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  1. #1
    Veteran Member
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    Monkton, Vermont
    Tractor
    NH TC33D Modified with belly pan, limb risers & FOPS for work in the woods

    Default Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    OK, I'm finally recovering from the poison sumac on my hands (took about a 6 weeks) from clearing some trees and brush to make room for the finish grade around a new pond. That will teach me not to wear gloves. Now that I can bear the thought of picking up some tools again, I'm wondering what is the best way to clean the residue of the poison sumac off my chainsaw.

    I already screwed up and laced the boots back on that I was wearing at the time... picked up a minor relapse from that. (Fortunately, I remembered to wash all of my other clothing and protective gear.) I'm not sure if I should just hose of the chainsaw, then wipe things down with alcohol, and regrease everything, or is there is a better way?

    I got it bad enough that I'd love to err on the safe side and hit it with a detergent mix from my pressure washer, but I'm concerned that I'll do some damage to the saw -- either from the pressure, or from the detergent and water getting into places it shouldn't.

    any suggestions?

    John Mc

  2. #2
    Elite Member teg's Avatar
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    Raleigh, NC Hillsville, VA
    Tractor
    L2800 - HST

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    Tecnu works for me but it's for the skin. Not sure about putting some on a rag to wipe down tools?

    Gempler's sells it.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member
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    Jan 2006
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    West Central Idaho
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    Kubota L5740HSTC3; B3000HSDCC

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    Poison sumac, oak and ivy has an oil based irritant called urushiol. For skin exposure, if you can remove it rapidly, you can greatly minimize the effects. Since it is a contact irritant, any residual urushiols on clothing, equipment or pets will re-establish the irritation. A very efficacious product is made by Tec Labs and is called Tecnu: http://www.teclabsinc.com/
    I have used it and instructed in it's usage for over ten years, and most folks are fairly surprised at it's capabilities if used promptly after exposure. Even if used several hour post-exposure, it can still quantitatively reduce the expected inflammation.

    The original product was developed as a waterless/low-water skin cleanser for nuclear fallout decon. As a disclaimer, I have zero financial interest in the sale or marketing of any Tec products; I am just an end-user.

    Regarding your saw, I would stuff rags into the carb, remove (and replace) the air filter (see next paragraph), and perform the detergent wash as planned. Then Tecnu it, rinse, lube, and back to business.

    Be very careful to avoid inhaling airborne urushiols either from burning the vegetation (inhaling the smoke) or aerosolizing it with a rapidly spinning chainsaw. A pulmonary insult from this stuff can be potentially deadly.

    Tecnu will work on non-skin surfaces. I would use the detergent/p-washer first (stay upwind), then follow-up with Tecnu. Wear a respirator if you think there will be any chance you will inhale the urushiol oils.

  4. #4
    Elite Member wushaw's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
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    Bristol Texas
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    Kubota L2800, 15 hp 372 Mitsubishi

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    I have had to wipe my chainsaw down many times and I used the Isopropyl alcohol but I'm dealing with poison Ivy...so the Sumac maybe a little different.

  5. #5
    Super Member Farmwithjunk's Avatar
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    Mt Washington, Kentucky
    Tractor
    Where do I begin.....

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    Wash with regular household bleach. The wash the bleach off with water. FINALLY, spray everything with WD-40 or plain ol' oil. BTDT.

  6. #6
    Veteran Member
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    NH TC33D Modified with belly pan, limb risers & FOPS for work in the woods

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( I have had to wipe my chainsaw down many times and I used the Isopropyl alcohol but I'm dealing with poison Ivy...so the Sumac maybe a little different. )</font>

    The active ingredient" in Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac or Poison Oak is all the same. So the alccohol should work on sumac if it works on poison ivy.

    I've never had this strong of a reaction before, so I must have really gotten into it. My fingers blistered, dried and flaked off so many times that I had just about no skin left in places... flexing my hands would cause blood to ooze through what few layers of skin I had left. Doctor put me on Prednisone (a steroid) to help get over it.

    I'm going to have to poke around my burn pile before I light it to make sure there is none in there. Since getting this, I've been doing some reading: even if you are not downwind, the urushiol oils get carried off in the smoke and deposited on other things, which can end up causing problems. With two little kids running around, I don't want to take the chance.

    John Mc

  7. #7
    Elite Member RalphVa's Avatar
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    Charlottesville, VA, USA
    Tractor
    JD 2025R, previously Gravely 5650 & JD 4010 & JD 1025R

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    Sounds like you got some good advice.

    I once cut up a tree that had a poison ivy vine wrapped around it. Did it naked, and the chain kicked stuff back onto my body. Got a case of it. It was a rental saw. Think I just turned it in.

    Ralph

  8. #8
    Silver Member
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    Location
    Jackson Co., WV

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( I have had to wipe my chainsaw down many times and I used the Isopropyl alcohol but I'm dealing with poison Ivy...so the Sumac maybe a little different. )</font>

    Agreed. . . except there is no difference between PI and PS when it comes to solulability.
    The problem is you are dealing with an oil which does not disolve in water. Soak the chainsaw in water and it'll just sit there. You'll have to use something that does disolve oil and the most common and one of the most effective is ISOPropyl alocohol (common rubbing alcohol).

  9. #9
    Elite Member
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    Jul 2003
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    Location
    Goffs Corner, KY
    Tractor
    IH 2444

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    Just mail your saw to me, I am immune to the stuff and will take good care of it [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    Ben

    Seriously though a good detergent and pressure washer should take care of it.

    Good luck.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
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    963
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    West Central Idaho
    Tractor
    Kubota L5740HSTC3; B3000HSDCC

    Default Re: Poison Sumac on my Chainsaw

    Urushiol is an oily resin, and as such responds to detergents much better than polar solvents (alcohols). The negative consequence of both (detergents/alcohols) is that using either on urushiol contaminated skin will more than likely disperse the oils and increase the contaminated area. Tecnu is a combination of organic solvents and wood pulp by-products which remove terpene resins and urushiol; it essentially disolves the urushiol into suspension away from the skin, and is then flushed with water still in suspension.

    For surface decon, "painting" the chainsaw with terpentine, and then washing it with a hot sudsy detergent (surfactant) or power washer with detergent, while using proper PPE (personal protective equipment) is a viable method.

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