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Im guessing a chlorine free brake cleaner would be a better substitute?
no, as a welder, i would say grinding would be the only logical choice to prep metal. no cleaners will work, and as stated they can kill you. be smart, sanders and grinders are cheaper than being in a hospital and living with an oxygen tank your whole life.
 

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I work in a heavy hauler shop where the mechanics love to use brakekleen We only use the non-chlorinated one and usually we let everything dry off before welding. Slap Shot from Walter is a less toxic cleaner than brake cleaner but no one seems to want to switch. All the welders in our shop have the 3M adflo welding helmet which is awesome for filtering everything out of our breathing air. the biggest thing with brake clean is fire. It has been the cause of a few oil pans being blown off engines in the shop. Never ever use the chlorinated version if you are going to weld!
 

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Thank you For posting this. I have been down that road before with burning it off steal with the welder. I'm gonna call my dad tomorrow to and tell him. You may have just saved our lifes!
 

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I'm going to add a few ways to safely remove oil and grease before welding...

DeNatured Alcohol works great for the minor removal of oil and greasy spots...Denatured Alcohol is 100% alcohol,no water additive,so no worries of flash rust if that's one of your concerns.

Just an FYI,Distilled water will not cause rust at all,it has been De-Mineralised by the same process moonshiners use in thier stills...lol,pure water doesn't cause rust,it's the minerals in water that cause the rust process to start...you can buy Distilled water by the gallon at local stores for $0.60 to $1.00 on the average...It has to be "distilled"..not just filtered or spring water.

Any of the solvent free strong degreasers and cleaners are good safe cleaners before welding,purple power..simple green..etc etc..
I use the concentrated Dawn dishwashing liquid for cleaning and degreasing and getting rid of protective coatings before applying another coat of wax or paint sealers....this stuff is under rated as far as a good degreaser..and cheap stuff too.....

If you feel the need to use a good strong solvent based cleaner...such as Acetone,MEK...etc etc...make sure you have good ventilation,use a fan blowing the fumes away from you and have a well ventilated area to rid the fumes in your shop/garage quickly,the best way is to do it is outside with the fan blowing the fumes directly away from you.
ALWAYS use solvent/chemical safe gloves,solvents are absorbed through your skin and into your blood stream...the regular kitchen rubber gloves won't work,they'll just melt on your hands with solvents..lol
After using the solvent cleaner,wipe it all down with a little Dawn mixed in distilled water to rid any oil or grease left,then use a distilled water soaked rag to rid any film left.........

If you have any real experience at all in welding and fabrication,then you'll know just trying to grind the oil and grease with a grinder is useless...the grinding wheels,Grinding disks and sand paper just soaks up the oil and spreads it around and lubricates them..rendering them pretty much useless ..plus your just spreading the oil and grease around instead of getting rid of it............

Don't use ANY brake cleaner or carb cleaner before welding..these products are made for the purpose it's designated for ONLY..for a GOOD reason.
 

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Wow. I'm always knew about welding galvanized metal being toxic, and have done it from time to time, and I'll admit I've been quite lax in my safety procedures.

This article about brake cleaner just opened my eyes. I use it quite regularly to clean metal and stuff. I never would have thought such a small amount would be so dangerous!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Myself, and my son (who probably would have ended up loosing his dad) thank you.
 

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In the past, R12, also used as a propellant in aeresols, or something closely related chemically, would become poisonous like this, so I would speculate that its the propellant used in brakleen thats causing the issue here. Regardless, very dangerous stuff!
 

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New to welding and glad I found this info.

Most times I just hit it with a wire wheel or a grinder.

So I now know no cleaners for me just old school elbow grease, soap and water.

I will also watch out for galvanized. Thanks.
 

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In the past, R12, also used as a propellant in aeresols, or something closely related chemically, would become poisonous like this, so I would speculate that its the propellant used in brakleen thats causing the issue here. Regardless, very dangerous stuff!
I wouldn't place any bets on the propellant being safe, but in this case it is definitely the brake cleaner itself that is chlorinated. When I had my little incident with the stuff, I went outside of my shop, and sprayed it off out there, and then let it all (or so I thought) evaporate before bringing it in. Then I had to install the pieces in the jig before I could weld them. There was no propellant involved at that point, just whatever cleaner was still hiding in some pits on one of the pieces, or in some other nook or cranny.

These days I do not use anything stronger than isopropyl alcohol for degreasing parts that are to be welded, or may potentially be welded at some point.
 

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What are your guys thoughts on welding fumes produced from WD40 and lithium grease? Anything toxic in either?

I flood my hole saws and metal with wd40 to lubricate when tube notching. I normally just grind off the burrs but dont wipe off the wd40 residue left over.

Also I use lithium grease to lubricate my tubing bender follow blocks. As the tubing slides through it picks up the grease. I try to wipe this off but when I'm busy it's hard to clean every square inch.
 

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I always try to have a fan that blos fresh air aimed to my helmet, sometimes Ill put a fan on the welding table blowing away from the piece and it will suck all the smoke and fumes away.

Recently I have been Acid cleaning parts using Muratic Acid, then a Rinse with washing soda and water, and then a final rince in plain water before welding. once it is welded it gets a coat of oil to prevent flash rust.

I have also heard drinking a glass or two of milk will help prevent zinc poisoning.
 

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Wow! I don't weld but I do use a lot of brake cleaner to clean just about anything. So is this danger only present when welding? I know all chemicals are bad , thanks for the post and hope you get better !
 

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Wow! I don't weld but I do use a lot of brake cleaner to clean just about anything. So is this danger only present when welding? I know all chemicals are bad , thanks for the post and hope you get better !
No, fires will do it too. Particularly structure fires that involve certain types of foam or plastics can release phosgene as well. And not just brake cleaner and welding... Welding on cars with damaged A/C systems can get you too. The refrigerant will decompose into phosgene in the presence of welding heat and the arc rays.
 

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WOW!!! I sent this to everyone I know who welds. One of my friends teaches the welding/fabrication class at the community college, and the other owns a business building docks here on the lake. I do a lot of fab and repair for my cousin's ranch.
Thank you so much, I used to use break cleaner all the time as a degreaser.
 
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