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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently went looking for lighter fluid to clean my pads. It was hard to find but after trying it and not seeing much cleaning going on, I read the label. It does not say Naptha - just 'light petroleum distillates". Unfortunately, the Ronsonol bottle is the large one for $5 and the only one I could find. It also says Zippo on the bottle too.

So I did a web search and sure enough, people are claiming that the newer lighter fluids aren't naptha. The recommendations now seem to be go buy a can of naptha at the big box or hardware store to get the real thing.

Does anyone else find this to be true recently?
 

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Napthene. For your purposes, its still the same - a fast-drying dry-cleaning solvent. However, there normally would not be anything on your pads that would not be removed with water, so I wonder why you would use dry-cleaning solvent on them?
 

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Napthene. For your purposes, its still the same - a fast-drying dry-cleaning solvent. However, there normally would not be anything on your pads that would not be removed with water, so I wonder why you would use dry-cleaning solvent on them?
To keep pads from sticking. Naptha is a more effective solvent (e.g., less "scrubbing" required) and is less damaging to leather pads than is water.

I've been doing this for many years and it is very effective. And like Stephen Howard, I've never found it to cause any damage to the pads.

To the OP: I agree with 1saxman that Ronsonol and Zippo still work fine. Naptha is not a rigorously defined compound anyway, and these are still made of "light mineral spirits", which are the same thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
THanks for the info. I have no idea if napthene is available - the Ronsinol doesn't say what's in it except for light petroleum distillates.

The reason I posted this is that my pads make a slight sticky sound when opening them. They look clean, but I decided to clean them anyway. I bought the Ronsinol since all the "sticky pad" posts talk about cleaning with Naphtha aka - Zippo lighter fluid. After using it, no harm appears to be done to the pads, but the sticky noise doesn't go away. So I googled around to find Ronsinol has n naphtha in it.

I was thinking that I needed to go buy naphtha from the hardware store but now that I see it should work the same, is saves me from having another can of flammable solvent in the house. So thanks for the explanation.

Now I still have to figure out why the pads make the sticky sound. As an experiment I rubbed some baby powder on both sides of a paper towel, shook off most all of it, and put it under the pad for a few times of opening and closing. The sticky noise disappeared immediately. Again the pads look lie new, but it bugs me when it comes back after letting it sit for ten or fifteen minutes. Nt sure what to do about it since most folks trust naphtha to clean them. This is a Yamaha YAS-23 with IMO original pads that wasn't played for a few years.
 

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I've found that if water or lighter fluid don't banish the sticky click of the pad opening up, rubbing alcohol does the trick. It does take a fair amount of the pad color off which may not be healthy for the life of the leather but it stops the sticky click.
 

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THanks for the info. I have no idea if napthene is available - the Ronsinol doesn't say what's in it except for light petroleum distillates.

The reason I posted this is that my pads make a slight sticky sound when opening them. They look clean, but I decided to clean them anyway. I bought the Ronsinol since all the "sticky pad" posts talk about cleaning with Naphtha aka - Zippo lighter fluid. After using it, no harm appears to be done to the pads, but the sticky noise doesn't go away. So I googled around to find Ronsinol has n naphtha in it.

I was thinking that I needed to go buy naphtha from the hardware store but now that I see it should work the same, is saves me from having another can of flammable solvent in the house. So thanks for the explanation.

Now I still have to figure out why the pads make the sticky sound. As an experiment I rubbed some baby powder on both sides of a paper towel, shook off most all of it, and put it under the pad for a few times of opening and closing. The sticky noise disappeared immediately. Again the pads look lie new, but it bugs me when it comes back after letting it sit for ten or fifteen minutes. Nt sure what to do about it since most folks trust naphtha to clean them. This is a Yamaha YAS-23 with IMO original pads that wasn't played for a few years.
Well, there's something sticky on or in the pad leather or on the tone hole rim, or both. Basically you've got to use a solvent to remove it. If it's oil based, an oil based solvent is your best bet - lighter fluid is basically light density petroleum products (as they distill crude oil, the components flash off in order of their boiling points and these light weight readily evaporating compounds are pretty early in the process). You don't want to use a heavier oil as it will polymerize as its lighter constituents evaporate, and leave you with a sticky mess. If whatever's on there is actually absorbed deep into the pad leather, continually treating it with solvents may just bring more of it to the surface.

Personally if I were going to use an oil based solvent I think my first choice would be Coleman fuel (white gas) which evaporates quickly and leaves no discernible residue. Outdoors only, though.

If it's not oil based, alcohol or acetone is probably a good bet.

Just covering up the sticky stuff with dust can sometimes be the only thing you can do.
 

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I'd clean that baby powder off right away and never use it again. It'll just make it worse in the end. Lighter fluid is naptha, that's all it is. I use that with the BG pad savers. First I soak one pad saver (made of microfiber) in naptha and wet the pad by closing it on the pad saver soaked in naptha. Then I put a clean dry pad saver in and blot the pad with that. Sometimes it takes a few repeats if it's really dirty. But that usually does the trick. You can also carefully drag the saver out with the cup closed, but not pressed hard and that can help.
 

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Most "Baby powder" nowadays is essentially just cornstarch, I would be wary of using it on pads.

I guess people got squeamish about making it from real babies...


 

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I use naptha on a flattened Q-tip to clean the surface of the pad with a rubbing or wiping motion---usually repeated and then followed by a dry one. Then I cut a strip of 1000 grit wet-or-dry sand paper and pull it between the pad and tonehole (abrasive side down) 2 or 3 times using moderate pressure. This cleans and "polishes" the top of the tonehole as well. If it still sounds "sticky" after that it could be too deep a seat in the pad, or a burr on the tonehole.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks all.
Just to be clear, I did clean the powder off after finding it didn't do the trick. I used it primarily to test if the stickiness went away. It did briefly. I will try saxoclese's method of abrasive - I have 1200 - 5000 grit to choose from. I don't want to try the alcohol yet because the pads look kind of new and orangey/tan and uniform on the whole horn. I was planning to replace the Eb pad because when I removed the key, it had a little area in the seat of the pad that looks worn. No light leak though. Maybe I'll order a few more pads for the noisy ones while I'm at it.
Each time I remove a key, I've found slight burrs on the tone hole which I burnish off. The tone holes look very good in general though.
I'll post back on what works.
 

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Just to be certain, before you go sandpapering your horn... are you using a q-tip with lighter fluid to clean both the pads AND the rims of the toneholes?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Just to be certain, before you go sandpapering your horn... are you using a q-tip with lighter fluid to clean both the pads AND the rims of the toneholes?
Yes. After several lighter fluid cleanings, the sticky sound comes back after the horn sits for a bit. Several of the ones I cleaned yesterday made the same sticky noise today. (I do swab out and use spit sponge on the holes every practice.) When I put a q-tip between the pad and the tone hole, it's a tight fit on one end (rod hinge side) and as it loosens toward the other end, I close the pad over it. I also spend time putting pressure on the pad side for several passes with lighter fluid. That hasn't worked yet, so I did another cleaning today and some fine (1200 grit) paper this morning. Nothing too harsh, just lightly brushing the tone hole all around. I'll play it in a little while and set it aside to see if the sticky noise comes back after a few hours.

On my Bundy, I had some slight pitting around a couple of tone hols and I removed the key and used a flat 1200 grit diamond on it after first applying magic marker all around. It worked very well at getting rid of the small pitting around the top of the tone hole leaving a nice flat surface. A little burnish on the edges and it was smooth and silky. So I have no reservations using a very fine grit to smooth the top f the tone holes as long as I am doing it to just clean them up.
 

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To alleviate any fear or misunderstanding with regard to "cleaning" the tops of toneholes using 1000 grit (or finer) wet-or-dry sand paper, these are a few photos I took several years ago showing the amount of "tonehole" removed. I have to deal with sticky pads all the time in my repair business. I clean the pad using naptha on a Q-tip. In the cosmetics section of Walmart you can often find them with one end that is pointed and the other end flattened which is perfect to get between the back of the pad and the tonehole. If the naptha doesn't dissolve the substance on the pad, I sometimes use Dr's Pad Cleaner which unfortunately is no longer available. Then I use the 1000 grit wet-or-dry to clean the top of the tonehole. If it still sticks I remove the key and rub very fine teflon powder into the pores of the pad using my index finger and then blow and wipe away any excess. The teflon powder that is left remains in the pores of the leather and cannot "gunk up" the mechanism. With the key off I also check for and remove any burrs around the inside and outside of the tone hole. If the pad still makes a sticking sound after all these steps, the pad gets replaced.

Sandpaper toneholes front and back.jpg


Sandpaper toneholes closeup.jpg
 

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I came across an Army Band YouTube video about this problem. Besides what's been suggested above, he also suggested ultra fine suede.

Never tried the sandpaper and probably never will. But the suede strips done the trick for me. Had some regular suede strips leftover and tried it on my Tenor Sax. All but three pads are 20+ years old. The suede worked very well for me! The suede strips I had were smooth on one side and not so smooth on the other. The smoother side went to the pad.
 

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Mink Oil, it's used as shoe polish and cleans and seals the pads. Put a dab on a very soft cloth and pull it through the closed pad, wait 5 min and run a dry cloth through the pads. An entire horn takes less than 5 min. Just make sure you don't put too much on so that you don't get residue on the chimneys. Usually the cloth comes back with a slight discoloration which is some of the gunk that accumulates over time and that you can't even see when you look at the pad but it gets less and less if you make it a routine to service your horn every other month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I came across an Army Band YouTube video about this problem. Besides what's been suggested above, he also suggested ultra fine suede.

Never tried the sandpaper and probably never will. But the suede strips done the trick for me. Had some regular suede strips leftover and tried it on my Tenor Sax. All but three pads are 20+ years old. The suede worked very well for me! The suede strips I had were smooth on one side and not so smooth on the other. The smoother side went to the pad.
I have some chamois cloth that makes an excellent swab (wicks up water real well). It's like very fine suede. I also cut a strip and used that to try to clean the pad and tone hole. It did get some gunk.
Right now, the 1200 grit seems to be working.

If it comes back, I'll try the mink oil before changing any pad. It will help waterproof the pad too.

@saxoclese: the wet-dry 1200 grit did not look like it captured any particles from the tone holes but I could hear ir do its abrasive rub on the tone hole. The flat Q-tips sound like they would work a lot better than regular ones. I had to tease the end and flatten it to get into some of the tighter spots. I put it on my Walmart list.

Thanks for the support.
 

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Another "quickie" is to pull one of these clothes you use to clean glasses through the pad/tonehole. It only takes a few seconds, you don't need to be super careful and you can carry a stack of them with you in your case. And, in an acute case of pad stick, they really work well, at least short term.
 

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Here's the basic issue with using petroleum solvents to unstick pads - its not a solvent for the organic sugars that are causing the problem - only water is! The reason rubbing alcohol worked is it contains water. My favorite one-step treatment is Lemon Pledge - it dissolves the sticky compounds because it contains water in an emulsion with paraffin. The paraffin waxes the pad and it also has a little silicon for water repellency.
 

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Here's the basic issue with using petroleum solvents to unstick pads - its not a solvent for the organic sugars that are causing the problem - only water is! The reason rubbing alcohol worked is it contains water. My favorite one-step treatment is Lemon Pledge - it dissolves the sticky compounds because it contains water in an emulsion with paraffin. The paraffin waxes the pad and it also has a little silicon for water repellency.
That is why I use Dr's Pad Cleaner when naptha doesn't work. Thanks for the tip. The original Pledge Lemon Clean is no longer available so I'm going to try Pledge Lemon Enhancing Polish instead.
 
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