1,1,1 Trichloroethane was essentially outlawed as a cleaning agent in January, 1996. It is regarded as an ozone
depletor, as is Freon. Prior to the ban, 1,1,1 was a common ingredient in flux cleaners, brake cleaners,
electrical cleaners, etc. It is no exaggeration to say the electronics industry grew up on 1,1,1 and Freon 113
as cleaning solvents. While it is beyond the scope of this effort, there remains serious doubt whether molecules
of compounds like 1,1,1 can even reach the altitudes at issue. If they can, there is still much doubt about the
seriousness of the ozone depletion problem, and the need to ban these particular substances.
The dilemma is that nothing is as good as 1,1,1. The common alternatives offered are six-fold. First are
aqueous cleaning systems, simply not as effective as 1,1,1 for fluxes and oily or greasy materials. Second are
alcohol based cleaning systems, again not effective for many cleaning jobs. Third are the aromatic solvent
based cleaners, using solvents like toluene and xylene, very unpleasant to work with, flammable, and quite toxic
(now common in the non-chlorinated brake and electrical cleaners; we strongly recommend against their use).
Fourth are aliphatic solvent based cleaners, also unpleasant to work with and flammable (usually mixed with other
solvents). Fifth are the remaining chlorinated compounds like tetrachroethylene a/k/a perc and its various
cousins, almost as effective as 1,1,1, but all far more toxic. And last, the exotic replacements like HCFC's,
HFE, and N-Propyl Bromide; these items can cost $300.00 or more per gallon!
Over four decades ago 1,1,1 was being applauded as a safer degreaser than trichloroethylene and perc, yet we are now
forced to use those very chemicals once again (if we want decent results). Our government is allowing far more
dangerous chemicals (from a health perspective) to creep into consumer and industrial products because 1,1,1 may
be a contributor to a problem that many authorities doubt exists.
There should have been a small user and/or repair technician exemption for 1,1,1. It is bad public policy to
force the use of more dangerous chemicals or to discourage an industry that exists to prolong the useful life of
machines, an inherently desirable activity from an environmental point of view. I want my 1,1,1 back!
For more information, see our Cleaning Secrets Revealed page.
Ethanol is a reasonable replacement for 1,1,1 Trichloroethane as a solder flux cleaner, but we no longer use or
recommend Completely Denatured Alcohol (CDA) for electronics applications. Pure Grain Alcohol (PGA) is the