Powder and Dry Suit Seals

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Tom Nic
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Powder and Dry Suit Seals

Post by Tom Nic » Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:03 am

I'm running out of the expensive (though initially "free") powder I received when I purchased my USIA suit.

Here's my question:

Does it matter what kind of powder you use on your seals? Pure talcum only? Cornstarch? Frangranced and Foofed and Medicated?

Does anyone have info on any of the above having an adverse affect on seals?

I've heard some warnings, but usually from someone who has something to sell, and never with the specifics. Can anyone enlighten me here?

Thanks in Advance!

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Post by cardiver » Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:09 am

Hi, Tom. I've been using Johnson's baby powder on my seals for 5+ years now. My wrist seals are about ready to be replaced for the first time and I did the neck seal for the first time a couple of months ago.
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Post by Zen Diver » Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:09 am

I've heard warning about using baby powder due to the fragrance additives in it. Pure talc or cornstarch seems to be the most recommended.

-Valerie

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Post by CaptnJack » Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:13 am

Some baby powders have ingredients which can harm certain types of latex. Sorta a mixed bag, depends on the powder and the seal material.

Pure (unscented) talcum or pure cornstarch both work and don't damage seals. Talcum from the drugstore, cornstarch from the grocery.

Personally I like the spray silicon instead. Nice supple seals and they last quite awhile without cracking.

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Post by enchantmentdivi » Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:21 am

I've always been told to use plain talcum powder...no baby powder or anything with fragrance. Apparently, the additives in those have sharper edges and can damage seals. Finding plain old-fashioned talc like grandma used to use is HARD! Drug stores just don't carry anything that is made without fragrance, etc.

SO, I bought a 25 pound drum of plain o' talc through McMaster-Carr. I've had it for about 3 years. I refill my little talc bottles from my LDS with the stuff. I fill all of my friends' bottles. I have yet to put a dint in it. I literally have a lifetime supply of talc for me and all my dive buddies. It cost me about $30.

If you have the space to store it (and keep it airtight and dry), it's totally worth it.

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Post by yoda » Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:45 am

Wow Jenn...that's a mess of talc! And yes, it does seem more difficult to find some without all the fragrance, etc.

We just use regular ole corn starch from the grocery store. No harm, no foul, and CHEAP. Dump a bunch in a couple pair of stockings and voila! :supz:
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Post by Tom Nic » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:17 am

Thank you! This place is amazing... so much good info... keep the opinions and experience coming!
-Now... I have heard this:
Zen Diver 2 wrote:I've heard warning about using baby powder due to the fragrance additives in it.

...and this:
CaptnJack wrote:Some baby powders have ingredients which can harm certain types of latex.

What I hadn't heard was why?!? Below is the first thing I've heard that told why... although me running around in my dry suit smelling kind of "foofy" would be scary as well and is probably a more compelling reason for not using fragrance!
enchantmentdivi wrote:I've always been told to use plain talcum powder...no baby powder or anything with fragrance. Apparently, the additives in those have sharper edges and can damage seals.


Then after all this good advice, Ron throws a monkey wrench in things with his post! Thanks Ron! I love the anecdotal stuff. I was told NEVER to use petroleum jelly for my mask to help it seal with my mustache because it would deteriorate the latex on my mask, then I met a guy who has used it for years with no problem! Fun!
cardiver wrote:Hi, Tom. I've been using Johnson's baby powder on my seals for 5+ years now. My wrist seals are about ready to be replaced for the first time and I did the neck seal for the first time a couple of months ago.


I like the idea of cornstarch (cheap and easy to find), and I agree, pure talc is HARD to find!
CaptnJack wrote:Pure (unscented) talcum or pure cornstarch both work and don't damage seals. Talcum from the drugstore, cornstarch from the grocery.


Zen Diver 2 wrote:Pure talc or cornstarch seems to be the most recommended.


Enchantmentdivi - this is so cool! What a great idea! I need to be one of your friends so I can mooch some talc off you! :bounce: In the meantime, cornstarch it is!
enchantmentdivi wrote:SO, I bought a 25 pound drum of plain o' talc through McMaster-Carr. I've had it for about 3 years. I refill my little talc bottles from my LDS with the stuff. I fill all of my friends' bottles. I have yet to put a dint in it. I literally have a lifetime supply of talc for me and all my dive buddies. It cost me about $30. Jenn


This intrigues me as a "non-talc / cornstarch" solution to caring for your seals. Any other thoughts here?
CaptnJack wrote:Personally I like the spray silicon instead. Nice supple seals and they last quite awhile without cracking.


Thanks again for all your helpful answers!

-Tom
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Post by Zen Diver » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:30 am

Tom Nic wrote: !
-Now... I have heard this:
Zen Diver 2 wrote:I've heard warning about using baby powder due to the fragrance additives in it.

...and this:
CaptnJack wrote:Some baby powders have ingredients which can harm certain types of latex.

What I hadn't heard was why?!?


Tom[/quote]

I heard that the scent was based on a petroleum product; don't know if it's true or not but I chose to stay away from it just in case.

-Valerie

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Post by Joshua Smith » Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:37 am

Ditch the powder! There's a product called "Seal Saver" available at most dive shops- it's a liquid that you put a few drops of on the seals and rub into them- it works WAY better than the powder, and I swear it actually seems to make my neck seal want to go on flat instead of get all folded up over the area where my neck would be, if I had a neck.
I heartilly endorse this stuff, and it only costs a few bucks for a bottle, and I've been using the same bottle for......I'm not sure, maybe 6 months? I bet I've gotten 100 applications out of it, at any rate.

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Post by thelawgoddess » Fri Aug 17, 2007 11:36 am

i use some kind of seal saver spray (from mcnett) every so often to condition the seals, but i seriously need the powder to get through my wrist seals ... especially on following dives.
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Post by Joshua Smith » Fri Aug 17, 2007 11:43 am

thelawgoddess wrote:i use some kind of seal saver spray (from mcnett) every so often to condition the seals, but i seriously need the powder to get through my wrist seals ... especially on following dives.


I don't know of anybody who has tried the seal saver and gone back to talc- with this stuff, you don't need the talc, seriously!
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Post by Jeff Kruse » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:47 pm

Ever try to replace your seals after useing seal saver? It makes the prep work so much more difficult. The seal saver gets into the rubber and the nylon.

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Post by Tom Nic » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:50 pm

Jeff Kruse wrote:Ever try to replace your seals after useing seal saver? It makes the prep work so much more difficult. The seal saver gets into the rubber and the nylon.


Which then has what effect?
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Post by Zen Diver » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:03 pm

You also have to be careful not to let Sealsaver get on the suit itself, as it can degrade the materials (so I've been told, anyway). It's meant just for latex seals, as a conditioner. And yes, I use it from time to time, but still need powder/talc for actual application, on the wrists anyway.

-Valerie

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Post by Jeff Kruse » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:08 pm

Tom Nic wrote:
Jeff Kruse wrote:Ever try to replace your seals after using seal saver? It makes the prep work so much more difficult. The seal saver gets into the rubber and the nylon.


Which then has what effect?


The new seal doesnt stick to the old seal very well.

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Post by diver-dad » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:14 pm

Great advice on where to get pure talc. Thanks! --- It just doesn't exist in local drugstores (I've been everywhere I can think of!)

I have come across some on the internet if you search for allergy-free products - but at a premium price with the "allergy-free" association.

The problem with scented talcs is that there are oils in some of the scents that will deteriorate the latex over time.

Tom Nic wrote:
Jeff Kruse wrote:Ever try to replace your seals after useing seal saver? It makes the prep work so much more difficult. The seal saver gets into the rubber and the nylon.

Which then has what effect?

To follow on to what Jeff Kruse said - when I took an equip specialty course this spring, the instructor (also my LDS repair tech - a guy I trust) strongly advised against using silicone on latex seals because the material makes replacing seals very difficult - what happens is that glue won't adhere with silicone contamination. The silicone either partially impregnates the latex if you're gluing on top at the connex to the DS or wicks into the DS fabric and is apparently easily inadvertantly transferred to the glue area when replacing seals.

From the web site ( http://casanovasadventures.com/catalog/dive/p4306.htm ) Seal Saver is a "100% silicone formula." :smt024

I have no doubt that Seal Saver works great for protecting the latex from ozone, oils, and other things that can damage it - the problem is that the same protection keeps glue off it as well - and it is pretty much impossible to get off.

'Course, that wouldn't be a problem if you have Zip Seals or some variant of them.
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Post by Pinkpadigal » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:59 pm

I would not recommend spraying silicone or a seal saver on to your wrist or neck seal. If you carefully apply it by hand, then it is good for the seals. Regardless, watch the edges very carefully.
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Post by Tangfish » Fri Aug 17, 2007 8:32 pm

I'll toss my vote into the hat to use Seal Saver, though I'm terrible with neck seals, I've been through 4 in the past year!

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Post by BASSMAN » Sun Aug 19, 2007 6:16 am

When I put Seal Saver on my seals, my wife thought I got new seals on my suit! The stuff works great!
But i still use talc powder, from the LDS, too.

When I run out I think I'll use the Corn Starch.

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Good thread Tom! =D>
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Post by LCF » Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:13 am

Wow, Calvin, and I thought I had seal issues . . . I seem to get about 50 dives off a neck seal :-(
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Post by rcontrera » Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:37 pm

OK ... here's the straight poop.

    Scent in powder comes from chemicals that differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. So, since it is the talc that some drysuit makers are suggesting, they say no fragrance to be safe. But those same drysuit makers say to change the seals yearly. Why? Because talc does nothing to preserve the latex ... just keep it from sticking to itself during the decomposition of the rubber and to help it slide against the skin.

    Cornstarch will work just like talc. However, unlike talc, it is a food product and will leave a slight residue in the pores (yes latex has pores) that will mold and can cause an allergic reaction.

    Silicone is an excellent preserver of all rubber products. And, no ... it doesn't harm nylon. SealSaver is just liquid silicone thinned down a bit to make it easier to use and more cost effective (raw silicone is expensive). The problem with silicone is that, if applied to a dirty seal, it will trap the contaminants in the latex and actually accelerate the decomposition. Plus, some drysuit makers use neoprene cement to glue on seals. Silicone softens neoprene cement.



OK ... that said ... what's the best way to protect your seals? McNett sells some stuff called latex life. It is actually a plactisizer. It does nothing to lubricate, but it restores the surface of the latex. I have some three year old samples of latex that look as good as new and all I do is wipe this stuff on them every few months.

For lubrication, that depends on the maker of your suit. OS Systems glues are not affected by silicone so we say use it! Food grade silicone grease, oil or spray actually is the best stuff for the latex and it can get down into the pores to help preserve from the inside out.

But if you have another brand that is put together with neoprene cement, then the use of silicone will make the glue soften and fail over time. Plus, it will make replacing the seals difficult at best ... unless you shift over to OS Systems glue. Actually, many shops are using OS Systems glue and seals on all the other brands of suits because it is easy to use and a lot more affordable.



Hope that helps!!

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Post by Aquanautchuck » Thu Aug 30, 2007 9:59 am

Great thread.

I have a system that has worked for years for me. I buy the large bottle of dry suit talc from the dive shop and refill the little dusting bag that came with my dry suit. Remember you only need a little talc not a bunch.

To put the least amount of stress on my seals while suiting up I use the same 50/50 baby shampoo I use in my mask. No additives that I have ever found that harm the seals. (As a side issue, my first dry suit mfg (Gates) even recommended hair conditioner but it got to be a pain finding one without oil or alcohol) The Baby Shampoo makes getting into the seal real easy and allows you to reposition the seals with no undue stress.

After the end of the day I wash my suit in anti-bacterial dish soap making sure the seals are clean, rinse and dry. After drying I dust with talc and pack away. If I am on a multi day dive trip I just rinse the suit and make sure the seals are clean and talc. Hope this helps.
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OK....

Post by scottsax » Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:09 pm

That's all well and good, but what about those of us with old school neoprene seals? Silicone spray seems to be working well, but as I'm new to dry diving, any thoughts y'all might have would be appreciated....

Thanks,

Scott
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Re: OK....

Post by rcontrera » Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:17 pm

scottsax wrote:That's all well and good, but what about those of us with old school neoprene seals? Silicone spray seems to be working well, but as I'm new to dry diving, any thoughts y'all might have would be appreciated....


Silicone will work to a point. Neoprene seals are glued together at the seams. Silicone on the glue will eventually soften and/or breakdown the glue to a point that it no longer holds the material together.

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Re: OK....

Post by scottsax » Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:25 pm

rcontrera wrote:Silicone will work to a point. Neoprene seals are glued together at the seams. Silicone on the glue will eventually soften and/or breakdown the glue to a point that it no longer holds the material together.


What's the best option for maintaining the seals on my suit, then? Bought it used, and the fella I got it from used silicone...

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