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Thread: Can of air

  1. #1
    Registered User Ed McGarrigle's Avatar
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    Default Can of air

    Silly (maybe stupid) question of the day:
    Iím in the process of changing strings on my Northfield Calhoun that I got in December.
    Overdue string change. Iím going string by string so as to not move the bridge.
    So I canít really give it the soft cloth dusting treatment.
    Would there be any harm in blowing out the dusty nooks and crannies with one of those cans of air people take to their keyboards?
    Is there anything there other than air?
    Thought Iíd ask before I run out to Office Max
    Better a dumb question than a marred finish

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    Keep your distance and it should be fine. It's not really air and it can make things really cold (bad for finishes) at close range.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    When sunburst says "it's not really air" it might be slightly more accurately said, "it's not 100% air." Just about every one of thee products has a trace amount of some sort of petrochemical in there. No idea why. I'm sure they all have their reasons. I'd like to see a Consumer-Reports-style analysis and comparison of these, their benefits and drawbacks and preferred suggested uses. How these chemicals interact with finishes is unknown to me: I hope someone who knows will pipe up.

    But he's dead on the money about the contents being cold. That's due to the pressure of them being in the can. That temperature will warm up as the distance from the nozzle increases. So yes - spray from a bit away. Short bursts, too.

    Should have paid more attention in chemistry class. And people say, "Oh, I'll never need to know this."

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  5. #4
    Likes quaint instruments poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    There is NO air in those cans. You can hear a liquid and air can't be compressed to a liquid at 20C. Most of them have methane or butane a combustible greenhouse gas.

    Use a paintbrush.

    Wikipedia:
    Gas duster, also known as canned air or compressed air, is a product used for cleaning or dusting electronic equipment and other sensitive devices that cannot be cleaned using water.
    This type of product is most often packaged as a can that, when a trigger is pressed, blasts a stream of compressed gas through a nozzle at the top. Despite the names "canned air" or "compressed air", the cans do not actually contain air (i.e. do not contain O2 or N2 gases) but rather contain other gases that are compressible into liquids. True liquid air is not practical, as it cannot be stored in metal spray cans due to extreme pressure and temperature requirements. Common duster gases include hydrocarbons, like butane, propane, and isobutane, and fluorocarbons like 1,1-difluoroethane, 1,1,1-trifluoroethane, or 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane which are used because of their lower flammability.
    Last edited by poul hansen; Jul-18-2021 at 6:11pm.
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  7. #5
    Registered User Gary Alter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    The cans of compressed air can damage the finish as Sunburst mentioned and they also aren't great for the environment either. If you do decide to use them, be sure to always hold the can vertically so the air comes out as a gas rather than a liquid. A better solution is to use something like a rocket blower (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ir_Blower.html). These are designed to clean sensors on digital cameras or in the days of darkroom, negatives.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    ...How these chemicals interact with finishes is unknown to me: I hope someone who knows will pipe up...
    I know folks who have been using "caned air" for years to clean dust off of instruments with no finish damage. I suppose I don't know how these chemicals interact with finishes, but the evidence I've seen indicates that they don't react with finishes when sprayed from a proper distance.

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    Default Re: Can of air

    After reading these responses I have to say I'm more than a bit surprised. I've always assumed that these products were compressed air with "some other stuff." I'm looking at my can now, and it doesn't say "compressed air," but "compressed gas duster," with a brand name "Power Duster." I guess I've always heard these referred to as "compressed air," and that's been for so long, I've just assumed that's what they are. My bad. Sorry for adding to the already abundant confusion. Oh, and in the contents, it just says "contains difluoroethane." No breakdown by percentages. Indeed, no indication of whether it contains anything else, only that it does contain this.

    That said, I've never used any such product on my instruments. Nor a paint brush, for that matter, though why not? The can should work, as long as you keep it a few inches away so the temperature doesn't become a factor. Personally, I've always used something cloth, be it a cotton rag or, typically, the bandanna that I keep in the case for post-playing wipe-downs. It's easy enough to reach in under the strings.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    I use one of these to remove dust. Although any fine make-up brush will do the trick.
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    Default Re: Can of air

    If you are concerned about the compressed air in a can, you can use an air blower such as this:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ir_Blower.html

    It is designed for blowing dust off of lenses, but I use mine for all sorts of things, including on my mandolins. Works great.
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    Default Re: Can of air

    Seeing the BH Photo url reminded me of this. Wish I knew what happened to mine, from my darkroom days. That'd be just the thing.

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    Default Re: Can of air

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I use one of these to remove dust. Although any fine make-up brush will do the trick.
    I was going ro suggest this but you beat me to it. Worth the money

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    Default Re: Can of air

    I use an old, old shaving brush or makeup brush.

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    Default Re: Can of air

    A 1 inch paint brush that never touches anything but my mandolins.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    I'm in an industry that embraced canned air for decades. I think all of us just use a small vacuum now.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Can of air

    I’ve recently been removing the G and D courses, wiping down, then restringing. Then I change the A and E courses. Haven’t had issues with bridge movement yet…
    Chuck

  21. #16
    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    The dust won't hurt the finish. The can of air might. I've never had much trouble weaseling a small cloth under the strings to get most of the dust around the bridge and back around the tailpiece. Even running a cloth between the strings and the fretboard to get at the dust and some of the grime isn't too difficult. Then again I don't need my instruments to be perfectly clean.

  22. #17
    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    Quote Originally Posted by Ky Slim View Post
    The dust won't hurt the finish. The can of air might. I've never had much trouble weaseling a small cloth under the strings to get most of the dust around the bridge and back around the tailpiece. Even running a cloth between the strings and the fretboard to get at the dust and some of the grime isn't too difficult. Then again I don't need my instruments to be perfectly clean.
    I'm with you, Ky. I try to keep them reasonably clean, but no need to obsess over it. They are meant to be played.
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  23. #18
    Registered User Ed McGarrigle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    Thanks for all the responses. Given my propensity to over do things and the environmental concern I think I’ll go the brush route.

  24. #19
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    The brush on the Nomad is, according to a make up expert friend of mine, no different than many of the brushes she uses. (Except much cheaper. She tells me she cannot get a brush of that quality for that price. I know nothing about this.)

    I actually use the pad end a bit more. I run it up and down and under the strings after each session.

    I got it as a gift. It was part of an on line ad for gifts for guitar players, 10 gifts under 10 dollars. It was "for my guitar thingie".

    I have no financial interest in the device. I don't know if there are competitors. I am sure you can get a brush like that - though according to my make-up expert friend, not that quality for that price. I cannot tell you scientifically what running the pad up and down the strings does, but good things I am sure.

    I also use a micro fiber cloth now and then to wipe down the strings and especially get under the strings up at the nut and first fret. I got my micro fiber cloth from JazzMando.


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  25. #20
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can of air

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed McGarrigle View Post
    Given my propensity to over do things and the environmental concern I think I’ll go the brush route.
    That's probably just as well, if not better. The compressed gas duster seems like overkill - though it may be just the thing if you ever feel a need to remove dust from inside the instrument. Brushes, cloths, and the like are perfectly adequate and non-invasive methods for addressing issues on the exterior, by and large. Also, the tactile nature of these approaches provides a sort of physical interaction between you and your instrument that just feels good.

    I used to enjoy taking all the strings and bridge off when changing strings so I could give her a good solid application of guitar cleaner. When I ran out of that nice stuff I got away from doing that, having not found another brand of as high quality. I should do some research and find a worthy brand so I can get back to that. This is a ritual that truly incorporates a goodly amount of caring for one's instrument.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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