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Thread: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

  1. #26
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Again, here's the bottle I clean strings with (touching the fretboard in the act but doing no damage so far) for over a decade now.



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  2. #27

    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Wondering if Adam Steffey has had any problems with the WD40 he uses(used) to clean his strings/fretboard?

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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    The Teak oil that i use is specifically made for use on furniture. It extremely thin & watery & wipes on / off very easily without leaving any sticky residue behind. I've used it on every instrument i've owned in the last 45 years with no problems.

    It isn't derived from Teak wood - but is FOR Teak wood,or any hard wood. It's basically a blend of Tung & Linseed oils & solvents to thin it down.

    There are many different 'Teak oils',some for boats & garden furniture that take up to 24 hours to dry after application - hardly for use on fingerboards. Choose the correct one & it'll be fine,
    Ivan
    Both Tung and linseed oils are "wiping varnishes": these are oils that happen to polymerize and harden (oxidize) in the air after application, and they leave a permanent film coating the wood. They can, and are, used as finishes on instruments, guns, boats, furniture, etc. Your "teak oil" contains these varnishes! I, myself, would not ever consider using it on my own fretboard for an instant. The fretboard on the mandolin should be an unfinished wood which is protected by the high levels of natural oils found in it, like ebony, rosewood, etc. It's entirely possible that the tung and linseed oils in your formulation are so diluted with solvents in the product that the film residue they leave behind is small -- but then again, I wouldn't choose to treat my fingerboard with those solvents, either! These solvents dissolve oil (by design), and they will also tend to remove the natural oils in the fingerboard, plus the natural skin oils deposited by the player, which together serve to protect the wood. Writing for myself, I do not believe that any formulation of tung and linseed oils diluted in a solvent is a desirable treatment for the fretboard.

    Mineral oil is not a wiping varnish. Furthermore, it is not suspended in solvents that dissolve and remove natural oils. A small amount on the fingerboard, which is applied with a rag and immediately wiped away to remove any surface gunk, can beautify and protect the fingerboard. Many luthiers recommend this treatment, and commercial products designed for fretboards use it. Or, as others have noted, you can decide to use it to clean the strings only and keep all oils away from the fingerboard (except those that come naturally from your skin).

  4. #29
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by V70416 View Post
    Wondering if Adam Steffey has had any problems with the WD40 he uses(used) to clean his strings/fretboard?
    I seriously doubt it has caused any problems for him. In my 30 years of wood maintenance and finishing, I've used WD40 on certain jobs as a wood panel conditioner with no ill effects. NOTE -I'm not recommending its use necessarily; plain mineral oil (a petroleum distillate) is fine and simple.

    WD40 contains about 25% mineral oil. The rest:

    50% aliphatic hydrocarbons*
    10% "inert ingredients"
    The rest is stuff to make it atomize for use in spray cans, and evaporates off before it hits the surface.

    *aliphatic hydrocarbons - Nobody knows just what this is, as the company says no more on this. Naphtha (benzene) is an aliphatic hydrocarbon compound, but who knows whether WD40 is 50% naphtha? I surely don't.
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I seriously doubt it has caused any problems for him. In my 30 years of wood maintenance and finishing, I've used WD40 on certain jobs as a wood panel conditioner with no ill effects. NOTE -I'm not recommending its use necessarily; plain mineral oil (a petroleum distillate) is fine and simple.

    WD40 contains about 25% mineral oil. The rest:

    50% aliphatic hydrocarbons*
    10% "inert ingredients"
    The rest is stuff to make it atomize for use in spray cans, and evaporates off before it hits the surface.

    *aliphatic hydrocarbons - Nobody knows just what this is, as the company says no more on this. Naphtha (benzene) is an aliphatic hydrocarbon compound, but who knows whether WD40 is 50% naphtha? I surely don't.
    Mark -- I agree, and here's more: According to their MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet), supplied by the manufacturer for the latest version of their aerosol product, WD-40 contains this:

    CAS (name) CAS No % by weight EC Number Symbol R-Phrases

    NAPHTHA (PETROLEUM) 64742-48-9 67% 649-327-00-6 -- R10 R66

    HYDROTREATED HEAVY MINERAL OIL 64742-65-0 21% 5-169-7 -- --

    CARBON DIOXIDE 124-38-9 2-3% N/A

    NON HAZARDOUS INGREDIENT <10% N/A --

    That would make WD-40 about 70% naphtha and 20% mineral oil. The rest are aerosol propellants and a few other "non-hazardous" ingredients, which could be anything, really.

    So, that doesn't look too bad to me, so long as you remember to wipe away any film and leave as little residue as possible. That means that the folks who use WD-40 are not crazy for doing so! Still, I'd opt for using food-grade mineral oil, myself. It has no petroleum smell, and it's much more pure (no 10% "mystery stuff"). But WD-40 could act like a good naphtha-based surface cleaner if you wanted to use it that way, and also wished to leave a thin, clean oil residue behind after the naphtha evaporated.

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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Bertram, According to their MSDS, "Dr. Duck's Ax Wax and String Lube" contains "highly refined petroleum distillates." That's not enough to say exactly what's in it, but it could well consist of mineral oil, plus some organic solvents like naphtha, which would make it a close cousin of WD-40! But it also has a yellow color and a lemon scent, suggesting other ingredients in small quantities, such as kerosene and lemon oil (or citronella).

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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    That means that the folks who use WD-40 are not crazy for doing so! Still, I'd opt for using food-grade mineral oil, myself. It has no petroleum smell, and it's much more pure (no 10% "mystery stuff"). But WD-40 could act like a good naphtha-based surface cleaner if you wanted to use it that way, and also wished to leave a thin, clean oil residue behind after the naphtha evaporated.
    Of the two, one works really well for me and the other can feel sticky after a bit. I don't want either onto my fretboard by more than trace amounts.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    sblock - The 'Teak' oil that i use,is,as i say specifically for application to Teak & other hardwood furniture. It's nothing akin to a varnish because the solvent that the oils are mixed with make it a very watery oil indeed,
    Ivan

    This looks like a very similar product :-
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  9. #34
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    [QUOTE=Mark Gunter;1659762.... Naphtha (benzene) is an aliphatic hydrocarbon...[/QUOTE]

    Mark, I've never seen naphtha equated with benzene. I don't think they're the same, although related.
    Phil

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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Dr, Duck’s Axe Wax is recommended by Blue Lion Dulcimers for cleaning and treating their rosewood fretboards. If you are not familiar with Blue Lion they are pretty much like the Gibson of the dulcimer world.

    Martin also recommends Dr. Duck’s to treat their fretboards. My understanding is they use it at the factory.

    Dr. Duck’s is marketed a cleaner polish for the rest of the instrument. I have used it for fretboards and it works well. It is very thin, and has a tendency to go where you don’t want it, so you have to be careful. If you get it on your clothes, carpet, etc. you’ll have a devil of a time getting the stain out. Guess how I know that? The mineral oil/ “lemon” oil preparations do just as good a job and their more viscous body makes them easier to use IMHO.

    It’s funny they call it “Axe Wax” and then go on to tell you it has no wax in it. To me, it seems like some kind of VERY thin oil, probably petroleum based.

    Martin, in a video which appears on the Dr. Ducks wesite, also says that 3 in 1 oil can be used on a fretboard. That’s one I never heard before.
    Don

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  12. #36
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    I can confirm that AxWax is rather thin and creepable, which makes it ideal for string cleaning since it goes between the windings by itself. You have to dry it off with a dry cloth afterwards, of course.
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Mark, I've never seen naphtha equated with benzene. I don't think they're the same, although related.
    Some helpful chemistry: Basically, there are two types of hydrocarbon molecule found in natural sources like oil and coal tar: the type that have straight or branched carbon chains, and the type that have rings of carbons. The first type are known as "aliphatic" hydrocarbons (they are mostly odorless). The second type are known as "aromatic" hydrocarbons (so named because they often have an odor).

    Unbranched molecules like methane, ethane, propane, butane, hexane, all the way up to very long-chain polymer molecules, which form the basis for things like like mineral oil, other types of oil, and waxes (paraffins), are all examples of (mostly) mixtures of aliphatic hydrocarbons. They tend to be colorless and odorless, for the most part.

    Molecules like benzene and naphtha are aromatic hydrocarbons. Many of these molecules have a tendency to be carcinogenic. Aromatic compounds are all formed with carbon rings. Aromatic compounds often display odor and a bit of color (usually yellow or darker), and that is why complex hydrocarbon mixtures like gasoline tend to smell. Benzene is the smallest and simplest aromatic hydrocarbon: it's just a single, hexagonal ring of carbons attached to hydrogens. Naphtha is a DOUBLE RING of carbons, two hexagons joined by a single side, attached to hydrogens.

    So no, benzene and naphtha are definitely not the same. Naphtha has a lower vapor pressure (less volatile), for example, and a lower flash point (less flammable). Benzene is much more toxic than naphtha, too.

    If a commercial product contains "aliphatic hydrocarbons" from petroleum distillates or from coal tar, it could have a mixture of all sorts of things in it, in principle, including oils and waxes. You just can't tell much from that description. Ditto if they just tell you it has "aromatic hydrocarbons." But aromatic compounds are considered to be more of a health hazard to humans, in general.
    Last edited by sblock; Jun-14-2018 at 11:40am.

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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I've used WD40 on certain jobs as a wood panel conditioner with no ill effects. NOTE -I'm not recommending its use necessarily; plain mineral oil (a petroleum distillate) is fine and simple.
    Well, I used a bit of WD40 to remove some deep-seated adhesive from a piece of mahogany, and it did the trick, while also having a conditioning effect on the wood around it. That said -- I had to do some sanding and scraping since I wasn't going with an oiled finish for the rest of the piece!

    FYI it was the back plate from a dulcimer kit, which had other pieces affixed to it with masking tape for, say, 10 years or more? but it all turned out OK!

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  17. #39
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Holy Katz... I seem to have opened a proverbial can of worms... or a bottle of oil... maybe a can of oily worms

    So the simple answer as found much earlier in the thread is this: mineral oil is good for cleaning strings and ok if it gets on the fretboard.

    Hey here's a fun idea... let's talk about tonegards and armrests .... ooooh and those vibrating machines that supposedly improve tone!!!... that'll be fun

    Just playing guys... this has been interesting.
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  19. #40
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Mark, I've never seen naphtha equated with benzene. I don't think they're the same, although related.
    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    Some helpful chemistry: ...
    Benzene is the smallest and simplest aromatic hydrocarbon: it's just a single, hexagonal ring of carbons attached to hydrogens. Naphtha is a DOUBLE RING of carbons, two hexagons joined by a single side, attached to hydrogens.

    So no, benzene and naphtha are definitely not the same. Naphtha has a lower vapor pressure (less volatile), for example, and a lower flash point (less flammable). Benzene is much more toxic than naphtha, too.
    Phil & sblock, thank you for making me look closer at the chemicals today!

    Phil, I have heard benzene equated with naphtha, in my readings long ago. I'm not sure where I read that error, maybe Bob Flexnor's Understanding Wood Finishes but I can't be sure, I just remember distinctly "learning" that somewhere in my readings.

    Of course you guys are correct, and I've learned something new about the chemicals today, however insignificant in practical matters, at least I won't make that mistake in nomenclature again if my mind remains intact after all the finishes I've inhaled over my 63 years.

    ***
    Remembering now that it was in studying carcinogens that I saw, or thought I saw, benzene equated to naphtha, not that it matters. I got the idea long ago in my studies.
    Last edited by Mark Gunter; Jun-14-2018 at 8:21pm. Reason: add'l info
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Streip View Post
    Well, I used a bit of WD40 to remove some deep-seated adhesive from a piece of mahogany, and it did the trick, while also having a conditioning effect on the wood around it. That said -- I had to do some sanding and scraping since I wasn't going with an oiled finish for the rest of the piece!

    FYI it was the back plate from a dulcimer kit, which had other pieces affixed to it with masking tape for, say, 10 years or more? but it all turned out OK!
    Drew, part of what I've done in the past has been to tackle maintenance on architectural millwork in scores of the high rise buildings in the Dallas area. One encounters a problem as to what product to use when cleaning/conditioning dead flat architectural panels. Whatever product and method you use, you need to avoid leaving any "shiny spots" - and some products and methods which work well on other finishes will cause this problem on dead flat, super hard finishes.

    Over the years, the best solutions I've found for cleaning architectural panels in this situation is either a vegetable soap in water solution (like Murphy's Oil Soap), or WD40. I've come to prefer WD40 for the reasons sblock outlined earlier, cleans extremely well and leaves only the barest trace of mineral oil behind. No liability of water damage, or drying with water spots or soap spots, which are possibilities with a vegetable oil soap.
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  21. #42
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Phil & sblock, thank you for making me look closer at the chemicals today!
    ....
    @Mark: Sorry Mark; I thought sblock was asleep.

    @sblock: Just kidding!
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  23. #43
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    @Mark: Sorry Mark; I thought sblock was asleep.

    @sblock: Just kidding!


    Hey Phil, sblock is not my nemesis, I've learned alot from his helpful posts the last few years -- except when he insists that going counter-clockwise around the circle is not moving down in fifths. He can be forgiven for that, since it yields the same note as moving up in fourths. Some things depend on perspective.

    Only reason I got involved in the builder's realm is because some folk seem to fear WD40 on their instrument finishes, and Adam Steffey was mentioned as one who uses it.
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  24. #44
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Oh, I totally agree.
    I actively look for posts by sblock. He always brings an informed approach to our discussions. I learn a lot from both of you.
    I admit that I did get a bit dizzy while you guys were discussing the "Circle" that day.
    Phil

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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post


    Hey Phil, sblock is not my nemesis, I've learned alot from his helpful posts the last few years -- except when he insists that going counter-clockwise around the circle is not moving down in fifths. He can be forgiven for that, since it yields the same note as moving up in fourths. Some things depend on perspective.

    Only reason I got involved in the builder's realm is because some folk seem to fear WD40 on their instrument finishes, and Adam Steffey was mentioned as one who uses it.
    personal experience has taught me not to down fifths.
    2012 Weber Bitterroot F5.

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  27. #46

    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Have used Dr. Ducks for many years. Tried all other string cleaners and Ducks works best for me.

  28. #47
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mineral Oil for Maintenance?

    Thought I'd follow up on this thread, since I did get involved, and now a prominent luthier has contacted me with some solid information about chemicals and with some relevant information on caring for strings and fretboards.

    The most important thing that he had to say can be expressed in the old cliche, "A little goes a long way." So I'll share what I do with my own instruments, which follows that adage.

    Every couple years, during a string change, I clean and condition unfinished fret board with a bit of naphtha followed by mineral oil, used very sparingly. I never clean or use any product whatsoever on my strings (I prefer the coated EXP74CM strings). All I do for my instruments occasionally is dust them with a dry rag, and change strings when I think they need it. If an instrument becomes soiled somehow, I use a small amount of cleaning agent on a rag to clean the soiled area, just enough to clean away the soiling. This could be a bit of moisture, a bit of soap, or a bit of naphtha, depending on what the soiling is. I never close an instrument in a case immediately after a cleaning, it's a terrible idea to trap moisture or solvent -- which inhibits speedy evaporation.

    On any wood product, be it a musical instrument or a piece of fine furniture, I'm a firm believer in "less is best" when applying any solution. Conversely, overuse of any cleaning or polishing product on wood may cause damage to the finish over time. For those who do prefer to coat their strings or wooden parts of their instruments on a regular basis, the advice of this luthier to me was to do it sparingly and wipe away all excess. To do otherwise might invite dust to be attracted to the oils, which can have a detrimental abrasive effect over time. I concur with all that.
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