How to Clean a Glass Bottle That was Burned in a Fire

Jane asked: How can I clean a glass bottle that has been burned in a fire? The bottle is old, and we would like to keep it. However, it was put in a pile of trash and burned.

The condition of glass after a fire will have a lot of bearing on how well it cleans up. Unfortunately, you can’t always tell if there’s damage until it’s too late. Always use extreme caution when cleaning glass that’s been in a fire, especially in the early stages when soot is still thick, and follow these steps. If restoration is possible, here’s how to get results.

You Will Need:

Steps to Clean the Glass:

  1. First, fill a heavy rubber or plastic tub with enough alkaline liquid detergent to submerge the glass bottle. Follow the label directions to determine the proper solution strength and if dilution is required. Always wear eye protection and gloves when working with chemicals.
  2. Soak the glass bottle in the alkaline solution for about 15 minutes.
  3. Use a scouring pad and/or bottle brush to remove as much of the soot as possible. Re-soak the glass if necessary.
  4. Rinse well with clean water.
  5. Wash the glass bottle with a mild dish detergent. Use a scouring pad on the outside and a bottle brush inside.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. Once rinsed, you will be able to evaluate the progress from the cleaning.
  7. Repeat as needed.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • For best results, start cleaning fire damaged glass as soon as possible (but only after it has cooled completely from the fire).
  • Sometimes fire damaged glass can break when cleaned. If the glass reached a high temperature, fractures may occur during the cooling process. The fractures are usually hidden by soot and cause the glass to fall apart during cleaning.
  • If soot is left on glass for any length of time, the acids in the soot can etch or cause the glass to cloud. This is not something you can remove or fix.
  • If the neck of the bottle is too small for a bottle brush, and you’re having trouble getting the inside clean, try adding uncooked rice to the bottle along with cleaning solution. Shake vigorously and allow to set. Repeat as needed. It may take several repetitions, but the rice will scour the inside of the bottle clean.
  • Alternatively, you could try a commercial soot remover such as Speedy White.

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