Removing tar residue

I am using my Glowforge to engrave wood. It does a great job. However, like any laser, it burns the wood leaving behind a tar-like substance. I have been using denatured alcohol and a soft cloth to clean the wood after the burn. It does a fairly good job. The problem is that I end up with lint and sometimes some damage to the artwork caused by the cloth.
I would like to ask around and see if anybody has any other solutions for removing this residue that might be better.

Use a soft toothbrush or detailing brush.


I’m in the ammonia camp. Water tends to raise the grain, alcohol or ammonia won’t.
I have done 10,000 unmasked (because weeding thousands of pieces was not a viable option) tokens engraved both sides. I started with alcohol to clean the smoke residue on the first thousand, and it took a lot of rubbing. When I got another order for 3,000 I decided I needed a better option. Full strength household ammonia worked instantly.
A drawback is the ammonia fumes. I have power ventilation in my shop, and do the cleaning under the vent hood. A vent hood that exhausts externally over your stove would work.

I did find that if left for days before cleaning the residue hardened and was more difficult to remove.


Thanks! I will try a few different brushes.

For me the denatured alcohol works well. I like it because it does not raise the grain and the odor is manageable.

I found that if left in hand sanitizer (covered ) for days made everything dissolve including masking adhesive (supergood for crazy weeding issues) and also the glue holding MDF together (not a good thing).

When the wood is warped, then letting it dry while holding it flat will assure it is flat, and if you let it dry while it is held in a curve (like wrapped around a jar) it will also stay that way.

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