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Subject: Potassium oleate

Potassium oleate

From: David Harvey <top10denverdave>
Date: Saturday, April 6, 2002
Matt Reed <jmreed [at] ok-history__mus__ok__us> writes

>I'm trying to find information on potassium oleate and what it could
>do to various metals and wood finished found on firearms.  Also,
>could the oleate's combination with liquid paraffin and benzyl
>alcohol create a mixture detrimental to firearms.

I am a bit perplexed by the objective here. Are you using a
commercial cleaning formulation that lists potassium oleate as one
of the ingredients? Is your intent to clean the firearms? Reduce and
remove corrosion?

As always in conservation so much depends on the materials that
comprise the object, it's condition, and the intended outcome
(overcleaning of historic firearms to a bright "new" condition can
often ruin their historic and monetary value).

Potassium oleate is a commercial soap that contains fatty acids. As
such I see it as a poor choice due to potential future corrosion of
metals and cross-linking of the fatty acids. Clearance would be a
problem because of the numerous micro-pits and cavities that are
often in the metal and wood surfaces of a firearm that trap
solvents, abrasive polishes, and soaps. The same concerns about
fatty acids also apply to waxes--a prime example of this is seen in
the oleate/stearate corrosion in copper alloy candlesticks that are
still is use in historic sites and homes. I would only recommend the
use microcrystalline waxes on  historic objects and firearms.

Matt, you are welcome to write me off the list with a more detailed
description of your objectives, the condition of the firearms, etc.
and then I can give you a few suggestions of conservation approaches
you can test.

David Harvey
2930 South Birch Street
Denver, Colorado  80222  USA

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:69
                  Distributed: Tuesday, April 9, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-69-004
Received on Saturday, 6 April, 2002

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