The customary means to clean bare fibers is with alcohol and wipes. However, high purity isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is hygroscopic: it attracts moisture to itself. This is problematic as IPA is either procured in pre-saturated wiper format or in (host) containers ranging for USA quart to gallon to drums. From the host container the IPA is transferred to smaller more usable containers. The hydroscopic nature of IPA is such that the highest quality at 99.9% is also the most hygroscopic. This means that moisture absorption into both the host container as well as the actual user’s container begins with the time the original container is opened and continues as amounts are transferred and removed from both.

A 2003 laboratory study by ITW Chemtronics noted that 99.9% IPA began to absorb moisture (at 72F and 65% Relative Humidity) within fifteen minutes. Since there is no provision to deter this, this unique quality of IPA makes it less desirable than chemicals such as HFE-7100 based products or precision hydrocarbons. There is work being done to qualify aqueous based cleaners for this application.

Fiber Optic Cleaning Tools