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Franko

Cleaning rope with Drano

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Back in the day, pioneers made lye - the active ingredient in Drano - by seeping water through wood ashes. Hardwood ashes were preferred, but maybe other ashes would work too. I don’t know.

 

I bring this up because last week I was climbing up Icicle Creek in an area where there had obviously been a fire. I noticed that my rope had picked up some sooty looking marks, probably from the area near the big pine that we used as an anchor. The pine itself had some scorch marks, and there were charred sticks in the area.

 

So I was going to wash my rope, and the sooty slings that were tied around the pine, when I remembered the water plus ashes method of making lye. Now I’m worried. I don’t want to expose my rope & slings to lye; it’s wicked stuff that can dissolve many substances in seconds, and I don’t know if nylon is one of them.

 

If any of you have any knowledge that could help me decide whether or not to toss a fairly new, expensive rope & some new, cheap, slings, please chime in.

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Don't worry about it. Any alkali that may have been present in the ashes of the fire have long since dissolved and washed away by rains. Charcoal, on the other hand, is not soluble and persists in the soil. It is unsightly on your rope, but will not harm it. I suggest washing your rope in ordinary detergent and rinsing thoroughly with water. If black marks remain, don't worry about them.

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I was waiting for RuMR to ask what knot one uses with a Drano-treated rope. I don't know the answer but you might use it to clean your drains. cantfocus.gif

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I had the same problem--my whole rope was black damn near. I washed it in a front-load washer with a little bit of Woolite. It is not the cheery yellow that it used to be, but my hands don't get filthy handling it.

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I had the same problem--my whole rope was black damn near. I washed it in a front-load washer with a little bit of Woolite. It is not the cheery yellow that it used to be, but my hands don't get filthy handling it.

 

Do you stuff it in a pillow case or just let it all hang out?

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I had the same problem--my whole rope was black damn near. I washed it in a front-load washer with a little bit of Woolite. It is not the cheery yellow that it used to be, but my hands don't get filthy handling it.

 

Do you stuff it in a pillow case or just let it all hang out?

 

I used to use a pillow case when I washed it in a top-loading washer. But in a front loader, the rope doesn't get fucked up by the agitator (because there isn't one...) and so no pillow case is needed.

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i use a sock when my mom walks in

 

Glad to see the Devil's Club hasn't subdued your sense of humor! smileysex5.gif

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ML's mom, "Mikey, for heaven's sake. Throw that sock in the laundry. That thing can stand on its own! Now, give it to me..."

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My curiosity got the best of me, so I took a 10.5 rope that I had retired to non-lead duty & did some experiments.

 

I cut 4 20 foot lengths , took a bight in the middle of each, & dipped the bight in the following:

 

Battery acid straight from an old battery.

A mix of 50% water, 50% chlorine bleach

A mix of 50% water, 50% liquid Drano (lye)

A mix of a handful of ashes from my wood stove plus 2 cups water.

 

I left each rope in the liquids for a few minutes to assure good penetration, then let them dry for a few days.

 

Today I tied some 1" webbing around a stout tree stump on my property, & tied the acid rope to the sling with a figure 8. I tied a figure 8 in the other end & looped it over the trailer hitch on my Land Cruiser. Then I drove slowly forward until the LC stopped. I floored the gas, and the rope did not break, nor did the tires slip. I have no idea how much force the LC put on the rope, but it is considerable, or the 5000 pound vehicle would not go up much of a hill.

 

Next, I backed up to the stump, & accelerated the LC for a couple of seconds, then lifted my foot off the gas. The LC was going about 12-14 mph when the rope went taught. The LC slowed almost to a stop, & then the SLING broke where the rope passed over it.

 

The acid soaked portion of the rope still had not broken, although it was now much stiffer than the rest of the rope. Almost brittle.

 

I put a doubled sling around the stump, passing the rope through both loops of webbing, and accelerated again & the rope popped at the acid area without slowing the LC much.

 

Next I did the same experiment with the other (Drano, beach, ashes+water) ropes. All held against the throttle, and all stopped the LC at least twice when I accelerated & let the momentum come against the rope. When the rope finally broke, it always broke at the knot on the trailer hitch. I took what was left of the rope in each case & tied another figure 8, & did it again. In every case, the rope broke at the knot at the trailer hitch.

 

NOTE! DO NOT ASSUME FROM THESE RESULTS THAT IT IS OK TO EXPOSE YOUR ROPE TO CHEMICALS OF ANY KIND. ROPE MAKERS WARN US TO SAFEGUARD OUR ROPES FROM ALL CHEMICALS. BELIEVE THEM!

 

Conclusions? In this poorly controlled test performed by a non-expert in materials, chemistry, physics, etc., the weakest part of the rope proved to be the knot, except in the case of the acid treated rope.

 

The weakest part of the system, weaker even than the acid soaked rope, proved to be a sling made of 1" tubular webbing, tied with a water knot, which broke not at the knot, but at the point where the figure 8 loop passed over it. I'm not sure why this happened, although my guess is that the loop of rope, as it was squeezed tight by the force, put most of the load on the edges of the webbing, which failed progressively inward. Anyway, I will forever more double my slings at belay & rap anchors.

 

For those who find this kind of stuff interesting, here are some relevant numbers.

 

5000 pounds (2222 kg) going 10 mph ( 4.7 meters per second) has 24542 joules of kinetic energy, all of which must be absorbed in order for the weight to come to a halt. http://science-ebooks.com/store/kinetic_energy.htm

 

240 pounds ( me, 109 kg) must be moving at 21.2 meters/second in order to generate the same 24542 joules of kinetic energy. This means I would have to take about a 68 foot fall in order to accelerate to that speed.

http://www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/Class/1DKin/U1L5d.html

 

Since the rope was only about 20 feet long, that means I would have to take a factor 3.4 fall in order to generate the same force on a 20 ft. length of rope, which I could only do if I had the rope tied to a length of something like a steel chain.

 

It was interesting & fun. My family watched, so my kids (& their mother) now feel much more confident in the stuff that protects their lives while climbing. And I have an excuse to buy another rope.

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This is really funny. I remember pulling a stump out with a rope behind my truck one time, kinda like described above. The rope broke and hit my tailgate so hard...it dented in at least an inch. I wasn't laughing so hard then. Had the rope ended up any higher, it would have gone through the back window--and I felt quite lucky after I realized that.

 

Nice experiment; thanks for sharing!

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