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  1. #1
    Jeff Bannow's Avatar
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    Properly cleaning lab glassware - is it possible?

    I have a large collection of lab glassware that I was given, all used in a high school lab. It is physically in great condition and should work wonderfully in my darkroom.

    My concern is getting the glass chemically clean. I don't have access to an autoclave, so what are my options? Any chemical cleaners that work well enough?

    Is it a real concern - can I contaminate my chemistry through trace amounts of things that won't wash out?

    I plan to use some of this glassware for wet plate work, and don't want to ruin expensive chemicals due to contamination. I also don't want to junk this stuff and buy new if I can avoid it.
    - Jeff (& sometimes Eva, too) - http://www.jeffbannow.com

  2. #2
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Jeff;

    If I tell you the secrets of absolute glassware cleaning, it will be "out there". And, no one will be willing to use it!.

    Method 1. Make a saturated solution of Potassium Dichromate in concentrated Sulfuric Acid. Soak your glassware in this for a few days and then rinse with copious running water.

    Method 2. Add Potassium Hydroxide to iso-Propyl Alcohol until there is solid KOH left over. This is a saturated solution of Potassium Iso-Proponalate, IPA and KOH. Soak your glassware in that for a few days and then rinse with copious amounts of running water.

    Barring that, use soap, hot water and elbow grease!

    PE

  3. #3

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    A loooooong time ago I worked in a lab where we cleaned our glassware in sulfuric acid, followed by a distilled water rinse. Probably not a great idea for a home darkroom.

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    How about Hydrochloric acid? Cheap at the hardware store, sold as muriatic acid.

  5. #5
    Jeff Bannow's Avatar
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    Lots of scary chemicals! Sounds like fun.

    So, soaking in strong acid should take care of it, without eating through the glass and consuming my whole house?
    - Jeff (& sometimes Eva, too) - http://www.jeffbannow.com

  6. #6
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hops View Post
    How about Hydrochloric acid? Cheap at the hardware store, sold as muriatic acid.
    Did I mention HCl? No, I did not.

    It is not used due to the extreme odor.

    PE

  7. #7
    Jeff Bannow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    Jeff;

    If I tell you the secrets of absolute glassware cleaning, it will be "out there". And, no one will be willing to use it!.

    Method 1. Make a saturated solution of Potassium Dichromate in concentrated Sulfuric Acid. Soak your glassware in this for a few days and then rinse with copious running water.

    Method 2. Add Potassium Hydroxide to iso-Propyl Alcohol until there is solid KOH left over. This is a saturated solution of Potassium Iso-Proponalate, IPA and KOH. Soak your glassware in that for a few days and then rinse with copious amounts of running water.

    Barring that, use soap, hot water and elbow grease!

    PE
    How did I know you would have an answer?

    I take it Method 3 is my best bet then? Are the other 2 reasonable for a home darkroom user?
    - Jeff (& sometimes Eva, too) - http://www.jeffbannow.com

  8. #8
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    I use methods 1 and 2. I use method 1 for my 4x5 glass plates!

    But then I am a chemist.

    I tend to do things many others are not trained to do.

    PE

  9. #9
    Jeff Bannow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    I use methods 1 and 2. I use method 1 for my 4x5 glass plates!

    But then I am a chemist.

    I tend to do things many others are not trained to do.

    PE
    Indeed, I'm no chemist, though I am smart, meticulous and can follow directions. Are there dangers in this method? I assume that skin contact and breathing the vapors would be bad news?
    - Jeff (& sometimes Eva, too) - http://www.jeffbannow.com

  10. #10
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    I use rubber gloves and a lab coat along with old clothes. I use safety glasses with shields and I work slowly with no rushing around. I use every precaution I can in my lab and have a neutralizing solution there (Carbonate) in case of an acid spill.

    PE

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