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Missy Bloom 09-17-2012 03:07 AM

tool box toxins?
I just acquired a tool box that was apparently (based on parts in the bottom) used for tools/parts by a previous-generation-tv repair person (or cable installer, or maybe something with antennas?). Half the inner trays are coated in some kind of greasy black substance (looks a little like graphite) that I thought I could easily clean up with soap and water. Ha ha. Being stubborn, I've now tried citra-solv, abrasives (scouring powder and steel wool), and mineral spirits, with the later working the best. It then occurred to me that maybe there was something toxic in this stuff and I shouldn't be dealing with any of it.
Anyone know what this could be, and have I exposed myself to something nasty?
Any suggestions?

(If it's not toxic, I'd just as soon try to clean up the remaining trays if I can, but would love suggestions on how best to do this).

Blondesense 09-17-2012 12:07 PM

Got a pic?

Missy Bloom 09-17-2012 05:24 PM

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How 'bout this? This is after it's been soaked in various things (but as you can see - not much effect). Included in the photos are bits of the actual toolbox (a dinosaur from what I can tell), and a few of the little parts found in the bottom of it.

How'd I do figuring out this box's purpose? :)


mikegp 09-17-2012 05:51 PM

What are you asking?

kwikfishron 09-17-2012 05:55 PM

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That is clean compared some of my toolboxes, put on some rubber gloves and clean away. I think you're worrying about nothing.

Missy Bloom 09-17-2012 06:07 PM

Mike - what I'm really asking (sorry for the sidetrack) is whether this clingy, greasy, filmy whatever on the inside of the orange trays is likely to contain anything toxic, given what the toolbox was apparently used for previously.
If it might contain toxins (like, say, lead, mercury or who knows what), then I'd rather just pitch the whole thing rather than create problems for myself.

If it's likely NOT toxic, cleaning suggestions would be great, as a bonus. :)

Kwikfishron, I'm not super worried about it but would rather be safe than sorry. I'm notorious for dismissing concerns when really it might be wiser to be a little more aware and cautious. I'm just trying to be a little better about this is all.

Thanks for your comments.


notmrjohn 09-17-2012 06:28 PM

Common problem with the flambeau 22060. actually i never heard of Flambeau, may be real common, neat name, sounds dashing and flamboyant.

Missy, another neat name, you said it looked like graphite, is it graphite? Used by cable guy to lubricate plastic drawers. Sometimes its hard to get out of cracks crevices scratches in plastic, seems to bond to it. Abrasives? More scratches. Could be graphite in petro based carrier. Did you try paint thinner? Bits and pieces look like cable guy stuff, could just be things some DIYer had in there. But can't think of any toxic stuff cable guys use. Some of the stuff on cable is toxic.

Blondesense 09-17-2012 06:51 PM

When I was a kid we used to go fishing on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage in Wisconsin. I believe Flambeau makes tackle boxes.

FWIW, it is very possible you are more at risk from all the chemicals you are using trying to clean it, than from the gook itself.

Myself, I'd soak it overnight in a tub of soapy water, scrub at it a bit, and call it good.

kwikfishron 09-17-2012 06:59 PM

199 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by Missy Bloom (Post 1011916)
what I'm really asking is whether this clingy, greasy, filmy whatever on the inside of the orange trays is likely to contain anything toxic, given what the toolbox was apparently used for previously.

It's only toxic if you live in California. :laughing:

Seriously though Missy, nobody here can tell you if the crud is toxic or not. If you're truly concerned then you need to have it tested.

notmrjohn 09-18-2012 11:29 AM

Missy, taste it, then get back to us in a week, or have somebody get back, then somebody here can maybe tell you if its toxic or not.
But i think i know what it is. Shoulda realized it upon seeing all the cable connectors. It is conductive grease the cable guy used to lubricate and seal the connectors. Not dielectric grease, but a mixture of graphite and petroleum jelly.

Ahhh, The Turtle Flambeau Flowage, where flamboyant frogs frolic in the fall. somebody couldn't remember the word for river or stream? I gotta say Flowage sounds sort of plumberish to me, if you know what I mean, but whatever floats your boat.

Elitist fly fishermen use the Fancy Flambeau boxes. Us cane pole catfishermen make do with plain o' Plano boxes.

Missy Bloom 09-19-2012 12:53 AM

Lol. You all crack me up. Of course I'd ONLY have the best of the best of the best (indicated, of course, by a shi-shi French name). The brand name alone warrants fine restoration efforts, right?


Truth is, the toolbox was almost free, and I'm just darn stubborn once I start a project. Believe me, the irony of spending such effort (and cleaning products) trying to spiffy this beast of thing up is not lost on me.

But it's done now - or as done as it's going to get, and thank you so much to notmrjohn who nailed what this gook has to be and provided exactly the answer I was hoping for. Not toxic, just really darn annoying. I'm OK with that, and it's good to know I haven't poisoned myself.

Appreciate your feedback and humor. :)

notmrjohn 09-19-2012 11:58 AM

Not only is the name tres chic, the number adds a sort of high tech panache , a certain Je ne sais qua the Plano Stow and Go don't got.

Have you put the thing in the dish washer yet? Might try some little insignificant piece first, see how it stands the hot water, turn off dry cycle. I'v put all kinds of things in dishwasher, tools, car parts, things I didn't know what they were under gunk and crud. I wait til mrsnot is away so as not to disturb her with sounds of crud and gunk flying around.

I'll let you get back to stuffin stuff in the box. Graphite and petroleum jelly, you got the beginnings of a French fashion model's make up kit right there.

Missy Bloom 09-19-2012 03:30 PM

Lol. I secretly love the dishwasher too (shh, don't tell Mr. Bloom either), but think I've got it de-gunkified enough to be useful, even if not especially pretty.
Thanks. :)

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