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Removing Blu-tack

Posted by Mark W  
Mark W May 03, 2006 02:20PM
Can anyone recommend a solvent for removing old hard/semi dried Blu-Tack (aka Adhesive Putty, Rock-Tack etc) from Mineral specimens?

It would be better if the solvent was commercially avaialable and non toxic.

Have tried isopropanol to no great affect.

Any hints/helps greatly received!
Barry Flannery May 03, 2006 02:58PM

Have you tried using another piece of blue tack and rubbing them together? They usually stick and come off that way but I'm not sure about older blue-tack.

Felix Garcia Garcia May 03, 2006 03:32PM

I got some months ago a nice epidote crystal from Prince of Wales, Alaska, with some old blue-tack attached. After trying as Barry suggest without any success, I tried with some commercial acetone and after a few hours, the epidote was clean with no traces of blue-tack.

I have also tried with Red Cloud wulfenites (this time the blue-tack had hardened with time). The acetone softened it and I was able to take it out without risking the fragil wulfenites.

I just hope it will work with your specimens as well.

Felix Garcia
Maurice de Graaf June 03, 2006 09:35PM
I have a FAR FROM IDEAL solution. blue tack dissolves, sort of, in lamp oil.

Needless to say you should not emerge porous specimen in lamp oil, but I had good results on quartz and cassiterite specimen.

Emerge the sample in lamp oil and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Then you should be able to brush off the tack with a soft painters brush while keeping the sample emerged. Then wash the sample thouroughly with dishwashing detergent to get rid of the fat.

This is truly a last resort after the 'rub it of with more blue tack'method failed.

Keith Compton June 05, 2006 11:29AM
I have had success removing blue tack using mineral turps
Andrew G. Christy June 15, 2006 06:31AM
Some opinions:

1. Removable (:-)) tack is a MUCH better way of temporarily affixing specimens than glue. I get very irritated by micro/thumb specimens of 'mineral A' that have been glued in such a way that the tiny pocket of rarer, uglier 'mineral B' has been left not only out of sight but drenched in glue. If they had been tacked instead, there would have been some hope of retrieving B, in many cases.

2. Real Blu-Tack (nearly neutral pale blue-grey colour) is MUCH better than strongly coloured tacks. It is also much better than plasticine, window putty or various dark grey tacks that I have encountered. These have a very high oil content, and the oil tends to leak into the specimen, giving it a permanent wet look which is almost impossible to remove. Blu-Tack does this to a much smaller extent.

3. Rolling and dabbing with another piece of not-too-old-and-dry, not-too-warmed-up Blu Tack is the best way of removing 95% of the tack on your specimen. This is also a great way to remove crumbs and fluff from specimens, to keep them photogenic.

4. To get rid of the final scraps, I use a modification of Maurice's method. I use a drop or two of light bike/sewing machine oil, and mix it into the tack with a soft toothbrush to produce a thin, oily sludge. Then I add a dribble of washing-up liquid and mix that in. The resulting mixture emulsifies with water and can be washed off.

Of course, wherever possible, try to avoid using tack on fibrous, hackly, porous or cavernous surfaces, since you will never be able to extract all of it.
Marcos January 31, 2007 07:26AM
Please, someone know how to produce blu-tack or where I can find out about that?.. I traed patents but I didn't find. Sorry, I know this forum is not about that.
Anonymous User February 01, 2007 05:26AM
Hi all!

I use tack for several years(I paint historical miniatures and tack is one of the key materials.)I use Yellow tack but the philosophy is the same with every tack.

If you want to remove tack use a "ball" of bigger amount of tack and rub it with the piece of tack you want to remove.Tack has higher affinity with tack than anything else!

I always use tack to set my minerals on bases,instead of glues(silicon,Cyanoacrylic,epoxy putties etc.).Tack is REMOVABLE mechanically WITHOUT the use of hard tools(knives,needles etc.),which can fatally damage even hard specimens(breaking),not talking about softer ones that can be scratched!

To remove Tack,Epoxy Putty,Cyanoacrylic glue(super glue) etc.,one should use pure Acetone.Cyanoacrylic is dissolved in a few minute,Tack and Epoxy need much more time(days)-for Epoxy you should need to work mechanically as well!Here I'm talking about degenerated Tack(when you have used other kind of solution to remove it!)-NO NEED to remove tack in normal condition with solutions!BE CAREFULL!Pure aceton will dissolve the glue,but maybe your specimen as well!

And,since we've opened a new topic-how do we present our specimens on bases:

This is my opinion:I always try my specimens to be stably set on a base,so that a vibration does not remove them and cause them to fall and damage!

BUT!I do not glue them or use any material that could hurt the specimen.I prefer to use hard paper boxes,which are "dressed" with foam(soft sponge like material) and just put the specimen inside.The specimen is free to move in the borders of the box,then I put the box insinde the bookcase and stabiliase it with tack on the bottom.Result:The box doesn't move,only the specimen can move,but only inside the opened box walls,that are dressed with foam and doesn't get damaged!If I want even more stable specimen,I sew the specimen with a little thread on the foam(the foam is well glued on the inside of the box!).

This way,my specimens are visible and safeand I can move them when ever I want,just closing the box,and rotate it to leave the tack.Then I remove the tack with some ball of tack and take them to a show(maybe).This way the specimen is always(cross your fingers on that :))just in the condition it came to me!

In case you wonder,I don't buy the boxes,I make them myself,cutting hard paper and gluing the foam inside.

I hope I helped and I would love to hear other tips on presenting safely our specimens!

Wes Gannaway February 04, 2007 05:25PM
I have used blue tack for at least 15 years and am still re-using some of the older material. It softens quite easily with warmth and as some of you have said, removing it is like removing gum. Just rub tack with tack. The last time I tried to get some the supplier was out and couldn't get more from the manufacturer. Hope some one comes out with a new batch. I have used poster tack but it doesn't have the same quality as it looses it's grip when it gets old, sort of like some of us upper middle aged folks. I use the smaller wall tiling pieces for bases. You can get them in various colors or just plain white and they can range in size from 2cm up to 5cm. Wes
Jens Schadebrodt February 06, 2007 01:05PM
For fragile specimens try a 1:1 mixture of commercially available acetone and hydrocarbon (for example lighter fuel or cleaning gasoline). Soak specimen in mixture for 24 hours, then wash with fresh mixture. Be careful, this mixture tends to remove fat also from your skin.

Marika June 27, 2007 07:33AM
I need to remove old sticky Blu tack from wooden cupboard doors. I have a sneaky suspicion that Acetone will harm the vanish. Does anyone know what else to use.
Thank you
John Passaneau July 16, 2007 12:08AM
To remove blue tac from a varnished door, try spraying it with WD-40. It's a good solvent for many things like old masking tape and sticky labels. Of course try in a spot that doesnt show first.

John Passaneau
Harry Shaw October 21, 2011 12:48PM
I had lumps of hardened Blu Tak on a laptop(my granddaughter had stuck a picture).I sprayed on WD 40 and almost instantly was able to gently remove the adhesive with a paper towel.Thanks for the tip.
Reiner Mielke October 21, 2011 01:21PM
A bit off topic but if you are looking for something to fasten very fragile none water soluble minerals to say styrofoam or other porous bases I have found icing sugar to be ideal since it can easily be removed without a trace by placing it in warm water ( or cold but slower).Just mix the sugar with water to whatever consistency you want, mount and let dry. Also good for protecting delicate minerals for shipping ( encased in icing sugar).
Peter Haas October 21, 2011 03:06PM
"Also good for protecting delicate minerals for shipping ( encased in icing sugar)."

The customs don't really like strange parcels that are filled with a white powder. If you live in a country where people tend to take drastic safety measures before asking, then good luck and have fun ! Well, sugar is be easy to identify, but It certainly won't be that at which they will be thinking in the first place ...
D Mike Reinke October 21, 2011 03:08PM
Great suggestions everyone, mindat shows 2 (or 200!) heads are better than one!
Reiner, I really like your suggestion, I'll try it, but I hope you don't have ants! They will find sugar, for sure.
Wes, I use those small squares of tile too, @ $6 for 50 at hobbie Lobbie, (and yesterday, 30% off, cha-ching.)
Marika, On flat surfaces if I can wet them a little, I use a stiff razor blade, it gets right down to the bone. Slip under the item at a very slight angle, sometimes it does surprisingly well.
Rudy Bolona October 21, 2011 04:22PM
Mmmmm... Acetone
Reiner Mielke October 21, 2011 05:41PM
Hello Peter,

The icing sugar is not in the form of white powder, it is applied as a semi-liquid and then let to dry to a hard crust. You can do it in stages for really fine needles first apply as a thinner liquid then after that dries thicker etc. It is like embedding the crystals in a matrix of sugar. For the powder method I use laundry detergent powder but that is too harsh for some things.
Simon Baxter December 20, 2014 01:28PM
Is mineral tack essentially blu-tack?
Luca Baralis December 20, 2014 06:41PM
Konstantinos Charalampidis Wrote:
> ... I prefer to
> use hard paper boxes,which are "dressed" with
> foam(soft sponge like material) and just put the
> specimen inside.
> ...
> This way, my specimens are visible and
> safeand I can move them when ever I want, ...

Interesting, but not sure about how it show. Can you post a picture?

By the way, hot glue is very very easy to remove with a drop of alcool. No residuals, very little risk of any damages.

Luca Baralis
Ed Clopton December 20, 2014 08:25PM
A good alternative to petroleum-based solvents (WD-40, sewing machine oil, etc.) is Citra-Solv, a citrus-based solvent. It's not cheap, but a little bit goes a long way for removing paint, adhesives, dried-up bits of inferior mineral tack, grease, etc. We find it most often at natural foods stores; better hardware stores may also carry it.
Rock Currier December 22, 2014 03:46AM
I don't think there is any particular definition of what is or what is not mineral tack or blue tack. Some call these earthquake tac. Ultimately what will prove useful to you depends on what you want it for and the degree of "tackeyness" you need. Some of these can be really sticky and difficult to remove from a specimen. You will just have to experiment and see what works best for you.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Colorado John December 23, 2014 07:27PM
I have used a product called GOO GONE which is made from oranges and it works wonders. Goo Gone will slowly dissolve old mineral tack until it can be wiped away.
Ed Clopton December 23, 2014 11:32PM
When I posted before I forgot to say that I don't think anyone has mentioned isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol yet. It removes some adhesives from Perky boxes without attacking the polystyrene the boxes are made of as some of the more aggresive solvents (including Citra Solv) do.
Orange Peels January 07, 2015 05:33AM
Every year my sister in law ships us a box of navel oranges from Arizona... They are tremendously easy to peel, leaving thick & oily rinds that are perfect for rubbing across specimens. It's important to utilize the skins Immediately after peeling the citrus... It's quite amazing how effective this method is, all the while enjoying a sweet treat and a dose of natural vitamin C. ;-)

I've been fiddling around w/ ways of extracting the oil, from zesting the orange to rolling the rinds thru those old double roller moisture extractors at DIY car washes... I've managed to fill a few 2 ounce gold containers w/ remarkably pungent and thick 'orange extract'... But have yet to find the best method. I simply dilute about 10 drops... Indeed, a little goes a long way. Best method I've found for removing tac.
Paul De Bondt January 07, 2015 10:52AM
Hi Orange Peel,

Thank you for the tip.
I used to make paint diluter from it. Not the raw peel juice of course but a distillate.
Mixed with lineseed oil, natural pigments and siccatifs, it gives you a paint that smells like orange juice and is a real joy to paint with instead than the stincky White Spirit based paint. And ecological too.
Livos company is still making paints with it and the diluting agant can be bought in eco shops.

Will try it on tack.

Take care and best regards.

Paul Brandes January 07, 2015 12:13PM
If orange peels (citrus) works, why not try some "Goo Gone" that you can purchase in almost any grocery or hardware store? Seems it would be much easier and less messy than trying to extract oil from an orange........

Also, this appears to be a thinly disguised attempt at advertising for navel oranges! :-S

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/07/2015 12:25PM by Paul Brandes.
Bob Harman January 07, 2015 01:24PM
Paul B, Your idea to "try some Goo Gone" is an even more thinly disguised advertisement to…. "buy some Goo Gone" !!!!

BTW, my wife uses it quite often and swears by it. CHEERS…….BOB
Nelse Miller January 07, 2015 02:52PM
Goo Gone is a mixture of orange oil and petroleum distillates. I don't know the proportions of each. Check the label.
Nik Nikiforou January 07, 2015 03:23PM
The best product I've found for this (thanks to Jasun McAvoy) is Weiman's WaxAway. It is intended to clean up wax residue and can be found in candle making sections in craft stores such as MIchael's. Soak the specimen in it for a couple of hours and the old tack will completely dissolve.

Paul Brandes January 07, 2015 08:38PM
If that's the case Bob, then every product anyone recommends on these pages could also be taken as a sales pitch, including the "Blu-tack" that we're trying to remove. At least I didn't include a link to where one can buy Goo Gone or provide an email address that appears to be a sales contact! It was a mere suggestion, just like anyone else would do.......
Bob Harman January 08, 2015 12:59AM
PAUL B, I hope you recognize that my posting, like the last lighthearted navel orange sentence of your posting, was not in the least meant to be serious….. :) :) BOB
Paul Brandes January 08, 2015 03:36AM
Oh I know.
Sometimes you have to not take yourself too seriously, especially on here! :-D
Gill Marshall September 03, 2015 09:06AM
I've just successfully removed Blu-tac from laminated wood with Johnson's baby oil.
Reiner Mielke September 12, 2015 01:56PM
You can also restore ( make it sticky and soft) dried out tack with baby oil ( or mineral oil same thing).
Terrie December 02, 2015 01:33AM
I removed blue rac from a school uniform wit mineral turpentine dipped in a cotton ball. Comes straight out. Wash as normal
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