Folks, Here is a question on the relatively toxicity of several
processes. In our school studio, we have kilns for enameling, PMC
and lost wax. Some teachers feel that the wax burn out is highly
toxic. Do any of you have opinions (grin) about the relative
toxicity of each? I maintain that wax burn out may stink to high
heaven but is no more toxic than the results of the other two. We
have good positive exhaust but the room is after all not all that
large. I am planning to move my lost wax kiln into a large well
ventilated ceramic kiln room anyway but still would like some
input. What say you?"
Hi Don, What I say is that the stuff is dangerous as can be, to
breathe, no matter who you are, and quite lethal, in some cases.
Last summer, while taking a "Wax 1" class, I briefly became what you
might call "living, NON-breathing proof" of wax fumes' toxicity:
within just a few minutes of the wax pens' power switches being
turned on in the classroom, I started feeling a tightness in my
throat and a wheezy tightness in my chest, each time I tried to
inhale. After a few minutes' more exposure, it got so bad that I got
dizzy and had to literally run out of the class in order to keep
breathing at all. A few minutes after that, when I'd calmed down and
my breathing had normalized, sufficiently, I returned to the
classroom, only to have my lungs (or diaphragm, I'm not sure which)
suddenly go into some sort of spasm, a few seconds later, such that
I couldn't even force any air into my chest. (It was as scary as
hell, let me tell you!) This time, I ran for the nearest window and,
once able to breathe again, headed down to the local hardware store
for a dual-canister respirator rated for "organic mists and vapors",
which I unfortunately had to wear for the duration of that and the
next class, despite others' humorous comments.
Ever since that experience, I am only too well aware that, whether
I'm carving a wax with my flex-shaft, attaching sprues or dewaxing a
mold, the back window needs to be opened wide, the fans have to go
into overdrive and the respirator needs to be sealed over my face.
Doing anything less would be a deathwish. As for your comment that
"Some teachers feel that the wax burn out is highly toxic", I'd just
add, "Yeah... and?" -- as in, "What? You're doubting that?" As I see
it, if Tim McCreight warns of the toxicity in "Complete Metalsmith"
(p. 95), and the manufacturers warn of it in their MSDS sheets, and
if I had experiences like those I've just explained, chances are
pretty good that there'll be others with bad experiences, along the
way, too. Toxic? You'd better believe it.
Hope this helps someone, out there, Doug
Douglas Turet, GJ
Lapidary Artist, Designer & Goldsmith
P.O. Box 162
Arlington, MA 02476
Tel. (617) 325-5328
eFax (928) 222-0815