Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Vinegar for Cleaning

Cleaning glass with acids causes corrosion of the surface of the glass.

So many people mention using vinegar to help clean the ground edges. I can't resist commenting. Vinegar is acidic. Glass is alkaline. Leave the glass in the vinegar too long and it will affect the surface of the glass.

Sometimes it dulls. Sometimes it corrodes to give a mild iridised appearance. The acid removes the alkaline materials – potash, lime, etc. – leaving a pitted surface at the microscopic level.  Left long enough – hours rather than days – the surface will begin to appear dull due to the pittiing. It is at this stage that it is easy to introduce contaminants which may later form nucleation sites for devitrification.

If you must use vinegar, rinse with it. Do not soak your glass in a vinegar solution.

Alkaline cleaners

Two alkaline substances that are used to clean glass are baking soda and ammonia.  Both are effective cleaners and do not have a reaction with the glass as they both are alkaline. The glass can be left to soak for a brief time in a solution of these chemicals, although I would not be happy with an open bath of ammonia.

But the effective part of what people are doing to clean the edges is the scrubbing. Scrubbing the glass powder out of the pits left by the grinder is what really works.  When leaving the glass in a bath of even plain water, you are giving the powdered glass the opportunity to settle into these pits.  Once settled into the pits, the powdered glass can become like cement to remove.

Mechanical cleaning

You could have a much better effect if you scrubbed under clean water before placing in a bath of water with grinder lubricant.  This material promotes a gel like glass residue. This gel prevents the glass becoming caked like cement.

A final scrub to thoroughly clean before assembly is a good idea. Each piece should be polished dry with lint free cloths or uncoloured absorbent paper.  If any particles cloth or paper are left behind, they will burn away long before devitrification can begin to form.


Of course, the best solution is to grind with 400 or 600 grit.  This is fine enough that there is not enough powder left to promote devitrification.