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Headstones vs. Chemicals

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I spent this past week researching and talking to people about what chemicals they use when cleaning a headstone. I would like to hear what you have to say on this subject so please feel free to email me at saveagrave@gmail.com.

A few people I’ve spoken to said they would absolutely NEVER use any chemical when cleaning a headstone. Water and a soft brush is all that is needed. This is also what I was taught. Then I found that The Association for Gravestone Studies recommended using Ammonium Hydroxide (Household Ammonia) for light colored stones. I found this to be a great help, so I’ve used it many time by mixing one cup ammonia to one gallon of water. Pre-wetting the stone with water and rinsing thoroughly when done. It’s also going to be the less expensive product to use. Once, when volunteering at a local cemetery I met a man who used a chemical called D/2 he let me buy some from him because he told me that I would not be able to buy it with out being certified. Later I found out that I could get it from Cathedral Stone Products a distributor of D/2 Biological Solution. This week buyers of D/2 got an email from Cathedral Stone saying Simple Green has decided to stop production of D/2. I found out this is not true. Cathedral Stone is just not going to be a distributor of D/2 anymore. You can place and order for D/2 Biological Solution from limeworks.us and when you check out use “saveagrave” as your coupon code to receive a discount.

While talking to others online, I started wondering if there are other products that are safe to use. Products that might make the job easier take less time and get good results. But the number one concern is “no long term damage to the stone”. Damage can be permanent and irreversible. The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) website says to use cleaners that contain quaternary ammonium compounds, like D/2. You can read this page at http://bit.ly/SW3BuB, because of this study D/2 is safe from a conservation point of view and it’s known to be safe for people and vegetation.

However, are there other products that can do the same thing? I saw one product being promoted on facebook. Post started showing up in my facebook groups about a product called “Wet & Forget” here is the video they are showing.

So how great would it be to just spray a product and leave it on come back in some months to find out it’s all clean. Well I found one person who did just that. A man from Indiana shared his photos with me and the marketing lady who is promoting “Wet and Forget” and she used his photos on the company blog.

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You see how in this picture the stone is black from growth which is very hard to clean off.

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This photo shows the stone after he went to check on it about a year later. He was happy to find it looked so clean.

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This photo is after almost two years and you see it’s looking white again.

So I’m thinking ….. this all looks good, but what are the long terms effect on the stone?
This is the question that made me search around and after finding no studies on this, I wanted to hear from other people who may have an opinion on this. The people I talked to, from Caretakers to Preservationist and even Masons either didn’t like the idea of leaving a product on a stone or they never heard of it. Could this be because the product is new to the United States? The company says it’s a tried and tested product that has been used residentially and commercially for over 30 years in New Zealand and Australia. But have they been using it on gravestones for 30 years???

I had to see the product and read the bottle, so off to Walmart I went to find it. Once locating it in the hardware department. I first notice this tag hanging from it …..

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This tag kind of put me on guard for a second …. I’m thinking it might make some people mad and they would just go to a different product. Because there are other choices for this kind of product on the shelf next to “Wet & Forget” was “Mold Armor” but the back I could not read.

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So I know nothing about this product.

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The other option was Jomax House Cleaner and Mildew Killer.

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On the back of it’s bottle the directions ask you to mix it with Bleach. Oh and we all know NEVER to use Bleach on a headstone of any kind.

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So that takes me back to “Wet & Forget” with it’s funny tag. On the bottle under Active Ingredients says 90.1% of Other Ingredients, now why are they not listing all the ingredients?

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On the back of the product it list surfaces on which you can use, and we see it says “natural stone, Tombstones”.

What affects this product may have on Headstones over time ….. No one seems to know. We do know it goes against what is preached about not leaving any product on the stone. So many headstone preservationist would say it’s not worth the risk and they will stay with D/2. For me, I’m buying some “Wet & Forget” to try on my roof, patio and sidewalk. I’m not convensted yet to take the risk on a headstone. I think I’ll keep using D/2.

You can download the MSDS Sheet for D/2 Biological Solution here: http://www.limeworks.us/pdf/D2_documents/DATA_D2_102012.pdf

You can download the MSDS Sheet for “Wet & Forget” here: http://www.wetandforget.com/downloads/MSDS_WETFORGET_99gL_2172012.pdf

Below is another stone treated with “Wed & Forget”

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