• The migration to this new platform is complete, but there are a lot of details to sort out. If you find something that needs to be fixed make a post in this thread. Thank you for your patience!

How do you clean your glass?

Dragon's Tail

Invenies
Hermetic Pilgrim
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
606
Been wiping up old glassware, something I struggled with but never really procured the means to do it "right" so I have some glass with very old stains on it... which are currently being removed one flask at a time.

My new method is much better and I'll share it with you here. Would love to hear from others how you get the organics out when the experimentation is done.

Needed: dish soap, distilled water, tap water, acetone, and HCl (store bought Muriatic acid is around 20%, check the MSDS)

Most water soulubles can be taken care of with just a rinse or three of tap water. Put a little in, swish around, dump, repeat up to 3 times, salts and other water solubles will be gone. Do a good rinse with a little distilled water and put it on the drying rack.

If you have sticky organic residue after the rinsing or water is inneffective. Fill 1/3 to almost full with acetone, should dissolve goey stuff pretty quick, just swish it around (stoppered please, and don't smack it into your bench). Pour off the acetone into your recycling bottle and whala, it is clean. You don't even need to rinse with distilled water but you can. When the acetone smell is gone it's clean AND dry, where as distilled water can leave some invisible moisture inside. The acetone I have dries without a trace. The brand is Klean Strip.

If you have baked on or caked on residue after alcohol, fill the glass with 10-20% HCl (better if you have an acid bath to soak in but I don't have room for that) and let it soak overnight. It will eat/burn off the residue quite well. Maybe shake it a couple times inbetween. Use caution, eye pro and gloves as this stuff will burn if it gets one you, wash off immediately. Like stop what you are doing and rinse in copious amounts of water. A "baking soda solution bucket" is a good idea to keep nearby to rinse your hands if you have space.

I pour off the acid into another recycling jar (I use gallon pickle jars and label them appropriately, you can re-use acid and acetone so don't just throw it out). Then I dilute any remaining acid with several (3-5) washes of tap water on anything it touched. I add a touch of dish soap, fill the flask about 1/2 full of water, then the scrubbing.

You can use a soft pipe cleaner to knock any remaining residue off the glass. It's quite easy as the stuff should be really loose if it's there at all. My technique is to roll up a cloth paper-towel (the nice stuff, not the crappy paper stuff) and carefully stuff it inside the flask, then cap and swirl hard at different angles to get the entire interior, pour off soapy water, swirl again, pour off more soapy water, etc until it's just a soaked paper towel mopping up the inside of the glass. I remove it with a wire hook, rinse 3x in tap water, then distilled water rinse, then drying rack.

I've ordered some pipe cleaners as I don't know where mine have gone, but been using this and it gets my glass bright squeaky clean like brand new. I'm getting ready to buy some more flasks and stuff, some cheap 250mL flat bottoms (I like having them to watch stuff in as they don't need a stand) and some boiling flasks. My Laboy stuff especially I'm trying to keep tip top because it's really great glass for the price. The new 250s are kinda junky chinese stuff but mostly just to have extra "countertop flasks." It's hard to find good glass, it's expensive for most of us, and a 40$ investment in a couple gallons of cleaning solvent has been working miracles so far to get this stuff back to good condition (though I did find a crack in one RBF so that's junk now, haha).

So... how do you clean YOUR pipes?
Thought I would post this here as I haven't seen a lot of discussion on cleaning.
 

Jimmy Rig

Occultum
Patron of the Arts
Hermetic Pilgrim
Joined
May 10, 2021
Messages
676
So, I use the same method with the tap water 3x and then distilled water except after I let the majority of the water drip I will place the glass in the oven between 2-300degrees for some 10-20 minutes which will make sure there is no water left. I like your suggestion using the acetone I will have to try that sometime. HCL seems like it works well but maybe is a little dangerous.

One of my favourite ways to clean a flask quickly is to use clean beach sand (not soil, not gravel) but sand specifically as it is abrasive, does not dissolve like salt does and the small grain size stops the particles from breaking the glass when you swish it around. I then pour boiling water into the flask, put the stopper on and swish it around over the sink with an oven mitt on. Sometimes I will add salt to the equation to if there is oils or resins present. This seems to work extremely well in most cases and does not require any real safety precautions excepting the use of hot water. I like your idea of purchasing the flat bottom flasks that are inexpensive.
Thanks for sharing :)
 

Lakshmana

Occultum
Magus de Moderatio
Patron of the Arts
Hermetic Pilgrim
Joined
Jan 24, 2022
Messages
723
Aqua regia is always a good choice. If the residue is organic some sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide will chew it up. Other popular choices are chromosulfuric acid (H2SO4 and dichromate) or the alkaline version of piranha which is strong aqueous ammonia and hydrogen peroxide (never tried that last one or seen anyone use it). If none of that works you can use more dangerous mixes like nitric and perchloric acids (so powerful it will even attack iridium) or nitric acid and sodium fluoride (generates HF in-situ). If none of that works buy new glassware.

H2O2 may be replaced with bubbled Ozone from a generator.

Also consider that sometimes glass becomes etched and it looks like a white stain but its just messed up glass crystals.
 

Dragon's Tail

Invenies
Hermetic Pilgrim
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
606
Aqua regia is always a good choice. If the residue is organic some sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide will chew it up. Other popular choices are chromosulfuric acid (H2SO4 and dichromate) or the alkaline version of piranha which is strong aqueous ammonia and hydrogen peroxide (never tried that last one or seen anyone use it). If none of that works you can use more dangerous mixes like nitric and perchloric acids (so powerful it will even attack iridium) or nitric acid and sodium fluoride (generates HF in-situ). If none of that works buy new glassware.

H2O2 may be replaced with bubbled Ozone from a generator.

Also consider that sometimes glass becomes etched and it looks like a white stain but its just messed up glass crystals.
I have some 30% H2O2 laying around, I might try that sometime, thanks for the suggestion. I've been staying away from really strong acids as a consequence of living space. Hmm, could probably whip something up with Borax as well. It's a pretty strong detergent I'm told. I have a box and no real use for it at the moment.
 

Argento Vivo

Rectificando
Hermetic Pilgrim
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
188
Aqua regia is always a good choice. If the residue is organic some sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide will chew it up. Other popular choices are chromosulfuric acid (H2SO4 and dichromate) or the alkaline version of piranha which is strong aqueous ammonia and hydrogen peroxide (never tried that last one or seen anyone use it). If none of that works you can use more dangerous mixes like nitric and perchloric acids (so powerful it will even attack iridium) or nitric acid and sodium fluoride (generates HF in-situ). If none of that works buy new glassware.

H2O2 may be replaced with bubbled Ozone from a generator.

Also consider that sometimes glass becomes etched and it looks like a white stain but its just messed up glass crystals.
HF is probably the last choice of your life in cleaning expensive glassware... it is one of the rarest acids on earth that may corrode glass making it vaporize to a highly reactive and poisonous acid gas (property which was the first to be discovered about this substance, even though it is the weakest mineral acid. Despite this its highly electronegative)
 

Lakshmana

Occultum
Magus de Moderatio
Patron of the Arts
Hermetic Pilgrim
Joined
Jan 24, 2022
Messages
723
Just don't stir HF with your fingers and do it outside.

I usually just boil lye solution (etches glass only very short time) then boil acid solution then boil water repeating until its clean.