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Going Green? Need help with solvent tank....

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  • Going Green? Need help with solvent tank....

    Hi Guys,

    I have a basement shop which includes a 20 gallon parts washer tank. I've been using a mineral spirits based solution, but my local auto parts store just stopped carrying it so I thought that I'd switch over to an aqueous based solution. It would also be nice to get away from the stink.

    My question is two fold. What should I use for an aqueous based cleaner? Looking for one that won't dissolve aluminum which lets out some of the more common ones like Purple Power.

    Second, I've been told that to get the stuff to work it has to be heated. My cheap tank isn't currently heated. I was looking at some immersion heaters sold for keeping cattle/horse water troughs from freezing. Also, magnetic engine block heaters.

    Anybody do anything similar?


  • #2
    I'm at the very point now where I need to select a solvent to degrease parts. My tanks are going to be stainless steel mixmaster bowls, and I'm thinking of using three. I'll build a stand into which I can insert these bowls, then make a single lid which will close over all three at once. First is the dirty tank, next is a cleaner one, and final is the cleanest. I'm looking for the least obnoxious solvent which will still work, and the most reasonable seal material- for that I'm thinking of some stick-on black foam tape.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


    • #3
      we tried two different aqueous based heated tank cleaners at work(auto repair shop). niether worked. at all.


      • #4
        You might look at switching to an ultrasonic cleaner. I have a 5 gallon one and use a splash of simple green and turn the temp up to about 180 and it does a wonderful job. I normally wipe everything down as well as possible before it goes in and then afterwards I just have some soapy water with a little sludge left in the bottom of the tank. The water drains off and the sludge cleans up with paper towels. Nothing flamable and no stink or big chemical mess.


        • #5
          I welded a bung in the side of mine to accept a common engine block core plug heater.


          • #6
            I use a Bio Clean aqueous cleaner, have for the past year. Does not have to be heated, but works better that way. Has a "bio bug" type of additive where as the tramp oils are eaten away by bacteria in the tank to prevent stink and rancidity. Seems to have worked well, 15 months in and just now the tank is begging to be cleaned out.
            CCBW, MAH


            • #7
              In the machine shop at the place I work they use a fairly strong solution of simple green. Seems to work fine for most stuff, though they are not generally cleaning crusty engine parts type of stuff. From what I've been told, heating it up is key. That tank keeps the cleaner at around 110F if I recall correctly.

              In a past life I worked for a while at a place that serviced restaurant equipment. You can imagine the grimy disgusting stuff that came into that shop. When we had really nasty things to clean, we used an old "steam kettle", essentially a cauldron with an electrically heated steam jacket. We would boil the parts in water with some dish soap in it. It would strip off everything, including paint. I've used the same system at home on a small scale with a large old stainless stock pot and a hotplate.


              • #8
                Most of these solutions seem to need to be heated. I don't want to heat a tank that won't be used very often but can't wait for one to heat up when I need it. How about using on of those instant hot things in line with the wash pump?


                • #9
                  x2 on the ultrasonic cleaner


                  • #10
                    Traffic film remover (the stuff a pressure washer uses) diluted 50/50 will beat your mineral spirits hands down .

                    cost about £10 - £15 here for 5 gallons

                    "wax strip" what painters use in the pressure washer before preping a car would be even better

                    all the best.markj
                    Last edited by aboard_epsilon; 04-19-2010, 05:38 PM.


                    • #11
                      For the last 10 years we have been using Simple Green, we buy it at the dollar store for $5 a gallon and its legal water base. IDEM (Indiana Departement of Enviromental Management) was at our place about 5-6 years ago and they said is was fine. They told me to stick with the simple green or go to Safety Clean rental program for the other solvent because the sludge is hazardous material. If you have over so many gallons of solvent you might need a permit depending upon your state.


                      • #12
                        OP stated it was a basement shop. I think that translates to a small time or hobby shop. I wouldn't be worried about the EPA busting down the door. I would worry about my solvent tank rusting through in short order if I switched to a water based solution.


                        • #13
                          We went to a simple green type solvent to go green in the Army...
                          It took some paints off, rusted things, and once contaminated with oil/grease was just as bad for the environment, as the standard solvent that actually worked good... Required Hazmat disposal.

                          So back to Stoddard solvent...


                          • #14

                            The OP is back.......

                            Been doing some research and asking around.

                            Looking at 'Simple Green Crystal' for a solution. On sale at MSC for $75 for 5 gallons (plus freight of course). Mix at 4 to 1 or 5 to 1 in my 20 gallon tank.

                            For a heating element either a 200 watt or a 300 watt magnetic engine block heater vs. a 1000 watt bucket heater. There are two of the latter out there. One is thermostatically controlled at 110 degrees max which my wife says isn't hot enough to clean well. The other type isn't themostatically limited.

                            Narrowing it down, but still open to suggestion.