Acetone v. Alcohol for cleaning a pipe.

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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
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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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?
 
  • #3
Evo
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Hash pipe clogged up?
 
  • #4
rhody
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Hash pipe clogged up?
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...
 
  • #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.
 
  • #6
Evo
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Funny Evo,
Sorry, first thing that popped into my mind. I can't help that I grew up in the 60's.
 
  • #7
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Hash pipe clogged up?
Not fully clogged, just nasty. :tongue:

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?
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.

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...
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...
 
  • #8
rhody
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Sorry, first thing that popped into my mind. I can't help that I grew up in the 60's.
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=cleaning+a+smoking+pipe&tbo=p&tbm=vid&source=vgc&hl=en&aq=0&oq=cleaning+a+smoking", I am sure all of these work fine...
 
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  • #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.

Smoking pipe cleaners normally use some absorbent material, usually cotton or sometimes viscose. Bristles of stiffer material, normally monofilament nylon or polypropylene are sometimes added to better scrub out what is being cleaned. Microfilament polyester is used in some technical pipe cleaners because polyester wicks liquid away rather than absorbing it as cotton does. Some smoking pipe cleaners are made conical or tapered so that one end is thick and one end thin. The thin end is for cleaning the small bore of the pipe stem and then the thick end for the bowl or the wider part of the stem. When cleaning a pipe, pipe cleaners are normally discarded after one or two uses.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_cleaner#Description
 
  • #10
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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.
 
  • #11
Evo
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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.
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:
 
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  • #12
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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).


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:
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:
 
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  • #13
Evo
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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.
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.
 
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  • #14
dlgoff
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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.
Easiest solution. A new pipe. Works every time.
 
  • #15
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WD 40 is the answer. What was the question??
 
  • #16
Evo
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WD 40 is the answer. What was the question??
:rofl:
 
  • #17
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Easiest solution. A new pipe. Works every time.
Hahaha! You wanna make a donation?

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.
Yeah, that's info I should've included in my first post. It's glass.
 
  • #18
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WD 40 is the answer. What was the question??
I bet that would leave a great taste, even though it is glass. That stuff NEVER goes away.
 
  • #19
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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.
 
  • #20
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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.
 
  • #21
Pythagorean
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For glassware, Alkaseltzer or dentures cleaner are much more mild than frigging acetone; leave overnight.
 
  • #22
take an old pot that you dont want to cook with anymore.
fill with water.
bring to a boil.
take tongs and dip pipe in the water.
repeat until clean.
let pipe cool.
rub pipe with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol.
enjoy clean pipe.
 
  • #23
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I resorted to that to get the last bit out, and it made a bunch of really small cracks. I even took the time to slowly heat the water with the pipe in it (to make the transition less drastic) and letting it cool in the water (also to lessen the severity of the transition).
 
  • #24
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Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Thanks for all the recommendations.
 

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