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Fluoro Waxes poisonous?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
i was in the race shack last week and there's a guy there with a painter's mask on waxing his skis. i ask why and he says that fluoro waxes are poisonous.

is this true?

if it is, is it when it's being heated with an iron or is it the dust from brushing?

post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 
should have done this first.

a search on google gave me the answer.

does not happen until wax/iron reaches 570 degrees.

this iron has max temp of 320 degrees. i think we're safe.
post #3 of 19
I wouldn't assume your safe just yet, there has been a lot of debate about the effects of fluoros in the wax room and the jury is still out. Better safe than sorry, buy a mask.
post #4 of 19

Painters mask

Will just barely keep out dust, it certainly wouldn't stop any gases.
post #5 of 19
Open windows.
post #6 of 19
I should rephrase that, respirator not mask
post #7 of 19
Originally Posted by jrtodd
I wouldn't assume your safe just yet, there has been a lot of debate about the effects of fluoros in the wax room and the jury is still out. Better safe than sorry, buy a mask.
I guess the jury is involved in lengthy deliberations, because those waxes have been out since the 1980's.

When they first came out some nordic skiers warmed them by running a torch over them, or used those little torch fired iron, and suffered lung irritations. They all recovered, but it was firmly established that open flames are a no -no.

Most world cup techs wear a mask because they are exposed to wax fumes for hours. I've never heard of anyone finding properly ironed on fluoro waxes any more noxious than hydrocarbon waxes. I avoid making any wax smoke, and avoid inhaling any smoke, other than rare indiscretions. I wouldn't hesitate to iron on a fluoro wax from time to time.
post #8 of 19
There are two distinct risks, so it depends what form the fluoro is in.

Fluorocarbons that are blended into the wax (like a Swix, TOKO, or Dominator high fluoro) can be overheated (as mentioned above) and degraded to fluorine gas (F2) that mixes with moisture in the air (or your lungs) to make HF, an extremely strong and dangerous acid.

The other risk is from fine powders (like CeraF). Fluorocarbons in powder form that are sprinkled on the ski can be breathed into your lungs. They are not reactive and cause no damage to your lungs in this form. But it is a general concern to avoid any particulate (dust in the air, pollution from smoke, etc.) as very small particles are not removed from the lungs efficiently. So this issue has nothing to do with the fact that the powder is fluoro and everything to do with the fact that it is a dust (and thus an irritant).

Of course, if you take a 600 degree iron to the powder you get the HF danger that I first mentioned.

So, don't overheat period and if you are working with powders, ventilate but don't worry about HF dangers.

post #9 of 19
Dr. D, that's a reasonable explanation, thanks.

I think at least part of the, um, current atmosphere of concern relates to a third hazard mechanism: release of PFOA or related compounds, as related in recent Teflon pan stories.

Have any fluoro wax manufacturers (other than DuPont) made their position known on this?
post #10 of 19
Originally Posted by jrtodd
I wouldn't assume your safe just yet, there has been a lot of debate about the effects of fluoros in the wax room and the jury is still out. Better safe than sorry, buy a mask.
Wow, after reading that I am no longer going to melt Swix Cera HF on my toast for breakfast.
post #11 of 19
I just gave your link a quick read and (unless I skimmed too fast) it sounds like PFQA is the starting material/chemical for making teflon coatings. In many polymerization reactions, you start with a small molecule and cause a reaction that links them together to form a long polymer. During this process some of the small (starting) molecules never find their way to link up and are trapped. It looks like the EPA is concerned that the residual or leftover PFQA is leaking out.

I can't tell you how CeraF is made and if they have this problem, however I doubt that this is an issue at all since A) the teflon cooking pan temps are nowhere near the relatively low wax melting temps, and B) you aren't eating the wax (except for the toast guy).

post #12 of 19
Originally Posted by comprex
Have any fluoro wax manufacturers (other than DuPont) made their position known on this?
I doubt it. I can't say that I've checked, but something tells me that there haven't been many clinical studies on the long term health effects of iron induced wax fume and particulate inhalation.
post #13 of 19
Most products are required to issue Material Safety Data Sheets describing hazards. Here is one: High temperatures can be hazardous, but these are much higher than normal ski waxing.

"Heating this material to temperatures above 500°F can produce harmful fumes; above 800°F, the fumes are acutely very toxic and may cause death."
post #14 of 19
Just use the OSHA basics. The MSDS are a bit misleading here and there are a few variables that should be considered.

My recommendation would be to start with "engineering controls" .... simple .. place an exhaust fan that will be drawing the fumes away from you, that is orient your body on the far side of the fan that has a strong enough draw to move the vapors from you and out a window. Simple terms ... don't have the fan behind you drawing the vapors toward you.

Respirators .... any hardware store has them. For a few $$ more, get one that has a combination "stack' .... color coded .... magenta (purple) and yellow/black for organic vapors. Make sure you get the right size and try to buy one where the rubber is soft and pliable. It has to form a seal around your face. FYI ... if you can smell the material you are working with .... the respirator ain't working ... poor seal at the cartridge or the wrong size .... or ... if you have a beard .... fa' gedda bout it! They don't work with a beard.

Done with waxing .... go have a coffee ... and let a few air changes happen in the room before you start sharpening. You were due for a break anyway.
post #15 of 19

Dr. D/ anyone?

What's PFQA?
post #16 of 19


Ski crazed: click on the blue links.
post #17 of 19
Basically PFOA is used in the making of fluorocarbons as stated by Dr D and in the links. Also, as stated in the Washington Post fry pan story : " ...the PFOA is virtually all gone before the final material comes off the production line. Intermediate chemicals of one kind or another are part of virtually all chemical manufacturing processes and are not allowed to contaminate the final product.
Teflon is microscopically smooth and nonporous (one of the reasons nothing sticks to it). Even if it does harbor trace amounts of PFOA, which is all anyone has suggested, the PFOA is unlikely to seep into food or escape into the air in kitchens -- unless, of course, an empty nonstick pan were abandoned on a hot burner, because above 600 degrees or so (a temperature rarely reached in cooking), the Teflon would begin to decompose into toxic fumes.
Before we even see a nonstick pan in the store, its coating already has been heated to high temperatures during manufacturing, partly to get rid of any residual PFOA. In my opinion, PFOA in the environment probably came from factory emissions, perhaps during the high-temperature phases of manufacturing."

Basically it seems that DuPont is in trouble for releasing factory emissions, created during the fluorocarbon manufacturing process, containing PFOA into the environment. The EPA is concerned mainly with the manufacturing process and not finished products.

As for other fluoro wax manufacturers ... i doubt that any of them work with PFOA directly. The manufacturer that i work with that does the actual bonding of molybdenum to the fluorocarbons doesn't work with PFOA. They purchase the PTFE from DuPont or ????? I've been told that we can use pretty much whatever available PTFE fluorocarbons we want except for aqueous dispersions in the molybdenum bonding process. Which brings me to my last note on working with fluoro powders.

As stated above by Dr. D ... the main health concern of working with fluoro powders is breathing in small dust particles. The smaller the particle size the more likely it is to become airborne. This makes the finer sized material more difficult to work with and i suppose potentially more hazardous as well. At least, as far as a dust hazard is concerned. I have talked to my manufacturer about going with smaller particles but they tell me that the sub-micron particles are almost impossible to work with because as soon as you open the container the static in the air causes many of the particles to become airborne.

As for the guy and the toast ... you may actually be better off eating it than breathing it in. Seems like it may make your digestive track fairly slick for a little while but you'd probably eventually get rid of it. However, I DO NOT REOMMEND EATING, BREATHING, INJECTING OR TRYING TO GET FLUOROPOWDERS INSIDE THE BODY BY ANY MEANS. Perhaps try a natural organic fiber supplement if you want to stay regular.
post #18 of 19
wmw, welcome to the board.

Looks like you'll fit right in.
post #19 of 19
Originally Posted by comprex
wmw, welcome to the board.

Looks like you'll fit right in.
Thanks ... i happen to be searching the web for something ... wax molds or molding material i think. Anyway, i somehow came across this site started reading the posts and noticed that Cirquerider posted a link to my MSDS. So, figured i should sign-up and get in on the drama. Perhaps i should check the referral logs on my web site and see who else is talking about me.

I've mostly been on the snowboarding forums myself since i haven't been on a pair of skiis since the 80's. I traded in those 5 foot long 2 x 4's for a single 4.5 foot long piece of plywood that's about 12" wide many years ago. I'm starting to wonder if i should go back to skiing since there seems to be more skiers interested in my wax than snowboarders.

Another note on fluoro's and other wax manufacturers. I talked to Willie at Bluebird wax and he is trying to get away from using fluoros in his waxes because of the environmental concerns. He is also planning to have a line of natural or organic waxes available for next season. This is something that i'm planning to do as well at some point. I've been working with a good bit of beeswax myself as my grandfather was a bee keeper and i still have an uncle and cousin that keep bees.
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