Can petroleum fumes affect rope?

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Can petroleum fumes affect rope?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 7, 2015 2:42 pm

I keep my caving and climbing stuff in a closet that also houses the old defunct fuel oil stove that used to heat my house. Some residual heating oil in the lines and, I suspect, soaked into the subfloor makes the closet a little bit smelly. I've not noticed any lingering odors on my stuff before, but I got out my dynamic climbing rope for the first time in a long time and went out with my wife for some wimpy rock climbing. Even in the woods hours later I could smell heating oil on the rope, hence my query.

Reading on this forum I have found strong assertions that petroleum products are harmful and other claims that they are not. I tend to believe that nylon ropes are not terribly affected by hydrocarbons, but I am willing to be corrected. What about fumes?
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Re: Can petroleum fumes affect rope?

Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 7, 2015 8:48 pm

It seems like I have seen some testing about fumes but I may be making it up. Have you googled for it?
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Re: Can petroleum fumes affect rope?

Postby knudeNoggin » Oct 14, 2016 11:31 am

IIRC, the general conclusion was that petrol itself wasn't a big issue, but that one would be less sure of any special additives to it. As for fumes, that seems to put the entire threat at a greater remove, diminished!?

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Re: Can petroleum fumes affect rope?

Postby PatB » Oct 18, 2016 7:42 pm

I had stored my old equipment at my folks house in what we call the paint room. A bottle of liquid fire drain cleaner was placed in the metal cabinet where I'd had my cave stuff. A little leaked out of the bottle and when it came in contact with my rope bag strap, it dissolved it like melting butter. Some came in contact with my ropewalker system tube webbing. It made the nylon what I'd describe as brittle. I simply don't use any of the nylon items that were in that cabinet anymore. I have no idea what the fumes from that drain cleaner could have done, but I'm not finding out.

How do you want to test your gear to find out if it's worth keeping? If it only hurts you, that's one thing, but what about your buddy who uses the rope next or borrows your gear?
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Re: Can petroleum fumes affect rope?

Postby CaverCarl » Jun 10, 2018 8:10 pm

Check with the manufacturer.

BTW Rope is made of a material. Not all ropes are created equally. Each material will be effected differently from many different exposures.
Nylon is every susceptible to acids. Don't spill the coffee, it has a PH of 5!

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Re: Can petroleum fumes affect rope?

Postby trogman » Jun 16, 2018 5:48 pm

I was doing some research on this topic a few years ago, and came across this study that Black Diamond had a lab do for them. Here is the link:

This was a fairly extensive study, involving a lot of household chemicals and what not that may come into contact with your ropes and/or vertical gear. About the closest thing to heating oil I saw on the list was WD-40, which had practically no effect on the nylon gear. The big ones to be careful with are Muratic Acid, Clorox Bleach, and aquarium PH lower. Of course another one to look out for is battery acid. If you ever carry a car or boat battery in your trunk, it's probably a good idea to not carry your rope in that trunk. Or if you do, put your rope in a protective container. You can't be too careful with such matters!

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