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How to whiten ivory?
#1794082 11/22/11 05:15 PM
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Hey folks,

I have an old pump organ that I am restoring for a lady in my church. The keys are real ivory. They are badly discolored. I would like to try and whiten them for her. Any suggestions on what to use and the process?

Thanks!
Ryan Hassell
Hassell's Piano Tuning
Farmington, MO


Ryan G. Hassell
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Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1794085 11/22/11 05:29 PM
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I'm sure you'll get some good suggestions, but you might also try looking for old threads. The topic has come up before and there were many ideas discussed. Good luck.


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Tuesdays 5-8 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1794094 11/22/11 05:43 PM
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Please, please, do us all a favor here and search in the archives.....

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1794117 11/22/11 06:20 PM
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The search function of this software is poor. Best to use the Google search box up top on the left; the results are far better and faster.

there ...see I am back with a thread from way back.

whiten ivory thread

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Supply #1794122 11/22/11 06:23 PM
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Jurgen,

I did do an initial search and did not find anything. After digging a little deeper, I did find some threads, however Piano World will not let me delete the post now. I think their search engine needs some revamping.


Ryan G. Hassell
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Farmington, MO
www.hassellspianotuning.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hassells-Piano-Tuning/163155880804
ryanhassell@hotmail.com
Re: How to whiten ivory?
Silverwood Pianos #1794124 11/22/11 06:24 PM
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Thanks Dan!


Ryan G. Hassell
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www.hassellspianotuning.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hassells-Piano-Tuning/163155880804
ryanhassell@hotmail.com
Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1794125 11/22/11 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryan Hassell
... Piano World will not let me delete the post now. I think their search engine needs some revamping.

Yes, the search function is not the best, but it does work.

While this thread is at the top of the page, I'll add that the best (only) way to make a thread go away is for people to stop posting to it and bumping it back up to the top.

There, now I did it.

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1794126 11/22/11 06:28 PM
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I found a tip from Bill Bremmer about using Clorox Clean-Up with Bleach that I'm going to try.


Ryan G. Hassell
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www.hassellspianotuning.com
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Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1794527 11/23/11 11:06 AM
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What about Hydrogen Peroxide?


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Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1798110 11/30/11 01:34 AM
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Yes, food grade hydrogen peroxide (30% strength) available from most health food stores used in conjunction with a uv light source might work.


Vince Mrykalo RPT MPT
KU Piano Technician

Science has become the belief in the ignorance of experts - Richard Feynman
Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1798133 11/30/11 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Ryan Hassell
I found a tip from Bill Bremmer about using Clorox Clean-Up with Bleach that I'm going to try.


Dear Ya'all,

.....Martha Taylor, who is Immortal Piano in Portland, just gave a presentation on key bleaching last night. She also uses a light Hydrogen Peroxide solution and UV light. She lightly brushes the Peroxide on, wraps the keys tightly with a light cloth (...or even 'Puffs' Kleenex) to keep things moist, and then puts under UV light. She actually like the car dashboard,under the sun, during the summer. ;>) You could visit her website and/or ask her directly. OK?

...DO NOT USE BLEACH ON IVORY... You will kill the ivory; it becomes brittle (...ok, more brittle) and will die at a touch. Martha specializes in historic restoration, and I trust her input on this. The bleach will make the key whiter, but you'll also leach the life out of the poor wee thing. No Bleach!

Yr. svt.,


Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
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Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1798134 11/30/11 02:41 AM
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Ivory is dead once it is removed from the elephant.


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Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1798212 11/30/11 08:59 AM
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I was asked to whiten several ivory keys that were replaced by another technician. The key tops were replaced fairly nice but because they were from another piano, they were noticably yellower. I used the dental whitening strips to lighten them. Left them on during the course of the tuning and it lightened the keytops some. The next time I returned to tune I did the same procedure and now they match very nice. I lightly wipe the key top with water first to moisten it. This reacts with the carbimide peroxide gel thats on the white strip. Apparantly the 15% carbimide solution converts to 5% hydrogen peroxide in the process. Always double check the keytop is still glued on solid because any moisture permeating through the ivory can loosen up some of them if they were originally glued with water soluable glue. Most of the techs here use CA glue/gel so its not an issue.


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George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1798979 12/01/11 04:53 PM
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The way i have bleached ivories for many years is to first sandpaper the tops with very fine paper then put them out in the sun on a board or use a UV light if no sun. I use 120 volume peroxide (has to be ordered from a drugstore or chemist). Make up a paint stick with rag wrapped and tied around the stick (the strenght of the 120 volume eats a paint brush bristles away)
Apply every hour, but be prepared for a 2-3 day exercise with some ivories. When white enough wash the ivory with a damp cloth to get rid of any peroxide and then polish with a good buffing compound on a wheel
Robin Stevens
South Australia
PS the paint stick will catch alight if left laying around the workshop ;-(

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1799223 12/02/11 01:29 AM
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I don't know about the chlorox, but i have tried the peroxide with unreliable results. By the time the peroxide works it also gets the ivory too soggy and risks loosening. I have, with piano keys, sanded the ivory with very fine 320 - 400 grit sand paper then buffed the keys on my machine buffer. There again is limited improvements. Originally in the factory the ivory was peroxide bleached then put in the sun. But this was before they were installed on the keys.
I have heard of tuners going to that length again but it would be very labour intensive.
I wouldn't be too determined to make them white at this point. They are old ivory and that is part of the appeal.

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1799341 12/02/11 10:11 AM
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There are different forms of peroxide. Use the gelled peroxide, it is easier to control. Not much is going to happen unless the polished surface is broken first with to allow the peroxide into the grain lines of the ivory; 280 grit should do. I can imagine that the liquid form gets the ivory pretty damp.

Following the deregulation of the hairdressing industry here in BC, this product in the gel form can be found at any hairdressing supply, a license is no longer required. Peroxide 40 volume is the strongest outside of the medical industry here.

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Silverwood Pianos #1799716 12/02/11 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Silverwood Pianos

Peroxide 40 volume is the strongest outside of the medical industry here.

Dan,
you should be able to pick up bottle of really strong H2O2 35% solution at any hydroponics plant supply store.
(Being in BC I know that you've got to have lots of those around).
Considering that 40 "volume" is actually about 12% then that means 35% will be equivalent to about 120 volume. eek
The hydroponic growers (both the legitimate and not so much) use it in their nutrient solution to supply O2 to their roots since plant roots actually take up oxygen (it is the green photosynthesizing parts that require CO2).


Last edited by Sparky McBiff; 12/02/11 10:59 PM.
Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1799943 12/03/11 12:21 PM
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Thanks Sparky,
We have a lot of hydroponics supplies here for sure. When I needed a new bottle my partner was at the hairdressers and she grabbed a bottle and brought it back for me. The 40 volume works very well; just keep it away from your skin and don’t breathe the fumes. This stuff is active indeed. The gel stuff stays where you place it rather than running all over the place like the liquid.
I am doing up some photo albums on ivory replacement and ivory whitening for my blog, and will post them when completed.

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1800039 12/03/11 03:29 PM
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I once put a dark yellow piece of old ivory into a glas with peroxide 30& just to see if it would ever become white. After 8 hours I picked it up and the ivoty was soft as rubber.
This gel thing sounds great!

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #1800083 12/03/11 05:48 PM
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Good one. Way back I put an ivory head in a glass of bleach and came back five minutes later and there was no ivory. The bleach was kind of milky though….

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #2958822 03/20/20 08:09 AM
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I know that this thread is very old, however. is the hydrogen peroxide necessary, or only long time sun exposure will work too?

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #2958844 03/20/20 09:09 AM
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I have successfully whitened a full set by repeatedly applying HP with a cloth and keeping the keys under a grow light. Took a while (days) but it worked.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #2958911 03/20/20 11:57 AM
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There was an ivory industry in the Essex and Deep River area of Connecticut. You can find some bleach houses in Ivoryton which was used to whiten ivory keys. They were long narrow glass sheds that held the ivory keys in rows just inside a slanted wall of glass panes facing south for optimal exposure. Ivory was exposed to the sun for three weeks.

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Rob Harold #2959320 03/21/20 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob Harold
There was an ivory industry in the Essex and Deep River area of Connecticut. You can find some bleach houses in Ivoryton which was used to whiten ivory keys. They were long narrow glass sheds that held the ivory keys in rows just inside a slanted wall of glass panes facing south for optimal exposure. Ivory was exposed to the sun for three weeks.



Thanks a lot, looks like chemicals are necessary!

Re: How to whiten ivory?
Ryan Hassell #2961083 03/27/20 07:13 PM
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In S.Africa I had a Car lEcke bird-cage action piano and used lemon juice on ivory keys placed out in the sun - this did considerably help to whiten .

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