Thursday, April 12, 2012

The imposter

"Hey, get that light out of my face." "Shut up and stay in that chair, or we'll cuff you to it. We have gotten complaints that you are impersonating mineral spirits." Can't you read detective? I am mineral spirits, look at my label." "I see your label buddy, but you could have printed that up with any computer. I know for a fact that real mineral spirits are clear. What's up with your milky color, and why do you have to be shaken before use?" "Hey do I look like some sort of a rocket scientist? I don't know, that's the way I was made. I'm special, greener, and better for the environment." "Whatcha mean you're green, does that mean you could be drunk, or poured into the bay?" "Whoa there, you can't drink me, or pour me into the bay. I can kill fish you know." "'Yeah? So what make you green then?" "Well for starters there are actually less solvents in me, maybe as low as 15% by volume and there might be as much as 40%, they don't tell me exactly how much. That makes me safer, and I want my lawyer, now! I ain't saying anything else copper." 

I was going to install a 1000 watt through hull transducer, and was nearly out of mineral spirits, so on the way to the job I stopped to buy some, along with a tube of fast cure 3M 5200 goo to seal it. All that was on the shelf was the "Green" version of mineral spirits. Okay I thought, I'll try the Kermit version, I'm a sort of eco dude. I have also stopped using high sulfur coal in the fireplace, so why not?

As it turns out, buying the green milky mineral spirits stuff was a really big mistake. This product, at least for my intended use falls squarely into the same category I place using waxed paper as toilet tissue, or drying your car with Saran wrap.

I'm a really conservative transducer installer, and I do this job very carefully. There is one thing I know for a fact in this business. If you sink, or burn the boat down to the water line, you will have to find another source of income and get a new ego. I clean the hull with acetone, use sandpaper to give the bonding area some tooth, and apply prodigious quantities of 3M 5200 to insure I have no gaps. When the transducer is tightened down against the hull, the excess is squeezed out.

Cleaning up the aftermath is straight forward. A rag, or paper towels are used to wipe off the brunt of the excess. and then using mineral spirits, the balance of the 3M 5200 is cleaned up in a couple of minutes. Enter the half and half cream looking green stuff. I pour it on a wad of toweling, and start to wipe off the remaining goo. A little comes off, and the balance just gets smeared around, more paper towels, and a lot more pseudo mineral spirits, and a little more 5200 is removed. This goes on for about ten more minutes, with most of the green mineral spirits gone along with half a roll of paper towels, and I realize this stuff is never going to do the job. Since this is the fast cure version of 3M 5200, I am now running out of clean up time. 

Mumbling expletives, I crawl out from under the boat, get into the truck and go to the hardware store. At Ace Hardware on the shelf is the real stuff with 100% white spirits. Back to the boat go I, and with only three paper towels, and a couple of minutes the job is done.

As you have now figured out, I don't have a single good thing to say about this product, and I can think of no reason to have it on a boat at all. As you can tell, I was more than a little irritated about this stuff posturing as mineral spirits. I'm not a chemical engineer, but I think the reason this product is so inexpensive, and that it is green is because it hardly has any mineral spirits in it at all. I'm buying the 15% by volume end of the equation. If you see green shammies made out of recycled waxed paper and Saran wrap, I would avoid it also.  


  1. There is a similar thing going on with muriatic acid in gal. jugs at the home stores..."50 percent less fumes!!!"

    Because, 50 percent less the same price!

    Regarding your choice of toilet tissue, I believe 80-grit sandpaper would be perfect for your use...

  2. Thanks Karl, and I'm working hard on those pesky typos

  3. "odorless" mineral spirits? Where is the fun in that?

  4. I ran into the same "issue" with "green" MEK. How is it that MEK cannot be miscible with epoxy resin?

  5. Bill
    It has shades in some way with less toxic anti fouling. If anti fouling is non toxic then it won't kill the little buggers! I'm all for green but there are times when stuff without VOC's in it won't work.