Chlorine Content

I’m investigating whether I can cut a product called AirStone by Porcelanosa, a Spanish tile manufacturer. The product is an thin slice stone veneer (2mm thick) that is flexible (to a point).

The resin binding the stone to a backer paper is chlorine free. The chlorine content of the stone is 0.18%

Does anyone know if this is sufficient to create a toxic cut?

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I would think that the question is whether or not the chlorine can be liberated from where it’s bound to. Some compounds of chlorine are more stable than others and it’s difficult to get ions to pop off and thus make free radicals that can turn into acids that would damage your machine.

As for toxicity almost everything you laser is going to be toxic to some degree, just make sure your ventilation is set up properly. You really after is something called an MSDS, it’s a data sheet that tells you what happens when you abuse the material. You can find out more in number four here:

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This appears to be the MSDS:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ad4c4415b409bece8546c20/t/5b0d9a2888251bb288240eeb/1527618088344/AirStone-Interior-Adhesive-SDS.pdf

It says that the hazardous combustion products are carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Don’t mention anything about chlorine, so if we take that as true then you don’t have that much to worry about. Ultimately it’s your machine and your risk, but if it were me I would probably feel pretty comfortable lasering this, and I would just be sure that my ventilation is set up properly and that I don’t breathe in any of the fumes that come off of it –– like any other material.

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You are always so helpful. I know @weston.baumgartner appreciates your response and research but I want to say how helpful you are to everyone, including me. Thanks for what you do.

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Thanks, but I would like to say that it’s important to remember that I’m just a random guy on the Internet who has a laser and is curious about things just like the rest of us. It’s why I like this community so much, everybody’s so smart and always looking for something to experiment with. I get so inspired when people try new things like this.

So with that in mind, everything I’m saying here is somewhat theoretical, and I hope that everybody knows to take the things that I post here on the forum with a bit of a grain of salt. Like I said, I would feel personally comfortable lasering this material, but I could be wrong.

Good luck and be careful out there! :slight_smile:

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That is important to remember…aside from that, sharing from your experiences is so helpful. There are several on these forums who also are very generous in their time and review of others issues.

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Ditto - also @weston.baumgartner we’d love to see what you do with it!

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I’d be surprised if you can cut through 2mm of stone anyway.

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I would be extremely reticent of using anything that even mentions chlorine content. It may have a skin that looks like stone, but is not and will likely cut. While 0.2% chlorine is a lot less than PVC it still could do damage. It is up to you of course.

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Not just a lot less. More than 250 times less.

Not even close. I’d still feel pretty confident lasering it from a safety perspective, especially since the MSDS didn’t list chlorides as a combustion byproduct. They’re completely different substances so this doesn’t surprise me.

Take the MSDS for PVC here, hydrogen chloride (aka hydrochloric acid) is specifically called out as a hazardous decomposition product:

Whether it’ll get through the material is a different story, but chlorine isn’t my concern here. We have evidence that chlorides aren’t a byproduct, using that as a reason not to try it is simple superstition.

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The only stable chloride I knew of was silver chloride and a bit of heat left just the silver, as I had a fair amount of experience with. Even in that case the clorine gas, nitrous oxide, and even cyanide were not uncommon in my workshop but then common electronics today were not even invented at that time.

I am far less concerned that even cutting PVC in any but the most confined environment would have any long term bad effects on people. The long term effects on electronics is a different matter entirely.

This why I have concerns for reactive halogens loose among those electronics.

I think you have experience with at least one pretty stable chloride, table salt. Without getting too far into terms like lattice energy, and electronegativity, that chlorine does not want to leave the sodium. [1]

The table salt example isn’t terribly relevant here because we don’t know the chemistry of this material. What we do know is that the MSDS tells us that there are no chlorides in the decomposition products. As I said it’s your machine and your risk; I’m basing my decision and recommendation on documented facts, OP and other readers can make their own decisions based on whatever they like.


  1. even if you somehow get salt up to its boiling point of 2669° F, which would be an astounding feet with a 45 W laser, I’m not even sure that the chlorine leaves the sodium then. They are really stuck together. You would need to use electrolysis in a practical sense to get the chlorine away from the sodium and that’s not what we’re talking about here. Anyway. ↩︎

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Table salt breaks down faster than silver nitrate, just get it wet. Cut a big crystal with a laser would be worse than PVC. You could use it to make glass except for the outpouring of chlorine.

wait, are you saying that if you get table salt wet, it releases chlorine?

No. The ions separate. But put metal in salt water and water without salt and the chlorine is released for the chemical reaction but that with no salt will react a lot less.

I think we’re getting off track here

… and again we’re not talking about electrolysis, or some sort of anion replacement (adding metals would not work here because you’d be trying to replace the cation and you’re not going to be replacing sodium with some other metal, see above re: electronegativity) — we’re talking about thermal decomposition.

Sorry but the chemistry just doesn’t work as you’re describing. If it did we’d have liberated chlorine all over the place where metal touches salt water, and that’s obviously not true.

What you have with any dissolved salt is an ionic solution, and that is not the same thing as having free radical ions. The solution is still stable because the ions balance each other out. You can take advantage of that by forcing voltage through it which can draw the ions away from their counterparts and they can be separated at that point but again we are not talking about electrolysis here; I don’t know why I’m still typing.

And really this sidebar is kind of pointless because we have the MSDS. Chlorides are not a risk here as far as we can tell.

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You can always use the flame test to determine chloride content.

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That post about flame testing doesn’t mention chlorine at all. Here’s @dan’s input on flame testing:

My rule of thumb is if I don’t know what plastic it is and I don’t have an MSDS for the material I pretty much don’t bother with lasering it. My thinking is that there are so many different materials out there that you can laser, why bother taking a risk on some unknown plastic?

It is even worth being a little cautious about materials that are not obviously plastic. I have samples of some stuff that looks like MDF that is made of rice hulls bound with PVC.

(Those have never gone in my laser and, I have clearly marked them as not laserable.)

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