Silicone caulk is designed to be tough. If it wasn’t it would largely be useless. However, this leaves us with a problem. What do you do if you need to remove it?
The job of getting silicone off anything is an onerous one, and doing it using chemicals that aren’t going to damage the material it is bonded to just makes it all the harder.
In this article, we are going to explore just what makes silicone so useful and how you could use CHELA chemicals to digest the polymer that make up cured silicone.
Why Is Silicone Caulk So Tough?
The first thing to understand is why silicone is just so tough. What is the chemistry in play?
The primary elements, silicon and oxygen, form a backbone chain called a siloxane polymer, which combines with other elements, such as carbon and hydrogen, to form a complex matrix.
Depending on the elements that combine with the siloxane polymer, silicone can be processed into a whole range of different solid and liquid forms. It’s a fantastic material.
The polymer chains cross-link when the caulk cures, and that’s a process that can’t be undone.
Think of cured polyurethane, which also consists of a network of cross-linked polymers. No solvent will dissolve polyurethane, and the same is true of silicone caulk.
How do silicone solvents work?
The interesting, and slightly creepy, fact about silicone solvents is that they don’t dissolve silicone they digest it.
The cross-linked bonds of silicone caulk are too strong to dissolve. Yet some chemicals can cleave the siloxane bonds and break the long polymer chains into smaller molecules.
So, this is more digestion than it is dissolution. Digested silicone caulk doesn’t create a solution, but it does emulsify, much as fats do in water.
How to Remove Cured Silicone
Removing cured silicone is a laborious process that involves a selection of tools, some alcohol and a fair bit of determination.
#Step 1. Cut along where the silicone joins the wall
Use a sharp knife, or scalpel carefully cut along the edge of the silicone where it is bonded to the surface below. Be careful not to scratch the surface excessively. Then gently run a flat blade against the surface to loosen the silicone further.
#Step 2. Scrape inside the gap
Use a flat plastic or metal item to scrape between the silicone and the bonded surface. Push and pull and you’ll begin to feel the silicone stick to the scraper and come loose.
#Step 3. Wipe the surfaces clean
Once you’re removed most of the silicone use a cloth and some methylated spirits to wipe the remnants off.
The methylated spirits act as a solvent in this scenario helping break down the last of the silicone and making it easier to manage and less sticky.
Silicone Removal with Digesil
We are the industry leader in this field and have a range of products under our Digesil brand that are designed to make silicone removal as easy as possible. Using our specially formulated products can save you a lot of time and effort.
CHELA Digesil is a catalytic solvent that, as mentioned before, digests that Silicone Oxygen bond, breaking down the silicone polymers into smaller molecules that can be more easily rinsed away with water, removing it from the surface they are bonded to.
Whilst the time saving qualities are of benefit, it’s also able to do this without corroding metals and can even be used on glass. This prevents surfaces from becoming damaged.
UNIVERSAL WIPES – 602W
PRE-WETTED WIPE TO REMOVE SEALANT, PAINT AND GLUE
Removes partially cured and uncured sealants including silicone, polyurethane, and polysulphide from hands, tools and surfaces. They will also remove wet paint, putty, glue, mastic and resins. Universal Wipes are a non-woven fabric impregnated with a mild water-based cleaning solution. The soft absorbent surface lifts and removes the “sticky stuff” leaving the surface clean. Signed off under EU Cosmetics Directive as a hand cleaner.
DIGESIL®GEL – 720
DIGESTS AND DISSOLVES CURED SILICONE ELASTOMER AND SEALANT
Catalytic solvent formulated to remove cured silicone elastomer, rubber and sealant as well as thick oils, greases and gums. Digesil®Gel is thickened to allow for application to vertical surfaces and to help control drips and runs for precision applications.
DIGESIL®FS – 706
SOLVENT FOR REMOVAL OF FULLY CURED FLUOROSILICONE
Digesil FS is more than a solvent, its chemical action shears the silicone/oxygen bond, cutting the polymer into random lengths and rendering it soluble. Digesil FS will remove both cured and uncured fluorosilicone, oils and grease.
We are available to offer any advice and support you need with these products. If you have large-scale requirements and seeking procurement advice, please do not hesitate to contact our team.