Silicone Masks: Boiling Water, OR isopropyl Alcohol Cleaning

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Silicone Masks: Boiling Water, OR isopropyl Alcohol Cleaning

Post by strobotach » Thu Feb 09, 2006 8:22 pm

I did quite a bit of chemical compatibility investigating today,
and came up with a couple of answers that might dispel some statements that were made about cleaning silicone mask parts with alcohol.

I found from multiple sources that is not compatible with SOME Alcohols, BUT IS COMPATIBLE WITH ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL!

These are the questions I posed to GE engineers online today:

"What cleaners, detergents, soaps, etc. can be safely used on molded
silicone respiratory devices? (face mask seals etc.)

What sterilizing techniques, fluids, can be safely used on silicone
respiratory devices without detrimental effects?

Can boiling water be used without damaging/degrading the elastomeric

There are hundreds of people that would be interested in these answers,
and GE's response to these questions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you! "

The answer from James Gorski at GE Silicones:


Boiling water wont be a problem as a standard silicone is fine dealing with temps up to 400F. In terms of cleaning you can us isopropyl alcohol


I also found that there are quite a few oils and greases that are detrimental to silicone, so, I would say wipe the facial oils off your masks off with Isopropyl alcohol in the morning, it would be less detrimental than letting the oils damage the silicone.

If you want to sterilize your mask, boil a pot of water, turn off the heat, then give your silicone parts a dunk for a minute or two.

If you want to cross check silicone, or several other plastics for chemical compatibility use this link:

This information is based on my opinions and reliable online reference materials... Your mileage may vary
Last edited by strobotach on Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:05 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by NightHawkeye » Thu Feb 09, 2006 8:26 pm

Thank you, Strobotach. Good info.


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Post by Ric » Fri Feb 10, 2006 9:43 pm

I think I know what you think you thought you said, but if I'm thinking what you're thinking, then I think your thoughts need to be slightly clarified before somebody actually tries what you actually said, instead of what you think you said. Let me clarify that:


There, I feel better now. I think it is probably OK to dunk your mask in boiling water, or recently boiled water. Or to dunk your mask in regular room temperature isproply alcohol. (That is assuming your face is not in it at the time).

A bottle of ordinary rubbing alcohol will double as a molotov cocktail anywhere NEAR a flame. But suggest don't try it to find out. Not even for the science.
He who dies with the most masks wins.

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Post by snork1 » Fri Feb 10, 2006 10:43 pm

Ric wrote:....

A bottle of ordinary rubbing alcohol will double as a molotov cocktail anywhere NEAR a flame. But suggest don't try it to find out. Not even for the science.
Pretty much the ball of flame I was picturing when I read the heading....

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What you read above is only one data point based on one person's opinion.
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Chemical "Compatability"

Post by Ric » Fri Feb 10, 2006 11:43 pm

I forgot to mention, I DID like the chemical "compatability" chart on the C-P website. I noticed that Silicone vs. acetic acid (aka: vinegar) has a compatibility rating of only "C", that is

"Fair -- Moderate Effect, not recommended for continuous use. Softening, loss of strength, swelling may occur."

(Then again, how can I trust a chart that spells "compatibility" two different ways on the same page? )

Thanks Strobotach, that is good information. I may never marinate my mask this way again. I'm starting to raise my opinion of . . .

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Post by Darth Vader Look » Fri Feb 17, 2006 1:08 am

The Cole Parmer link is interesting in that it states that distilled water and silicone have a compatibility rating of only a "C". Fresh and salt water rate a "B".

The amount of skin oil on your face and it's ph rating is a great determining factor in mask longevity or so I have been told. The more oily your skin is the more negative reaction to the silicone sealing cushion. Not sure about which way the ph rating has to go in order to be more detrimental to the silicone cushion.


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Chemical "Compatability"

Post by Amigo » Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:37 am

OK, now I'm really confused. As I have said repeatedly, I have been using petrolatum (Vaseline) to lubricate my nares, and provide a better seal for my Breeze nasal pillows for well over two years. In all that time, I have been using the SAME set of pillows, and they show absolutely NO signs of damage or deterioration.

This site ( ) says "D = Severe Effect, not recommended for ANY use" when comparing the interaction between silicone and petrolatum.

So, are the Breeze pilllows made of something other than silicone, or is this site's information highly suspect?

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Post by tomjax » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:41 am

Every time this topic comes up- cleaning various masks and parts, many old and new suggestions are made.

IMHO, these are novel and elegant solutions for a non problem.

Simply mild soap and water will do the job.

Boil in water????????
do you boil your nose and face?

Many people clean their mask every few MONTHS- no reason for this obsession with problems that do not exist.
Anyone ever hear of the Hygiene hypothesis?
There is a greater harm in our society from being too clean than too dirty.
Baths and deodorants are fine in a social context, but not in evolutionary selection.