Microscope Maintenance

Everything relating to microscopy hardware: Objectives, eyepieces, lamps and more.
Post Reply
Message
Author
Tartigrade
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:29 pm

Microscope Maintenance

#1 Post by Tartigrade » Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:12 am

I’m not sure if this is the right forum... I own two scopes, both used and both fully functional... Nikon eclipse e200 and West German made Zeiss Standard. But I don’t know how to properly maintain them - ie, cleaning objectives, and other routine maintenance.

Any tips or resources?

Thanks. Great great great forum.

Element 56
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:48 pm
Location: Lancaster County, PA

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#2 Post by Element 56 » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:25 pm

Hi,
For cleaning optics Zeiss has some good information.
https://www.zeiss.com/microscopy/us/sol ... l#cleaning

Cleaning optics is something one must get a feel for and in time you will develop your own methods. I use a solution of dawn dish soap and isopropyl alcohol for general cleaning of most optical surfaces. Everyone seems to have their own idea about what the correct amount of each is but I prefer about 35-40% alcohol and a 1-2% solution of Dawn mixed in distilled or deionized water. I like the "no glue swabs from puritan and/or microfiber swabs. Another swab I recently tried and really like is this,
https://harmonycr.com/swabs-applicators ... /tsfmd6-xx

Good quality lens paper is useful for larger optical surfaces or you can twist a piece over a swab into a point shape for getting into corners and cleaning object glass. Lightly saturate the paper before contacting the glass.

Microfiber towels are good for keeping the dust off the body of the instrument. Lightly saturate one in you lens solution or just the dawn and wipe down the instrument avoiding the optics. I like Grab-N-Clean Microfiber Towels from Viking Car Care. They are the right size for instruments and cheap.

You can also use a wax on the body if you want. I like Johnsons past wax which can be used on wood, metal and plastic. Wipe on wipe off. It works for cleaning and will offer a little protection from moisture and oxygen. Renaissance wax is a more expensive alternative. Some people use car wax but that's not my preference.

Otherwise as long as you're using them regularly you shouldn't need much. If the lubricants start to dry out there will be some specific things to consider but I don't personally think we need to breach the subject unless you're having an issue now?

Just remember less is more in most cases. Over cleaning optics is very bad! If you see dirt on the eyepieces but it's not a bother in use leave it be. Every time you touch the glass you risk a scratch! Also over lubrication is bad! If you keep squirting lub into something as PM maintenance it will eventually make a mess and it may not mix well with the grease already there.

Regards,
Kirby

Tartigrade
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:29 pm

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#3 Post by Tartigrade » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:17 pm

Soooo helpful!

Thanks!

Element 56
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:48 pm
Location: Lancaster County, PA

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#4 Post by Element 56 » Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:16 am

Thanks for saying thanks 👍. It's a rare thing these days!

FungusMan
Posts: 73
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:36 am

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#5 Post by FungusMan » Wed Aug 26, 2020 5:57 am

I am about to clean my objectives , I have isopropyl alcohol and dist water but what is "Dawn" liquid ? is it dish soap (like fairy). thanks

Element 56
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:48 pm
Location: Lancaster County, PA

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#6 Post by Element 56 » Wed Aug 26, 2020 7:31 pm

I think you folks across the pond call it "washing up liquid". Dawn is en excellent product.

https://dawn-dish.com/en-us/products/by-line/dawn-ultra

Just a quick Dawn tip,

I have used straight 100% undiluted Dawn many times to clean objectives that I simply couldn't get clean by other means. What I do it is to put a drop over the lens and let it sit overnight. Next day I carefully clean it up with a damp swab being careful not to over soak the lens. Don't want any excess seeping inside the objective. I have had a great deal of success doing this with immersion lenses and others.

Kirby

FungusMan
Posts: 73
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:36 am

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#7 Post by FungusMan » Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:47 pm

Thnks kirby, as I see it is some special degreaser, like we have here under a variety of names such as Sgrassatore.
Thanks!

Element 56
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:48 pm
Location: Lancaster County, PA

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#8 Post by Element 56 » Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:33 pm

You're welcome.

Make sure whatever detergent you end up using that you test it on a glass slide before cleaning any lenses. Make sure it doesn't leave any funny residues!

Good Luck,
Kirby

tlansing
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Aug 01, 2020 3:15 pm

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#9 Post by tlansing » Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:31 am

I just had my Zeiss Photomicroscope III professionally serviced and I wanted to pass along a couple of things I learned by watching and asking questions. Since the topic of what to use to clean lenses is always of interest, the service guy that cleaned my scope uses Lens Clens #1 (https://www.lensclens.com/product/lens-clens-1/) for cleaning all lenses. He told me he has been servicing microscopes for 38 years and this is the best stuff he has ever used. He also has a container of cotton swab material (can be purchased in a drug store) and he winds a pinch of it on a wooden stick (like on a Q tip). He puts a drop of the Lens Clens on the cotton tip and cleans the lens (he used a circular motion in cleaning the lens, not across the lens). Then he discards the cotton tip and winds on another bit of cotton on the stick to wipe any remaining liquid off the lens. Finally, he used a magnifier to examine the surface of the lens to make sure it was clean. He told me that by winding whatever amount of cotton he wants on the stick he can adjust it for the cleaning need (ie, getting into smaller areas that a Q tip couldn't reach). The lenses on my scope were really clean when he was done, and I am going to start using Lens Clens #1.

MicroBob
Posts: 2405
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:11 am
Location: Northern Germany

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#10 Post by MicroBob » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:07 pm

Hi together,
the safety data sheets often are an interesting source of information. Apparently Lens Clens 1 consists of these dangerous components:

Solvent content:
Organic solvents:46.0 %
Water:45.9 %
VOC content:46.0 %
Solids content:2.8 %

CAS: 67-63-0RTECS: NT 8050000Isopropyl alcohol Flam. Liq. 2, H225; Eye Irrit. 2A, H319; STOT SE 3, H336 25-50%
CAS: 151-21-3RTECS: WT 1050000Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate Acute Tox. 4, H302; Skin Irrit. 2, H315; Eye Irrit. 2A, H319; Skin Sens. 1,H317; STOT SE 3, H335 2-12%
CAS: 1336-21-6 Ammonium HydroxidevPvB Acute Tox. 3, H331; Skin Corr. 1B, H314; Eye Dam. 1, H318; Aquatic Acute 1, H400; Acute Tox. 4, H302 2-12%

I'm no chemist and can't immediately see the cleaning application of the last two components. Can someone explain how it will loosen dirt and greasy fingerprints etc.? What are the dangers for surfaces and front lens cements?

Bob

Hobbyst46
Posts: 3123
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:02 pm

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#11 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:23 pm

MicroBob wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:07 pm
Hi together,
the safety data sheets often are an interesting source of information. Apparently Lens Clens 1 consists of these dangerous components:

Solvent content:
Organic solvents:46.0 %
Water:45.9 %
VOC content:46.0 %
Solids content:2.8 %

CAS: 67-63-0RTECS: NT 8050000Isopropyl alcohol Flam. Liq. 2, H225; Eye Irrit. 2A, H319; STOT SE 3, H336 25-50%
CAS: 151-21-3RTECS: WT 1050000Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate Acute Tox. 4, H302; Skin Irrit. 2, H315; Eye Irrit. 2A, H319; Skin Sens. 1,H317; STOT SE 3, H335 2-12%
CAS: 1336-21-6 Ammonium HydroxidevPvB Acute Tox. 3, H331; Skin Corr. 1B, H314; Eye Dam. 1, H318; Aquatic Acute 1, H400; Acute Tox. 4, H302 2-12%

I'm no chemist and can't immediately see the cleaning application of the last two components. Can someone explain how it will loosen dirt and greasy fingerprints etc.? What are the dangers for surfaces and front lens cements?

Bob
Isopropyl alcohol is a solvent for fat, oil, grease
Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate is a detergent, like soap, breaks dust and dirt and brings them into suspension, so are easily removed by water. I clean diatoms with SDS (in an EDTA mixture). SDS itself is non-volatile solid, in the Clens it is dissolved in water.
Ammonium hydroxide is caustic, yet here it is a weak solution so not really dangerous. Its function, I believe, is to decompose fats, protein, and aid to solubilize them.

Still, when working with Clens, I would suggest to protect the eyes.
IMHO, Clens is not harmful to metallic surfaces, since the Ammonium hydroxide is very weak. I do not see any potential danger to cements either.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

tlansing
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Aug 01, 2020 3:15 pm

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#12 Post by tlansing » Sat Sep 05, 2020 5:48 pm

The guy who serviced my scope used Lens Clens #1 to clean the front lenses of all of my objectives, the eyepieces, the DIC slider and all other optical components. I'm pretty sure that he would not be using this cleaner if it would damage these expensive optical elements, and he has been using it for a long time. This is just another alternative that folks can consider when trying to find a cleaning regime that works for them.

This is a great forum and I have learned a lot. Thanks to all!

MicroBob
Posts: 2405
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:11 am
Location: Northern Germany

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#13 Post by MicroBob » Sat Sep 05, 2020 5:58 pm

Professionals have a tendency to cut corners when it improves their income. So I would expect that they would be willing to use a powerful cleaner, even if there are gentler methods available. But even the careful amateur sometimes has to use rougher methods when nothing else helps, like with mouldy glass surfaces. For me this cleaner would come into play when wind and medical spirits don't work. Isopropanol alone is already less friendly to plastic like materials than medical spirits/lighter fluid.

PeteM
Posts: 1426
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#14 Post by PeteM » Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:20 pm

I've had pretty good luck with "ROR" (Residual Oil Remover) lens cleaner. MSDS on it shows a tiny bit of ammonia (.775%), a fair small amount (just over 4%) of isopropyl alcohol, 9% soaps (maybe the same as above), distilled water, and a tiny bit of sodium chloride. The salt is a puzzle to me. Doesn't seem to leave a residue. Maybe it buffers the near equally small amount of ammonia???

99% isopropyl alcohol is pretty cheap by the pint if some oil responds best to that. Distilled water even cheaper for the gentlest of solvents.

Hobbyst46
Posts: 3123
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:02 pm

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#15 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:46 pm

PeteM wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:20 pm
I've had pretty good luck with "ROR" (Residual Oil Remover) lens cleaner. MSDS on it shows a tiny bit of ammonia (.775%), a fair small amount (just over 4%) of isopropyl alcohol, 9% soaps (maybe the same as above), distilled water, and a tiny bit of sodium chloride. The salt is a puzzle to me. Doesn't seem to leave a residue. Maybe it buffers the near equally small amount of ammonia??
Sodium chloride does not buffer anything. On the other hand, it unavoidably leaves a residue, in the form of crystals - possibly nano crystals that are not detected.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

Wes
Posts: 693
Joined: Sat Mar 09, 2019 12:58 pm

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#16 Post by Wes » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:04 pm

For cleaning I am a big fan of using ultra pure water. For grease and oil petroleum ether. Very rarely I would use isopropanol.
Zeiss Photomicroscope III BF/DF/Pol/Ph/DIC/(epi)FL/Jamin-Lebedeff
Youtube channel

PeteM
Posts: 1426
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#17 Post by PeteM » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:14 pm

Hobbyst46 wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:46 pm
PeteM wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:20 pm
I've had pretty good luck with "ROR" (Residual Oil Remover) lens cleaner. MSDS on it shows a tiny bit of ammonia (.775%), a fair small amount (just over 4%) of isopropyl alcohol, 9% soaps (maybe the same as above), distilled water, and a tiny bit of sodium chloride. The salt is a puzzle to me. Doesn't seem to leave a residue. Maybe it buffers the near equally small amount of ammonia??
Sodium chloride does not buffer anything. On the other hand, it unavoidably leaves a residue, in the form of crystals - possibly nano crystals that are not detected.
The possibility of residue concerns me as well - though I've never seen a residue. Maybe as you say it just is too small to see, a coating on a coating.

Been way too long since HS chemistry, but seems salt might have some effect as a buffer (???): https://oneclass.com/homework-help/chem ... fe.en.html

If not to balance something in the solution, any idea why ROR put the bit of sodium chloride there? ROR has been used and recommended for years - must be some reason for it?

Wes
Posts: 693
Joined: Sat Mar 09, 2019 12:58 pm

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#18 Post by Wes » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:32 pm

PeteM wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:14 pm
Hobbyst46 wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:46 pm
PeteM wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:20 pm
I've had pretty good luck with "ROR" (Residual Oil Remover) lens cleaner. MSDS on it shows a tiny bit of ammonia (.775%), a fair small amount (just over 4%) of isopropyl alcohol, 9% soaps (maybe the same as above), distilled water, and a tiny bit of sodium chloride. The salt is a puzzle to me. Doesn't seem to leave a residue. Maybe it buffers the near equally small amount of ammonia??
Sodium chloride does not buffer anything. On the other hand, it unavoidably leaves a residue, in the form of crystals - possibly nano crystals that are not detected.
The possibility of residue concerns me as well - though I've never seen a residue. Maybe as you say it just is too small to see, a coating on a coating.

Been way too long since HS chemistry, but seems salt might have some effect as a buffer (???): https://oneclass.com/homework-help/chem ... fe.en.html

If not to balance something in the solution, any idea why ROR put the bit of sodium chloride there? ROR has been used and recommended for years - must be some reason for it?
Salts of a strong acid and strong base (e.g. NaOH and HCl) do not have any buffering capacity. Salts of weak acid and/or base, however do. In principle sodium chloride has some chaotropic potential, making water less polar and thus promoting hydrophobic interactions (though I have no idea if it does any of that at low amounts).
Zeiss Photomicroscope III BF/DF/Pol/Ph/DIC/(epi)FL/Jamin-Lebedeff
Youtube channel

Hobbyst46
Posts: 3123
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:02 pm

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#19 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:35 pm

PeteM wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:14 pm
... seems salt might have some effect as a buffer (???):
Sodium chloride is formed from equally strong acid and base - hence does not buffer.
If not to balance something in the solution, any idea why ROR put the bit of sodium chloride there? ROR has been used and recommended for years - must be some reason for it?
I believe that it acts in synergy with the sodium dodecyl sulphate. Washing machine detergents used to contain sodium chloride in the past AFAIK.
Low concentrations of salt enhance mycelle formation of detergents. This way they amplify the dirt- removal capacity of the detergent. Pretty certain that this is the reason.
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

PeteM
Posts: 1426
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#20 Post by PeteM » Sat Sep 05, 2020 8:19 pm

Thanks, Wes & Hobbyist.

Element 56
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:48 pm
Location: Lancaster County, PA

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#21 Post by Element 56 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 8:51 pm

Cleaning solutions with lots of ingredients are like throwing a handful of darts at the board to increase your chance of hitting the bullseye. IMO the average microscopist will never need more than a light detergent and a mild solvent for routine cleaning of optics and sometimes deionized or distilled water is all that is needed.. The mixtures I suggested 1-2% Dawn/ 35-40% ISO will clean almost anything and it's pretty safe. As stated previously when my solution fails I will turn to 100% Dawn left on overnight. I have resurrected some pretty bad optics using this method. Usually it's oil immersion lenses that get really bad and require the extra attention. When this does fail there's almost always something very wrong that cannot be simply cleaned away with an aqueous solution or solvent.

I will add for the OP, one must be careful not to let water seep into the sides of eyepieces and objectives. You don't saturate the glass! It's good practice to keep a wipe out on the bench to dab your swab against before cleaning a lens. You want the liquid to evaporate behind the swab as you move it across the surface of the glass. The ISO helps with evaporation. If you decide to wind cotton or optic safe wipes on a stick make sure your hands and work area are very clean. I used to do it that way but stopped because of the risk of cross contamination of dirt.

Just a quick note on the SDS for what it's worth. I was struggling for some time to clean polishing compound from various surfaces and had tried SDS and about a dozen other lab grade detergents and a bunch of solvents. Nothing was doing a satisfactory job. Finally one of the engineers says "hey why don't use use Dawn dish soap". I thought he was joking but I was desperate so I tried it. It was by far the best detergent out of the group!

Happy Cleaning!

Kirby

hans
Posts: 641
Joined: Thu May 28, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#22 Post by hans » Sat Sep 05, 2020 9:06 pm

I have been using degreasers containing primarily mineral spirits and D-limonene (Pedro's Oranj Peelz, Orange-Sol Multi-Use Solvent, for example) on more stubborn oily/greasy films with good results so far. Any reasons this would be a bad idea? They do not evaporate quickly and do leave a slight residue, so need to be cleaned off themselves, which I do with 99% isopropyl. But they are nicer to work with than the really volatile organic solvents like xylene that are sometimes recommended.

PeteM
Posts: 1426
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#23 Post by PeteM » Sat Sep 05, 2020 9:18 pm

With respect to Dawn (which I also like) here are the ingredients P&G lists:

https://www.pg.com/productsafety/msds/p ... ergent.pdf

FWIW, Dawn is also the poor man's surfactant to use when fighting fires.

Don't know about the citrus cleaners, but I've generally found them less effective for oil and grease in a shop setting. They seem to leave an oily residue rather than evaporate, but soap and water usually manages to clear that.

Element 56
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:48 pm
Location: Lancaster County, PA

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#24 Post by Element 56 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:10 pm

hans wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 9:06 pm
I have been using degreasers containing primarily mineral spirits and D-limonene (Pedro's Oranj Peelz, Orange-Sol Multi-Use Solvent, for example) on more stubborn oily/greasy films with good results so far. Any reasons this would be a bad idea? They do not evaporate quickly and do leave a slight residue, so need to be cleaned off themselves, which I do with 99% isopropyl. But they are nicer to work with than the really volatile organic solvents like xylene that are sometimes recommended.
The reasons for not using it would be the two you mentioned, residue and not evaporating quickly. You can work around the latter if you're careful but the first is fixing one problem while creating another. It's like taking a pill to curb the side effects of another pill! The cleanup with 99% alcohol can also be problematic over time in some situations so I would find an alternative if I were you.

I'm sure Dawn is not the only detergent that will work but it's just the one that outshines others I've personally tried. I don't know what's available where you live but if you look at the ingredients in Dawn and search for something similar I think that would be a great start.

Also, my optician carries a simple detergent/iso mixture that works okay. He gives me a bottle every time I spend $500 ;) . Maybe you could check with yours to see if they sell a cleaner until you come up with a DIY. Remember always test it on a slide to see how it acts before using it on your lenses.

Kirby

Element 56
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:48 pm
Location: Lancaster County, PA

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#25 Post by Element 56 » Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:16 pm

PeteM wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 9:18 pm
FWIW, Dawn is also the poor man's surfactant to use when fighting fires.
Thanks for the tip!

Kirby

PeteM
Posts: 1426
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: Microscope Maintenance

#26 Post by PeteM » Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:41 pm

The stuff Zeiss opticians sell is just distilled water and about 5% IPA (no detergent, as in ROR etc.): http://lkstevens-wa.safeschoolssds.com/ ... 6b41eb5db5

The formula Zeiss recommended for clearing oxidized immersion oil etc. is 85% petroleum ether and 15% IPA (recipe on last page here): https://microscopy.duke.edu/sites/micro ... scsope.pdf

Some more Zeiss info: https://www.zeiss.com/microscopy/int/so ... l-surfaces

Post Reply