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Author Topic: Question for all the serious metal workers... how do you wash your hands?  (Read 5029 times)
jringling
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« on: March 16, 2010, 01:31:47 am »

I know... sounds kinda simple, but I am having a tough time finding a soap that will cut the brass stains and smell from my hands... Anybody have any suggestions?

And I know I should be wearing gloves, but I have the small cuts to prove that gloves would not hold up to the work I do...
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2010, 01:48:42 am »

Gloves make the intricate work I do impossible, so I don't wear them either, however I have not much to add really Sad
My hands smell of metal ... right now acctually and most of the rest of the time. I find that dish soap (fairy liquid sort of thing) is best though, gets most of the ingrained metal dust and brasso out with a good scrubbing brush too Smiley However that smell, that smelly smell that smells ... smelly. It just won't budge.
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jringling
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2010, 02:01:37 am »

Gloves make the intricate work I do impossible, so I don't wear them either, however I have not much to add really Sad
My hands smell of metal ... right now acctually and most of the rest of the time. I find that dish soap (fairy liquid sort of thing) is best though, gets most of the ingrained metal dust and brasso out with a good scrubbing brush too Smiley However that smell, that smelly smell that smells ... smelly. It just won't budge.
Thanks for letting me know I am not alone in this....

And we all know of the health concerns, so no need to remind us...

The dust and fines are easy, but the solutions leave behind all kinds of bad... I have even tried bleach (which worked well) but then everything smells and tastes of chlorine. I would rather smell brass than bleach...
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Gozdom
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2010, 02:04:14 am »

Learn to love the smell of brass! I don't find it disturbing. Some people have to work with sewage tankers... who's hurt by a faint smell of brass, really?
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jringling
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2010, 02:11:36 am »

I worked with wastewater for 13 years, so I know the smell of which you speak... it washes away clean...

I guess it's not the smell of brass, but the taste. It's on your fingers, so it's on your sandwich, and glass, and everything... It really takes all the fun out of biting your nails too!
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Ian3000
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2010, 02:18:27 am »

Look up a soap called Cherry Bomb it cuts anything.
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HAC
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2010, 02:26:37 am »

Well, in the loco shops, the hand cleaner of choice was Snap..

Cheers
Harold
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jringling
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2010, 02:30:35 am »

I never even thought to try any of those... I just used LAVA orange and it cut the brass stains in half! I only think of waterless cleaners when I am turning wrenches, not etching brass... Now I must find something better...

BG to the rescue again...
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Mr. Boltneck
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2010, 04:38:43 pm »

I've generally had good luck with mechanics' soaps, including LAVA. You may want to give a splash of white vinegar a try as well, once any grease is gone, as the mild acid can help to dissolve any lingering metallic traces. Then wash again. This will, of course, also help you to figure out where exactly you got cut while working...
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lilibat
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2010, 04:44:07 pm »

LAVA, though I have to be careful about getting it on my wrists and arms as it will cause a rash there on me if I am not really diligent about rinsing quickly.
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Laserpunk
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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2010, 06:46:39 pm »

To get a smell off try soaping up with one of the recommended soaps mentioned, then rub your soapy hands on any piece of stainless steel for a minute. Make sure to rub all the hard to reach spots too. It works with food odors, it might work with brass odors. Something in the stainless helps release the smell molecules in skin. Let us know if it worked.
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jringling
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2010, 08:13:00 pm »

Actually, I get a steel odor when I work with the stainless... (no need to comment on the health issues here... I know how bad hexavalent chromium is...) When I take a piece out of my steel etching tank, the oily film is horrible... and the stains are worse than the brass!
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2010, 10:29:14 pm »

I generally use washing up liquid and a spoonful of sugar or salt as an abrasive.
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Gazongola
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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2010, 05:30:50 am »

(no need to comment on the health issues here... I know how bad hexavalent chromium is...)

All hail Erin Brokovich...
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jringling
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2010, 11:19:14 am »

(no need to comment on the health issues here... I know how bad hexavalent chromium is...)

All hail Erin Brokovich...
Wait... is that what that movie was about? 
I know of it because I used to collect wastewater samples from an industrial site to test for it...
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Laserpunk
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« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2010, 12:54:19 pm »

(no need to comment on the health issues here... I know how bad hexavalent chromium is...)

All hail Erin Brokovich...
Wait... is that what that movie was about? 
I know of it because I used to collect wastewater samples from an industrial site to test for it...

I did some iron work in the building they built over the pond that caught fire. The farm is long gone, its all industrial parks now. Kind of ironic.
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jringling
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« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2010, 01:49:13 pm »

(no need to comment on the health issues here... I know how bad hexavalent chromium is...)

All hail Erin Brokovich...
Wait... is that what that movie was about? 
I know of it because I used to collect wastewater samples from an industrial site to test for it...

I did some iron work in the building they built over the pond that caught fire. The farm is long gone, its all industrial parks now. Kind of ironic.
   Grin


I have not seen the movie, but I have heard it was based on fact... If there was a  "burning pond", they had bigger problems than alittle chromium...

On a similar note, if the groundwater under the city of Baltimore ever meets a match, that city is in BIG trouble. There are limitations to drilling in the region to prevent the groundwater from mixing with deeper confined aquifers and causing wide spread contamination...
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Laserpunk
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« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2010, 11:23:50 pm »

IIRC there was a tannery on the pond. They were dumping so much benzene in the water that it caught fire when some kids were playing with firecrackers. When one hit the water, it lit up the whole pond.
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Gazongola
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« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2010, 11:37:27 pm »

It was about a woman who worked for a law firm and put together a case against a company that allowed the chromium in to the ground water and caused alot of people to be seriously ill. It is a film worth watching.
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greensteam
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« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2010, 12:47:52 am »

When I worked on oil tankers, the only thing ever used for washing hands (and boiler suits) was the traditional Swarfega. I am amazed no one mentioned it already as it is still around as far as I know.

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sebastian Inkerman
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« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2010, 02:30:31 am »

I have to second Dr. G's reccommendation of Swarfega. It's great at cutting through the stains. If you need a little boost to get the stains out of your hands, try mixing a little washing powder in with it too. Works a treat. It'll probably help with residual odours too.
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Angus A Fitziron
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« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2010, 11:58:39 am »

I'll second Swarfega. But no-one has mentioned barrier cream before you start. In my early days as an engineer, it was about the only safety precaution (along with goggles of course) and despite years handling oils, acids, PCBs (yes really) and other noxious stuff, my only reaction these days is slight itchiness on the back of my hands in strong sunlight before they colour up. So, try one of the emulsion engineering barrier creams (unless someone on the board has experience of a more modern brand).
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Mr. Boltneck
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« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2010, 06:35:36 pm »

I don't recall ever seeing Swarfega for sale in the US, or at least not in the bits of it I frequent (for all I know, it's #1 with a bullet in Oaklahoma). Lava, and other mechanic's soaps, are the equivalent.
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Shar
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« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2010, 04:10:22 am »

I use gojo, its a pumice orange citrus goo that cuts the bulk of the yuck, then toothpaste and a toothbrush in the crevices around my nails.  Nothing really cuts the taste except time, and it gets the worst after finishing, polishing those tiny particles into your skin.   
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oldskoolpunk
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« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2010, 05:14:15 am »

Gojo Orange works for me, too.

TechShop has Boraxo in the restrooms.
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