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Tristan T

Questions about kaowool

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I am planning on lining my paint can forge with kaowool and i was wondering if there are significant medical risks with using it. If so, do i need to cover it with some form of refractory? Also, I know that plaster of paris and sand isn't a refractory but would it work to cover the kaowool and simply to keep the kaowool from degrading? Thanks in advance.

 

Ps. I am curious about the plaster of paris and sand because i have a ton of it.

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1 hour ago, Tristan T said:

if there are significant medical risks with using it

Short answer:  No.  Treat it like regular housing insulation, meaning dust mask and gloves are a pretty good idea. 

 

1 hour ago, Tristan T said:

do i need to cover it with some form of refractory

It is wise to do so for the longevity of the material.  It holds up well to temperatures, not so much to abrasion (metal rubbing it going in and out of the forge).  

 

1 hour ago, Tristan T said:

Ps. I am curious about the plaster of paris and sand because i have a ton of it.

These are not suitable for creating a forge.  

Edited by Jerrod Miller

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49 minutes ago, Jerrod Miller said:

Short answer:  No.  Treat it like regular housing insulation, meaning dust mask and gloves are a pretty good idea. 

 

Not trying to pick a fight here, Jerrod, but I hope you're talking only about when handling it, not with actual forge use.  

It's my understanding that when subjected to high temps, 1800F+, under the microscope it changes and looks just like asbestos fiber.  Here's a link to an interview with Dave Lisch, MS where he talks about this starting around 29:30:  

http://www.blacksmither.com/ep-113-david-lisch-pilot-forged-fire-story/

 

He talks about how he makes his forges and coating the refractory around 31:30

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14 minutes ago, billyO said:

Not trying to pick a fight here, Jerrod, but I hope you're talking only about when handling it, not with actual forge use.  

 

We buy a pallet of the stuff (Inswool, 16 boxes at 36"x25' per box), every couple weeks at work.  OSHA was in a couple weeks ago picking everything apart (as they do) and they said nothing about this.  This is a complete non-issue.  People see refractory wool and think about asbestos.  They are not the same at all.  We do not coat them at all here, nor does any other facility I have been to (many foundries and heat treaters).  Suffice it to say: If OSHA isn't worried, you shouldn't be either.  

 

From the SDS (formatted for clarity since copy and paste jumbled things a little):

  • Eye/face protection:  If contact is likely, safety glasses with side shields are recommended.
  • Skin protection
    • Hand protection:  Wear appropriate chemical resistant gloves.
    • Other:  Use of an impervious apron is recommended.
  • Respiratory protection:  Use a NIOSH/MSHA approved respirator if there is a risk of exposure to dust/fume at levels exceeding the exposure limits.

Generally speaking, the hobby forge builder would have to be doing something well outside of the norm to come close to possibly meeting the exposure limits.  

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12 hours ago, Jerrod Miller said:

Suffice it to say: If OSHA isn't worried, you shouldn't be either.  

Again, not trying to pick a fight, but I'm not sure I agree with this blanket statement.  

 

It's my understanding that OSHA hasn't really done (or perhaps published would be a more accurate word) testing of how the fibers change when subjected to 1800-2000F temps that many smiths are using, especially when forge welding.  If you look at any well used forge that has plain blanket Kaowool, you'll notice that the exposed Kaowool is very crumbly and fragile, quite different from the blanket when it comes out of the box.  

I'd suggest erring on the side of caution.  Think about the cost of a bag or Mizzou compared to the cost of a new pair of lungs in 30 years...

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In Europe at least, all ceramic wool is bio-soluble by law. I suspect the 'exposed fibres = silicosis' thing is received wisdom from before this was an option...

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2 hours ago, billyO said:
14 hours ago, Jerrod Miller said:

Suffice it to say: If OSHA isn't worried, you shouldn't be either.  

Again, not trying to pick a fight, but I'm not sure I agree with this blanket statement.  

 

I should clarify that I meant only in regards to these materials.  There will of course be things that are not yet on OSHA's radar.  But these materials have been extensively tested and proven to be quite safe.  

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For those unwilling to click the link I posted, the short version is that ceramic fiber is in no way at all similar to asbestos and has no more health hazards than any inert dust.  Not that you should be huffing dust for fun, but kaowool/inswool/superwool is pretty innocuous stuff even after firing.  

 

Wear gloves and long sleeves when installing, it will make you itch like fiberglass.  Cover it for its own protection in the forge.  Wear gloves and a dust mask when re-lining the forge.  That's pretty much it.

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Missed this.....

 

I've been sitting with a piece of kaowool for a while now, no refractory cement......

 

I've seen the contrary so many times I have to ask: So I can line a forge and safely run it without refractory cement lining without killing myself slowly?

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Provided you don't snort the dust like it's cocaine, yes. It's good to have the coating for durability reasons, and if you can get sodium silicate, aka isenglass, that will do it as well.  That's the colloidal silica people talk about as rigidizer.  But, those studies show that ceramic fiber blanket dust is no more harmful than any other inert dust.  I imagine your local atmosphere carries far more dust that's more dangerous, in fact.  Living by the desert and such, not to mention the mines...

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As one of my EH&S mangers would say.  "You are going to be OK as long as you don't eat it." 

 

From my production facility to just about every mill I've toured to even a lot of my instructors, do not coat their KOA wool with anything.  From the production mills I've been around and asked about why they do not coat the wool, their reply is that the wool itself is the most efficient form of use. 

 

A lot of my forge friends don't bother with any form of coating just because, the wool is an expendable part of the job.  And I know of one that just adds the expense of relining the forge from one knife just into the overall cost because once he's done welding the forge is basically ruined.

 

However for the hobbyist, not working consistency it's worth the extra few dollars to line the forge and get more time out of it. So far my forge lining is about 3 years old, and I don't see any signs of it breaking down or not being as efficient as it once was. 

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I was recently at probably the only practicing blacksmith in the country, a very skilled young man.

 

I first visited his shop several years ago when I was thinking about building a forge, he was adamant that because we have LPG instead of propane gas forges do not work....

 

He was wrong, and he's even realised that, during a recent visit he did a demo of his new forge, single burner he built himself, the rest is form the same "fire bricks" as mine with a bit more steel on the outside.

Important thing is he's tuned his burner so you can easily have a conversation right next to the forge, it's hotter than mine (slightly) and much more efficient.

 

I need to build a new burner and forge, and this changes things a bit.  What I'm considering now is these fire bricks at the bottom and Koawool for the rest, that should at the least be a bit more efficient.....until I can get refractory cement.

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LPG is the same exact thing as propane. It is commonly referred to as propane here but it is technically called LPG.

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Well he's German so never wrong, and I'm 50% German so I didn't listen to him :lol:

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