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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Is Bakelite Hazardous?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Jazzerstang, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. Jazzerstang

    Jazzerstang Tele-Afflicted

    you may remember my thread about my 'winter' telecaster. I recently got a raw bakelite pickguard for it off ebay and it works really well, however, I did not put any finish on it. I have heard that bakelite is traditionally made made with formaldehyde and sometimes asbestos. Perhaps somebody here can school me on if these pickguards are in fact made with hazardous materials.


  2. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

    If they were, I'd be Dead by now.....that's all I got.
    swany and GreatGaudy like this.

  3. Jazzerstang

    Jazzerstang Tele-Afflicted


  4. Sparky472

    Sparky472 Tele-Holic

    May 22, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Yes, it is made with hazardous materials but playing a guitar with a Bakelite pick guard isn't hazardous. Manufacturing it is hazardous, which is at least one reason why it lost its popularity. If you are going to be cutting it or drilling it, wear a dust mask. Otherwise, there isn't anything to worry about.

  5. LeroyBlues

    LeroyBlues Tele-Holic

    Apr 23, 2008
    Only if you plan on eating it.
    GreatGaudy likes this.

  6. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

    Admin Post
    Wiping your arse with it could be hazardous. So don't do that.
    Brian J. and GreatGaudy like this.

  7. nickhofen

    nickhofen Friend of Leo's

    The dangerous nature of Bakelite is from different sources: manufacturing, collecting and disposing.

    Since Bakelite is a manufactured, synthetic plastic containing incredible amounts of formaldehyde, asbestos and other extremely toxic polymers, those who produced these desirable products, put themselves at risk. At the time, safety and health precautions were not mandatory. These hardworking men and women exposed themselves to the toxins, through exposure.

    Furthermore, though it seems a benign pastime, collecting Bakelite products also do pose a heath threat. If a Bakelite product breaks, the synthetic materials become airborne, and may result in inhalation, ingestion or direct skin contact. Bakelite collectibles are beautiful but deadly.

    Just like any other plastic-based product, disposing Bakelite is extremely hazardous to the environment. With older home renovations at its peak, many people are unintentionally exposed to Bakelite from replacing ceiling or floor tiles. Even more, collectors are also susceptible to exposure especially if a dish or a bracelet is broken.

    Besides the obvious danger to the environment to improper disposal of these products, there is a considerable and lingering health risk. Not only did these products contain formaldehyde, Bakelite contained asbestos, a known and hazardous toxin. Exposure to Bakelite dust may cause lung infections, mesothelioma and other respiratory complications. Though medical care for these conditions, including mesothelioma treatments, are improving through breakthroughs, there is still an on-going risk; not only for those who manufactured those products but also for those who own them.

    Disposing these materials safely is critical. Many facilities carefully dispose of Bakelite products in a manner that is not hazardous to human or environmental health. To find a plastic recycling center near you, check out Earth911. This is how we can all do our part in cleaning up these harmful plastics and in turn, making our environment a better place. Find ways to substitute harmful plastics out of your daily routine. But if you must use them, dispose of them safely and cleanly.

  8. notdave

    notdave Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 9, 2009
    West Midlands. UK
    Nice C'n'P

    It is usual to credit the source though.

    R.S.Fraser Sr. likes this.

  9. nickhofen

    nickhofen Friend of Leo's

    Also...For other uses, see Asbestos (disambiguation).

    Asbestos (pronounced /æsˈbɛstəs/ or /æzˈbɛstəs/) is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals used commercially for their desirable physical properties.[1] They all have in common their eponymous, asbestiform habit: long, (1:20) thin fibrous crystals. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma (a formerly rare cancer strongly associated with exposure to amphibole asbestos), and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Long exposure to high concentrations of asbestos fibers is more likely to cause health problems.This is most common among the miners of asbestos, since they have the longest exposure to it. The European Union has banned all use of asbestos[2] and extraction, manufacture and processing of asbestos products.[3]
    Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century because of its sound absorption, average tensile strength, its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and affordability. It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement (resulting in fiber cement) or woven into fabric or mats. Commercial asbestos mining began in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada and the world's largest asbestos mine is located in the town of Asbestos, Quebec.
    Here you go....

  10. chipbutty24

    chipbutty24 Friend of Leo's

    Oct 16, 2008
    Ontario, Canada

  11. Jazzerstang

    Jazzerstang Tele-Afflicted

    alright, so, how do I finish it to keep in the toxins?

    I don't want to spend too much.

  12. 3 Chord

    3 Chord Friend of Leo's

    Mar 20, 2007
    Billings MT
    Don't light it on fire when you play Jimi music. Seriously, I would worry more about using a cell phone than what will "fume off" of your pickgaurd with normal use.

    If you are shaping (grinding) your pickgaurd, well any small particulates are bad for your lungs, not just bakelite and or asbestoes. Wear a respirator if you must but don't be affraid, be informed!
    Crobbins likes this.

  13. Batman

    Batman Tele-Holic

    Jun 12, 2010
    Northampton, UK
    Encase it in concrete? :lol:
    Crobbins likes this.

  14. slack

    slack Friend of Leo's

    Sep 26, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    Really? Made me want to pat notdave on the back.
    R.S.Fraser Sr. likes this.

  15. Skub

    Skub Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Jul 28, 2010
    Risky,you'll get barbs in your hand. :eek:

  16. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Typically when you purchase a product that has a substantial "hazard factor" from a commercial industrial supplier, they are required to supply the government approved warnings.... i have bought this stuff from many industrial suppliers...with never a "peep" about gettin' kilt or blowin' up the planet.... not even once,

    ron Kirn
    Crobbins likes this.

  17. Sw0rdfish

    Sw0rdfish Tele-Meister

    Dec 18, 2011
    100 people on average get kilt a year by the deadly Arachis hypogaea. Which is prlly more likely unless you snack on your plastics. Just givin ya some guff aka Internet sarcasms

  18. tap4154

    tap4154 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Southern California
    Some Deft nitro in the blue spray can will do it. Just makes it look better, no reason to worry about toxins attacking you. But wear a mask when spraying it ;)

  19. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    Bakelite is a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin with a wood flour filler.

    It does not contain asbestos. It is made from formaldehyde but it is not formaldehyde itself, it is now a different chemical. Look it up. It was invented 1907 by Leo Baekeland. There is lots of information out there.

    Bakelite is usually brown, but can be dyed during manufacture.

    Tufnol and Paxolin are similar materials but with a paper or cloth laminate for structural strength.

    If you want to worry about using something really hazardous, then worry about unleaded petrol or diesel fuel.
    MadRocker likes this.

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