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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Chemical Cleaning in the General forums; Anybody have any experience with using Muratic acid for cleaning their trumpet? Obviously it would be diluted, how much I ...
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    Chemical Cleaning

    Anybody have any experience with using Muratic acid for cleaning their trumpet? Obviously it would be diluted, how much I don't know.

    I asked a shop today what they used for their chemical cleaning and this is what I was told.

    Just wondering if anyone has used it and if so how much they diluted it.

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    Forte User musicalmason's Avatar
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    Hypothetical:

    Let's say you're hungry for some cookies. You go to your local bakery. They have cookies in the display case, and they smell great. Do you buy the cookies? Or do you ask the baker for his recipie?
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    Respectfully I understand your point, however I thought the forum was here to help people. I didn't ask the repair guy his formula. In fact I left one of my trumpets with him for cleaning, dent repair, and a sticking valve.

    I am just trying to learn. Let's say I am interested in the best way to clean my instruments so they perform. Soapy water doesn't always cut it.
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    Utimate User tobylou8's Avatar
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by musicalmason View Post
    Hypothetical:

    Let's say you're hungry for some cookies. You go to your local bakery. They have cookies in the display case, and they smell great. Do you buy the cookies? Or do you ask the baker for his recipie?
    That's funny. I will say this too as I'm in the Landscaping business. All the big box stores talk about how "You can do it, and we're here to help"!!! I've watched lawns and plantings suffer for years at the hand of the DIYer, weekend warriors. When they finally ask me to tell them how I do it, I say pull up a chair and lets' talk for the next 20 yrs! Knowing a formula and knowing how to use it without hurting yourself or the horn could be two different things. If I remember, you're pretty handy so I would just do some research. I don't know the formula, I'm a landscaper. But I also don't like chem cleaning due to a bad experience with my Severinsen. So, I can't help you OR my local tech!
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    Utimate User Peter McNeill's Avatar
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    Just think Hydrochloric Acid - and sorry I would not use it myself. I have a chemical industry background, and that I will leave for people who really know what they are doing. It will eat brass pretty easily. Brass is a mix of Zinc and Copper in various percentages.

    Read this:
    How to Clean Brass With Hydrochloric Acid | eHow

    And then avoid that shop for cleaning your horn IMO.
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    Utimate User Peter McNeill's Avatar
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    If you have a tarnished brass horn, you can do a search, there are plenty of threads on it.

    Me, if a horn is badly tarnished when I get it, I will remove the valves, and give it a bath in luke warm water with dishwashing liquid - use a snake and a good rinse. I can use a bore scope to inspect the insides with the computer.
    First I clean the outside with a lemon wedge - then I use car polish and wax. The polish and wax work well for a reasonable time, and just wipe the horn down with a microfiber cloth when it goes back in the case.

    Anything more will go to the tech to do the work.
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    I use a 5% solution of CLR, 1 liter bottle to 20 liters of water, usually about 1/2 hour soak although I have by mistake left slides in overnight with no harm being done.

    The tech I have used for the last 30 years makes a mix of Citric and Phosphoric acids, he does not have a specific recipe, just adds until he thinks it is enough.

    In an emergency I have used diluted Rust Inhibiter solution, 15% Phosphoric Acid, with any chemical cleaner thorough rinsing is essential after use.

    Regards, Stuart.
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    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    Madmadeline,

    you are right, we are here to help. That does not mean that we consider every question as the correct path to a solution (as we understood it). Let's take this thread. You already had a path, but the goal is not clear as the context "cleaning" can mean many different things. My take is that someone who doesn't know should describe the result and lets the pro tell them how to get there. Those of us that have trashed horns are very quick to recommend building a relationship with a good tech. Then we get the necessary information first hand, sometimes even the tricks of the trade - but ALWAYS in context!

    I can give you a for instance. I took a horn once to a tech and he recommended an acid bath. It was an older horn and this tech did not take into consideration that certain parts could be worn thin. I ended up with holes in the instrument. The tech patched the horn without asking. I was VERY angry as I expect the "Pro" to communicate, anticipate and then we come up with a solution together. The tech replaced the tubes which probably would not have been necessary if he was thinking from the beginning!

    Also here, acid is not always our friend. There is a lot of garbage information on the web that implies that DIY is every bit as good as a pro. It in fact can be for non critical applications. We find out how what critical is AFTER the damage has been done.

    Generally we start with the lowest impact procedure (lemon dishwashing liquid -> ultrasound -> mild citric acid -> 5%CLR) and work our way up until the desired result is achieved. Experience tells us when we need to stop!
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by madmadeline View Post
    Anybody have any experience with using Muratic acid for cleaning their trumpet? Obviously it would be diluted, how much I don't know.

    I asked a shop today what they used for their chemical cleaning and this is what I was told.

    Just wondering if anyone has used it and if so how much they diluted it.
    There is no safe dilution level for muriatic (=hydrochloric) acid.

    The acids we consider for cleaning purposes are 'weak' acids. Which means that when dissolved in water only a very small percentage of the material dissociates into the active acidic form.

    For phosphoric acid, it's about 10%
    For citric acid, it's around 3%

    Most of the molecules remain in their inactive form, only replacing the active form as it gets used up.
    There's a little bit more to it than that (eg reaction rates which I shan't go into) but essentially these weakly dissociated acids pull their punches. We call them 'acids' but most of it is not dissociated into it's active acidic form and reactions proceed slowly (though there are exceptions).

    Muriatic acid dissociates moreorless exactly 99.99%. Which means it hits you with everything it has all at once. Plus it has a very reactive nature anyway, so you have no effective means of stopping the reaction 'at the right time'. Put 1 gm of HCl into a trumpet, and no matter what the dilution, you lose about 1 gm of brass. Simple.
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    Forte User musicalmason's Avatar
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    Re: Chemical Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by madmadeline View Post
    Respectfully I understand your point, however I thought the forum was here to help people. I didn't ask the repair guy his formula. In fact I left one of my trumpets with him for cleaning, dent repair, and a sticking valve.

    I am just trying to learn. Let's say I am interested in the best way to clean my instruments so they perform. Soapy water doesn't always cut it.

    I was trying to help. My best advice, is to find a good, recommended repair tech and let them do it. Chem cleans are not a diy job. Even if you get the right formula, there are still lots of ways to mess things up. You are right, sometimes soapy water doesn't cut it. That's when you should give up and pay a pro. Furthermore, diy is not a cost saver in this case, you will almost certainly pay more for the required set up than for a good pro cleaning. Speaking as a tech, the company I buy my industry specific cleaning agents from wouldn't sell to you even if I told you who they are (I won't). They only sell to professionals. I have about $800 in cleaning supplies for brass in my shop, add about $150 a year for upkeep, to maintain the concentration, and that is cheap. I probably have one of the cheaper setups available to the industry, but I get great results with it because I was trained and know what I'm doing. If you're serious about doing a pros work at home I have a few technical colleges I can refer you to. A couple years of training and a few thousand dollars of investment and then youll be ready to start discussing specifics.
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