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Solvent Cleaners

Solvent Cleaners

  • In general, there are more solvent types, solvent cleaners used in aircraft cleaning must have a flashpoint of not less than 105 °F, if explosion proofing of equipment and other special precautions are to be avoided
  • Chlorinated solvents of all types meet the nonflammable requirements but are toxic. Safety precautions must be observed in their use. The use of carbon tetrachloride is to be avoided. The SDS for each solvent must be consulted for handling and safety information.
  • ATMs must review the SDS available for any chemical, solvent, or other materials they may come in contact with during the course of their maintenance activities. In particular, solvents and cleaning liquids, even those
  • considered “environmentally friendly,” can have varied detrimental effects on the skin, internal organs, and/or nervous system. Active solvents, such as methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and acetone, can be harmful or fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin in sufficient quantities.
  • Particular attention must be paid to recommended protective measures including gloves, respirators, and face shields. A regular review of the SDS keeps the AMT updated on any revisions that may be made by chemical manufacturers or government authorities.

Dry Cleaning Solvent :

  • Stoddard solvent is the most common petroleum base solvent used in aircraft cleaning. Its flashpoint is slightly above 105 °F and can be used to remove grease, oils, or light soils. 
  • Dry cleaning solvent is preferable to kerosene for all cleaning purposes, but like kerosene, it leaves a slight residue upon evaporation that may interfere with the application of some final paint films.

Aliphatic and Aromatic Naphtha :

  • Aliphatic naphtha is recommended for wipe down of cleaned surfaces just before painting. This material can also be used for cleaning acrylics and rubber. It flashes at approximately 80 °F and must be used with care. Aromatic naphtha must not be confused with the aliphatic material. It is toxic, attacks acrylics and rubber products, and must be used with adequate controls.

Safety Solvent :

  • Safety solvent, trichloroethane (methyl chloroform), is used for general cleaning and grease removal. It is non-flammable under ordinary circumstances and is used as a replacement for carbon tetrachloride. The use and safety precautions necessary when using chlorinated solvents must be observed. Prolonged use can cause dermatitis in some persons.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) :

  • MEK is also available as a solvent cleaner for metal surfaces and paint stripper for small areas. This is a very active solvent and metal cleaner with a flashpoint of about 24 °F. It is toxic when inhaled, and safety precautions must be observed during its use. In most instances, it has been replaced with safer to handle and more environmentally-friendly cleaning solvents.

Kerosene :

  • Kerosene is mixed with solvent emulsion-type cleaners for softening heavy preservative coatings. It is also used for general solvent cleaning, but its use must be followed by a coating or rinse with some other type of protective agent. Kerosene does not evaporate as rapidly as a dry cleaning solvent and generally leaves an appreciable film on cleaned surfaces that may actually be corrosive. Kerosene films may be removed with safety solvent, water emulsion cleaners, or detergent mixtures. 

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