Silicone caulk and sealant is designed to be tough – if it wasn’t it would be largely useless! However, this leaves us with the problem of removing and dissolving silicone. The job of removing silicone off anything is tricky, and doing it using chemicals that aren’t going to damage the material it is bonded to just makes it all the more difficult.
In this article, we explore what makes silicone so useful and how you could use CHELA chemicals to digest the polymers that make up cured silicone and dissolve silicone sealant from industrial equipment.
Why is silicone sealant 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 for industrial applications – it really is a fantastic material!
The polymer chains cross-link when the silicone 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-dissolving 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. However, 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 do you remove silicone sealant from industrial equipment?
Removing and dissolving silicone from industrial equipment can be a laborious process that involves a selection of tools, some alcohol and a fair bit of determination.
Here are our steps to removing silicone sealant from industrial equipment:
#STEP 1. CUT ALONG WHERE THE SILICONE JOINS THE WALL
Use a sharp knife or scalpel to 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.
What is the easiest way to dissolve silicone from industrial equipment?
We are the industry leader in this field and have a range of products under our Digesil brand that are designed to make dissolving silicone sealant from industrial equipment as easy as possible. Using our specially formulated products can save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to dissolving silicone from industrial equipment.
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.
Our top 5 cleaners for dissolving silicone sealant from industrial equipment
Take a look at our top picks to make removing silicone sealant a lot more straightforward:
- Universal Wipes – 602W – These pre-wetted wipes effectively remove sealant, paint and glue from surfaces. Remove both partially cured and uncured sealants, including silicone, polyurethane and polysulphide from tools and surfaces. These wipes are also safe for removing sealants from hands too!
- Digesil 1000 – 722 – Digesil 1000 has proven time and again that it’s one of the best polymer and silicone sealant removers in the game. Quickly removing cured and uncured sealant, Digesil 1000 is an extremely effective cleaner you’ll want to stock up on (also available in gel formulation).
- Di-Aqua Forte – 7102 – This high-powered silicone remover effectively emulsifies uncured elastomers, as well as silicone oils, greasers and adhesive tape residues, leaving behind a clean, residue-free surface.
- Digesil Debond Mil -796 – If you’re looking for a low-hazard, non-VOC silicone remover, Digesil Debond Mil is the product for you! This gel penetrates and de-bonds even the most stubborn silicone sealants and runners while being a safer and easy-to-use product.
- Digesil NC Conc – 704 – Digesil NC Conc contains a powerful catalytic solvent that penetrates the Si-O bond that makes silicone so tough to remove from your equipment. It then breaks down the silicone elastomer and can also works effectively on rubber, resins, oils and greases.
Why is it important to properly dissolve silicone sealant from industrial equipment before reapplying?
Even though a high-quality silicone sealant can last years if applied properly, all sealants eventually need to be changed. Sealant can shrink and crack, leaving your surfaces vulnerable to mould growth, which can be unsightly and hazardous to health.
From an aesthetic standpoint, old sealant can end up with unsightly discolouration and staining over time, and applying fresh sealant over the top of old sealant can leave a bumpy and unprofessional texture behind.
This leads us on to the correct application of new sealant; silicone sealant should only be reapplied onto a completely clean, residue-free and dry surface, making thorough cleaning and preparation all the more important. Old sealant needs to be removed without leaving residue or moisture behind, both of which will result in compromised sealing and waterproofing capabilities and an unsightly, unprofessional finish.
Dissolving silicone sealant from industrial equipment does not have to be a difficult chore! With our specialist range of silicone sealant removers, Chela has you covered. To view the full range, take a look at the silicone and polymer removal range. For more information or any enquiries, please get in contact with the team at [email protected] or on +44(0)20 8805 2150.