Hi Tom,

Before thinking about which highly water soluble alcohols might be safer or how much to use, you need to consider purity.  For utmost safety only very pure alcohols, reagent grade or equivalent, should be considered along with a careful consideration of the minor contaminants.  Even under significant dilution with water, some of the minor components can be aggressive toward a shellac disc surface.   Supported by the presence of alcohols, trace contaminants will increase the chances of visually &/or audibly damaging a given shellac disc. 

After careful consideration of what's on the surface of a freshly pressed disc, whether shellac or vinyl, we recognized that thorough cleaning from simple alcohol-water mixtures alone was not possible.  In a systematic study, low levels of methanol, isopropanol,  95% ethanol or n-propanol were added to a variety of carefully selected pre-tested surfactant blends [examples of well defined, stable chemicals with high water solubility, that rinse easily & possess broad based activity] to determine whether the alcohols would improve the effectiveness of the surfactant blends.

Our preliminary evaluations, both visual & listening, led  to the exclusion of methanol & isopropanol from further consideration.  Tax issues aside, early tests on vinyl pressings identified 1-propanol [aka normal or n-propanol; 1-propyl alcohol] as the preferred alcohol with non-denatured, reagent grade 95% ethanol a close 2nd.  

With very minor adjustment, the formulation favored for cleaning vinyl  pressings became equally effective & safe for shellac & lacquer.  Within proprietary constraints & in accord with US shipping requirements, the components of our cleaning fluids are listed on the packaging.  The concentration of alcohol is less than 10% by volume.  

As Graham Newton said earlier this evening:  "There aren't really any "secrets" in the chemistry of cleaning solutions that any good chemist couldn't tell you, but if you don't know what you are using, then I suggest you DON'T USE IT!"

We chose to blend chemicals known as safe, stable, biodegradable, highly water solubility, easy to remove & effective.  And then we tested the final concoction for 8 years before offering it for sale.  There's an audible difference between clean & thoroughly clean; it matters more to some than others.  An added bonus is the observation that well cleaned discs are highly resistant to biological regrowth.


Duane Goldman

On Mar 2, 2011, at 12:32 PM, Tom Fine wrote:

> Duane,
> Can you be specific about which type of alcohol is safe and in what concentrations? I thought alcohols of all type damage shellac. If you are suggesting a very dillute amount of alcohol, can you specify its usefulness in such small concentrations? Not doubting your word, just wanting some more facts.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "H D Goldman" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 1:12 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Keith Monks cleaning fluids
> Tom,
> Record cleaning solutions containing "alcohol" can be used safely on shellac pressings provided wise choices are made with respect to the water soluble alcohol in question & its concentration in the working solution.  It's been demonstrated for over 25 years that safe & thorough cleaning of vinyl & shellac pressings can indeed be accomplished with a carefully assembled water-based formulation of surfactants & wetting agents.  Repeated & extensive listening evaluations have clearly demonstrated the value & safety of including low concentrations of a specific, reagent grade, water soluble alcohol in surfactant mixtures specifically developed for the cleaning of vinyl, shellac, acetate, lacquer & Diamond Disc surfaces.
> The purity of methyl, ethyl, n-propyl & isopropyl alcohols readily available to the general consumer should never be assumed safe for use in home brews regardless of the amount used.
> There are an endless number of ways to "clean" phonograph records, very few are thorough & safe. Thorough is an audible step beyond good.
> Cheers,
> Duane Goldman

H D Goldman Lagniappe Chemicals Ltd. 
PO Box 37066 St. Louis, MO 63141 USA
v/f 314 205 1388 [log in to unmask]