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Film Cleaning Solvents

The use of organic solvents to clean motion picture films has been an accepted practice for over 30 years. The 1996 Montreal Protocol legislation has however, banned the manufacture of the most common solvent (1,1,1 - Trichloroethane) previously used for film cleaning. The motion picture industry continues to request that other chemicals be identified as potential alternatives for use in film cleaning applications. As a service to the motion picture industry, Kodak has provided a list of potential alternatives and still continues to search for new film cleaning solutions.

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive about film cleaning is: "What film cleaning solution do you recommend that we use?" Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. After extensively searching for a "replacement" for 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, no one chemical has been identified as having all the positive performance attributes of 1,1,1-Trichloroethane. The table below provides a list of alternative solvents suitable for cleaning motion picture films (ECN, ECI, ECP). Each solvent has been tested for color image dye stability and physical deformation of the film (e.g., base curling). In the table you will note that there are many differences between the solvents: boiling points, cost, cleaning ability, etc. The choice of a solvent will be dependent upon its particular application and additionally may be subject to rules and regulations regarding health, safety, and environmental considerations. We strongly suggest that you fully research and carefully test any film cleaning solution to determine if it will fulfill all your specific operational and end-product quality criteria before making a final selection.

The successful and safe use of these solutions in existing (or future) film cleaning equipment has been left to the equipment manufacturers since they must optimize their equipment for the individual properties of the various solutions (e.g., machine speed, drying temperature, part compatibility, cleaning setup, safety features, etc.).

Lipsner Smith has tested a variety of alternative film cleaning solvents and has provided some helpful information on their web site. However, the listing of any solution does not guarantee its performance in a film cleaning operation. This listing serves only as a general guideline as to those solvents that have been identified as not having a deleterious effect on motion picture films in limited testing.

This table is periodically updated to reflect the results of our most recently conducted tests. It should be noted that apart from commodity chemicals (i.e., isopropanol), Eastman Kodak does not manufacture or sell these solvents. Pricing, transportation, quality control, etc., are all the responsibility of the original chemical manufacturer or supplier.

The following helps explain the table of information. Questions concerning any of this information can be asked through the contact form.

Name - Trade name or general chemical name used to identify (purchase) the solvent. Specific chemical manufacturers (sole suppliers) have been identified wherever possible. Generic descriptions have also been provided where mixtures of chemicals are used.

Flash Point (FP) - This is the minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off vapors in sufficient concentrations to form an ignitable mixture with air as determined by Uniform Fire Code Standard 9-1 & 9-2. A chemical is called flammable if its flash point is less than 100 degrees F, and combustible if the flash point is greater than 100 degrees F. The use of chemicals with flash points requires additional safety considerations.

Boiling Point (BP) - This is the temperature (in degrees C) at which a liquid exerts a vapor pressure equal to atmospheric pressure. Films cleaned with high boiling liquids generally will require longer drying times and/or higher drying temperatures.

Cleaning - This is a subjective evaluation of hand cleaning tests that rates the solution’s ability to remove debris and oils from the surface of the film.

Cost- This is a categorization of the suggested manufacturers cost (US $) per pound of solvent.

Evaporation Rate- This is a characterization of the volatility of the solvent. The higher the evaporation rate the quicker the drying, but the higher risk of losing the solvent to the atmosphere (harder to recapture and reuse).


TLV = threshold limit value;
ppm = parts per million;
ODP = ozone depletion potential;
GWP = global warming potential.

Acceptable image stability and physicals:
NAME: FP Fdeg BP Cdeg Cleaning Cost Evap Rate COMMENTS:
(111, Trichlor, TCA, CF-2)
None 73 Excellent $+ M Most used cleaning. TLV 350ppm
ODP Phase out
(Perc, Tetrachloroethylene)
None 121 Good $-- L Wet gate solvent. Increasing use
as a cleaner. TLV 25ppm.
HFE 8200 3M
Ethyl Perfluoroisobutyl ether / Ethyl Perfluorobutyl ether
None 76 Adequate $$$ H Zero ODP, Low GWP
Exposure limit 200ppm
HFE 7200 (3M)
Ethyl Perfluoroisobutyl ether/ Ethyl Perfluorobutyl ether
None 78 Adequate $$$ H No ODP, Low GWP
HFC 43-10 mee (DUPONT)
(1,1,1,2,3,4,4,5,5,5-decafluoro Pentane)
None 54 Adequate $$$ H TLV (temp) 400ppm.
Low odor
None 51-56 Good $$$ H ODP (phase out 2015)
TLV (temp) 50ppm
(2-propanol, secondary propyl alcohol,
dimethyl carbinol, petrohol)
53 82 Good $ H Flammable. Colorless. Low odor.
Gathers water.
(2-methylpropyl benzene, methyl-1-phenylpropane)
131 170 Good $ L Combustible; colorless, persistent odor
(Mixture of hydrocarbons)
147 196-237 Good $$ L Combustible; colorless, slight ester odor
Hydrotreated Naptha (Signal Inc.)
Hydrocarbon Type Film Cleaner 40
104 154-177 Excellent $ L Non Hazardous, Combustible 300ppm
Isopar® G Naptha
Exxon Chemical
106 161-176 Excellent $- L Non Hazardous, Combustible OEL=300ppm
Exxsol® D3135 Naptha
Exxon Chemical
106 158-177 Excellent $- L Non Hazardous, Combustible OEL=300ppm
Soltrol® 100
Phillips Chemical
106 160-167 Excellent $- L Non Hazardous, Combustible
* $ = 1 - 5 dollars per pound, $$ = 5 - 10 dollars per pound, $$$ =10 - 20 dollars per pound