What's the deal with TWSBI pens and alcohol? I know they say not to use it, I can't for the life of me figure out why:
The pens are (according to what I read on TWSBI's blog) made from polycarbonate. Isopropanol will not harm polycarbonate, as I've been using it to clean my polycarbonate glasses and safety glasses for years. A solution of isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) and deionized water is industry standard for cleaning lenses, including those made from polycarbonate, as well as the frames, of any material.
Isopropanol is not known to harm most plastics. I've actually never met one that didn't tolerate it.
There is a coating baked onto the polycarbonate, according to TWSBI's blog. I don't know what this coating is. I would think it would be similar to that used in the manufacture of polycarbonate lenses, which again, is not harmed by isopropanol. Nor are the incredibly delicate coatings on camera lenses and the like, which are also cleaned using a solution of isopropanol. However I have no idea about this coating and without knowing what it is, there's no way to research it (other than experiments that I'm not willing to do with my Eco).
Contrary to what has been stated in some places, rubbing alcohol does NOT contain acetone. Acetone is a very different chemical which does indeed dissolve plastic. Acetone is present in nail polish remover, but not rubbing alcohol (which is a high percentage of isopropanol in water, usually around 90%. This is harsher than the 70% which is pretty standard for use such as cleaning lenses, however I wouldn't expect 70% to be safe and 90% to start melting things in this case. I could be wrong here.) Rubbing alcohol also sometimes contains fragrance depending on the manufacturer. I think I had some that was wintergreen scented one time.
So what gives? The reason I ask is twofold- one, scientific curiosity. Two, the #1 solvent used at work, to clean everything, including numerous varied types of plastic and rubber, is 70% isopropanol. This is important to note if I would ever bring a TWSBI pen to work, which may influence my buying of TWSBI pens because inadvertent exposure (I don't mean "soaking in") is imminent. Since wiping a pen down with 70% isopropanol (another of our standard practices, although I don't use my fountain pens in the "everything that enters this room must be cleaned with isopropanol before crossing the tape line on the floor" area...I use whatever ballpoints are already in the room.) does absolutely no harm whatsoever to the cheapest ballpoint you can find, even the ones with rubber grips, I'd be amazed if it would destroy a $50 pen.
Does anyone know what's going on here, or have real world experience with it? Or perhaps more interestingly, does anyone have a broken TWSBI laying around that they're willing to experiment on?