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White-out fumes/repairing the damage?

Hi everyone - Well, I knew I could use white-out as a yellow ochre
substitute, but didn’t realize I needed to make sure it was
water-based. After a few intensive days of use I started feeling a
bit funky in the lungs so checked the Orchid archives and, yes, I
discovered my error. Any advice for me now? Is there anything I can
do? Should I get myself checked out?

I did have my exhaust fan on when soldering, but since I was working
on little tiny hinges I wasn’t exactly keeping my distance from the
piece. Sigh. Cough cough.

While I’m at it, my yellow ochre (to which I’ll have to revert until
I can locate some water-based white-out) is quite watery. It’s also
very–as in about 10 or 15–years old. Any way I can thicken it up?
Is it even still good?

Rats, I LOVED the little pen-based white-out applicator!

Worried in San Francisco,

Dear Jessica, I hope you feel better! Leave the top off of your
bottle of ochre until it thickens to your own specs. That has worked
for me in the past.

use white-out as a yellow ochre substitute, but didn't realize I
needed to make sure it was water-based. 

Hi Jessica, I’ve emphasized water based before, and had folks
dismiss the “technicality.” Nice to have some confirmation,
unfortunately at your expense. I hope you’re feeling better soon! It
probably also exposes an inadequate ventilation system, regardless of
how close you get your nose to your work.

The water based version should be readily available at OfficeMax or
Office Depot. It comes in a bottle with an applicator brush. Maybe
not as handy as the pen, but quite convenient. It can also be easily
reconstituted if it dries out by simply adding a couple drops of
water. One bottle has lasted me a few years.

I wouldn’t go back to the ochre due to pickle contamination
issues… unless you quench and scrub well before the pickle. Yellow
ochre is iron based, and as we know, adding iron to pickle makes a
nice copper plating system.

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

I don’t have any health advice to you but I’m sure that someone will
post something. Your old yellow ocher is simply dirt although a very
finly milled dust like material. Let the top off the container and
let some water evaporate. I have used water based clay as a
substitute and it worked very well. Mix it up thick or thin. I try to
remember to quench in water first to remove the dirt before putting
it in the pickle pot. Why can’t you continue to use the little brush?

Marilyn Smith

Hi All - here’s the about how dangerous regular
(non-water based) White Out is - I decided to research it after
being taught to use it in a class and coming down with a wicked and
very long lasting cough

There was an article in Lapidary Journal that says that heating
breaks it down to phosgene gas, chlorine gas and hydrochloric acid

None of these things are good for people - details below. I have
started using only the water based white out with a very good
respirator, which I think (HOPE) is better, and will not use the
other type again.

I was not successful in finding out the actual story about what is
in water based white out from the manufacturer, but I wrote to
Charles L-B and this is what he replied “…just use china white from
a goache water color kit, you can get it as a cake which you moisten
with a brush to use, or in a tube. Otherwise the water based stuff is
basically non-toxic as far as the Papermate folks told me… I think
its chalk and other inert things -nothing to really do you

  • NASTY DETAILS: Phosgene and Chlorine Gases were used in WW 1 with
    lethal effects - see the info here: Here’s an excerpt:
    Following on the heels of chlorine gas came the use of phosgene.
    Phosgene as a weapon was more potent than chlorine in that while the
    latter was potentially deadly it caused the victim to violently cough
    and choke.

Here’s where the MSDS lives:

As to the HCL fumes - "Irritation of
the respiratory tract, with burning, choking and coughing. Severe
breathing difficulties, may occur possibly delay in onset

Ivy in Oakland