Notes:  1)  This is a handout  from a class on ivory bleaching which was presented over
                  five years ago, so the model numbers on the black light my no longer apply.
            2)  All chemicals were purchased from a local scientific supplier.
            3)  This page is posted temporarily as a courtesy to "Pianotech List," and is intended
                 not to be easily accessible to the general public from other areas of this web site.

                     "IVORY BLEACHING PROCEDURE"

1)  Clean ivory keytops using a soft cloth, slightly moistened
      with water and a little liquid hand soap.

2)  Lightly sand the keytops with 320 grit sandpaper.

3)  Insert two (4 foot long) Sylvania 350, 40 watt Black lights
     (Serial # F40/350BL) into a fluorescent shop light fixture.

4)  Prop up the light fixture on two small sections of wood.
     (2 X 4's are recommended.)
     The light fixture should rest on the 4 inch dimension.
      (Use your browser's BACK button to return to this page from the photos.)
      Photo 1    Photo 2

5)  Prepare a solution of 35% of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2),
     in a pump spray bottle.
     (Note:  A weaker mixture of H202 can be used  for a slower process.)

6)  Put on safety goggles and a respirator mask.

7)  Spray a fine mist of the Hydrogen Peroxide mixture over the ivory
     keytops.  Turn on the Black lights and place the keys underneath
     the light fixture.  WARNING!  Although this type of ultraviolet
     light source is supposed to be relatively safe, avoid looking
     directly at it.  Ultraviolet light has been shown to cause

8)  Keep checking the keytops over the next few hours.  As the
     Hydrogen Peroxide dries, you will need to re-wet the surface of
     the ivory from time to time.  Continue for at least 24 hours...
     at your leisure... i.e.: There's no need to stay up all night in
     order to "dose" the ivory.

9)  Generally, satisfactory results are achieved in about 48 - 72
     hours.  The bleaching that actually takes place is more a
     function of the amount of Hydrogen Peroxide applied than of the
     length of time the ivory spends under the light.  It will do no
     harm to leave the keys under the light for long periods of time.
     In fact, the light should be left on at all times during the
     bleaching procedure.  Leave the light on over night.


    a) If the grain in the ivory begins to look extremely white...
    b) If the ivory begins to look like a "bleached out" Sand Dollar
       on the beach...
    c) If the ivory is already thin and begins to crack or lift...
    d) If the Hydrogen Peroxide on top of the key starts to look
       "foamy" or "bubbly"...
    e) If in doubt...  STOP!!!

        Remember that You can always proceed further,
        but you can't undo what you've already done.

11) When you're satisfied with the bleaching that has taken place,
       turn off the light, remove the keys, and clean the residue off
       of the ivory with a damp cloth.

12) Sand the tops of each key with 400 grit sandpaper in order to
      smooth out any rippling or pitting caused by the bleaching

13)  Buff keytops.  You're finished.


As stated above, the ultraviolet light source used in this procedure
has the potential of damaging your eyesight.  It would be wise to
wear sunglasses with verified U/V protection, or to build your light
source with U/V protective film available from "Edmund Scientific".

Hydrogen Peroxide, in concentrations of this magnitude
can be extremely dangerous... EVEN EXPLOSIVE.  Follow all
warning labels closely.  Use with adequate: Eye, Respiratory, and
Skin protection.
If in doubt, tell your supplier what you intend doing
with it and ask them for their advice on safe handling.


U/V PROTECTIVE FILM:       Edmund Scientific Co.
                                                 101 E. Gloucester Pike
                                                 Barrington, NJ  08007  (USA)
                                                 Ph #  1-(856) 573-6240