alcohol is the solvent used to make shellac into a liquid for woodworking and it dissolves shellac very, very quickly.

Glen
I did get myself some "ONE-DIP" that I use SPECIFICALLY for cleaning and rinsing pallet forks and balance wheels.
I learned the above lesson the HARD WAY! (live and learn)

Mike
 

Samantha

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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

I have never found One-Dip to be an effective cleaner for dried residue or oils. It only works good to remove oil if the oil is wet. I always run everything through the ultrasonic (cleaning and two rinses), with good results. That's how I was taught years ago.
Samantha
 
Last edited:

John Runciman

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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

[FONT=&quot][/FONT]One of the things important to remember when you're cleaning is that rinse is not exactly a separate step it is part of cleaning. So cleaning is a really a two-step process two separate liquids. The first dissolves and absorbs the particles of dirt the second eliminates the dissolved liquids with the particles they have absorbed. So in order for the rinse to do it needs to do you need to have more than one with each progressive one being cleaner than the last.

The other important aspect is the solvent used in the cleaner is the same solvent used in the rinse. To understand that I have the Zenith website link below. Then I've extracted out the text from the cleaner description and rinse.

So for my own cleaning I use a cleaner and rinse from L&R because that's what I learned and started with. The only problem is, probably for environmental reasons they change the rinse and despite drying for 10 minutes with hot moving air sometimes it doesn't entirely evaporate. So I now do a quick alcohol dip before it goes in the dryer. I've never had a problem with the shellac it's only in there for less than 30 seconds. The alcohol I'm using comes from hardware store Klean Strip Denatured Alcohol it's made up of two separate alcohols Ethyl & Methyl.

John



http://www.zenithsolutions.net/productlist.htm

Cleaning Action with Formula 67
During the cleaning cycle with Formula 67, hardened grease and oil are dissolved and particles that have adhered onto metal parts are dislodged by micro-molecular action. All this cleaning power is being accomplished with a safe and environmentally friendly cleaner. After the cleaning cycle movements are ready for the Rinsing Cycle.

Rinsing Solution - Drizebrite, Product 101
The rule is: Rinsing Solutions should have the same solvents as the cleaner in order for it to be most effective. Zenith's Drizebrite rinse has the same solvents as Formula 67 cleaner. Be reassured that the rinsing action is thorough and complete because of the similarity of solvents in both products. What makes Drizebrite rinse unique is its Odorless rating and the fact that it leaves parts spotless without any oily film. When ordering Formula 67 always include Drizebrite as the rinsing solution.
 

ben_hutcherson

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watchwldr

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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

Glen
Where can one buy hexane? Thanks. George
 

karlmansson

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Apr 20, 2013
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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

Not sure about hexane but heptane (one more carbon in the carbon chain) is sold in most paint stores. It sometimes goes under the label "Chemically pure benzine". Not to be confused with "benzene" which is carcinogenic.

The wikipedia page for hexane mentions that it's use is in many cases replaced by n-heptane (the unbranched isomere of the heptane) as hexane has a long term toxicity due to it's break down products. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexane

On heptane: "Heptane (and its many isomers) is widely applied in laboratories as a totally non-polar solvent." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heptane

Still, heptane is very volatile and has a low flash point. Handle it with care. I used it for hand cleaning of movements a while back and the fumes are very strong and you will do well to avoid inhaling them. Always use it under good ventilation. It is an organic solvent that will enter the blood stream very easily through the lungs.

Best

/Karl
 

ben_hutcherson

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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

"Benzine" is not a name that is typically used commercially in the US-probably because many people see it and associate it with Benzene even though it's totally different. BTW, for anyone interested, petroleum ether is another name seen sometimes.

Probably the closest thing that one can buy here in the United States in a hardware store is VM&P Naptha. Various lighter fluids are also similar. Both of these tend to not be isometrically pure n-Hexane or n-Heptane, but contain mostly alkanes in the C5-C8 range. For cleaning purposes, this doesn't matter-they all dissolve about the same things and otherwise behave the same in these sort of applications. Kerosene is also fairly similar, but is probably best avoided for cleaning since it's often not purified to the same degree as the above and also tends to have some aromatic content.
 

dAz57

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Re: Best Final Rinse to Avoid Residue - Acetone vs. 99% Isopropyl vs. Denatured Alcoh

I won't use alcohol of any kind around watches unless it is to dissolve the shellac to reset the pallets, I use shelite which is the local name for white gas, Coleman's fuel, benzine, when it's fresh as it should be for the final rinse it leaves no residue, it doesn't affect the shellac or the glue used to hold some hairsprings, been using it for well over 40 years.
 

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