Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Extremely Sticky

Extremely sticky. Prevent skin and eye contact. Wear gloves and protective eyewear.

These directions on the side of the can of Great Stuff Insulating Foam Sealant are fairly straight forward and easy to understand for the person who actually takes the few seconds needed to read them.

A little more than a week before Pesach, I discovered a dead mouse caught in the sole mouse trap I set in the laundry room in the basement. Like last year, it seemed like they were planning and anticipating a chance to gobble up any matza crumbs that would invariably fall on the floor during the course of the yom tov. To foil their dastardly plan, I went outside, grabbed a spray bottle of Great Stuff and sought to fill in any holes that might be large enough for a mouse to climb into.

This was only going to be quick job so there was no need to read instructions, put on gloves, or even change into more appropriate clothing for yard work. Lacking the spraying straw from one of my last haphazard attempts, I sprayed and sprayed the rapidly-expanding insulating foam sealant directly from the can in a truly overzealous manner. Moments later my hands were coated with the "extremely sticky" goop and I went inside in an attempt to clean myself up.

Warm water and soap didn't work. Cold water and soap didn't work. Baking soda didn't work. Baking soda and vinegar together didn't work. Silver polish didn't work. The Gojo Pumice Hand Cleaner that I borrowed from a neighbor after a half hour after my previous attempts seemed to work, but not completely. An hour later I still had a bit of residue remaining.

Crusty Great Stuff residue remained on my hands for another day afterward.

Removing it slowly bit by bit, I reflected and imagined how the residue of all the aveiros that I have done had accumulated over time and adhered to my neshoma - similar somewhat to what Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught in Likutey Moharan #5 about how a person's bones are etched with the letter combinations of the aveiros that he does.

I often say, "I never make the same mistake twice but I always do make every mistake at least once." Perhaps in the future if I am able to recall the memory of this Great Stuff event it will serve to give me pause just long enough to make better choices at the time I might do otherwise.


At June 3, 2008 at 9:03:00 AM EDT, Anonymous shira0607 said...

I too found myself in a similiar situation with insulating foam. I searched and tried everything to get the stuff off. In the end, it was nail polish remover that took it off.

Two things were learned in that experience: Read the instructions and there is usually a solution to be found for mistakes.

Following the instruction manual can help one to avoid many mistakes and the instruction manual usually offers solutions to the predicaments we get ourselves into.

I'm reasonably certain that Rebbe Nachman followed up the teaching you shared with advice on how we can peel back the layers of mistakes we all make.

At June 4, 2008 at 11:48:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Why experiment? If you don't have this cleanup info in the instructions---the manufacturer should be able to answer your questions through its web site (possibly in the MSDS = Material Safety Data Sheet or the technical data sheet for the product), or your can reach its customer service or safety people on line or on the phone.

Ideally, you find out before using the product, so you have the right cleaner on hand.

In your case, this document from Dow has a section on safety that tells you to remove this dried sealant from the skin using a pumice stone and water:

At June 4, 2008 at 12:00:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Bob: Only an engineer would answer in such a manner! ;) Thank you.

At June 5, 2008 at 5:40:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Lacking a pumice stone, I've removed hardened polymers from my hands using a Scotchbrite pad and soapy water.


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