Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Trisodium Phosphate as a Glassware Cleaner

subsecret - 23-8-2013 at 19:31

I just bought a box of tricalcium phosphate at Lowe's, and it's marketed as a heavy-duty cleaner. Has anyone tried using this for lab glassware? What results did you experience?

<!-- bfesser_edit_tag -->[<a href="u2u.php?action=send&username=bfesser">bfesser</a>: corrected "Tricalcium" in subject]

[Edited on 29.8.13 by bfesser]

bbartlog - 26-8-2013 at 17:04

What you have seems more likely to be trisodium phosphate. Tricalcium phosphate is too insoluble to function effectively as anything other than an abrasive cleaner. Trisodium phosphate will slowly attack glass, as it's quite alkaline, but I think the reaction is too slow to be of any concern so long as you're just cleaning/rinsing with the stuff and not actually trying to store it in glass.

subsecret - 28-8-2013 at 16:33

Yes, trisodium phosphate is what I meant to say. That's good advice, but I suppose it's better to stick to more orthodox methods of cleaning. . .

bfesser - 28-8-2013 at 18:42

I've never used it, but I believe it's comparable to Na<sub>2</sub>CO<sub>3</sub> in effectiveness for <a href="viewthread.php?tid=24207&page=2#pid292431">general purpose cleaning</a>. Which reminds me that I have yet to clean the glazing putty out of the crevices in my ring... and I have to go back to paint those sashes, damnit!
<a href="" target="_blank">
TSP is still sold, and used, as a cleaning agent, but during the late 1960s in the United States, government regulators in seventeen states determined that overuse led to a series of ecological problems with the damage to lakes and rivers through eutrophication being the most significant.

By the end of the 20th century, many products that formerly contained TSP were manufactured with TSP substitutes, which consist mainly of sodium carbonate along with various admixtures of nonionic surfactants and a limited percentage of sodium phosphates. <img src="../scipics/_wiki.png" />

[Edited on 29.8.13 by bfesser]

MichiganMadScientist - 28-8-2013 at 20:22

I actually interned at cleaning chemicals company, and trisodium phosphate was a common ingredient in our alkaline cleaner formulations. However, using just that stuff to clean glassware is probably going to be limited in its effectiveness. You really want a detergent element, and I find dawn dish soap is great for that. Also, always rinse very thoroughly with water to ensure that are not leaving and trace amounts of cleaner behind.

HammerOfLight - 2-9-2013 at 20:58

It's an excellent additive to just about any soap for cleaning, cuts greases and oils really well, and really boosts the dirt lifting ability of a ddetergent.

Boron Trioxide - 3-9-2013 at 07:41

I agree TSP is very good at cleaning glass, it is even the chemical we used in my university chem lab, though are you sure it attacks glass; I thought only fluoride and hydroxide compounds could react with glass?

subsecret - 3-9-2013 at 19:05

I suppose that it could attack glass if a solution of it is heated. I know that hot phosphoric acid attacks glass. Looking at the package now, it says something along the lines of "do not use on glass."

How stupid of me...

Though it seems to work fine for everyone else . . . maybe just liability?