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Dean_Lapinel

Potassium Nitrite (KNO2)

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Another thing to consider is that Potassium Nitrite is pretty hygroscopic. Personally, this doesn't seem like a good idea to me. I'm not sure how it reacts with the varnish or if it would react with any varnish that's applied so there is none left behind. It seems like it should, but I don't know.

I played with it a few years ago. What I can say is that after a 3% solution was applied to wood and put in a light box, there was plenty of it left on the surface. I used a pretty sophisticated piece of equipment to test this...my tongue. There was plenty of it there. It was still active after a year (same test). Like I said, having something that's hygroscopic on an instrument seems less than ideal. No hard proof, but it seems like it could intensify humidity changes.

--Joe

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OK.. The question remains ... Why?

Fun,I'll bite. I want the wood to have a darker value, to look "old" and I can't seem to get spruce darker with other methods (stains) and not have the top turn out blotchy.

What do you have when you are done?

Fair to so-so results as to lowering its value.It's much better than bright white wood. I can achieve non-blotchy tops this way at least.

How well do you like the visual effects?

It's not as great as I'd like, I loose a lot of clarity,"sparkle"

...as compared to what?

To having my cake and eating it. Darker, older looking wood and no loss of depth or sparkle.

Have you achieved lasting effects? If so, what?

The wet chemistry does fade a bit over time, but I haven't experienced the wood ever reverting to its original bright white.

For me, I'm putting up with the negatives solely because I can do this and not have a blotched top.

Any ideas Joe?

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To having my cake and eating it.

Any ideas Joe?

Darren,

yeah...a few...but I think I will wait a little to muddy the waters........

I have a great capacity for killing an interesting thread.

on we go,

Joe

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In this case you have a great capacity to crank things up a notch. . . in a positive way that is :)

I have a great capacity for killing an interesting thread.

on we go,

Joe

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Darren,

yeah...a few...but I think I will wait a little to muddy the waters........

I have a great capacity for killing an interesting thread.

on we go,

Joe

And I'll also add that I was much happier with my stuff until I saw Jeff Phillips' wood colour in person, and a few other contemperary makers together at 2010 vsa-palluza.

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A top (internationally esteemed) maker uses Potassium Nitrite to brown his violins. Do any of you have any sense of how many makers use this?

One well known maker and restorer said he used it, but he made a point about "neutralising" after the color was achieved. I think he said with ammonia. (I suspect he may be fooling himself, but what do I know?)

I don't use it for repair and not for new making either, because I'm just fine with new fiddles looking new! Sun-/UV-tanning for a week or two takes away enough whiteness.

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One well known maker and restorer said he used it, but he made a point about "neutralising" after the color was achieved. I think he said with ammonia. (I suspect he may be fooling himself, but what do I know?)

I don't use it for repair and not for new making either, because I'm just fine with new fiddles looking new! Sun-/UV-tanning for a week or two takes away enough whiteness.

I just read this whole thread again (old one!) and find that posters seemed to be using nitrite and nitrate as if they are the same. They are not.

Since that post I have found that nitrite is used by many in its natural form and with a commercial label for violin makers.

I tried it but have since stuck with the changes from "sol". Sol is also carcinogenic but I take precautions...I call it "safe sol".

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I dug up your old thread because I was very curious to know what people though about using these chemicals. I didn't realize that some people consider it very poor practice to use them, which is understandable now that I've read some of the posts. There are however, established makers, probably specializing in antiquing, that use these methods although they seem to be reluctant to come forward or aren't bothered.. which is also understandable. As I have no experience in this area I would like to "have a go" myself, just out of curiosity. BTW I presume when you mention "Sol" you mean sunlight or have I missed out on something.

I just read this whole thread again (old one!) and find that posters seemed to be using nitrite and nitrate as if they are the same. They are not.

Since that post I have found that nitrite is used by many in its natural form and with a commercial label for violin makers.

I tried it but have since stuck with the changes from "sol". Sol is also carcinogenic but I take precautions...I call it "safe sol".

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I dug up your old thread because I was very curious to know what people though about using these chemicals. I didn't realize that some people consider it very poor practice to use them, which is understandable now that I've read some of the posts. There are however, established makers, probably specializing in antiquing, that use these methods although they seem to be reluctant to come forward or aren't bothered.. which is also understandable. As I have no experience in this area I would like to "have a go" myself, just out of curiosity. BTW I presume when you mention "Sol" you mean sunlight or have I missed out on something.

I also guess that's what Dean means :)

Nitrite as Dean says is a principal ingredient in some expensive commercial ground preparations and its use is widespread now including in factory instruments. Generally the effect is too yellow.

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I also guess that's what Dean means :)

Nitrite as Dean says is a principal ingredient in some expensive commercial ground preparations and its use is widespread now including in factory instruments. Generally the effect is too yellow.

Exactly... I like a mellow indian yellow look after the ground. by the way, for a reason others camn explain better than I can, summer cut Spruce turns pinkish yellow.

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Before the actual result.

I am always amazed at the intentional "surrender" involved in the application of these methods.

Admittedly, some [ammonia fuming comes to mind] are more predictable than others. Nonetheless, in a group of people who are so concentrated on having control over the outcome of their labor, a maker will apply the chemical solution, put it in the light-box, shut the door and then off-to-bed hoping for a good result in the morning. When you open the door and look at the instrument, what you see is what you get.

This alone makes me uneasy....

on we go,

Joe

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Has anyone experimented with Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite? In the sausage making industry, they have moved to Sodium because as I understand it the results are more predictable. I have pure KNO3, KNO2, NaNO3, and NaNO2. I have tried different things with each. It does seem to me that the Sodium varieties are more predictable. The NO3(nitrate) in both Potassium and Sodium have an effect on the wood but they don't affect it as much as the NO2(nitrite). I think this is just due to nitrite being a stronger oxidizer? I have tried a mixture of NaNO3 and NaNO2 and that seems to work well. I'm curious about others' experiences. Also, it would be interesting for me to know chemically what the NO3 varieties actually do to the wood.

By the way, I happen to know what a couple of those medal winners in the last VSA competition use in their varnishing system and I can say that potassium nitrite is not unfamiliar to these folks.

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By the way,a I happen to know what a couple of those medal winners in the last VSA competition use in their varnishing system and I can say that potassium nitrite is not unfamiliar to these folks.

Very interesting. And of course the immediate put down would be to say that "Well, over time, you don't know the effect will be." And I guess without someone doing tests, we don't know. In fact, I guess I could begin a test today on some wood. My grandchildren might see the results when they are in their 70's. So goes argument in violin making. And that is perfectly ok with me. Don't expect hard black and white answers (or pinkish yellow spruce ones either) in questions that involve long-time tests.

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Regarding questions about long term effects, It seems highly unlikely to me that something catastrophic would occur after say 20+ years if no deleterious effect whatsoever is observed within say 2 years (probably even much less).

I have samples of nitrite-treated spruce and maple that have shown no degradation/structural change whatsoever in 5 years when examined under a microscope.

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Joe,

When I had used Nitrite I found no absence of control as you suggest. The endgrain is previously sealed so I would always get a nice even color when exposed to the sun; just enough to bring down the look of freshly worked wood.

I have never used K Nitrate and perhaps there are surprises with this but I would say that properly used, the K nitrite is fine. I simply prefer avoiding chemicals in general so I use the sun with a light wash of modified sun thickened linseed oil (not penetrating).

I like to think that mine is a more natural process but it really isn't. The results of either are fine and depend on personal taste.

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By the way, I happen to know what a couple of those medal winners in the last VSA competition use in their varnishing system and I can say that potassium nitrite is not unfamiliar to these folks.

Not being familiar with the rules of these competitions do they take everything into consideration, including what went into the finish etc, or are they only interested in the overall look and performance of the instrument. Is it becoming like competitive sports where many substances are banned. I presume there has to be some regulation at the top level.

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Not being familiar with the rules of these competitions do they take everything into consideration, including what went into the finish etc, or are they only interested in the overall look and performance of the instrument. Is it becoming like competitive sports where many substances are banned. I presume there has to be some regulation at the top level.

There are so many cooking recipes for varnish with a large variety of "ingredients". Why would anyone consider a ban on some form of finishing?

In the longer past, odd forms of artificial aging or approaches to finish resulted in an instrument of poor tonal quality. I doubt very much anyone follows these old methods and they would serve no purpose so why ban them?

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There are so many cooking recipes for varnish with a large variety of "ingredients". Why would anyone consider a ban on some form of finishing?

In the longer past, odd forms of artificial aging or approaches to finish resulted in an instrument of poor tonal quality. I doubt very much anyone follows these old methods and they would serve no purpose so why ban them?

The question related specifically to top level competitions and considering what has been said in some of the above posts, for example post No15, it wouldn't surprise me if it's heading that way. Personally It doesn't bother me as I don't like to see over regulation in anything.

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So,am I to understand that no one is bothered by the lack of control in this process?

Joe

I am using a combination of Magister LC Primer, potassium nitrite and sun tanning. The results are very consistent and predictable. No unexpected results so far.

I'm using chemicals because I never had success applying color to the wood. Especially the spruce.

I know that you use stains ("aged wood color") to darken the wood. Do you achieve an even color with it on spruce? (not blotchy, no grain reversal, no lighter colored areas where the surface is parallel to the fibers)

Matthias

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I stopped using bitumen (pitch) to colour my varnish because some concerns about it becaming too dark over the time and now I am using bone black

to darken my varnish. Well, I saw one of my old instruments some time ago and loved the varnish, that prompted me to use the bitumen again... we

are allways changing our minds.

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The question related specifically to top level competitions and considering what has been said in some of the above posts, for example post No15, it wouldn't surprise me if it's heading that way. Personally It doesn't bother me as I don't like to see over regulation in anything.

Ahh post #15.

I suspect this part concerned you:

Maybe we are willing to exchange short term gains in appearance and/or tonal quality possibly for a drastically reduced lifespan of the instrument.

In my opinion, those approaches that may (subjectively) improve appearance and drastically reduce the lifespan don't improve the acoustic quality. I don't know of anyone in competition using chemicals that damage the instruments in the short or expected long term.

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Not being familiar with the rules of these competitions do they take everything into consideration, including what went into the finish etc, or are they only interested in the overall look and performance of the instrument. Is it becoming like competitive sports where many substances are banned. I presume there has to be some regulation at the top level.

They are only interested in the overall look and performance. It would be hard to know what everyone puts in their varnish and ground by the looks only. The only reason why I stated that I knew is because I have had a number of conversations with some of these makers and they told me what they did with their instruments. I don't know if I would be able to recognize ingredients by looks alone. Certainly some things I can ascertain, but definitely not everything.

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They are only interested in the overall look and performance. It would be hard to know what everyone puts in their varnish and ground by the looks only. The only reason why I stated that I knew is because I have had a number of conversations with some of these makers and they told me what they did with their instruments. I don't know if I would be able to recognize ingredients by looks alone. Certainly some things I can ascertain, but definitely not everything.

There are tells though, such as hide glue that turned black in a new violin but you won't likely see this in a competition.

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Ahh post #15.

I suspect this part concerned you:

In my opinion, those approaches that may (subjectively) improve appearance and drastically reduce the lifespan don't improve the acoustic quality. I don't know of anyone in competition using chemicals that damage the instruments in the short or expected long term.

I don't disagree with Dean's statement. To eliminate any confusion my earlier post may have inadvertently caused, I was just posing the question as to how much we know about the long term effects of chemical treatments of the wood and whether we may not be trading short term gains for uncertainty as to how our instruments will look and sound 30 years from now. Subsequent posts made the valid point that in many cases, the concentrations in which the chemicals are being applied to the wood are very low. Chemical treatment is a path any of us can choose to take or to avoid. Seems the best advice in the former case is to do so in moderation. And, as suggested by a number of the posts in this and multiple other threads, there's no shame in going back and trying something later that we decide not to do today. If we're not trying new things, we're dead to many of the riches this craft has to offer.

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