Aldon Chemical links:
Home  |   Surface Types  |   Problem Solving  |   Products  |   Prices & Ordering

How Strong Is The Smell Of Solvent Base Products?

You will know its there!  All petroleum solvent materials have a strong smell. It only varies as to the type of smell. If you are sensitive or allergic to petroleum solvents, we have an alternative for you. That is the water based sealer called "Crystal Glaze". "Crystal Glaze" has almost no smell at all and creates a very tough film, some color enhancement and medium to high gloss.
Please review it's page and compare to the solvent base sealers so you understand the performance differences. You can get samples of each and see/smell the real differences with your surfacing.

For the same reason that the gas company puts a chemical in natural gas to create odor, we would not mask the smell.  The smell is a cue to not breathe in fumes when applying the product. As a policy of very conservative safety procedures, you should avoid breathing the fumes of any chemicals, even supermarket cleaning products.

The key to clearing out any smell rapidly:
. Use good cross ventilation. Direct fans down and across the floor - and out the windows and doorways to the outside. That takes care of odor at and just above the floor.
. The more sealer volume has been put into the floor (on and below) the longer it takes to finish curing and stop producing a smell. This could be from a few hours to a couple of days.
. Do not have childern, pets, or the sick or elderly in the area. For solvent sensitive people (allergic) do not use petroleum based solvent based products in the house at all. In those cases, please review our water based products.

Residual smell?  Still smell the sealer after a couple of days?

After it has dried on the surface, and down below the surface and reached full cure, the liquid is gone.  Therefore, what you smell is not something to be classified as "fumes", but only a residual smell.  Once the sealer is cured in a day or two you should not be able to smell it anymore, especially if you followed the label recommendations for adequate ventilation during application.

Ok, that makes sense to you, but you still smell it nonetheless?

We hear that comment occasionally and have wondered why that would be.  We have done some informal experiments ourselves and have also discussed it with a few of those customers that report a lingering smell. Here are some of our testing and observations:

A rag was saturated with one of the petroleum based sealers.  24 hours later any detectable smell was so minor as to not noticed at all by almost everybody.  What one person perceived was very, very minor.  This was done with only the air movement of a couple of open windows and without fans.
. Many of us have used one or more of the sealers in their own homes and have never reported a lingering smell.

Conclusions & Possibilities:

. An extra thick buildup of sealer takes longer for the solvent to migrate out, therefore, a longer time for there to be the odor.
. A forgotten cleanup rag is emitting odor.
. There are some people who simply have a highly acute sense of smell and are more sensitive to smells of all kinds.
. Some people are more sensitive to petroleum solvent smells.
. For some people, there seems to be a "memory" of smell that persists beyond the ability of the source to produce it.  See if a few other people who have not been inside, smell it to the degree that you do.
. The effect for sensitive people would be greater if the project was not ventilated during and after application to a degree greater than required for the rest of us. For instance, closing up the building 24 hours after application instead of waiting longer to get rid of every last minor amount of smell.
. There is the possibility you could be smelling something else used on the project with a more long lasting aroma.  Carpet glues, vinyl glues, paints, wood stains, etc. all have very persistent smells.
. Persistency of smell would vary with the volume of liquid used. With a highly absorbent surface you would have used more gallons down into the surface, as you should. The more gallons applied, the more time and air movement it might take as the liquid dries and cures.  Being dry on the surface in an hour does not mean it is dry below the surface.  The volatile components will still be migrating out through the surface.
. Under some conditions of air migration within a building, or air non-movement in an enclosed area, the odor might last longer than a couple of days. It is not very predictable how long it will last, but it will go away depending on air movement.   Therefore, to make it go away faster - don't just ventilate for one day, then close up the building again. Let the ventilation go on until there is no more odor.  Typically, this is not something requiring multiple fans for days. Some open windows creating cross drafts may be all that is needed.
. If during drying, the odor permeates fabric (carpet, drapes, etc.), it can be perceived longer than otherwise.
. Using a heater of some kind to speed up the process may not be a benefit, and might even make a smell last longer.  Good ventilation at ambient temperature is the best method.
. The use of one of the "smell eraser" products (such as "Fabreze") might accelerate the reduction of a "memory" of a smell.
. Because the odor is heavier than air, it might be setting to the floor, especially if there is some barrier like a shower stall curb.  Direct a fan at the floor for awhile and see if that forces migration to a window exhaust fan.
. During application in a shower, some liquid might have run down the drain and be in the drain trap.  After the sealer is cured, run the shower for an hour or so to have the water flush out the drain trap.

Sometimes, despite your diligent research and the best of intentions of your suppliers salesperson, you might have been given wrong information. Therefore, no matter how confident you are, whether first time user or seasoned professional, it just makes good sense to patch test a small area and evaluate the results in a few hours before doing a large area.   Normally, nobody would think this would apply to the smell, but like any other factor in a project, testing would alert you to any sensitivity.

Most Aldon sealers have more than one area they can be used in any project. Check sealer information on the web site.