type blight/oxidized type

I am a new printer. I have been given font that I think is oxidized. It is not severely oxidized as the face of the type is still in good shape and prints nicely. Most of the type is dulled a matte grayish white color on all sides, and feels like it has a slightly textured coating on it that does not rub or wash off. However, I am wondering a couple of things.
1-When I hear the word “blight”, it makes me wonder….Does type blight spread to other type? I plan to keep my type in a climate controlled area. But, will it spread to other type?

2-If I scrap some of the type, is the oxidized types’ drawer now contaminated and should it not be used?

3-If I use the oxidized type that is in good shape, and can refrain from sucking on it, while remembering to wash my hands, I don’t need to worry about its toxicity?

4-Will the blight be halted on type it has already impacted just by keeping in a more climate controlled space?

Thanks for the input.


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I don’t worry about it too much. I tend to just use it and clean it when necessary.
I keep a piece of denim cloth handy or even very fine sandpaper, and if it seems like the piece that I pull out of the case has enough oxidation, or gunk on the side to effect the spacing or otherwise not wanting to play nice with the adjacent piece, I’ll rub the gunk off. That goes for the feet as well.
You could take the time and clean each piece, and I have been known to do that if it’s special enough to me, but otherwise I just use it and clean it as I go.

I’m not sure how contagious the condition is, but I doubt that it passes to other types in the way you may be imagining.


What you describe sounds like Lead Oxide - which is a white powder, and is poisonous to breathe or ingest.

Handled carefully, your type can be cleaned and stabilized. I believe you soak it in a white vinegar solution, then brush lightly with a soft brush to remove all of the “dust”. Rinse with mineral spirits, and then apply a thin coating of light machine oil to protect your type from further oxidization.

There is a lot of information on cleaning oxidized type here:


Drop it in a jar of vinegar and leave to soak for a few days ,
rinse of with water and dry off in an oven and it will be useable, the only thing i wouldnt do is breathe the dust in so rinse it rather than brush it , the dust is toxic enough that you would be safer eating the type itself !!
you can hoover the case out ,it will be ok .
The term blight is just a name for it being a pain in the proverbial, it does not spread and if you dont clean type to the spotless degree you are unlikely to see it again , however new type must be kept away from high humidity as it will oxidise more quickly until its got a bit greasy with use .

You could protect type with anti oxidant spray, thats the stuff printers spray the ink train with and duct to prevent ink drying on the machine if they have to leave inked up for any period of time.

joyr et al.:

re lead oxide, try a few in ultra-sonic cleaning bath?


BillWhitley: Thanks. If I treat the type with light machine oil, do I need to worry about the oil transferring to printed paper?

Peter Luckhurst: Have you used the anti-oxidant spray yourself? Googling for it here in the states doesn’t get me much. Just lotions for preventing facial wrinkles!!!

Anti oxidant to a printer is an ink retarder and prevents skinning of ink , i dont think i would want it on the night stand regardless of how ugly im becoming!! I do use it ,for many things one is for storing numbering boxes as i find it is easily wiped with a dry rag to get it off the face of my boxes and once run up colour the box soon accepts the ink unlike ordinary thin oils !
You should be able to get it through your chem supplier to the print trade unless of course its outlawed there .

joyr, in the trade here in the usa it’s called
antiskin I think varn markets it. best james

Just make sure the antiskin doesn’t contain a vegetable oil. I used some of Daniel Smith’s antiskin spray for just this purpose. It contains soy oil, and after just a few weeks my type smelled rancid and the sorts were stuck hard together.


Type will stick together when fresh off the caster sometimes ,i think it occurs from the caster oil they use to lube the crucible when they clean up , it is one of the things we just lived with, never thought about the smell as in a works you dont expect rose odour to be honest ! I will look at the anti skin i use and add it here in the next few days it smells ok almost like WD 40 , i cant add the supplier as they are a small independant but i will find the manufacturer and you can chase it up . I did not realise Varn were american however having said that i do know Varn dampening systems are american and have no Idea how i did not put the two together, Probably having a dense head moment .

I am using “platekote” by Mosstype in uk for spraying onto polymer plates to prevent oxidisation/water adsorption, it is a very lightweight mineral oil, lighter than WD40,so it might be useful for spraying onto moveable type for similar purpose, very easily wiped off too-experiment?

Thanks, Peter and jonathanjeclipse. I forgot to add that since the antiskin debacle, I’ve been spritzing squeaky-clean type with a solution of about 10% 3-in-One in odorless mineral spirits, and that has worked just fine. Any residue easily wipes clean with typewash prior to printing.