Re: toxicity of sealants

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "M. N." <mnessmith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> >When I get a new MB, I immediately do this to the plates. Then I
> > take that key sticker from the box and put it on the top cover plate
> > and  coat it with a dab of clear nail polish for longevity; then I take
> > the reed plates off and adjust the gaps; and give the combs a quick
> >  spray or two of a water-based polyurethane coating (I tried
> > shellac but had a mild allergy).
> > Once they've dried and I have the reeds gapped the way I want,
> > I re-assemble
> > using needle-nose pliers to jam those little nails back

Rob replies:
>From: "Robert Paparozzi" <chromboy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>     Great tweaking tips for the MB, but I was wondering about the health
>effects of "Clear Nail Polish" and "polyurethane"......................are
>they totally safe when dry??? just wondering about putting all this in our
>mouth for hours of  wet sucking and blowing!
>all the best......rob paparozzi

Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 15:46:40 +0000
From: "Michael Peloquin" <peloquinharp@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: toxicity of sealants

The way I hear it, after these sealants dry they are non-toxic.
Michael Peloquin

Its a good question to raise though.

I wouldn't stake my reputation on it, but I think most household nail polishes
used on reeds and on the covers should be reasonably safe once dry.  I'm pretty
sure in these "law suit happy" times US cosmetic companies would be rather
nervous about selling a product that is dangerous to injest, because no doubt
someone somewhere will end up with it in their mouth at some point.  Lynda
Schemansky is probably one of the most qualified harmonica musicians to comment
on the matter, but I'm not sure if shes on Harp-L any longer.

I personally found that spray on oil based polyurethane, even when left to cure
for a week irritated my lips.  I could feel them tingling, they got red within
minutes of playing and were sore for a few hours afterwards.  I do not recommend
using oil based polyurethane.

I put quite a bit of time into looking into the relative safety of various
sealants before selling any wood comb harmonicas to anyone.
The only polyurethane I'd feel comfortable about recommending others to use or
using on a customer's harmonica is water based non-toxic polyurethane -
generally the sort intended for children's toys and/or food bowls.   I certainly
recommend it above beeswax for a number of reasons that have been covered fairly
exaustively on this group even before I was a member.

There have been some excellent posts in the past on Harp-L regarding
sealants.... including a very sane email from Lynda who is qualified to know,
and of course Pat Missin has contributed plenty of emails, he who has worked on
other people's harmonicas for a living for around a decade, which is a fairly
substancial experience base.  I haven't located the relevant links, so I'll
leave you to search the archives for them.

Generally water based non toxic "fruit bowl" polyurethane hasn't appeared to
cause any problems to any group members to date... at least the ones who are
still with us anyway.

Water based polyurethane forms air bubbles when sprayed on, I suggest getting it
in a tin and using a rag or thin brush to apply it.  Keep the first coat or two
really thin so the comb doesn't soak it up and warp which is what you're trying
to avoid in the first place.

When in doubt its worth searching for the MSDS sheet of the product you intend
to put in your mouth, before you do.  You can search the website of the
manufactorer for the specific product.  You may need to ring, email, fax or
write a letter to them requesting it - doesn't take more than 10 minutes to do.
Or you may find the relevant MSDS sheet on their website.  And there are a
number of MSDS reference websites on the internet who include a lot of
companies' product MSDS sheets for your easy reference.

I think one of the worst suggestions I seen recently for chemicals to put on
your harmonica is internal combustion engine cleaning fluid on a chromatic
slide - second only to acidic wood floor waxing preparation agent which was
suggested only hours beforehand in the same thread. Unfortunately this was in
all seriousness.

  I imagine just thinking whether or not its appropriate to place in your mouth
whilst blowing and sucking moist air over it for extended periods of time would
be a good indicator of whether its worth persuing the MSDS sheet or not.  And if
you intend  to use it, persue the MSDS sheet anyway.

Which reminds me... the latest Hering wood comb diatonic harmonica
"Vintage 1923" ... is its comb sealed?  If so whats it sealed with?

Best Regards

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