Jump to content
IMPORTANT Registration rules Read more... ×
Alan Longmire

Things you might not know can kill you

Recommended Posts

Recently a forum member found a block of beryllium copper.  Luckily he was smart enough to ask about it before using it, and in the course of the ensuing thread other hazardous things that look innocent enough were mentioned.  Another member suggested making a sticky thread about such things, so here it is.  Feel free to add your own, after all this may save someone's health if not their life!

Beryllium copper, aka beryllium bronze, is sometimes found in junk shops.  It is usually marked BeCu, and is most commonly used (at least the way most of us would find it) to make non-sparking tools.  Handy and strong, with interesting properties, it is great for many things.  It will also kill you (slowly or relatively quickly, and painfully whichever speed) if you grind or machine it without the proper safeguards, which are generally not available in a home shop.  Here's the thread: 

Galvanized steel.  We all know, or should know, to avoid forging or welding  on plated steel.  Galvanized steel produces zinc fumes when heated, and breathing these fumes will make you sick.  If you have compromised lungs to begin with a big dose can kill you.  This happened to my friend Jim Wilson. http://www.anvilfire.com/iForge/tutor.php?lesson=safety3/demo

Cadmium plating is less common (it's the gold-ish peacock color on older brake fluid reservoirs), and it will kill you quickly if heated enough to vaporize the cadmium.

This is just a start.  Please fee free to add your own, just make sure it's true first.  Most of the stuff we do is hazardous in some way.  The more we know about hazards most people may not be aware of, the more safely we can work.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jon Cook's idea and Charles DuPreeze's suggestion.  Once we have more stuff I'll put a locked link in the Beginner's Place as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Wesley Alberson said:

Does regular brass give off zinc fumes when melted?

Yes. Zinc boils at 907C, so once you hit that temperature, zinc starts boiling off releasing zinc fumes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To further this list, @Austin_Lyles has mentioned in another thread not to quench in used motor oil. There are various reasons for this but from a safety perspective we are concerned about possible contaminants from the engine. Used oil may contain heavy metals and other contaminants that can vaporise during the quench causing lung damage. If you cannot afford to buy quench oils such as Parks 50, you can use canola, peanut oil, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In another thread, the dangers of cocobola dust when making handlescame up (both when inhaled and as a contact allergen). @Wes Detrick posted the following link about the dangers of working with certain woods:

http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity/

Certain types of wood can harm you if you don’t take precautions.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Found Bob Egnath’s site on the net. It has a list of chemicals not to mix (for all the mad scientists out there).

http://www.engnath.com/manframe.htm

See the chemistry menu bar on the top left. I can’t seem to get it to link directly to the page.

Edited by Charles du Preez

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This came up in another thread and it was suggested I put it here as well, so:

If you ever grind aluminum, be sure to clean all the steel dust away first, and clean up all the aluminum dust afterwards.  Iron oxide and powdered aluminum don't play well together.  As in, one stray spark can equal anything from a fire to kaboom, depending on the mix.  This is basic thermite.  Do not try this at home!  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I heard that either brake fluid or brake lubricant is something to stay away from, too. When heated it turns into some toxic fumes that can kill you with a very small amount. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brake cleaner that contains one particular CFC.  And it's electric welding only.  The heat and UV of the welding arc converts the CFC to phosgene gas, the one used in the First World War that smells like "new mown hay."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I heat treated this blade last night.....was having a hard time finding my chunk that I use for my oil warm up.

I tossed a large 1 1/4 combo wrench that  I never use in the forge.

Pretty much immediately saw a green flame coming off it. Held my breath and snatched it out and ran into my back yard where I could still keep an eye on my forge.

I dont know what it was but I probably should have known better. I have done some rust removal in the past by electrolysis.....and something about a wrench is bad.

Wanna say chrome...or chromium.

On a bright note I am still here and my blade seem waaaaay hard.

 

t1.jpg

t3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmmmm did a little google fu (learned that from one of you on here =))  On the electrolysis dealio it says not to use stainless as an anode because it will produce hexavalent chromium compounds.

Maybe the green hue coming off it was harmless because I know you can heat treat some stainless.....but I wasnt gonna take any chances.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The green was probably either copper or zinc.  Chrome plated steel is first plated with copper because it's so conductive, then nickel because chrome doesn't stick to copper as well, then finally chrome.  As for the zinc, well, some cheap tools aren't chrome plated, but rather are galvanized.  Good reasons not to forge plated items!  The copper, nickel, and chrome aren't too bad for you, zinc will make you sick enough to wish you were dead (and kill you if you have COPD), and cadmium will flat-out kill you dead if heated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Add in there some caution about the types or brass you come across as well....

Some types of brass have lead added up to 3.5% of metal content so that the brass is easier to machine...

melt that same brass down in your forge and you'll be spraying lead fumes around your shop...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

The green was probably either copper or zinc.  Chrome plated steel is first plated with copper because it's so conductive, then nickel because chrome doesn't stick to copper as well, then finally chrome.  As for the zinc, well, some cheap tools aren't chrome plated, but rather are galvanized.  Good reasons not to forge plated items!  The copper, nickel, and chrome aren't too bad for you, zinc will make you sick enough to wish you were dead (and kill you if you have COPD), and cadmium will flat-out kill you dead if heated.

Scary stuff.....great thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Daniel W in another thread: 

Stock removal and grinding, safety glasses a must, even better, safety glasses with a nice rounded face shield. I use both while grinding and I have still gotten metal sparks in my eye due to some deflecting from my shirt or arm.  Some kind of goggles are best as they enclose the eyes.  But I'd probably still put a face shield over them too.

 

Aluminum - if you plan on it, use only on a sander not any kind of grinding wheel. The only reason as I bring this up is a fatality within my company where a maintenance worker using a 8" grinder ground some aluminum the wheel got clogged with particles and exploded.  The fragments penetrated his face shield and hard hat to kill him. since then anyone seen with aluminum around a grinder has been scalded to no end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank's, Alan.  I never even knew about that.  Not that I'm planning to work with any aluminum but it's nice to keep that warning in the back of my mind.

Doug

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If cadmium plating is that yellow/gold titanium looking stuff then it seems to be pretty common, I think ive got some in my pocket right now...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted elsewhere but worth repeating: Don't leave your quench tank out in the rain, even outside without a cover to get dew on it.  Oil floats on water. Water falls to the bottom of the tank. First time you plunge a long blade through the oil into the water on the bottom . . . KABOOOM . . . big steam explosion that vaporizes the oil and the oil hits the hot steel and . . . well, I think you can use your imagination from here.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey I'm glad that post was noticed! 

I believe that Aluminum should just be thrown right out the door.  I've seen aluminum forged, have even done it myself in a class - don't recommend it because of how tricky it is.  Goes from solid to goop in a second and once melted gives off some nasty fumes.  It has it's place in the small metals world in my opinion.  Reserved for chasing or raising processes, but anyone who has filed it known it ruins files. Just cut the stuff don't grind it!

 

 

 

 

 

This is really dumb but I'm kind of shocked that a lot of people my age don't know this, and since we're on the topic of things you might not know . . . when you go to clean your shop and you use something with bleach, never mix it with an ammonia based cleaner.  Ever, it makes a pretty toxic gas if you get the bleach and ammonia proportions right. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Daniel W said:

 

This is really dumb but I'm kind of shocked that a lot of people my age don't know this, and since we're on the topic of things you might not know . . . when you go to clean your shop and you use something with bleach, never mix it with an ammonia based cleaner.  Ever, it makes a pretty toxic gas if you get the bleach and ammonia proportions right. 

 

Don't assume everyone knows this. A few years ago someone on the housekeeping staff at our community hospital didn't pay attention to the "bleach water ONLY" sign on the lid to a 5 gal clean up bucket. They didn't think it would do any harm to dump some ammonia based cleaner in it. 

Went right from cleaning the ER to being an ER patient in less than a minute. If it hadn't been for a sharp nurse who saw it the whole ER might have been in trouble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

not only does ammonia/bleach make a toxic gas, there is also a risk that it makes a highly unstable compound that will explode on contact with organic materials - that is the exploding toilet myth. We had a chemistry lab in Denmark blow up, because a student did not pay attention to this. Some  of you may know the slightly more stable version with Iodine in stead of chlorine (bleach) that is sometimes used in chemistry demonstrations - it explodes on the touch of a feather.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just started forging using coal forge. I found an Old wrench from god knows when and threw it in thinking it would look kool as a knife but was told after I had started that plated metal can be dangerous. How can I tell if it is plated, and if its covered in rust, does that even matter??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's totally rusted the plating is gone, for the most part.  It is probably safe to forge, in other words.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×