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View Full Version : What happened to MEK?



Video Man
02-02-2012, 04:53 PM
I've always had a can of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) on hand as a handy cleanup for Dykem, magic marker, and general goo of all kinds. Now I can't find it; the local orange big-box has a "MEK subsitute." I looked it up on the EPA website and it doesn't seem all that dangerous, unlike, say Carbon Tet. Did they take it off the market or something?:confused:

Mike P
02-02-2012, 04:57 PM
I just saw MEK at the paint store the other day. I don't think it said "substitute" on it.

Mike P

Lew Hartswick
02-02-2012, 05:07 PM
I'm sure I've seen it at Lowes within the last month.
...Lew...

Tony Wells
02-02-2012, 05:07 PM
Sherwin-Williams R6K10 still available.

SilveradoHauler
02-02-2012, 10:15 PM
Boat repair shops/fiberglass shops. Should be lots of MEK in Florida!

Fasttrack
02-02-2012, 10:27 PM
Still available but most homeowners don't want to (and probably shouldn't) mess with the stuff. It's got some health issues associated with it and it is a pretty powerful solvent. I think they're may be some conern with hoodlums using it as an inhalant, too.

Anyway, it's still available. Try a hardware store or paint shop instead of the big box home improvement type stores.

bobw53
02-02-2012, 10:46 PM
Acetone is generally more than enough to get off Dykem and sharpie, even rubbing alcohol works pretty well, or Naptha which is pretty mild compared to MEK.

As for dissolving sticky stuff, that Goof Off stuff works FANTASTIC.

Did a few little double sticky tape jobs out of nylon recently. Acetone ate the parts up, so I was soaking them in alcohol over night.... Got some of the plastic safe Goof Off, off the plate in seconds and not even sticky after a wipe down. Very nice. I was impressed, and I only bought it because the hardware store didn't have alcohol. Only took a few squirts, not a whole bottle like with the alcohol.

firbikrhd1
02-02-2012, 11:07 PM
I was wondering the same thing. Last month I went to Home Depot and they had discontinued it. Tonight I went again for something else and saw MEK substitute on the shelf. What gives? I prefer MED to Acetone because it evaporates a little slower. I don't use a lot so the gallon and smaller sizes were always a good option. I wonder what MEK substitute is.

RetiredFAE
02-02-2012, 11:12 PM
The local HD had this stuff on the shelf, but they still had MEK also.

Here's the MSDS for the Klean Strip MEK substitute they are carrying.

http://www.wmbarr.com/ProductFiles/1636%20KS%20MEK%20Substitute.pdf

wierdscience
02-02-2012, 11:23 PM
I've cleaned up Dykem with everything from Xylene to degreaser,wouldn't waste MEK on it.

Fasttrack
02-03-2012, 01:12 AM
Yeah, if you're just cleaning up layout dye, acetone is a good candidate. The health dangers associated with acetone are very minimal.

Shameless ripped from Wikipedia but easily confirmed from the MSDS:



Acetone has been studied extensively and is generally recognized to have low acute and chronic toxicity if ingested and/or inhaled. Inhalation of high concentrations (around 9200 ppm) in the air caused irritation of the throat in humans in as little as 5 minutes. Inhalation of concentrations of 1000 ppm caused irritation of the eyes and of the throat in less than 1 hour; however, the inhalation of 500 ppm of acetone in the air caused no symptoms of irritation in humans even after 2 hours of exposure. Acetone is not currently regarded as a carcinogen, a mutagenic chemical or a concern for chronic neurotoxicity effects.[18]

Acetone can be found as an ingredient in a variety of consumer products ranging from cosmetics to processed and unprocessed foods. Acetone has been rated as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) substance when present in beverages, baked foods, desserts, and preserves at concentrations ranging from 5 to 8 mg/L. Additionally, a joint U.S-European study found that acetone’s "health hazards are slight."[citation needed]

Black_Moons
02-03-2012, 01:28 AM
Yeah, if you're just cleaning up layout dye, acetone is a good candidate. The health dangers associated with acetone are very minimal.

Shameless ripped from Wikipedia but easily confirmed from the MSDS:

'GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) substance when present in beverages, baked foods, desserts, and preserves at concentrations ranging from 5 to 8 mg/L.'

Wait, What?!?!
*double checks his bottle of pop*
Ok, It has derusting acid, But no layout dye remover, thats good.

Evan
02-03-2012, 03:24 AM
You can probably blame Homeland Sec. MEK is by itself exceedingly flammable but when converted to MEK Peroxide in the pure form it is highly explosive. It's easy to make and relatively cheap. It's also a lot more stable than TATP.

Video Man
02-03-2012, 11:00 PM
Thanks for the interesting replies, everyone!

JoeLee
02-04-2012, 10:26 AM
Laquer thinner works well for just about everthing. Your local automotive paint supply store will have it. I buy it in 5 gal. pals, it's cheaper than buyuing a gallon at a time.

JL...................

Orrin
02-05-2012, 07:50 PM
I generally try relatively safe solvents, first, and resort to the nasty ones if all else fails. I keep squeeze bottles of kerosene and solvent within arm's reach in the shop and one or the other is more than adequate 99-percent of the time. Not only are they safer, they are generally less expensive than the exotic stuff.

Mostly, I use MEK for cleaning clogged rattle can nozzles. Our local ACE Hardware has it in their paint department.

Orrin

SGW
02-06-2012, 08:17 AM
I use denatured alcohol to take off Dykem. Works fine.

Krunch
02-06-2012, 08:19 AM
Laquer thinner works well for just about everthing.

+1

I like that it contains both polar and non-polar solvents, IIRC.

Smells nice, too.

Doozer
02-06-2012, 09:01 AM
I just bought some MEK at Lowes home center.
I have a granite counter top in my kitchen,
and I installed the sink using plumber's puddy
around the rim. Well the puddy stained the granite
darker around the rim. Plumber's puddy is (I think)
linseed oil based. I mixed up a poltice of acetone
and talc powder to try and draw the stain from the
granite. Not much luck. Was going to try the MEK
and talc powder next to draw the stain. I will let
you all know how it works.

--Doozer

Paul Alciatore
02-06-2012, 01:24 PM
I just bought some MEK at Lowes home center.
I have a granite counter top in my kitchen,
and I installed the sink using plumber's puddy
around the rim. Well the puddy stained the granite
darker around the rim. Plumber's puddy is (I think)
linseed oil based. I mixed up a poltice of acetone
and talc powder to try and draw the stain from the
granite. Not much luck. Was going to try the MEK
and talc powder next to draw the stain. I will let
you all know how it works.

--Doozer

Your "granite" counter top may not be actual granite. I would test it in a small, out of site spot first to be sure you don't remove the counter top itself.

RPM22
02-06-2012, 02:25 PM
I have used MEK as a de-greaser for cleaning highly polished metals before plating - it's pretty unique in how well it works for that.
Here in So Cal it disappeared from big box stores just when i needed to replenish my stock. Checking it out, it's apparently a 'state's issue', with some banning it and other allowing it. As you may have heard, our smog rules here end up banning most good products. :-(
Despite this, it's still being carried by some stores here, you just have to shop around -so it;'s not a legally binding ban -very strange. It's not an EPA ban, not a Homeland security ban, or a SoCal smog ban, as far as I can see. I was able to buy a five gallon drum with no problems, and later found gallons and quarts at other stores.
Re the previous comments, i would love it if 'hoodlums' started sniffing it, they would be living much longer, but I have to say that in my own case my regular but short exposures seem to have had little effect on my health. There are far worse chemicals you can be exposed to, but perhaps I'm just immune to MEK?
One thing to watch out for is lacquer thinner - it has some organic chemicals in it that will slowly degrade the myelin sheaths of all your nerves, leading to terrible results, but this was from a sign-painter friend who had long-term exposure over many years

Richard in Los Angeles

Evan
02-06-2012, 03:33 PM
Acetone is by far the medically safest solvent other than water. It is naturally produced in the body in some circumstances. The limits placed on exposure by OSHA are determined simply as a standard limit that is applied to anything that does not have a specifically medically determined hazard level. Too much can kill you just as too much of anything else will. With acetone it is a lot like ethyl alcohol, you will get very stoned before you approach a lethal dose.

Acetone is extremely flammable which is an entirely different matter. In pure form the flash point is about -18C or zero F. Flash point is the temperature above which enough of the material will evaporate to form an explosive vapour. It is not related to the ease of ignition or the ignition temperature. What makes acetone even more dangerous is that even a 10% mixture of acetone with 90% water still has a flash point of 27C-80F. This is unusual and means that even highly diluted acetone is still an explosion hazard in warm weather.

RWO
02-07-2012, 01:44 PM
Dykem thinner is 60% ethanol and 40% acetone if I remember the MSDS correctly.

RWO