The Respirator Chemical Safety Guide

The Loki Safety guide To painting the world.

The number one form of protection any aerosol artist should invest in is a respirator. The common question seems to be “Is it worth the money?” The answer: Absolutely!

The paints and chemicals a aerosol artist works with are highly poisonous. You may not see immediate effects of inhalation, they can take a very long time to show up, but if you’d like to be somewhat healthy and enjoy life when you get older you should invest in one.

Most important factors in a mask:

#1 does it fit and seal? Place your hand over the exhaust and exhale hard…if air leaks out the mask does not fit.

#2 Can I get new filters for it? Don’t get a mask you can’t get filters for, otherwise you just have a cool decoration.

#3 Do I need a full face mask to protect my eyes? If you wear contacts or have astigmatism or just plain react to paint fumes by tearing up a lot you may want a full face mask, or a set of sealed goggles
to go with your half-face mask. Just beware some full face masks fog up inside and are useless when you can’t see.

Military surplus masks:
I generally think you should stay away from these, the filters are sometimes costly, many of them restrict vision or fog in the lenses. They weight more than a half mask, and are uncomfortable, if not difficult to breathe in compared to a half mask. If you do buy a military mask be sure it accepts NATO filters and you have a good supply for them. Israeli model masks are very good as are some US and British models. Don’t get a old mask and be sure the filters are easy to change. Avoid “cheek” filters and filters that don’t screw in easily while holding your breath….if it wasn’t designed good enough for warfare why pay for it? On the plus side, it’s a nice thing to have sitting around and it looks cool on your shelf.

Half/full face masks:
I have my preference on these and I (like many others) lean towards the 3-M models. But anything I list here will do if it fits you right and you buy the right filters. (see filter section below)

I am using the Home Depot website as a guide for largely available masks within the US, outside the US Google for the same brands and models in your area.

This is one by AO safety… costs around $24-35 USD with filters
and the filters are rather cheap

Model 95122-00000

This is a 3-m model # R-6211HC

It looks like shit in the package but I assure you its a great mask, They cost about $30 USD with filters. ( I paid something like $70 for almost the same model a few years ago..and I still have it.)

For ppl outside the US

The website offers some masks if I were to choose one from there it would be this one

it sells for 46.90 Euros Which is rather expensive, but if it’s all you can get where you are then get it.
(if anyone has good suppliers to recommend outside the US please post your links and location.


These are for dust from things like fiberglass and sanded paint, do not use them to protect you from spray paint, they may keep you from inhaling paint mist but they don’t do shit for the vapors that do the major harm to your body. These give a false sense of security.

What kind: Organic vapor cartridges only, no other filter (other than more expensive ones) will work, do not skimp on filters and get what is cheap, that defeats the purpose.

When to change: Changing your filters is NOT guesswork. You can tell your filters are used up when you can smell or taste the fumes while wearing your mask, a good way to be sure they work is to inhale and taste then inhale only through your nose…once you can smell it it’s time for new cartridges.

Oddly as it may seem leaving your organic filters exposed to air while in storage will ruin the filters either wrap them in plastic or take them off the mask and store them in a zip lock bag you have forced most of the air out of.

How long do they last? I can’t answer that as they vary greatly. My 3-m filters have lasted as long as 6 months with avid painting and improper storage a large portion of the time…..Part of why I stand by 3-m. I have known ao-safety filters to last almost as long but they were not being used for as harsh of paints as my 3-m ones were.

Ok enough about masks and filters, that should be more than enough to get everyone who needs one googling, if you have further questions post here or PM me. (Don’t ask me to find you a mask…please search.)

note I have a climbing/safety tutorial in the tips/advice section please search for it if you are interested.

skin protection:

Gloves are a writer’s best friend for numerous reasons, aside from keeping your fingers pretty they serve to protect you from having paint chemicals leech into your skin. Believe it or not this is also a HUGE hazard to your health and should be avoided almost as much as inhaling paint. I leave this one mostly to you….latex or vinyl are great…vinyl can be easier to put on sometimes. Beware of skin allergies if you have any you know of.

Brake Fluid
As so many of us use brake fluid in ink mixes I should touch on the subject. Brake fluid is a nerve agent and it is very deadly. Do not allow it to get on your skin at all. It will kill off nerve endings and leeches directly into your body in a very short time….it is also very hard to wash off. Mechanics who have done break jobs for years and had continued exposure to brake fluid increasingly show signs of nerve damage brain damage and cancer. Latex gloves will protect you for a while but brake fluid will eat through them, if you get this shit on your skin frequently invest in a set of chemical handling gloves like these.

Do not heat up brake fluid…its boiling point is well beyond that of water but why risk vaporising something you wouldn’t want to inhale?…..Odds are VERY high that brake fluid vapor will eat cartridges in your mask or ruin them pretty much right away.

Also avoid dot4 brake fluid as it is even worst than the more common dot3…its also more expensive.

There are some bad etch tutorials on SR and there is no proper safety information on the subject here. I will not advise you in the proper use of etch for several reasons.

#1 I am only 60% qualified to do so
#2 Etching streets is for assholes….if you are going to etch you should have a greater purpose than getting up in mind.
#3 leaving etch on a window or somewhere an innocent bystander can bump into it is downright fuckin evil.
#4 he sheer cost the damage does is wrong, paint is one thing, cutting a hole the shape of your name into a window is another.

Etchants are usually acids. They are always very very very very very very fucking caustic. The will eat your skin, flesh, bones, and your dog. Proper handling includes things like the chemical gloves above and should be left for qualified ppl…..going blind would suck guys, how would you paint?

Containing chemicals
There are in the millions of types of plastic out there and the ones you find in the US are classified by the numbers stamped on the bottom even non-recyclable plastics.

Putting chemicals in the wrong container can result in a mess or a chemical reaction that can create a whole new chemical bond….one that usually is not something you’d like to be on your skin or exploding in your pocket.

Just because the brake fluid comes in a plastic bottle doesn’t mean it won’t eat through another type of plastic and wind up on your skin….ruined pants and a nerve agent on your gentiles wouldn’t be much fun either.

How do I know whats in it and what it can do to me?

This is the most important question for anyone making their own inks, paints, or just plain using any ordinary chemical…even household ones like bleach or pine sol.

Not only is this the key to breaking down chemical compositions, it’s also the MOST IMPORTANT SAFETY TOOL you can find today.

The warnings on a label are based on a larger sheet of information called a Material Safety Data Sheet or a M.S.D.S.

Searching the net for these with the product name and or code on the net is a good skill to have. is a great site for a few free look-ups when you can’t find the info anywhere else.

Makers of any chemical product are legally required to provide you with this at the time of purchase or anytime you request it thereafter. Here is an example….

This is for Kiwi shoe polish. What we can learn from this is that it is not very toxic unless it is in vapor form…so boiling it without the respirator and chemical goggles it recommends is a bad idea.
It also tells us why (if you’re savvy to chemicals you can assume…) because it is a mineral spirits based mix. Most kiwi products are water based so this shows a variance and demonstrates the importance of a MSDS sheet.

From that we can deduce that it will thin with the same variety of mineral spirits a paint such as rustoleum (read the msds for rusto…look up exercise!…or email rusto direct.) will thin with…so it may mix depending on water content. (also found on the MSDS)

I hope this guide has helped you stay safe, find a mask, or learn a little more about the chemicals you are already working with. Direct any questions to me in this thread or via PM.

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