Today we're going to attempt what was once thought impossible. We're going to remove that nasty yellow color from our aging white plastic! Our willing test subject is the ever-affable Mr. Vanilla Ice (Tomy Omnibot circa 1984). If you're not familiar with the chemical de-yellowing solution known as Retr0bright, head on over to The Retr0bright Project and get the info straight from the source. Should you want to attempt this yourself, please read everything you can about the science and application to avoid the various mistakes others have made...
35% Hydrogen Peroxide - 16 oz | Alternate Source
100% Xantham Gum - 6 oz
100% Glycerin Oil - 4 oz
OxiClean - 3.5 lbs
8 ounces 35% Hydrogen Peroxide
1 ounce hot (not boiling) water
2 teaspoons Xantham Gum
1 teaspoon Glycerin
1/4 teaspoon OxiClean
Using a small bowl/container, mix 1/4 tsp OxiClean with 1 oz hot water and set aside to dissolve.
Add 8 oz 35% Hydrogen Peroxide and 2 tsp Xanthan gum in a blender and blend on high for five seconds. Add 1 tsp Glycerin and blend on high for another five seconds. Let sit for five minutes and blend another five seconds.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl/container for appplication. Cover and store in a cool dark place prior to usage.
Immediately prior to application, thoroughly stir in the dissolved Oxy pre-mixture by hand. The active ingredient in OxiClean (TAED) is the catalyst that kicks off the reaction so very little is needed. However, it does need to be well-dissolved and thoroughly mixed to evenly distribute it throughout the volume of gel.
The stuff is the consistency of snotty paste - not unlike rubber cement that bubbles and froths in the presence of UV light. A cheap horse-hair brush works great to apply (synthetic is ok but don't use foam).
Spread on a nice snotty layer only on the areas you want to whiten. This stuff ain't cheap to make so make it last! Cover and store any remaining gel in a cool dark area to use later for touch-ups due to evaporation. I used the remaining gel for two separate touch-up applications - although they may not have been so necessary had I covered the parts with cling wrap.
My most successful application was the third and final time around (the details of which most of this post reflects). I applied the mixture early in the day to allow for approximately 9 hours of sunlight exposure. When the sun went down, I switched to a UV lamp for 9 hours of overnight exposure and then an additional 9 hours of sun exposure the next day.
1. Goggles/protective glasses and latex gloves are mandatory at all times! Chemical burns will appear on bare fingers after only a few seconds of contact with concentrated hydrogen peroxide. Now imagine what that means for the softer tissue that makes up your eyes? If you can't imagine, I'll tell you! Best case scenario is an ulcerated cornea and a frantic trip to the ER, followed by at least several days of hourly medicated eye drops and semi-constant pain as the mere act of blinking causes your eyelid to scrape against the exposed corneal tissue. The only way to avoid the pain is to keep your eyes open, which is obviously not a battle you can win. Worst case scenario is blindness. Any questions?
2. Use aluminum foil for maximum UV light dispersal. Better yet, if you have a large box, cover the entire inside with aluminum foil and place the treated parts inside for UV dispersal nirvana.
3. If using the sun as your UV source, cover everything with thin cling wrap after applying the gel to prevent evaporation.
4. You don't specifically need the OxiClean brand. You need a product that contains the active ingredient TAED.
5. Frothy bubbling of the gel indicates the successful triggering of the desired chemical reaction! Do not be alarmed.
The scientific basis for this process is believed to be the removal of Bromine atoms from the surface of the plastic. Essentially, UV radiation excites the Bromine atoms causing them to vibrate. These agitated atoms are then vulnerable to liberation, which is accomplished via the specific chemical reaction occuring in the gel mixture. So the UV light shakey shakes that nasty yellow Bromine while the Retr0bright gel gives it the boot!
LET'S DO THIS!
The Usual Suspects:
I have no idea...
No turning back now!
Eye protection anyone?!
First application (7:30PM | 6/17/2011):
The next day (12:46PM | 6/18/2011):
Later that day (1:13PM | 6/18/2011):
Later that night (7:30PM | 6/18/2011):
Did I mention: EYE PROTECTION?!
Second application (2:35PM | 7/2/2011):
That's the stuff!
Third application (1:19PM | 7/4/2011):
Later that night (7:18PM | 7/4/2011):
After dark (9:14PM | 7/4/2011):
The morning after (6:10AM | 7/5/2011):
Looking good (12:41PM | 7/5/2011):
On display (3:57PM | 7/8/2011):
Yellow vs White
Restoration complete (4:10PM | 7/8/2011)!