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Acetone v. Alcohol for cleaning a pipe.

  1. Sep 15, 2011 #1
    I've heard of using isopropyl alcohol to clean the tar out of a pipe, but what about acetone? Which is a better solvent for tar?

    Would a mixture of both work better than either alone? (Would mixing the two be dangerous?)

    Thanks,
    Tyler
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2011 #2
    Can you be more specific about the composition of the "tar"? It has many definitions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar

    What kind of pipe? Steel, copper, PVC, ...?
    Are you just generally cleaning the pipe, or must all traces of "tar" be removed?
     
  4. Sep 15, 2011 #3

    Evo

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    Hash pipe clogged up?
     
  5. Sep 15, 2011 #4

    rhody

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    Funny Evo,

    Tyler,

    Probably alcohol would be safer to try first, along with a nice stiff wire brush Acetone's vapors are heavier that air and invisible so if you are working on a pipe under a sink and there isn't a fan to clear the vapors it would not be good for your health. I assume you mean a pipe wider than a pencil tube sized one.

    Rhody...
     
  6. Sep 15, 2011 #5

    AlephZero

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    The main hazard with acetone is its EXTREME flammability. Its flash point temperature is -20C (yep, MINUS 20 C or minus 4 F) and the vapor can "creep" forming a thin layer over a long distance to something that can ignite it.

    It doesn't appear to have any other significant health hazards, though it is an irritant if you get it in your eyes etc.

    Personally I would be very cautios if using it a significant amount of it for any purpose in an "uncontrolled" environment, because of the fire risk.
     
  7. Sep 15, 2011 #6

    Evo

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    Sorry, first thing that popped into my mind. I can't help that I grew up in the 60's.
     
  8. Sep 15, 2011 #7
    Not fully clogged, just nasty. :tongue:

    LOL! It's a pipe used for smoking things, like tobacco, for instance. The tar would be composed of whatever is left after the stuff is smoked.

    Would running a significant amount of water through it get it out? (I plan on rinsing after using the the solvent.) Either that, or I could just blow on it really hard a few times. I REALLY don't want the thing blowing up in my face...
     
  9. Sep 15, 2011 #8

    rhody

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    No harm, I thought the same thing, especially when he said tar, that doesn't usually find it's way to water pipes, etc... very easily. I agree with AlephZero, acetone is nasty, heavy flammable stuff, I would try anything else first, perhaps there is some "green" cleaner out there. I am sure a quick google search will pin it down for you, nothing is a challenge anymore, answers are at the end of your fingertips, just a little time and patience is all it takes.

    Rhody...

    Ha... funny Tyler beat me to it with his post. A pipe it is.

    Here you go Tyler, take your http://www.google.com/search?q=clea...&source=vgc&hl=en&aq=0&oq=cleaning+a+smoking", I am sure all of these work fine...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  10. Sep 15, 2011 #9

    Evo

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    Pipe cleaners Tyler. You don't want to use chemicals.

    My dad was a pipe smoker and I would sometimes clean his pipes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_cleaner#Description
     
  11. Sep 15, 2011 #10
    The problem is that pipe cleaners don't get back that clean pipe taste. They make it useable [actually, I haven't let it get to the unusable point, yet], but you still get that nasty tar taste when some of the runny residue gets sucked into your mouth.
     
  12. Sep 15, 2011 #11

    Evo

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    Pipe smokers consider that as having the pipe "broken in" which is preferable to a new pipe.

    Here is an example using grain alcohol (drinking alcohol).



    (oops, I see Rhody already posted the google page)

    Also, since you are in High School, I'm sure you meant that your dad doesn't like the taste since we know you don't smoke. :devil:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  13. Sep 15, 2011 #12
    First, in this context, there's no significant distinction between ethyl and isopropyl alcohol. They both evaporate at a pretty high rate at room temperature, so, as long as one waits long enough after cleaning, there's no chance of there being any left over in the pipe. Now, if one was drinking it, there would obviously be huge implications... but I know better than that.

    Second, I never said it was tobacco or anything else illegal. Heck, it could be kava, for all anyone knows. :tongue:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  14. Sep 15, 2011 #13

    Evo

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    There is an issue of aftertaste, grain alcohol if tasteless, ever gotten isopropyl alcohol in your mouth? The smell will get into the wood. But if you don't mind the smell in your pipe. If it's a metal or glass pipe, then it doesn't matter.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  15. Sep 15, 2011 #14

    dlgoff

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    Easiest solution. A new pipe. Works every time.
     
  16. Sep 15, 2011 #15
    WD 40 is the answer. What was the question??
     
  17. Sep 15, 2011 #16

    Evo

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    :rofl:
     
  18. Sep 15, 2011 #17
    Hahaha! You wanna make a donation?

    Yeah, that's info I should've included in my first post. It's glass.
     
  19. Sep 15, 2011 #18
    I bet that would leave a great taste, even though it is glass. That stuff NEVER goes away.
     
  20. Sep 16, 2011 #19
    Well, I couldn't find any nail polish, so I went ahead an used some 70% alcohol and some salt, and it worked great. There's a little trapped on the inside where the salt had trouble getting to it, but other than that small 5mm by 5mm patch, it's spotless. I wish I had a camera; I would have done before and after pics.
     
  21. Sep 16, 2011 #20
    probably the easiest way to clean it, since it's glass, would be to take it outside and blow through it with the straw of a can of brake or throttle body cleaner. but that is a little toxic and you don't want it on your skin, so don't do that.

    i'd try outside, with pipecleaner and a solvent like acetone or alcohol. i wonder if ammonia would work, too. ammonia can work splendidly for greasy things, and is usually pretty cheap.
     
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