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Spit: The Miracle Solvent

by Jordan Ficklin

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One of the tools in my arsenal travels with me everywhere. As a watchmaker I have many solvents and cleaners at my disposal. I use them all sparingly and in accordance with safe practices.

For cleaning watch movements I use L&R Ultrasonic Cleaner and L&R Ultrasonic Rinse. The cleaner is Ammonia based, the rinse has a high content of Naphtha. At the bench I have trichloroethylene, hexane, denatured alcohol & acetone. For cases I use an ammonia free detergent in water. I’m sure there are a dozen other solvents around, each with their specific purpose but sometimes the best agent is saliva.

For removing gunk from crystals a little spit on a rag often works better than all of the above. I suppose its the enzymes, but I really don’t know any of the science behind it. Sometimes on a dial some fog from your breath does the trick. It’s amazing how the simplest (and perhaps safest) cleaners sometimes work the best.

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3 Comments

  1. Ronnie Safreed
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    J. Peter I once read in some publication that back many years ago(nineteenth century)that there were watch repairmen that would put the watch parts in their mouths using their tongues&roofs of their mouths&saliva to clean the watch parts&then use a good clean linen or other cloth to wipe them dry. Also hot breath was used too.Well the oils back then were natural plant, animal, fish&whale oils so they would not harm or poison anyone.

  2. Posted January 13, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I’ve been setting diamonds for nearly forty years and make regular use of “Setter’s Friend” or spit to arrange small stones for layout. It’s always there when you need it, and if used sparingly isn’t hardly disgusting at all.

  3. Alftbn
    Posted February 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Avoid any saliva & breath over watch parts,
    is a thumb rule.
    Also, in the past women worked painting dials
    with radium lume, and got sick and died.
    Also, in the past used animal oils, no way better for a watch than the actual synth oils.

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