Everything you need to know about silicone and the methods to remove it from different surfaces, from glass to tiles.
The most used products in the home are above all ethyl alcohol, nail polish remover, vinegar or white spirit; but if you want to know how to remove the silicone in a really effective way, however, you have to change the method and substance used depending on the surface on which it was applied.
Certain products, in fact, could be too aggressive or leave streaks; it must also be taken into account that there are different types of silicone, so certain substances can be effective with one type and ineffective for others. In this article we will go into the topic further.
The types of silicone
Silicone is an inorganic polymer based on chains of oxygen, silicon and organic functional groups that bind to silicon atoms, which can be synthesized in three different forms: oils, resins and rubbers.
The different forms in which it is produced allow it to be used for a wide range of applications in different sectors and for various purposes, including that of adhesive, lubricant, insulator or sealant. The examples cited are the most common uses in construction, both professionally and at home and hobby, and for these applications three different types of silicone are used: acetic, acrylic and neutral.
Acetic silicone is excellent as a waterproof sealant for smooth surfaces, therefore it is mainly used to insulate and seal sanitary ware, sinks, shower stalls, cold rooms and window-glass joints; the acrylic one, on the other hand, is especially suitable for porous surfaces, therefore wood, masonry and plasterboard.
Neutral ones are suitable for all surfaces, especially the most delicate ones, and can also be used to seal and isolate elastic joints; then there are silicones with specific characteristics, such as those created specifically for glass surfaces and those with anti-mold properties.
How to remove the silicone
Once applied and dried, the silicone offers high durability but it may be necessary to remove the burrs produced during application, or the entire layer in case a restructuring is necessary.
Furthermore, its application leads inexorably to contact with the substance, so it is very important to know how to remove the silicone from your hands without leaving a trace and without using products that are too aggressive for the skin.
The silicone dissolving substances on the market, in fact, are numerous and based on different compositions, but if desired, it is also possible to use products that can be easily found at home.
How to remove the silicone
One of the most commonly used silicone removal methods , especially in the DIY sector, is the use of a razor blade or a cutter to pass along the edges of the cord in order to cut and extract it entirely, or scrape it off the surfaces with a spatula. Although it may prove functional, however, this procedure is not recommended for several reasons, starting from the risk of getting hurt up to that of irretrievably scratching the surfaces where the silicone was applied. Furthermore, the latter is never completely removed with the blade but tends to leave residues which later become even more difficult to remove.
The most effective way, therefore, remains the use of a silicone solvent , whether it is a specific product or found at home. Household substances that are good for this purpose are acetone used to dissolve nail polish, white spirit and ethyl alcohol, but good results can also be obtained using common cooking vinegar or gasoline.
It is absolutely not recommended to use trichlorethylene to remove the silicone , however, as this substance exhales extremely dangerous vapors, which can even be lethal in a short time if inhaled in large quantities. Furthermore, even if you choose to use a specific solvent, it is important to always check the product data sheet in order to check for the presence of potentially lethal substances, such as phosphoric acid for example.
How to remove the silicone from the glass of the shower box
If the shower enclosure is being installed and you want to eliminate excess silicone residues when it is still fresh, just use a spatula, even better if it is made of plastic so as not to run the risk of leaving scratches on the glass and then, afterwards having removed the bulk, rub the affected surfaces with a dry cloth taking care not to further spread any remaining residues, until all traces are eliminated.
If, on the other hand, the silicone is dry, it is better to remove it using ethyl alcohol or vinegar, because using other solvents you run the risk of leaving halos on the glass. The consistency of dry silicone can be soft or hard depending on the case, this aspect is important because it affects the time it takes for the alcohol to deeply penetrate the silicone and dissolve it; when the latter has softened to the right point, it can be easily removed with the spatula and then finished cleaning with a cloth soaked in alcohol.
How to remove silicone from tiles
The silicone that is applied to the tile joints works as a sealant and once dry it takes on a hard consistency. Also in this case, therefore, before removing it it is advisable to soften it.
The procedure is similar to that described in the previous paragraph: to soften the silicone it must be properly washed with alcohol or a solvent, but it is also possible to use a mixture of hot water and alcohol because the heat accelerates its dissolution. Another method suitable for this purpose involves the use of the heat gun , making sure to set it to the minimum temperature; given the potential danger of the tool, however, this alternative is recommended only for the most experienced.
To avoid damaging the surface of the tiles it is better not to use too much energy when using the spatula, it is preferable instead to prolong the “washing” operation with the solvent and make sure that this has penetrated deeply into the silicone, testing its consistency with the tip of the spatula, and only then proceed to its removal.
If you only need to remove dry silicone stains left on the surface of the tiles, on the other hand, just pour a little powder detergent on them and wipe dry with a green sponge.