Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two random discoveries

I made two random discoveries this weekend, although in hindsight neither were that remarkable. The first one isn't really mine; it was a tip from Wise Bread that was just simply irresistible: using bar soap to clean your bathroom (and, I suspect, anywhere else that needs it). It does, in fact, work the way Myscha says it does. It really is that quick and simple and wonderful, and AMAZING. I'd post before-and-after photos of our sink, but you probably don't need to know what we keep around it.

The other random discovery arose as I was building this:

It's two shelves for the balcony garden; the top one will hold the tomatoes, and the bottom one will hold the zucchini and cukes. It's pretty big; it's almost 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide (not exact dimensions), but it's almost finished--not bad for an afternoon's worth of work.

Anyway: because it's going to sit outdoors, the (cheap-ass yellow) pine* needed a water-repellent stain. Now, if you're like me, you tend to avoid projects that involve a lot of brushwork, because you're an absolute klutz with a brush, and worse than a pre-schooler when it comes to getting paints everywhere. But this couldn't be avoided, and so, with a heavy heart, I started staining the wood.

Needless to say I did, in fact, get the stain everywhere. However, our balcony really doesn't look any more stained than it did when I went in, thanks to...sunflower oil.

Organic chemistry is about two things: carboxyl groups and "like dissolves like". I honestly don't have an application for carboxyl groups yet, but I've used the "like dissolves like" to great effect, especially when cleaning. Generally speaking, the rule is that water-based compounds require an aqueous medium to remove, and oil-based compounds require--you guessed it--an oil-based medium.

Strictly speaking, the solvents in oil-based stains are not oils, at least not in the typical structure. But they are certainly hydrophobic enough to be mostly dissolved in oils.

So, for this project, if I saw a fresh drip, I'd dribble a little sunflower oil onto it, and watch it come right off. It doesn't work as well once the stuff is dry, though, so you still have to be vigilant. But it smells tons better than turpentine, and you don't have to feel terrible about the environmental effects--though, make no mistake, huge quantities of whatever oil are bad for the environment, but small quantities of turpentine are definitely more detrimental than small quanitities of sunflower oil

*Pine comes in two types: yellow and white. Yellow pine is notorious for: knots, splintering, and cracking. Try to avoid it if you can.

1 comment:

Chessiq said...

Good work!
I bought a BRITA drink bottle today. I removed the label and some parts of it were stuck because of some tough glue. I fought the glue with soap and I would say, I won... 80% ;-)
I guess I should look up what can dissolve the glue.
Very nice blog