Portland cement is a caustic ingredient and can burn skin. Always follow these hypertufa safety guidelines!
The first important piece of hypertufa safety information I will give you is this: it’s important that you fully understand that working with the products used to create any hypertufa mixture requires that you pay strong attention to safety and health matters — yours and anyone else’s who may be assisting you.
Not only do you need to familiarize yourself with the chemical properties of the various ingredients, but also the environmental issues that pertain to the ingredients.
Read the labels. Heed the warnings about safely handling them. And another thing … Mother Nature needs to be protected too, so please dispose of left-over ‘tufa mixtures properly.
Protection is the Key: What You’ll Need
Let me share the hypertufa safety issues you should keep in mind EVERY time before you start mixing up your recipe. The experts kindly share this knowledge. Beginners who are learning to work with ‘tufa have no excuse to not pay attention to what’s been handed down!
Now, I may be repeating myself a bit here, but I cannot stress it enough … please protect yourself.
Hypertufa Safety Steps That You Should Always Practice!
• Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
The nature of a hypertufa project is going to be somewhat messy. Wear protective clothing, whether mixing a batch of hypertufa or finishing off your garden art object. A lot of dust can penetrate your clothing when you’re mixing. You can drop globs of the wet mixture on yourself. It’s also recommended to launder your work clothes right after you’re done … it’s easier to try and remove moist hypertufa than it is dried ‘tufa.
• Wear waterproof gloves!
I’m telling you … do not even think of handling the dry or wet ingredients unless you are wearing waterproof gloves! No ifs ands or buts! The caustic nature of some of the ingredients is not skin-friendly. Working bare handed will result in you suffering “burned” skin or worse, broken and bleeding skin. Wear heavy-duty rubber dish gloves (or similar) when you’re mixing your dry ingredients and the wet mixture. Only use the thinner, latex-type disposable gloves for when you are doing more intricate finishing of your object.
Another caution: even handling hypertufa that has cured enough to unmold but is still damp can cause skin burns. Wear rubber gloves at all times!
• Wear a fine-particle dust mask when mixing the dry ingredients!
Warning: The dust from any ‘tufa mixture is very caustic and definitely can damage your lungs if you breathe it in. Think about this … when you mix dry cement with water, it starts to harden almost immediately. This is due to a chemical reaction. So, if you breathe in cement dust, it will naturally mix with the moisture in your lungs and that “hardening chemical reaction” will start to take place. Awful thought. Wear a mask … please.
Now, once you’ve got everything mixed and have added the water, then you can take off your mask. It’s perfectly OK to work without it during the molding or forming of your object.
Remember … Hypertufa Safety is Your First Concern!
• Last but not least … yes you should wear safety goggles!
You should always wear safety goggles when measuring, pouring, or mixing hypertufa ingredients. It’s very important to protect your eyes from the caustic nature of the ingredients. I’ve already explained this above. Add protecting your eyes to the list of hypertufa making “dos”.
Though most people do not wear their goggles when applying the wet mixture to their mold, most will put them back on when finishing a project, as when you are wire brushing or aggressively scraping the surface. A flying bit of cured ‘tufa in your eye can STING!
• If you’re working on a project indoors …
A final bit of advice I almost forgot … if you are working with hypertufa in an enclosed area, please make sure you’ve got good ventilation. And you’ll want to take off your shoes before entering your home … no sense in tracking in cement dust. Of course, all the other “rules” discussed above still apply.
Alright, you’ve been told!
Now you can start getting your hands, err I mean YOUR GLOVES, dirty!