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  1. #1
    Junior Member New Bottler
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    Cleaning gunk from the river

    Hello,

    I am new to this forum but I have been collecting for about 7 years now. The majority of people here tend to dig for their bottles, I snorkel for them in the Charles River. I have always had an issue with a black scale-like substance covering the outside and inside of bottles I fish out. It is easy enough to scrub the outsides of the bottles but i cannot get enough force with a wire brush on the insides to make any meaningful progress. I was wondering if there is a solution I can bathe my bottles in that will help break down this scale. Here are some before and after cleaning photos of a Dr. Swett's root beer I dove for this past Thursday, hopefully that sheds some light on what I am dealing with. I am sorry I do not know why the images are on their side.

    Best,
    FRA
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_9763.jpg   IMG_9769.jpg  

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bottle Master Screwtop's Avatar
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    I hear what you're saying. I find bottles like that in creeks, and that gunk won't come out for nothin'. Tumbling would work like a charm, but that's too expensive for bottles like you are holding right there.
    In all my perplexity's and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.
    - Robert E. Lee

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bottle Master
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    Mar 2008
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    Since there is no ACL present what about a strong toilet bowl cleaner or CLR soaking? What are you using now? I was watching a guy on Youtube who restores old toy and he places the plastics and
    rubber wheels that have crud built up on them in a Simple Green solution and places them in what looks like a large ultrasonic jewelry cleaner I would think the agitating process might help loosen the
    gunk on the inside. And I'm sure there are some folks here that can tell you what works best... Good luck and keep us posted on what you find.

  4. #4
    Junior Member New Bottler
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    I will look into the cleaner, I think that's my best bet right now. I suppose I can shake the bottles to simulate an agitation. Right now I'm just using the rough side of a sponge and occasionally some strong dish soap.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bottle Master
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    Mar 2008
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    CLR you can get almost any place Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart or ACE Hardware it does well on Lime and rust... a good toilet bowl cleaner may do well too.. since there is no label.
    Check this link to a post here also about using oxalic acid to clean bottles:

    https://www.antique-bottles.net/show...188#post716188

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bottle Master Harry Pristis's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
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    Northcentral Florida
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    Start with CLR, move on to oxalic acid, then muriatic acid. As long as there is no paint on the bottle, the glass will not be affected by these acids.



  7. #7
    Senior Member Bottle Master GLASSHOPPER55's Avatar
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    Feb 2015
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    LaPorte County, Indiana
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    What I have done for over 30 years or more, is mix a 50/50 mix of liquid Drano and (Red Devil) powdered LYE (like soapmakers use). If you've seen that black coating railroad insulators get from train exhaust, this cleans that off when other solvents fail. Plus it doesn't have the noxious fumes that muriatic acid has, not to mention the dangerousness. Mix it in a container big enough to immerse your bottle in and cover it for a day or two, then 0000 steel wool rub. I never had good results with CLR.
    "Digging Up the Past --- One Bottle at a Time, Since 1969"

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bottle Master
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    Here's a link to that Ultrasonic cleaner that this restorer uses to clean parts

    https://www.amazon.com/Industrial-Li...language=en_US

  9. #9
    Junior Member New Bottler
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    Quote Originally Posted by GLASSHOPPER55 View Post
    What I have done for over 30 years or more, is mix a 50/50 mix of liquid Drano and (Red Devil) powdered LYE (like soapmakers use). If you've seen that black coating railroad insulators get from train exhaust, this cleans that off when other solvents fail. Plus it doesn't have the noxious fumes that muriatic acid has, not to mention the dangerousness. Mix it in a container big enough to immerse your bottle in and cover it for a day or two, then 0000 steel wool rub. I never had good results with CLR.
    Can’t argue with 30 years of good results! I’ll be trying this first. As for the steel wool, is that a viable option for cleaning the inside of the bottle too? I should have made it more clear, in the second photo the residue is on the inside and the outside is clean. Does the mix loosen the residue enough to be effective with a wire brush?

  10. #10
    Member New Bottler
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    Wilmington, NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeRangeAsparagus View Post
    Can’t argue with 30 years of good results! I’ll be trying this first. As for the steel wool, is that a viable option for cleaning the inside of the bottle too? I should have made it more clear, in the second photo the residue is on the inside and the outside is clean. Does the mix loosen the residue enough to be effective with a wire brush?
    Just as a note, lye is as dangerous as muriatic acid. Don't breath the fumes from either or get it on bare skin.



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