Terpenes are organic solvents that are usually derived from natural sources such as pine trees or citrus fruit. They generally have strong characteristic odors. Specific terpenes used in cleaning are à-pinene, d-limonene, and turpentine, which is a mixture of terpenes. Terpenes are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are flammable or combustible. Terpenes are good solvents for rosin fluxes, fingerprints, heavy petroleum greases, and oils. They can be used as a component of semiaqueous cleaning solutions or by themselves. Terpenes are strong solvents and are not compatible with some elastomers. They can be used with immersion and ultrasonic systems, often working well at room temperature. Because terpenes may produce explosive mists when sprayed, they should only be used in spray applications with proper safety precautions, such as inert gas blanketing.
In semi-aqueous systems, the terpene can often be separated and reused. Terpenes are considered biodegradable, but should not be sent to the drain. One method of disposal is by incineration at an approved facility.
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