Friday, June 3, 2011

Rubber Chlorination - The Details

As promised, I want to provide a detail follow up to the Chlorination Experiment I posted back on the 22nd. 

Now I want to go through the entire process in greater detail and why I did it. Hopefully this helps anyone who has thought about doing this to some of their gear. 

The Warning
First, I will start with the big caveat. I took this as a risk when I started, and only used a piece of rubber that I didn't particularly care that much about before I put something in that I did care about. Only because that first piece turned out so well did I do more. I am not making any promises here, and if you want to try this it is at your own risk. 

The Benefit
Now that the warning is out of the way, let me tell you why I did even more after the first one. The feeling of the rubber is incredible, and there are several other benefits as well. Let me detail what they are:

  • Return the Shine - First, the shine to the rubber is back. The piece that I had done first was very dull f but now it is super shiny all the time, with no need for much in the way of polish. I love that, because I usually hate to use lube as a polish. Gets everywhere and on everyone
  • Soft to the Touch - There is a suppleness that the rubber has taken that is very hard to describe. When it is on, its hard to not rub the hands all over the rubber because it becomes so slick. Best way to describe it is this; imagine running your hands over rubber that has been slicked up with silicon lube, but when you pull your hand away there is nothing on it, no gooey feeling. Feels just like that.
  • Easier to Put On - The natural slickness that I was talking about makes the piece so much easier to put on. You can still use a lube or powder if you want to, but it really isn't necessary, the item just slips right on. Any lube will let is slide better against the skin if you want to, and I have done both, but the process of getting into the rubber is so much easier.
  • Removes Tackiness - This particular piece was made of a type of rubber that had a lot of tackiness to it. No matter what I could do to shine it up, from the first day I got it, the thing would never stay shiny. And it would stick to itself no matter how much powder I used. Now, it is like the finest rubber, doesn't stick to itself at all and so much easier to store now. 


The Supplies
The supplies that you need are as follows:

  • A bottle of regular bleach. Don't get any kind of scented or colored bleach, just a basic bottle will do. 
  • White, distilled vinegar. Usually the cheapest form of vinegar, only a couple bucks per bottle
  • 3 10 Liter buckets (though can use larger if you want, just be at least 10L)
  • Some plastic to cover one of the buckets with. I used a plain plastic sheet that I got at Home Depot in the paint section (used to keep from getting paint on the carpet)
  • Something to stir. I used metal kitchen pot spoons as I felt metal would be easier to clean other the project was over. 
  • Two Pyrex measuring cups. One smaller that goes up to 1 cup. One larger one that will be used as a weight to hold down the rubber in the solution. I used one measuring 4 cups
  • A great deal of ventilation options to ensure you do not get chlorine gas breathed in during the process
  • Black Beauty latex polish. I don't use anything else for polishing and have no recommendations for other. Get this HERE. There is a reason why all the rubber guys I know use it.

Caution: A further note about this at this point. I did this in my kitchen, in front of a large open window. I had a shop fan set up in front of the window suck away air outdoors, an airfilter near by, and a fan across the room to create a current out the window. This created a flow of air out the window and away from me. Given all that, there were a couple of times I started to feel a little oogie. Obviously not enough to do damage, but I was walking the line here. Next time, I am going it outdoors. I suggest you do the same.

The Set Up

I set up each of the 3 buckets in a row. For the purpose of this post, I am going to call them #1, #2 and #3. In each bucket I filled with about 8 quarts of tap water, which on these buckets was about 3/4ths full. The plastic was placed behind bucket #1.

Bucket #1 will be where we create the chlorine solution.
Bucket #2 and #3 are both baths to rinse the latex during the process

You will also want to thoroughly clean the rubber you are about to process. I simply hand washed the rubber in room temperature water in the sink. 

The Solution
Each time you need to make a batch you will pour in 3/4ths of a cup of vinager and a 3/4ths of a cup of bleach into Bucket #1. This is start the chlorine reaction in 

The Process
The following are the steps you take for one pass through the solution and cleaning baths. I call this one Pass

  1. Create the solution in Bucket #1 (containing 8 qts. of water) by pouring in the 3/4th cup of vinegar in, followed by 3/4th cup of bleach. 
  2. Keeping your head away from the bucket, stir the solution throughly
  3. Drop the rubber item into the bucket, stirring a couple times to ensure the solution works into all the surface of the item. Drop the larger pyrex measuring cup on top of the rubber, allowing it to fill so that it will hold the item down as best as possible
  4. Cover with Plastic
  5. Wait 5 minutes
  6. Lift cup and stir. Cover.
  7. Wait 5 minutes
  8. Lift cup and stir. Cover.
  9. Wait 5 minutes. This will mean the rubber has been in the solution for a total of 15 minutes
  10. Take the cup out, and pull the item out of the bucket and allow the solution to drip off for about 5 seconds.
  11. Submerge the item into Bucket #2. Hand rinse the item as thoroughly as possible, then take out. 
  12. Submerge the item into Bucket #3. Hand rinse the item as thoroughly as possible. Turn the item inside out. Then set it aside on a clean towel.

That is the basic process for one Pass of the rubber item through the baths. 

You now want to repeat the this Pass again with the rubber inside out. Once that is done, you will do two more Passes, turning the item inside out each time. This will mean the item will have gone through a pass twice on each side of the garment, a total of four passes.

To ensure that the solution was optimal for each Pass, I dumped the solution bucket prior to the beginning each Pass and created a new, fresh batch. 

In summary, the total process is:

  • Run the rubber item through the first Pass, consisting of 15 minutes total in the Solution and stiring every 5 minutes. Then rinsing in each of the rinsing buckets
  • Turn inside out
  • Dump the Solution in Bucket #1 and create a new batch
  • Run the item through the second Pass
  • Turn inside out
  • Dump the Solution in Bucket #1 and create a new batch
  • Run the item through the Third Pass
  • Turn inside out
  • Dump the Solution in Bucket #1 and create a new batch
  • Run the item through the final Pass
  • Set aside on a towel

The Polishing

Ok, I am going to admit when I got to this part of the process I nearly freaked a little. The rubber suit I did this process to came out gray. Very gray. I thought I had bleached it to the point where it had lost all its black color. But this discoloration is normal and will go away with a good polishing. 

I had my handy bottle of Black Beauty latex polish nearby, as well as a buffing pad (usually found in the automotive section of a lot of store, used to apply car wax). I sprayed on a liberal amount of Black Beauty to the item, inside and out, and lightly rubbed it in, waited a few minutes to soak in, then really worked in the polish. 

As I did this the rubber because to regain its color and turn black again, and got the shine to come through. That was the last time I had to polish that piece.

The Dangers
I want to make sure that anyone who is going to attempt this keeps in mind the following  as lessons learned and cautions before moving forward.

  • The gas produced from the solution can be dangerous to inhale. Do this outdoors and keep your head away from the solution bucket as much as possible. Use the plastic cover to help with this as much as you can. 
  • There is a smell to the item for a little while, a distinct chlorine aroma that lingers to the item. I have found after a couple of wears that it goes away for the most part. Its not strong or over powering, more like that smell you get when you have been in a pool for a while and then shower, the hint of it remains

Final Thoughts
I am trying to be as thorough as possible in explaining the risks and dangers. At the same after, after I did this to one item, I decided to do it to most of my rubber piece. The feeling is just too incredible and I love how slick and shiny they have come. I might even start wearing rubber under my clothes during work hours again because of this.

I did not, however, experiment on this with anything that was really expensive, new or colored. Especially the colored rubber, of which I have a yellow muscle shirt and a blue policeman's shirt, which I don't want to risk bleaching the colors.

Also, when I did smaller pieces like jocks and shorts I did them in the same batch. At one point I did 3 smaller pieces at a time.

I hope you have found this helpful, and would love to hear how this goes for those that have decided to try it!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, I always wanted to know how to do that. Keep us posted on how well it holds up.