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Thread: Smoke Oil

  1. #1

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    Smoke Oil

    In looking at some of the flying at Oshkosh, I noticed that large volume of smoke, particularly from some planes like Aeroshell and on some still moist days.

    I wonder what the health aspects of breathing this oil are on people. I've never seen anything on this or any studies of it, but I doubt if it is good for us. As I understand it, corvus oil is just as thin petroleum oil, so the fumes probably have the same harmful effects as any such oil. If it is not good for fish to have oil dumped it the Gulf, how bad is it for people? Normal engine oil has warnings with it that it is harmful and should not be on your skin for long exposure. And many oils,like regular cooking oil become carcogenic if they are heated enough to smoke. I wonder if corvus oil is heated in the exhaust?

    Does anyone have any studies on this? That is facts, not just opinions?
    It seems strange that the EPA goes after exhaust from even lawnmowers, and gas fumes when you pump at the service station, but not this as far as I know.

    Is there any other substance used as smoke oil besides corvus? And is there some no harmful substitue that could be used?
    What so skywriter planes use?

    I am sure someone will say that smoke oil has been used for years in airshows, therefore must be safe. I doubt it. For years, for decades, tobacco smoking went on, even indoors and in cars and around kids, but we now know how harmful it was and is.
    I could watch an airshow act without the smoke just as well.

  2. #2
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    It's the benzopyrenes (and all the related chemicals) that when heated for the HCAs that become problematic especially for the cook or as in asia the patron who is eating while things are being cooked at the table.

    Petroleum products have these in abundance as well. The bigger difference is while you might be inclined to stay close to that sizzling wok of whatever in preparation or anticipation of eating, most people won't tolerate hanging out in visible smoke.

    Cars and just leakage from car related activities (servicing, fueling) dump tons of this stuff into the environment more so than airshows ever will.

    As for alternatives, there all as bad. The common thing other than the Texaco brand Corvus oil is to use light hydraulic oil which you can get at Walmart in 5 gallon buckets (especially in tractor country). The composition is pretty much the same.

    Don't get me started on the tobacco stuff, much of that policy is not based on science but the pariah effect. The issue with second hand smoke is those who are exposed to it are usually in way close proximity for extended periods (living in the same house with a smoker). I'll not digress further in this forum on this subject.

  3. #3

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    Ron, I don't know if hydraulic oil is worse to breathe the fumes than Corvus or engine oil, but it sure smells worse. One of my planes has hydraulic oil powered gear and a small leak stinks for a long time. The engine oil leaks don.t smell great but not as bad.
    I don't know what you mean about smoking dangers "not based on science". Certainly the dangers of smoking, first or second hand are well proven and have been for years, Even tobacco cos don't argue about it anymore.
    Lung cancer is not a myth or opinion , its a fact.
    Sometimes airshow oil smoke seems to disapate int the air, but sometime if the wind is wrong it blows right on the crowd. I"ve seen planes take off with their smoke on and really soak folks and planes nearby. Saw one, probably a CJ or similar do that departing rnwy 9, blew right on the controllers, marshallers and other planes waiting to take off.

  4. #4
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    I'm not saying say the smoking dangers are not based on science, I said the legislation that has been instigated isn't based on the actual science of the data

    However, the issue is that the stuff you can see in the airshow smoke is also being dumped into the air by the normal operation of cars, aircraft, whatever.

  5. #5

    How about soybean oil, or canola oil?

    These are natural biodegradable oils that have found many uses in substitution for petroleum.

  6. #6

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    Here's the MSDS for the AeroShell smoke oil:
    http://www.epc.shell.com/Docs/GSAP_msds_00019493.PDF

    Keep in mind that smoke oil is not being burned, it's being vaporized. If it was burned, the smoke would be black. The high parrafin content causes the very visible white vaporization.

  7. #7

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    I myself have been looking for a decent smoke solution and have done a bit of research and have even experimented
    with various concoctions and alchemy.

    Some wingtip type smoke displays are nothing more than distress smoke canisters.

    These also sublimate as opposed to burn the media that is visible as smoke and are likely not good for your complexion if you wander into a cloud of it.

    I have never heard of a completely non-hazardous type of visible compound that produces a suitable
    trail behind an aircraft.

    Water is about a close to it as you can get but does not seem very practical or satisfactory.

    Vaporized Corvus oil is likely too low in concentration and the exposure too brief to result in any damage.

    A persons risk is much greater from smokers, Coal burning generators (40% of US supplied electricity comes from coal so stop charging your electric cars and be environmentally friendly ) and automobile fumes since you live in those fumes 24/7.

    Ray
    Last edited by jb92563; 10-25-2011 at 02:09 PM.

  8. #8

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    All of the health issues that result from contact with various substances require two factors to actually create a problem. First, the one that we worry about, is the material itself and its properties. The second is length of exposure.

    In the case of smoke oil, it is at its worst only mildly toxic. It is actually formulated as a concrete form release oil. I believe that it is commonly used in construction and if it was a contact hazard, OSHA would be all over it.

    Then there is length of exposure. IF you make a point of going to lots and lots of airshows and positioning yourself so that you breath the maximum amount, you might get yourself a respiratory problem. For all of the other airshow spectators, the exposure is very very small. The performers get the most exposure as it is common for the airplane to suck the smoke into the cockpit through any openings in the lower tail. No reports of awful health issues that can be traced to breathing vaporized Canopus oil.

    Any alternative is much more expensive. And Canopus oil is not cheap as it is.

    Wingtip smokes are all pyrotechnic to the best of my knowledge. All of the smoke generators that I have used combust inside the canister and get very hot externally while making smoke. Do NOT recommend them for casual use.

    Regards,

    Wes
    N78PS
    Last edited by WLIU; 10-26-2011 at 06:17 AM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by WLIU View Post
    Wingtip smokes are all pyrotechnic to the best of my knowledge. N78PS
    Wes, I think Herb Baker's system on his T28 uses wingtip heaters and regular smoke oil

  10. #10

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    T-28's have a pretty good electrical system so I will believe that you could run some pretty good power out to the wingtips to generate smoke. The jet acts can also do that as well. And I gather that the jets also can get enough exhaust heat into the chemistry of the process to generate centerline colored smoke. Different colors are different chemistries.

    That said, the more common airshow acts rely on pyro on their wingtips with electrical firing systems.

    Enjoy the show.

    Wes
    N78PS

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