Author Topic: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!  (Read 930 times)

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Offline blowharp

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Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« on: November 27, 2022, 11:33:50 AM »
I have quite a few senior chromatic customers all with the same problem. They over salivate to the point of clogging the reed slots or weighing down the valves so they pop. After talking to several of them, I kinda sized up being a wet player to possibly being the medications they are taking. It's been a long slow process trying to find alternatives such as switching out harps about every 20 minutes to half hour to let the moisture dry out.  Don't play the same harmonica until problems arise, nip it early by allowing for dry time.

The next thing is the residue that builds up on the reeds and valves. I have a customer now who has Long Covid and is very congested and gunks up their harps constantly. They are also on medications which compound the problem. On top of that they were using the wrong type of dish soap. You do not want to use any which contain aloe or moisturizing oils such as coconut, shea, olive oil or any other oil.  Great for hands but not for reeds and valves. Everything going on with the players chromatics was a Trifeca for failure to work.

(Btw, I'm very careful with all repairs since Covid. I let the boxes sit for a minimum of 2 weeks before opening then dispose of the box and packing material immediately. Then a sanitizing process takes place).

After cleaning the reedplates in a soapy ultrasonic bath and properly drying the plates the reeds still stuck even after removing the windsavers.  I was reminded of some methods of cleaning that were recommended so I tried it adding my own variation. 

It starts by placing the plates in the bottom of the dry ultrasonic cleaner and pouring Palmolive "pure and clear" over them. Then pouring distilled white vinegar to cover the plates about an inch. You can also use Lemon juice but white vinegar may be more cost saving.   No need for water.   Run the cleaner for about 8 minutes flipping the plates over half way through the process.  Then rinse the plates in warm running water careful that the valves are facing downward.  Shake off excess water and pat dry or blow dry on a cool setting.

  The vinegar did not hurt or remove the valves on the Japanese plates and there is no vinegar odor afterwards. I'm guessing the vinegar would also work great at removing the dry film on slide assemblies as well.  If you don't own an ultrasonic cleaner a bath in white vinegar might be a way for you to better clean your harps.
The acid in the vinegar can breakdown the dry mucous while soapy water can pull it away from the parts and warm water to rinse off the remaining.

If you find after cleaning your harps that they tend to gunk up right away it could be you aren't fully removing the dried "blob."

Mike
www.CustomChromatics.com

Offline SlimHeilpern

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2022, 11:59:46 AM »
Thanks for that very informative post Mike!

Is there a particular ultrasonic cleaner that you'd recommend?

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Offline blowharp

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2022, 01:02:11 PM »
I found the Harbor Freight model to be very good and very long lasting. I've had mine for over 20 years and still going strong. It occasionally makes a weird noise but that hasn't happened in awhile. It has a built in timer you can set up to 8 minutes and a built in heater that really gets the solution hot. Too hot for valved reedplates though.

https://www.harborfreight.com/25-liter-ultrasonic-cleaner-63256.html

Mike
www.CustomChromatics.com

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2022, 01:47:52 PM »
Thanks for the info. I printed it out, just in case. So far, after playing chromatics about 5 years, I've cleaned a slide a couple times and a few valves once or twice. Guess I have lucky chemistry. Always warm them first, air them out after, and brush my teeth while the harps are warming. Stay hydrated with plain water. For longer playing sessions a second harp is also warmed up. No problems.
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Offline Age

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2022, 05:09:13 PM »
Good stuff, Mike! Thanx!

I'll bet the vinegar cleans up the brass nice too. :)

I've seen more of those gunky jobs than I care to talk about. (made me wanna don has-mat gear and pick them up with tongs) :P

My "go-to" (simple) answer for minimizing the "gunk" factor, is NOT to make like a blues player, and play "down" into the instrument to look cool. It'll probably happen anyway, but simply keeping your head up while playing can seriously lessen the old "spit in yer harumka" malady. Just sayin'
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2022, 08:08:35 PM »
I've been trying to gently convey to people who complain about gunk buildup in their chromatics about possible changes in
their medications for YEARS' now. I guess some don't really consider themselves as part of that particular group who might
have those kinds of issues, unfortunately. I cannot imagine having to be the one cleaning that kind of stuff out of someone
else's instruments. That would be a hard-pass for me. Give you a lot of credit, Mike.

scotty

Offline brorat

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2022, 08:19:36 PM »
My medication issue is opposite to the “sloppy” version.
I’m fighting early RA in my fingers. I’m currently on Prednisone and Methotrexate. Both of these cause my lips to be drier than normal. Usually, I’m a pretty “dry” player anyway. These meds (effective and needed!) make things even drier.
I find that hydration is key. Not just sipping water while playing (though that helps some), but really being fully hydrated. I try to drink at least 64 oz of water daily. Some days I fail. But it makes a difference.
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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2022, 05:19:31 PM »
I've also been singing the praises of drinking copious amounts of water here as well (for many years, in fact). All in the
archives. I also sip during playing, and before and after. While at SPAH (and other Conventions) they provide pitchers of
iced water and plenty of disposable cups (I guess they know)!

scotty

Offline blowharp

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2022, 06:36:43 PM »
Good stuff, Mike! Thanx!

I'll bet the vinegar cleans up the brass nice too. :)

I've seen more of those gunky jobs than I care to talk about. (made me wanna don has-mat gear and pick them up with tongs) :P

My "go-to" (simple) answer for minimizing the "gunk" factor, is NOT to make like a blues player, and play "down" into the instrument to look cool. It'll probably happen anyway, but simply keeping your head up while playing can seriously lessen the old "spit in yer harumka" malady. Just sayin'

Yes, Age, I used it on a very early 260 chromatic yesterday and it shined up nice. I think it's better than plain soap for cleaning plates and slide assemblies of human DNA and dirt.

Mike
www.CustomChromatics.com

Offline blowharp

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2022, 06:42:08 PM »
My medication issue is opposite to the “sloppy” version.
I’m fighting early RA in my fingers. I’m currently on Prednisone and Methotrexate. Both of these cause my lips to be drier than normal. Usually, I’m a pretty “dry” player anyway. These meds (effective and needed!) make things even drier.
I find that hydration is key. Not just sipping water while playing (though that helps some), but really being fully hydrated. I try to drink at least 64 oz of water daily. Some days I fail. But it makes a difference.

Have you tried using lemon juice in your water?  I started drinking it and it helps with my dry mouth at night.  I pour a little "Real Lemon" in my ice water when playing. It's kind of a natural cleaner and may help reduce gunk buildup in the harp while moisturizing your mouth.  Just don't use lemonade. You don't want sugar.

Mike
www.CustomChromatics.com

Offline Age

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2022, 08:22:20 PM »
Good stuff, Mike! Thanx!

I'll bet the vinegar cleans up the brass nice too. :)

I've seen more of those gunky jobs than I care to talk about. (made me wanna don has-mat gear and pick them up with tongs) :P

My "go-to" (simple) answer for minimizing the "gunk" factor, is NOT to make like a blues player, and play "down" into the instrument to look cool. It'll probably happen anyway, but simply keeping your head up while playing can seriously lessen the old "spit in yer harumka" malady. Just sayin'

Yes, Age, I used it on a very early 260 chromatic yesterday and it shined up nice. I think it's better than plain soap for cleaning plates and slide assemblies of human DNA and dirt.

Mike
www.CustomChromatics.com

Just for giggles, I used ketchup/catsup/whatever on an old suck-harp with the same results. (only issue was that it took a bit more cleaning to make the thing taste less like a hot dog or french fries, etc.
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Offline Lockjaw Larry

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Re: Saliva, spit and mucous oh my!
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2022, 09:34:59 PM »
My kidney stone remover doctor recommended I drink four ounces of lemon juice daily.  It’s a difficult regime but I try most days.  To Mikes point, I do not notice a significant difference in my lip slipperiness or saliva production.  Recently I cleaned then polished a few mouthpieces with Flitz and MAAS and noticed they seem less slippery afterwards.  I don’t know if the residue left after polishing or the lemony lips affected the friction.
No, my wife doesn’t call me “ sweet lips”.  Nor “ sour puss”.  Thankfully
But she does require I give her no lip. 
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