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 Post subject: Ronsonol (and flashlights)
PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:27 am 
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A question for luthiers and wood mavens ...

The new Zippo-made Ronsonol in the classic canary-yellow bottle no longer states "Contains naphtha", but rather "Contains light petroleum distillates". Is it still the same stuff and safe to use on wood finish?

I've done my homework, read all the MSDS sheets, etc., and I think I know the answer. I know the terms may be synonyms. Just asking to be sure.

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:03 pm 
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Well! That has been noted elsewhere, particularly on the Unofficial Martin Users Group Forum, IIRC. Some have posited that the naptha has been replaced with more refined hydrocarbons but I don't know. I'm not a chemist. It used to also be in Coleman Camp Fuel too and might still. Naptha works on your guitar by dissolving the nitrocellulose lacquer (which is also getting tougher to find in volume) and naptha also dissolves wax and other sticky stuff just like Goo Gone does. Goo Gone was a citric/naptha blend at one time and may also have changed to other distillates. The world is slowly moving to products without the volatile solvents though. Green, green , green! I guess it depends on what you need/want to do. Behlen still supplies naptha both in its spirit varnishes and as a general solvent to the luthier community. Bit higher priced than lighter fluid. Naptha should also be available though paint supply stores, AFAIK. You may have to find a store that serves the professional painter trade though. It is also getting harder to find simple un-adulterated tooth polishes too but there are plenty of pricier compounds made for the auto trade that work too.

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:51 am 
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"naptha" is the common name of Petroleum Ether. Petroleum distillates are probably the same thing. Naptha can be some pretty "dirty" stuff - it's not refined a lot. I have no idea of the definition one must be "clean" to to be called Petroleum distillates.

So, yeah - it's probably similar, but maybe cleaned up a bit more. Kinda like there are many grades of mineral oil, some much more cleaned up than others.

One way that you may be able to tell purity on the MSDS is if it has a CAS number, or it says it's a percentage of the CAS number.

If you want me to take a look, link me the MSDS and I'll see if I can give you more information.

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:02 am 
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Feadoggie wrote:
...Naptha works on your guitar by dissolving the nitrocellulose lacquer...


Oooh - why would I want to do THAT? Aren't belt buckles bad enough?

Hmmm... actually, I have an old 12-string Harmony with a big finish boo-boo - wonder if that would help smooth it out...


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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:49 am 
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kkrell wrote:
Hmmm... actually, I have an old 12-string Harmony with a big finish boo-boo - wonder if that would help smooth it out...
One use of naptha is when you have a worn area of finish re-sprayed. Naptha is frequently used to blend the new finish into the old finish. It is one of the ingredients in a lot of violin varnishes. It keeps the other ingredients flowing so you can lend it into the old finish and it acts as a lubricant at the same time. I spent way too many hours rubbing that stuff into the finish over repaired cracks on many many fiddles in my younger days.

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:33 pm 
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Thanks Feadoggie and Missy. That's helpful, so far.

Maybe I'll check the Martin board and see what they have to say.

Part of the problem is that there are no current MSDS sheets dating from after the acquisition of Ronson by Zippo in February 2010. But the most recent prior sheets list Ronsonol as ~85% "Naphtha (petroleum), light aliphatic" and Zippo lighter fluid as ~80% "VM&P naphtha". So I think it's plausible to assume that whatever is in the Ronsonol bottle now is still approximately one or the other. And the change of terminology may be in response to green regulatory pressure on the specific term "naphtha" in other wood finish products.

As far as I know, VM&P Naphtha is still sold here in San Diego (though not in the LA area). Also Coleman white gas. I simply don't want or need that much. Just an occasional dab for, e.g., stripping wax build-up, and sweat stain / water stain removal on instruments and furniture. And sometimes even filling a cigarette lighter. :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:48 pm 
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kkrell wrote:
Hmmm... actually, I have an old 12-string Harmony with a big finish boo-boo - wonder if that would help smooth it out...

I guess you could try it, depending on the type of finish and the nature of the boo-boo. You could also try Meguiar's Mirror Glaze professional auto finish products, which are standard kit in many luthier workshops. I've used the #9 Swirl Remover and the #7 Show Car Glaze to repair light damage on my Martin, with excellent results. They also make more aggressive polishes for more severe damage. And all silicone-free.

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:01 am 
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MTGuru wrote:
But the most recent prior sheets list Ronsonol as ~85% "Naphtha (petroleum), light aliphatic" and Zippo lighter fluid as ~80% "VM&P naphtha".


That's why I asked if they have percent based on CAS# (Chemical Abstract registry System). CAS# are given to individual, pure chemicals. So you should be able to tell if it's really the same thing or not.

Also, look at the HFR (health, fire, reactivity). If it's the same ratings on both, you've probably got the same stuff. A higher percentage of petroleum ether is going to give a higher F number.

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:19 pm 
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For those that question the tradition of using Ronsonol on your guitars... it was good enough for Jimi....Image He demonstrates his preferred technique six minutes into the video.

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:03 am 
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missy wrote:
That's why I asked if they have percent based on CAS# (Chemical Abstract registry System). CAS# are given to individual, pure chemicals. So you should be able to tell if it's really the same thing or not.

Thanks again, Missy, good info. I appreciate your expertise, and I'll take a look.

I'm actually not so concerned about purity or exact composition as usability. And in this case, I'm now pretty sure it's still OK. :-)

Feadoggie wrote:
For those that question the tradition of using Ronsonol on your guitars... it was good enough for Jimi....

I wonder if Michael Flatley uses Ronsonol on his feet?

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:02 pm 
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Do what I do (of course I would say that):

Go to the paint shop and buy pure naphtha by the quart. For the sake of Auld Lang Syne, decant some into your old red can (or yellow plastic squeeze-bottle) and carry on.



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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:50 pm 
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Rob Sharer wrote:
Do what I do (of course I would say that):

Rob, I might do what you do if you lived in Southern California. :wink:

My understanding is that AQMD here has banned the sale of VM&P naphtha by the quart/gallon, etc. I'm not sure if San Diego is following that lead. But I'll find out the next time I visit Home Depot and I'll report back.

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:27 am 
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Well, if you can't get it, then...erm...maybe one of my <cough> friends could send you a jag.



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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:44 am 
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Right, thanks! Brown paper package, transfer at midnight in a dark alley ...

My crack web research tells me that the market for illicit trade in naphtha has less to do with Jimi's guitar refinishing technique, and more with what Jimi's audience was "experiencing".

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Ronsonol
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:33 am 
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MTGuru wrote:
My understanding is that AQMD here has banned the sale of VM&P naphtha by the quart/gallon, etc. I'm not sure if San Diego is following that lead. But I'll find out the next time I visit Home Depot and I'll report back.

I finally made my pilgrimage to the great Temple of DIY, with all due reverence and awe.

As I suspected ... no VM&P naptha paint thinner to be found. Not even in smaller quantities. In fact, the high priest - er, sales associate - told me that most of the current solvents will be gone from the shelves within a year or so, to be replaced by more eco-friendly goo which may or may not work as well.

As far as I know, Coleman "white gas" fuel is available at REI and other outdoor stores here. So that's probably my best source of bulk naphtha for now. Either that, or Rob's *ahem* offer. I know a great meeting spot out in the desert, if you don't mind scorpions. :wink:

I did find a good deal on Maglight LED flashlights, though!

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