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    Retr0Bright Gel

    Making the Retr0bright Gel

    You are warned that hydrogen peroxide is very nasty stuff and can cause severe chemical burns to skin and can also cause blindness if splashed into the eyes, if handled incorrectly. Usually, you can’t buy stronger than 12% over the counter, as this is the maximum strength sold to the public and is used to bleach hair. If you want to try this, I would strongly suggest that you wear goggles and gloves to protect yourself.

    Merlin's Original Recipe

    The original magical "Retr0bright" gel mixture that was found to work is:-

    1 pint (500ml) Hydrogen Peroxide, 10 to 15% strength (40 vol) (available from hairdressers' supplies, e.g. the 'Sally Beauty' franchise in the UK)
    2 heaped tablespoonfuls of Xanthan Gum (available from health food shops or online)
    1 level teaspoonful of Glycerine (available from pharmacies)
    1/4 teaspoonful of "Oxy" laundry booster

    Add the Hydrogen Peroxide and Xanthan Gum to the blender or liquidiser. Mix on high speed for 5 seconds. Add the Glycerine and mix for a further 5 seconds. Let the mixture rest for a minute then mix again for 5 seconds. A smooth, non-drip gel should have formed. This gel can be put into a dark coloured jar or tub (e.g. a coffee jar covered in tape) and stored, as long as you DON’T add the “Oxy” until you are ready to use it.

    Lorne's Variant Recipe

    Lorne at Vintage Computer Forums prefers to use stronger Hydrogen Peroxide and his variant recipe is below.

    1/2 pint (200ml) Hydrogen Peroxide, 30% strength
    2 level teaspoons of Xanthan Gum
    1 level teaspoon of Glycerine
    1/4 teaspoonful of Oxy laundry booster
    1 teaspoonful hot (not boiling) water

    In a very small ceramic or plastic bowl/dish, dissolve the Oxy in the hot water. Lorne found that the Oxy doesn’t want to dissolve in the paste/gel very well – this premixture of the Oxy fixed that problem. While the Oxy is dissolving, mix the Hydrogen Peroxide and Xanthan gum in the blender for five seconds. Add the Glycerine to that mixture and blend for another five seconds.
    Let this mixture sit for five minutes.Blend for another five seconds.

    Just before you apply the gel, thoroughly stir in by hand, the dissolved Oxy/water mix.

    Tezza's Arrowroot Variant Recipe

    Tezza at Vintage Computer Forums came up with a variation of the original recipe, based on another starchy food thickener called Arrowroot. Also, Tezza's recipe doesn't use glycerine. Trials have found the arrowroot-based paste dries out more quickly than the Xanthan gum/glycerine mixture in the recipes above and requires more frequent re-application. However, Arrowroot tends to be easier to find than Xanthan gum and is a workable alternative where this is the case.

    The addition of glycerine may held to slow the drying processes but Tezza has not tried this at the time of writing.

    Tezza's recipe is listed below. Note that Oxy-Magic could probably be replaced by any "oxy-type" laundry activator.

    1/2 pint (200 ml) Hydrogen Peroxide, 6% strength (available from most Pharmacies as a hair bleach or antiseptic)
    2 heaped tablespoonfuls of "White Crest" Arrowroot
    1/5 teaspoonful of "Oxi-Magic" laundry booster (to be added to the gel just before use, like the original recipe)

    If you use Arrowroot, you will need to heat the mixture. Don't worry, this is safe to do. Tezza suggests warming the mixture up in a microwave oven for about 45 seconds, based on a 750 Watt microwave oven, you may need to adjust the timings based on the wattage of your microwave. He strongly suggests that you do this in 15 second bursts and check the consistency after each burst. It's ready when is appears as a gel. Sprinkle in the Oxi-magic and stir vigorously with a spoon. This will also help thin the mixture so it can be brushed on.

    Foaming when adding Oxi-Magic is related to how hot the mixture is and the concentration of peroxide. Usually the foaming is mild but if ithe mixture is hot and higher concentrations of peroxide have been used, the reaction can be vigourous. It would pay to let it cool first.

    Other Gelling Agents

    Other starchy thickeners such as corn starch, guar gum or even wallpaper paste may work. If you find another thickening agent that gives good results for you, let us know via the discussions tab and we will add your recipe to the Wiki.

    Other Ingredients

    If you decide to try other ingredients which have not been mentioned here, please be aware that you are out on your own and we cannot be held accountable for the results. Hydrogen Peroxide can react violently with some materials and you are strongly advised to do some reading around and research first. The recipes stated above have been thoroughly tested and are safe to prepare as long as the instructions are carefully followed.

    If buying hydrogen peroxide from a pharmacy or hairdressers, check to make sure it has no other additives. All you want is diluted hydrogen peroxide (typically 3% to 12%). Additives may lead to unpredicable results. Lorne has tried a hair bleach product and he found that a solvent called terpene was present in the list of ingredients; when this was tried there was some evidence of the product attacking the surface which was particularly visible on dark coloured parts. A picture of the problem is posted in the Problems and pitfalls section
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    Using Retr0Bright Gel

    To ensure the best results, you are advised to wash the parts first, to remove any polishes or other deposits that may lead to patchy results. Tezza put his parts through a dishwasher on a cool cycle.

    Just before you paint the gel onto the parts, add Ľ teaspoonful of any “Oxy” type laundry booster and stir it in throroughly, and then put the parts under a UV lamp or out in the sun.

    A day or so later, your parts should be as good as new, wash the gel off and that’s it! It may take another treatment for the worst yellowing to be reversed but in all cases it will eventually be successful. To permanently prevent the yellowing from returning, just coat the parts with a clear acrylic varnish. Alternatively, you could use a protective polish such as Armor-All or Autoglym to provide a UV protectant to the surface.

    Here are some of the other projects that were treated as part of the experiments.

    Figures 5 and 6. A Commodore VIC-20 and an Atari 130XE, both treated by Tezza of Vintage Computer Forums.

    Figures 7 and 8. An Apple Mackintosh treated by Krye of Vintage Computer Forums.

    Merlin sums things up;

    “There were an incredible number of people at first that said this was impossible – that was until they saw the pictures, then tried it and proved it for themselves. The usual reaction was ‘No way!’ then ‘WOW!!’.

    This has been a truly global effort by retro enthusiasts and has proved to work on Commodore, Atari, Osborne, Apple and other machines and the work still continues on various forums worldwide. As long as you protect yourself against the hydrogen peroxide, this is pretty goof proof and I hope that others get to see the amazing effect we spent so much time working to achieve.”