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Fiberwash AQ Precision Fiber Optic Cleaner
7 November 2018
Some old habits die hard, even when there is clear evidence of a better method.

The use of IPA, (Isopropyl Alcohol) has been the go-to cleaning fluid to remove oil-based residues from fibres, during preparation for a very long time. Typically dispensed from a small pump action dispenser so not ideal for transportation as it can leak, but it is also not very practical for combination cleaning platforms. Combination cleaning combines a wet to dry process and overcomes issues with the old method of wiping a stripped fibre with a lint-free cleaning cloth.

IPA is also widely used in many industries for a variety of purposes including general cleaning of components and removal of fluxes and other unwelcome contamination e.g. nail polish remover.

In our industry, the cleaning of fibre-optic cables or connector end faces is particularly critical to ensure the optimum splice or mating connection. Whilst using IPA for this purpose during pre-splice preparation is a cost-effective and accepted method, it does have some issues. Anyone who uses IPA will know the strong chemical odour that it gives off. That smell means IPA has high VOC (Volatile Organic Content) and also has high Global Warming Potential. Perhaps most importantly from a safety perspective is the highly flammable nature of IPA, classed as a hazardous substance. Small amounts of IPA on the skin are generally not dangerous, but repeated skin exposure can cause itching, redness, rash, drying, and cracking. If ingested, even in small quantities, the effects can be fatal.

Most users will have also noticed that IPA leaves smears on fibre end faces. This is because there are various grades of IPA and small amounts of impurities may be present. These can be seen under a fibre scope and cause the ‘rainbow colour’ effect. This means the surface is not as clean as it could be.

Extract from IPA Data Sheet: Precautions for safe handling :
Do not handle, store, or open near an open flame, sources of heat, or sources of ignition. Protect the material from direct sunlight. When using, do not smoke. Explosion-proof general and local exhaust ventilation. Minimize fire risk from flammable and combustible materials (including combustible dust and static accumulating liquids) or dangerous reactions with incompatible materials.

Clearly using IPA in some work areas where other trades are present could be highly inadvisable.
Fortunately, there are alternatives. Fiberwash™ AQ Precision Fiber Optic Cleaner by Chemtronics is a non-flammable water-based cleaning solution specifically formulated for use with fibre cleaning platforms. Supplied in a convenient 100ml spray, ideal for combination cleaning platforms, it can be transported and stored easily and is also low odour and residue free with low VOC. It overcomes all the issues with IPA. Fiberwash™ also dissipates static charge and reduces the attraction of airborne contaminants.

For the best results for Connector Cleaning, Fiberwash™ should be used in combination with the Chemtronics QbE, QbE2, pQbE and SqR Cleaning Platforms or CCT™ Clear Connection Tool. It works best when using the Combination Cleaning™ process.

So whilst IPA may be low cost, it makes a lot of sense to use the best available purpose made products to get consistently good results in critical installations.

To order Fiberwash call Networks Centre on 01403 754233 or email and ask for CM-FW2190- 100ML