How to Use Retr0bright to De-yellow Old Plastic

Discussion in 'General Tutorials' started by astrangeone, Dec 24, 2012.

Dec 24, 2012
  1. astrangeone
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    Member astrangeone GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    So, a couple of years ago, some Amiga fans found that the solution to rejuvenate old plastic is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, Oxygen laundry booster (Hi, Billy Mays!), and UV light. Basically, how it works is that the older plastics use bromine as a flame retardant. The oxidation causes the yellowing, and the mixture of hydrogen peroxide and Oxygen laundry booster (as a booster to the reaction) and the application of UV light (or sunlight) reverses the reaction, and causes your stuff to become de-yellowed!​
    Basic Formula:
    UV LIGHT + HYDROGEN PEROXIDE + OXI-CLEAN + TIME = New Looking Parts​
    A Discussion of the Ingredients:
    [​IMG]
    - hydrogen peroxide [square brown bottle, 3rd from the left] (I rather use weaker stuff - I can get 3% hydrogen peroxide for cheap and it's much less dangerous that the stronger stuff)​
    - oxygen laundry booster [yellow capped bottle, 1st from the left] - a brand name is Oxi-clean, and it's pretty easy to get a hold of in the laundry aisle (I have two bottles of the stuff at home)​
    - UV light (You can use the sun, but I have a black light, any how - it is sufficient for creating the reaction of the change)​
    - patience​
    - Xanthan Gum [white bag, 2nd from the left] - a product made with bacteria used to thicken foods. It's a pale white powder, and can be found in Bulk Barn or any health food shop. Try the gluten free section!​
    - cornstarch - another product made out of corn. It's also used to thicken stuff, although it needs to be heated. Find this in your local supermarket - it's common stuff. (The international aisle has cheaper brands.)​
    - glycerin [fourth/last from the left] - used for adding moisture to chapped hands. There are two versions - one scented with rosewater and one not. Find in your local pharmacy. This is used in some variations of retr0bright to let it retain more water and stay active longer.​
    Light Sources:
    Basically, you need UV light - and this means "sunlight lamps" or blacklights or actual sunlight. People who retr0bright frequently use reptile uv lights (these are faster), but tend to be very annoying to use with different light types and different wattages. Plus, these bulbs are uber expensive. I like to use blacklights (those things that only emit UV light), but I find that these take a bit longer, and usually aren't that expensive. (Reptile lights are like $20+, and black lights are $8 at the local Walmart.) I've also used sunlight, but that's harder to control, and needs frequent tending and worrying about how hot the solution and parts are getting.​
    Indoor Versus Outdoor Lighting Rigs:
    Indoor:
    Pros:​
    - control everything!​
    - results every time​
    Cons:​
    - may be expensive to set up​
    - expensive to maintain​
    - annoying to sleep with (lights on all the time!)​
    Outdoor:
    Pros:​
    - free, and eco friendly!​
    - cheap - can be done every time​
    Cons:​
    - worry about theft or lost equipment or parts​
    - uncontrollable weather (hello, snow, or cloudy weather or rain!)​
    - may not be doable in small environments​
    I personally prefer an indoor environment, but this gets annoying. I've been sleeping with a UV light on all the time, and I honestly do not like it. But it means that my results are slow but steady. Watch out for heat buildup on outdoor rigs.​
    What Method Should I Use?
    Method A: Liquid Activated Peroxide
    Pros:​
    - easy to use​
    - good for small parts​
    Cons:​
    - expensive if you treat large parts​
    - can spill the solution everywhere​
    - might need ballast for your parts​
    Method B: "Original Recipe" Gel Recipe
    Pros:​
    - found to work the best (doesn't dry out as much)​
    - makes enough to treat large parts (maybe even a computer bay)​
    - stays put very nicely​
    Cons:​
    - Xanthan gum is hard to find/expensive​
    - Xanthan gum gets everywhere!​
    - needs a blender or electric tool to combine the ingredients​
    Method C: Cornstarch Gel Recipe
    Pros:​
    - cheaper to make and store​
    - doesn't require so much equipment​
    - easier to clean up​
    Cons:​
    - dries uber fast​
    - may not let enough light through​
    * Probably good for indoor applications where you control the heat, wind and humidity of the area.​
    Method D: "Sneakerhead" Adapted Recipe
    I developed this adapted recipe after seeing sneaker fans use it on their soles of their shoes. This is a hybrid method which uses glycerin to help create a more wet environment for the gel.​
    Pros:​
    - simpler to make​
    - cheaper to make​
    - easier to clean up​
    Cons:​
    - can be pretty nasty to clean up (I think it's the glycerine...yuck.)​
    Method E: Just Plain Laundry Booster and Nothing Else:
    One of the main people behind retr0bright used this successfully to whiten his plastic. It's just a mixture of water and the less expensive detergent!​
    Pros:​
    - simple to make​
    - much cheaper to make​
    - easier to clean up​
    Cons:​
    - don't know if the concentration is to much (Oxi-clean doesn't list the active ingredients and their percentage!)​
    - can be knocked over​
    - really rusts metal parts!​

    The Recipes:
    Method A: Liquid Activated Peroxide
    You'd Need:​
    - hydrogen peroxide​
    - Oxi-clean​
    - a tiny bit of hot water​
    - a place big enough to hold your parts​
    Dissolve a tiny pinch of Oxi-clean in your hot water. It should make an opaque liquid. Put your hydrogen peroxide into your treatment area, and mix throughly with your dissolved Oxi-clean. Put your parts into the bath, and stick into a lit area. Solution should bubble - if the solution is still after a while, you should dump it out, and start new.​
    Method B: "Original Recipe" Gel Recipe
    [​IMG]
    * what the goop looks like! (This is a quarter of the full recipe.)​
    You'd Need:​
    - hydrogen peroxide​
    - Oxi-clean​
    - a tiny bit of hot water​
    - glycerin​
    - a blender or a stick blender​
    - measuring spoons​
    Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of oxi-clean in hot water. It's going to make a white liquid when it fully dissolves. Add 500 mL (one small bottle) hydrogen peroxide into your blender. Add 2 tablespoons of xanthan gum. Whiz for about ten seconds. Add 1 teaspoon of glycerin, and whiz again for ten seconds. The gel should have formed. Let rest for about a minute (hydrating the ingredients), and whiz again for ten seconds. You can store this gel is a dark container until you need to use it, just don't add the oxi-clean mixture yet! (You can add it if you are going to use it now - if you want to split the batch, dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of Oxi-clean into hot water, and mix it in.) ** Oxygen laundry booster does expand...don't put the mix into a small jar!​
    Method C: Cornstarch Gel Recipe
    You'd Need:​
    - hydrogen peroxide​
    - Oxi-clean​
    - a tiny bit of hot water​
    - a microwave​
    - cornstarch​
    - container to hold your gel​
    Dissolve about 1/4 teaspoon of oxi-clean in hot water. It's going to make a white liquid when it fully dissolves. Add your small bottle of peroxide to your container, and add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch. Stir to combine. Heat in your microwave for about 30 to 45 seconds, until a gel has formed. Stir this gel until it cools down a bit. Add your dissolved oxi-clean, and stir - it will foam up. Apply to the parts and stick them outside or in your set up.​
    Method D: "Sneakerhead" Adapted Recipe
    You'd Need:​
    - hydrogen peroxide​
    - Oxi-clean​
    - a tiny bit of hot water​
    - a microwave​
    - cornstarch​
    - container to hold your gel​
    - glycerin​
    Dissolve about 1/4 teaspoon of oxi-clean in hot water. It's going to make a white liquid when it fully dissolves. Add your small bottle of peroxide to your container, and add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch. Stir to combine. Heat in your microwave for about 30 to 45 seconds, until a gel has formed. Stir this gel until it cools down a bit. Add your dissolved oxi-clean, and stir - it will foam up. Add 1/2 teaspoon of glycerin, and stir! Apply to the parts and stick them outside or in your set up.​
    Method E: Liquid Oxygen Laundry Booster
    You'd Need:​
    - Oxi-clean or similiar product​
    - hot water​
    - some bravery​
    Take about two tablespoons of your oxygen laundry booster, and dump it into your treatment bowl. Add about 2 cups of hot boiling water. Watch as it foams or expands. Stir well until fully dissolved - DO NOT STICK ANYTHING METAL in here - it will rust. Stick under your light source.​
    My Favourite Set Up:
    [​IMG]
    * My ghetto-licious set up - I recommend you upgrade your light bulb to a "sunlight bulb" - it's much faster!​
    I like a big plastic tupperware bin, aluminium foil, cling wrap, and a bottle of water inside the de-yellowing chamber. I mostly use the indoor method on my stuff, because it's more controlled and it tends to work a lot better. I take a large tupperware bin, line it with aluminium foil, toss in the coated pieces, and throw in a bottle of water. I top off the top with cling wrap, and sit it under a blacklight. This set up can be done for about a day, without worrying that the stuff will be damaged by the retr0bright.​
    * Addendum: You can mist your parts that are drying out with water to help keep the solution active (the Xanthan Gum one tends to hold up better), or just repaint the retr0bright on with a paintbrush. I actually had a medicine dropper, and ended up squirting two tablespoons of water across the parts.​
    Problems with Retr0bright:
    i) White Bloom on Finished Product​
    This is damage to the plastic treated by retr0bright. You could have added too much oxi-clean, or let the mixture dry out. It is a chemical burn, and can possibly be covered up by the a acrylic clear spray when finishing your stuff.​
    ii) White Skin on Hands​
    Yep, this is a dangerous by-product of hydrogen peroxide. It tends to kill skin on contact. Wash with cold water, and make sure your hands are covered in gloves next time. If they don't fade within a couple of hours, see a medical professional!​
    * It takes a while for the feeling of the chemical burn to arrive. It actually feels like a mild stinging sensation on your fingertips, and can last for quite a while. Wear gloves!​
    iii) Uneven de-yellowing​
    This could be because your plastic is very yellowed, and de-yellowing it is very difficult. Try to treat the parts with the liquid version, and try to reapply the retr0bright at times. You can even try sunlight outside!​
    iv) Rusty Metal Parts​
    [​IMG]
    *** This was a NEW paintbrush. I stuck it into the liquid oxi-clean for about five minutes, and it had oxidized the metal on it. Quite scary.​
    Ooops. This is a big rust-causer because of the nature of the product. Make sure you don't get it on your metal parts, or to remove everything metal next time.​
     
    Margen67, Tomato Hentai and Veho like this.
  2. astrangeone
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    Member astrangeone GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Aftercare:
    - rinse your deyellowed parts with cool water
    - you can use some dish soap to clean off the residue of retr0bright
    - dry your parts in a dark place
    - you might want to use a wax or a protective finish for protecting your new looking parts from more UV damage!

    PICTURE UPDATE!

    Before Retr0bright:
    Warning: Spoilers inside!

    Before Retr0bright: (face and triggers)
    Warning: Spoilers inside!

    Middle of Retr0bright Process: (four days in)
    Warning: Spoilers inside!

    Late Stage of Retr0bright Process: (I had just upgraded by bulb to an actual reptile UVB light - it's bright as hell.)
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
     
    Margen67 likes this.
  3. DinohScene

    Member DinohScene The Gift of Dino

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    I should try this out on me SNES.
    Since it has a bit of yellowing.
    Unfortunately they don't sell Oxi-clean here );

    Oh does it rub off any lettering on consoles/whatever?
     
  4. loco365

    Member loco365 GBAtemp Guru

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    Billy Mays was here.
     
  5. astrangeone
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    Member astrangeone GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    You can use any oxygen laundry booster in the laundry/detergent aisle. (It's just a catalyst for boosting the effectiveness of the peroxide.)

    It does not rub off the lettering too much. I'm doing some very yellowed SNES controllers - the L and R triggers are horrible, and they are going through their 4th run with this. Surprisingly, the cheapy controller I have is deyellowing a lot faster.

    (Also, the SNES controllers are annoying as heck to deyellow, you have to make sure that all of the UV light hits the controller.)
     
  6. DinohScene

    Member DinohScene The Gift of Dino

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    Hmkay.
    I'll have a look then and maybe do it soon ;D

    It's not that yellow but still I'd like it back to it's original shine <3
    Also the controllers on my SNES are pretty... greyish? beigish?
    They look normal lol
     
  7. finkmac

    Member finkmac GBAtemp Fan

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    I thought everyone knew about this. I guess not.

    Nice tutorial!
     
  8. astrangeone
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    Member astrangeone GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Greyish, I would say. Actually, I would recommend you get an actual UV reptile light to do so. My blacklight is taking a terrible amount of time, and I'm kind of losing patience with this stuff.

    Also - the "original recipe" versions of the stuff is hard to wash off your hands - use a ton of soap and water to do so, or better yet, wear gloves!
     
  9. no_chocobo

    Newcomer no_chocobo Advanced Member

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    this sounds like it'd work for yellowing dreamcast shells!
     
  10. astrangeone
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    Member astrangeone GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    It will! I did my old 1994 converse shoes (the plastic sole), and my SNES controllers. I'd post photos of the finished projects soon. :D
     
  11. ShadowSoldier

    Member ShadowSoldier GBAtemp Guru

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    Tutorial is kind of.. well.. weak, no offense. I mean:

    "dissolve a tiny pinch".. you should really add measurements.
     
  12. astrangeone
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    Member astrangeone GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Thing is, I can't give you a direct measurement of how much to add for the liquid activated stuff. (I rather err on the small side, because too much of stuff can damage your plastic!)
     
  13. loco365

    Member loco365 GBAtemp Guru

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    Yes.

    I'll have to try this as my SNES and Gameboy are starting to show it's true colors. However ugly they are.
     
  14. astrangeone
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    Member astrangeone GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Update: I'm going to de-yellow an old sidewinder plug and play gamepad I found at the local thrift store. It's original colour is supposed to be clear grey, but it's yellowed to the point of being just barely translucent. (It looks like most of the same thing on ebay has the same problem.)

    I'd post photos soon.
     
  15. Jayro

    Member Jayro MediCat DVD Developer

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    cool and useful tutorial, but every picture link is dead, can you use a better image host?
     
  16. migles

    Member migles Official fishy stick giver

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    i also ask for it...
    tutorial is from 2012, but seems great, at least is really extensive..
    facebook is not good for host :(
     
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  17. Retr0Capez

    Member Retr0Capez GBATemp's Official Evil Genius

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    Hey its my bright!!!
     
  18. Tomato Hentai

    Member Tomato Hentai Now you're playing wiþ PowerPC

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    Oh yeah, I'd heard about one of these methods from some tutorial on reversing the yellowing on and cleaning a SNES. I think it was method A.
     
  19. Hielkenator

    Member Hielkenator GBAtemp Psycho!

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  20. RevPokemon

    Member RevPokemon I Voted Johnson/Weld!!!

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    I could use this for my snes
     

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