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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:50 am 
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Recently read a 'how to' sanitize a TW, which are usually made of tin or plastic and it got me thinking.

So seeing a lot of used wooden flutes for sale I began to wonder about their cost
to my health. Not only the heap of money they command these days, especially when
I know that back in my youth such things were to be had for very little in junk/pawn shops, but the
fact that using one could kill me! Because in those days it was a big thing to not get a nasty disease from that source.

I mention TB as it has recently returned in a more virulent form, not to mention all the other
nasty things one can get from breathing over a used wet warm wooden tube which may have belonged to an asthmatic, TB surviving, smoking, hospital bio-hazard janitor.

Am I making a case for only buying non wooden flutes? Or suggesting one should only buy new?

Neither.

I am asking what can be done to kill all the health hazards likely living inside the damp warm fungus friendly environment of a wooden flute.

Thanks in advance for your comments.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:20 am 
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I occasionally get instruments that have become ecosystems through improper storage - sealed containers usually in too humid an environment. Some have had mushrooms growing on them!

First remove any keys or metal parts that can be easily removed.

Outside with the flute downwind I would clean them up mechanically. Then I would immerse the entire thing in Everclear Alcohol - 180 proof. here in Washington one has to have a permit for that but not so in Oregon so that is where I buy it. For worth case scenarios I'll leave the wood in there for 5 minutes or more - once an entire day in a sealed container. I store biological specimens that way. Then the instrument is removed, the alcohol is shaken off and the instrument rinsed with more alcohol. Note that this will strip any 19th century varnishes. Also, rings etc. will come loose.

The instrument is then given a thorough cleaning inside and out and in tone holes - every surface. Finish is reapplied, repairs done as needed and the bore sometimes sanded with 180 sand paper if really rough - or higher grades if it was meant to be polished. Metal is glued back on, keys (which have also been sterilized etc.) repadded and remounted etc. and the flute can be considered free of TB, Anthrax or Olwell's germs.

However, if the flute is infected with cooties and germs from Terry McGee then the best thing is to toss it into the nearest bin or dumpster, especially if the flute is festooned with bedbugs as well. There is no hope for these ones and most of his flutes are infected, I know for a fact. Olwells aren't that much better and should almost be tossed. That is how and why Matt Molloy got rid of his first one. He just claimed it was stolen for the insurance money. What a fraudster!

Wouldn't you agree with me Terry?

Casey

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Last edited by Casey Burns on Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:20 am 
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Fildafluter wrote:
Recently read a 'how to' sanitize a TW, which are usually made of tin or plastic and it got me thinking.

I am asking what can be done to kill all the health hazards likely living inside the damp warm fungus friendly environment of a wooden flute.



I’m certain you will get well intentioned responses, but answering this question accurately would take a highly specialized medical professional or research scientist specializing in a VERY specific area of knowledge. This isn’t the place where you can get a well educated enough answer to stake your health and well being on.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:26 am 
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Loren reminded me - his flutes are just as rasty and germ-infected as Pat;'s and Terry's. Don't get me started on mine.... Its horrifying when some of my old and soon to die clients send me flutes I made back in the early 1980s to fix or repurpose. Am picking up a few in a week. What am I supposed to do with these? I have recurring nightmares that 38 years worth of flute production is headed to me for warranty thread rewrapping and other repairs as if I want to do this in my old age!

Casey

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:25 am 
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The alcohol treatment, or maybe an acetone swabbing, sounds good for a flute that's just totally crapped out with mold. A less aggressive treatment might be better for a flute that looks good otherwise, and you just want a little reassurance that it's not harboring any residual nasties.

One option would be a commercial kitchen sanitizer like Alpet D2 (link below). I use the spray to sanitize cutting boards after use with raw chicken. You can get it as a spray bottle, wipes, or a 5 gallon container (that one's expensive):

https://www.amazon.com/Alpet-D2-Surface ... 114&sr=8-5

Personally, and with standard disclaimers that I am not a medical professional, I wouldn't worry too much about sterilizing a used wooden flute as long as it looks dry inside and has no funky odors. Wood has a self-sanitizing property of wicking moisture down into the grain as it dries, and bacteria and mold don't thrive in a dry environment. If the flute is still wet inside on arrival, smells funky and has fuzzy mold spots, then I'd be looking for the acetone or Alpet D2 treatment.

FWIW, both the higher-end wooden flutes I've purchased were played at some point before they were sold. I just took a quick look inside, seemed dry enough, so I just started playing them (and lived to tell the tale). I admit that excitement at finally getting my hands on a new (to me) flute, and wanting to immediately see what it sounded like, might have been a factor.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:35 am 
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Hmm, another reason for delrin &/or metal flutes..... :D

(As an aside, I just got some pre used wooden combed harmonicas & have yet to sanitize them - I have been suggested to use hydrogen peroxide on cotton buds to clean/sanitize them - I'm in the UK.)

I've also been told ultra violet lamps will kill the bugs.

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Last edited by fatmac on Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:37 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:35 am 
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Gamma rays.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:43 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Gamma rays.



But then you gotta worry about your flute Hulking out on you when you flub notes. :tantrum:


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:10 pm 
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Loren wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Gamma rays.

But then you gotta worry about your flute Hulking out on you when you flub notes. :tantrum:

Amaze your friends.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:22 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Loren wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Gamma rays.

But then you gotta worry about your flute Hulking out on you when you flub notes. :tantrum:

Amaze your friends.

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:lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:29 pm 
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This is an interesting question. Some years ago there are a listing on Woodenflute.com. A person was selling a keyless Grinter, Mopane I believe. It had become moldy according to the listing and she had become ill from it. She was only selling the body for this reason. I was interested in the flute if she would sell it all to me. I thought I could, somewhere in the professional instrument repair community in Chicago find some experienced repairer who could sanitize it for me. But she felt it a biohazard and would not let me take the risk. If Jon C. is reading these posts these days I am sure he would have experience and an opinion, as may Jem. My thinking in my attempt to purchase the moldy Grinter was that this could not be a new problem given the nature of wooden flutes and the centuries of their use. We do do a delicate dance of enough humidification to keep the wood stable but not enough to mold. I believe Jon C. has a story regarding the restoration of Josie McDermott's flute. But I cannot remember the details.

Also, just in case some extreme newbie is reading this thread, be aware: the gibes about Terry's flutes having bed bugs or popping Olwell's in the dumpster are good natured jokes. (Or are they) HaHa :D


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:05 pm 
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busterbill wrote:
We do do a delicate dance of enough humidification to keep the wood stable but not enough to mold.

In all seriousness, I never really monitored how much I humidified; so long as the ferrules weren't slipping off I figured that I had it right enough, and my first line of defense against mold or mildew was to take the flute out of its case daily for an airing. The approach seems to have worked, because I never did get any mold. But climate may have had much to do with it, too.

Abating already-existing nasties is a different matter, though. I've heard that a product called Duponol has some popularity among recorder players, but I don't know anything about it, myself.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:53 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:

Abating already-existing nasties is a different matter, though. I've heard that a product called Duponol has some popularity among recorder players, but I don't know anything about it, myself.


Duponol is a surfactant added to detergents and cleaners but has no significant anti-bacterial, anti-viral, or anti-fungal properties.

Having been tasked professionally with the cleaning of thousands of recorders, many of them quite nasty, I can tell you from experience that Duponol ain’t what yer after for effective biological warfare against the health hazards.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:10 pm 
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Loren wrote:
Having been tasked professionally with the cleaning of thousands of recorders, many of them quite nasty, I can tell you from experience that Duponol ain’t what yer after for effective biological warfare against the health hazards.

I saw a recommendation for a 2-to-1 ratio of water to vinegar, respectively. What would you say to that?

For killing pathogens vinegar's a good bet, but I don't know how it would affect the wood.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:25 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Loren wrote:
Having been tasked professionally with the cleaning of thousands of recorders, many of them quite nasty, I can tell you from experience that Duponol ain’t what yer after for effective biological warfare against the health hazards.

I saw a recommendation for a 2-to-1 ratio of water to vinegar, respectively. What would you say to that?

For killing pathogens vinegar's a good bet, but I don't know how it would affect the wood.



You ever see vinegar dispensers in a hospital? I mean, aside from the cafeteria salad bar.


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