Author Topic: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol  (Read 11103 times)

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Offline sasa

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Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« on: August 23, 2017, 12:15:50 pm »
What would be proper and easily available alternative to isopropyl alcohol to cleanup spots/excess of liquid flux after soldering?

isopropyl alcohol is not available in local electronic stores, pharmacy drugstores does non sell even 100% ethyl alcohol, while 70% ethyl alcohol does not help much.

One left possible solution I'm still aware of is  acetone, but that is not really a solution as it can dissolve many type of plastic (IC's, TO92 and similar plastic packages).

I would not be able to order any chemical out of country as it is usually forbidden to transport any hazardous and flammable chemicals for individuals.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 01:26:13 pm by sasa »
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Offline ironmonkey

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2017, 12:24:32 pm »
Hello Sasa. Isobutyl alcohol is another good choice and in a good chemical supply store you can get it.
 

Offline plazma

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2017, 12:27:50 pm »
Where do you live? In Finland you can buy IPA as anti-freeze for air brakes or diesel engines.
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2017, 12:41:01 pm »
The stuff we call Methylated Spirits in Oz works quite well instead of isoprol alcohol.
A lot of people fuss about it leaving a "white deposit", but if you clean it off with Kimwipes or similar,
(Even ordinary tissues or toilet paper), the board comes up OK.

If I was doing it for an employer who supplied the isoprol alcohol, I would use, & have used, that, but for my own stuff, "Metho" does the job.

I've seen "white deposits" with isoprol, too, -----I think it is just a tiny amount of flux residues still there.
 

Offline Ash

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2017, 01:07:54 pm »
@sasa, not sure what country you're in but perhaps you need to search for other chemical suppliers, "consumer" level stuff is sometimes not very useful.

Industrial processes like painting use solvents like this. Is there a car body or spray painting shop near you? they may be able to help or suggest a supplier.. They may not use isopropyl but they probably have a good supplier who will stock it.

Just to clarify what @vk6zgo mentioned. Metho (or Methylated Spirits) is a Ethanol (also called Ethyl Alcohol, or booze  :popcorn:) diluted with water. I don't remember the normal percentage, but 70% seems to ring a bell.. It also contains a "denaturing" agent - a really bitter substance that can't be distilled out so that it isn't drinkable and therefore the government duties are avoided.

It is also possible to purchase "industrial pure alcohol" (IPA) which is basically undiluted Ethanol and the denaturing agent. I actually purchased this for making violin varnish and shellac, but that is a whole other hobby..

I normally reach for the Isopropyl or the IPA, but I've also used Acetone on some things.

Ash.
 

Offline wraper

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2017, 01:33:04 pm »
If you live in EU, you can easily order huge amounts of IPA or specialized PCB cleaner from TME (EUR 7 delivery).
 

Offline TomS_

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2017, 01:40:42 pm »
In the UK, I bought a bottle of isopropyl alcohol from Amazon.
 

Offline drussell

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2017, 01:41:46 pm »
I would not be able to order any chemical out of country as it is usually forbidden to transport any hazardous and flammable chemicals for individuals.

It would be very helpful when answering a question like this if we knew what country you were in. 

00 isn't much help.  :)
 
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Offline wraper

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2017, 01:44:14 pm »
@sasa, not sure what country you're in but perhaps you need to search for other chemical suppliers, "consumer" level stuff is sometimes not very useful.

Industrial processes like painting use solvents like this. Is there a car body or spray painting shop near you? they may be able to help or suggest a supplier.. They may not use isopropyl but they probably have a good supplier who will stock it.

Just to clarify what @vk6zgo mentioned. Metho (or Methylated Spirits) is a Ethanol (also called Ethyl Alcohol, or booze  :popcorn:) diluted with water. I don't remember the normal percentage, but 70% seems to ring a bell.. It also contains a "denaturing" agent - a really bitter substance that can't be distilled out so that it isn't drinkable and therefore the government duties are avoided.

It is also possible to purchase "industrial pure alcohol" (IPA) which is basically undiluted Ethanol and the denaturing agent. I actually purchased this for making violin varnish and shellac, but that is a whole other hobby..

I normally reach for the Isopropyl or the IPA, but I've also used Acetone on some things.

Ash.
I'm not sure if you are calling things with right words. Isopropyl alcohol and IPA is one and the same. I never heard about "industrial pure alcohol" as a name for denaturated alcohol. Denaturated alcohol is anything but pure. When it dries out, usually it will leave a thin layer of a crap it was denaturated with.
 

Online Ian.M

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2017, 02:23:46 pm »
Alcohols can be dried with anhydrous calcium oxide ('quicklime') which can be produced by heating natural chalk or white limestone to red heat and holding at temperature for a minimum of five minutes to drive off the carbon dioxide.   Caution: quicklime is extremely caustic and its reaction with water is very exothermic. Research the hazards and use proper PPE!

Start with the highest concentration clear alcohol without additives you can legally buy.  Add the cooled quicklime SLOWLY to the alcohol, stirring continuously, and waiting (while still stirring) if the temperature rises excessively, till you are certain there is an excess over that required to react with the water content then agitate thoroughly at intervals for an hour or so.  Ideally you'd distill the alcohol off the alcohol/quicklime/slaked lime mixture, but as calcium oxide and calcium hydroxide are nearly totally insoluble in alcohol, you could get away with filtration, settling and decanting.



Methylated spirits does not normally contain more than 10% water as that degrades its performance as a stove fuel and reduces its utility as a cleaning solvent.  However it is usually denatured with denatonium benzoate and a dye, which are generally undesirable on your circuit boards.   It can still be used (to save on the 'good stuff') as a first stage flux removal solvent if you blot it up rather than letting it dry, and rinse with a small quantity of higher purity alcohol to remove as much as possible of the denaturants from the PCB surface.  If you can obtain undied alcohol stove fuel it is likely to be preferable to methylated spirits for PCB cleaning as the denaturants tend to be volatile organics so they wont clog the burner wick.  Whatever you get, test it by evaporating a small quantity to dryness in a watch glass or highly polished metal spoon to check for non-volatile residue.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 03:03:52 pm by Ian.M »
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2017, 02:54:34 pm »
Denatured alcohol (the denaturant varies from country to country, including methanol (methylated or meths), bitterants, dyes and so on.  It's as effective as IPA on flux.

Acetone attacks very few things.  Plastics are wholly unaffected.  Semiconductors are made of epoxy, and other parts (like capacitors) are made in polymer boxes that aren't harmed.

Some printing may be damaged: check the datasheet if you suspect a component is not solvent washable.  Capacitors are a common victim here.  (This goes for alcohols as well as ketones.)

MEK also, which is a little more aggressive still towards some hydrocarbons, but mostly leaves components alone.

Chlorinated solvents are also nice, if you happen to have them: 1,1,1TCE and trichloroethylene are frowned upon these days, but also very effective.

DO NOT USE methylene chloride, a key ingredient in paint stripper.  It swells epoxy!

Hydrocarbon solvents, like toluene and xylene, cyclohexane, petroleum ether (ligroin) and so on, aren't very effective, and may damage some plastics.

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Offline wraper

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2017, 03:11:33 pm »
Denatured alcohol (the denaturant varies from country to country, including methanol (methylated or meths), bitterants, dyes and so on.  It's as effective as IPA on flux.
But it usually leaves residue even if it's not noticeable. I stumbled that my hands became covered with bitter taste crap which hard to wash away after touching dry boards which were washed by denatured alcohol.
 
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Offline IanMacdonald

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2017, 03:27:43 pm »
Acetone IS methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and it attacks many case plastics so must be used with care. A source of small quantities is nail varnish remover.

Isoproyl alcohol is safe on most components except soft rubber items, which it causes to swell long after its application.  Never get IPA onto vintage tape mechanisms for this reason. It used to be used for video head cleaning, and the trap for young players was to clean the pinch roller with it as well. A few weeks later the machine would come in with a report of 'chewing tapes' and on inspection the pinch roller would be completely barrel-shaped.

Methylated spirit is safe on most items except some clear plastic windows, which it may make cloudy.  However, it is safe on rubber.

Dihydrogen monoxide is, surprisingly, used in industry to clean PCBs. Main thing is to dry any populated board effectively and quickly after cleaning because of its corrosive properties on metal. Unheated air from a reasonably strong fan is better than heat.  You need to assess whether there are any items likely to act as traps for it though, like enclosed but unsealed switches which might be hard to dry out.  Probably best avoided on BGA chips too, for obvious reasons.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2017, 03:33:32 pm »
rubbing alcohol. get the 90% or 70% if you can;t find other one. and don't buy the aloe vera infused one.

rubbing alcohol is IPA
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Offline Monkeh

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2017, 03:45:21 pm »
Acetone attacks very few things.  Plastics are wholly unaffected.  Semiconductors are made of epoxy, and other parts (like capacitors) are made in polymer boxes that aren't harmed.

Err, would you like to test that statement with a bit of ABS?
 
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Offline joseph nicholas

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2017, 04:30:41 pm »
If you live in Mexico and other south of the US border, you can get something to try on your boards.  Just go to any liquor store and ask for "alcohol".  Bring a jar or bottle and you get a quart for less than 1 dollar.  Hope this helps.
 

Offline ebastler

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2017, 04:31:30 pm »
Acetone attacks very few things.  Plastics are wholly unaffected.  Semiconductors are made of epoxy, and other parts (like capacitors) are made in polymer boxes that aren't harmed.

I beg to differ. Maybe you got your chemicals mixed up?

Quote
About a third of the world's acetone is used as a solvent...
Acetone is a good solvent for many plastics...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetone
 

Offline meeder

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2017, 04:37:58 pm »
 I still remember someone cleaning his safety glasses with acetone... ;)
 

Online Bud

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2017, 04:40:59 pm »
Look for ethanol fuel at fireplace stores and fireplace sections in big box stores. In Canada we have Bio Fuel brand which is 95% ethanol

http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/bioflame-ethanol-3-78l-0643537p.html

Also go to woodworking stores and look for ethanol based lacquer thinners such as this one
http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.aspx?p=20107&cat=1,190,42942

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Offline BBBbbb

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Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2017, 04:45:12 pm »
If he has trouble finding good IPA and alcohol, I doubt methanol, that some of you mentioned, is easier to acquire. It's usually a controlled substance.

White residue after solvents could easily be due to too much water acquired from the humid air, especially if you keep you IPA/acetone in huge bottles for a long time and keep it opened while working. Best practice is small bottles and buy new ones every few months, unless you use it in big quantities.

Nail varnish removers do have acetone but also oil, and if you think acetone is aggressive on materials you should try the remover, it's terrible and would not recommend it for any use.

Good quality IPA (cat. 2-5) might be available in professional cosmetic shops, not sure what they use it for, but I find it there and for a good price too.
 

Offline plazma

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2017, 04:49:56 pm »


Acetone IS methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and it attacks many case plastics so must be used with care.

Nope. Acetone is C3H6O and MEK is C4H8O. They are quite similar in properties but still different chemicals.
 
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Offline rdl

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2017, 05:30:52 pm »
For most substances that are alcohol soluble, ethanol will work better than isopropanol (IPA).

Ethanol is the alcohol people drink. To sell it as an industrial solvent and avoid expensive liquor taxes it must be made undrinkable or "denatured". There are many things used to denature it. Some may leave a residue others will not. The last place I worked bought ethanol by the tanker load. It was denatured by adding 5% isopropanol. It was anhydrous and had a very low dissolved solids specification. It left no significant residue when dried.

If you decide to try alcohol from a liquor store get 200 proof "pure grain alcohol". It will be fairly pure ethanol and expensive. Anything else you can buy there will probably be too dilute and contaminated with other ingredients to be useful.

Acetone attacks very few electronic components. This is only because of the types of plastic used to make those components. Acetone is a strong and aggressive solvent. Acetone is not MEK. They are two different chemicals.
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2017, 07:21:21 pm »
Acetone attacks very few things.  Plastics are wholly unaffected.  Semiconductors are made of epoxy, and other parts (like capacitors) are made in polymer boxes that aren't harmed.

Err, would you like to test that statement with a bit of ABS?

Poorly worded.  I meant plastics used for components.  Few if any are ABS.  (Only thing that comes to mind: mechanical parts that aren't nylon or better.  ABS might be used for guide rails, support brackets, light pipe mounts, etc.  These are usually snapped in place after washing, so it's not a problem in manufacture.)

Note that polystyrene capacitors are very solvent sensitive, but, they're practically unavailable today, so they aren't a problem.  If you're using them in some special project, you'll know better. ;)

Again, RTFDS for solvent compatibility. :)

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Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2017, 07:22:30 pm »
Acetone IS methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and it attacks many case plastics so must be used with care. A source of small quantities is nail varnish remover.

Acetone is dimethyl ketone, or propan-2-one if you like to be even more precise.

Tim
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Offline jmelson

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Re: Altenative to isopropyl alcohol
« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2017, 07:32:13 pm »
What would be proper and easily available alternative to isopropyl alcohol to cleanup spots/excess of liquid flux after soldering?

isopropyl alcohol is not available in local electronic stores, pharmacy drugstores does non sell even 100% ethyl alcohol, while 70% ethyl alcohol does not help much.


In the US, we can buy 100% denatured alcohol at the hardware store.  It is used for thinning paints.  They likely have IPA and methyl (wood) alcohol also.

Jon
 


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