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Ceramic molds smell like cigarette smoke

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We just acquired well over 300 plaster molds of a variety of sizes.  They had been from a previous shop owner who had retired, but kept all the molds in her basement.  When we came to pick them up, they had been moved outdoors.  When we got them home and loaded them in our garage, we planned the next day to move them down to our basement.  The next morning when we opened the garage door, it was filled with the smell of stale cigarettes.  All the molds have absorbed a few years of cigarette smoke.

I know you can clean plaster walls with vinegar.  Can I wipe down the outside of the molds with vinegar without damaging them.  Many of them are older.  ages range from 1975 to 1996 .  The interior of the molds are in really good shape.  Outsides are mostly in good shape, a few bumps and scratches from the years.  

Any suggestions would be appreciated.  This is but a small sampling of them.

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I have read that zeolite (used in pool filters and as a horse stable deodorizer) is effective. You have so many that it would take quite a while for the technique of stacking (plugged up?) with spacers into a bag or barrel and filling it with zeolite, sealing up for a few days. The zeolite can be "renewed" by one or two days in the sunlight and reused. If they are still hard to live with after MarkC's method and they can't be stored outside for long you might invest in a 40# bag. You might even try sprinkling the molds outdoors in the sunlight with the zeolite. (???)

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Sunshine & fresh air are probably your best option.  

If you're going to try vinegar - start slow, and test on one or two first before you do the whole batch..  It might be acidic enough to damage the plaster.  (Plaster walls usually have paint on the by the time you want/need to clean them - so you're putting vinegar on the paint, not on the plaster itself)

You might also want to try a product called Zorbex.  I've never used it on plaster - but it worked well on wood furniture that came from the home of a smoker. 

No matter what you use, don't be surprised if the odor returns the first time you actually use the molds, as the water from your slip works its way through the plaster and re-moistens the smoke residue.

 

 

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Just came across this in an article on removing thrift store smell from clothes that can be washed:

 A better, if offbeat, choice is Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. Dr. Bronner’s is excellent at removing strong odors of all sorts from clothes — I’ve recommended it for washing everything from hand-me-down baby clothes that smell strongly of perfume to coveralls that got soaked in gasoline, and it has worked every time.

washing and rinsing the molds and letting them dry banded and on slats or racks in the shade is worth a try if you're like me and always have Dr Bronners around. 

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