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User Tips for Cleaning and Coating Professionals

Store solvents on a first-in, first-out (FIFO) basis. Even solvents with unlimited shelf life should be stored this way. The longer a packaged solvent sits unused, the more likely it is to be subjected to damage from mishandling and the accumulation of general warehouse grime. Glass containers break, and dented metal packaging can cause the container’s inside liner to fail and flake. Accumulated grime on the outside surfaces of packaging can find its way into the solvent as it is dispensed.

FIFO inventory control ensures the solvent is at maximum purity and ready to use when the packaging is opened.

Always think safety. Personal protective equipment such as suitable safety glasses and gloves should be specified when working with solvents. Selecting gloves for use with solvents can be complicated, because certain gloves can protect against some solvents but may be useless against others. Some gloves can be used for total immersion in a solvent, while others withstand less-permeating chemicals only with intermittent contact. Glove thickness will provide different protective factors but will also affect dexterity. Factors such as flexibility, cut, tear resistance, and temperature range should be considered. Read the product’s material safety data sheet and talk to your solvent provider to be certain that you’re using the best protective equipment for your process.

Don’t be confused by grades. Many people are confused by the terms reagent, laboratory, and technical when selecting the quality level (or grade) of a generic solvent such as isopropyl alcohol. Reagent grade is generally the highest purity available—it means the solvent is low in water content and suitable for all types of manufacturing and scientific work. This grade is often required for projects that involve living biological matter. Laboratory-grade solvents are relatively high purity, but may contain small amounts of nonvolatile residue and other impurities. They are sufficiently pure for many industrial applications but not suitable for use in food or medicine of any kind. Lastly, technical grade is a general industrial grade and these solvents may contain relatively high amounts of impurities such as water. These grades are not suitable for use in food or medicine of any kind and are usually used in low-cost industrial applications. Consider specifying reagent if you’re faced with making a choice, but uncertain on how the solvent will be used. Your supplier should be able to provide a product specification sheet to explain the differences and provide the best option.

Use weight, not volume. The best method of measuring and managing liquid inventory packaged in larger containers such as pails and drums is by weight. Liquids expand when warm and contract when cold, so issuing partial contents of a pail or drum by volume can produce significant inventory variances depending on ambient temperature. Always formulate, blend, and manage your large container liquid inventories by weight. The net weight of a liquid will remain constant regardless of ambient temperature.

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