Tritium paint


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jrfoxx
December 3, 2005, 12:11 AM
Does anyone know of a source for buying tritium paint, or its equivalant? searches on forums and google yield nothing. I'm not looking for the types of paint that need to absorb light for 'recharging' (not practical for a home/selfdefense gun). Is there some regulation on this stuff that makes us not be able to buy it?

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nfl1990
December 3, 2005, 12:21 AM
what would you use tritium paint for?

I wouldn't think their would regs against it as you can get tritium sights for guns.

hso
December 3, 2005, 12:29 AM
junior,

It's the NRC that says you can't have it because it's, y'know, radioactive.

Grape Ape
December 3, 2005, 12:52 AM
The fact that it is used in the triggering mechanism in fusion bombs may cause Uncle Sugar to restrict the sale of half-gallon cans. And the fact that it is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that behaves similarly to hydrogen probably makes it difficult and dangerous to paint with.

jrfoxx
December 3, 2005, 12:56 AM
I fully understand the responses given, but if it's 'controlled' and/or 'dangerous', how do the companies who make tritium sights get it? Cant be TOO controlled or TOO hard to get, or all these watch, gun, etc companies couldnt get it to put on the products they sell us.

Kurush
December 3, 2005, 12:58 AM
It would also be extremely expensive and could kill you if you inhaled paint vapor.

Alan Fud
December 3, 2005, 01:17 AM
So if I break my night sights, I could die if I inhale the radioactive hydrogen? Am I understanding this correctly?

jkswiss
December 3, 2005, 01:21 AM
Um no. Probably not. I doubt the amount of tritium in that little sight of yours would do much. Anyone ever put a radiac to their sights?
A half gallon of tritium "paint" might kill you though. Theoretically, you probably could use some tritium paint on your sights and glaze it over with some kind of clear coat. You do want to be careful. Tritium is what they used to make the dials glow on them old school watches. A lot of the vast majority of the people that used to paint the dials on them watches died later on as a result of exposure. So its not a quick thing, but a gradual thing.

1911_sfca
December 3, 2005, 01:22 AM
There's a huge difference between a very small capsule, placed inside a steel sight, and PAINT....

Joejojoba111
December 3, 2005, 01:23 AM
Not that bad, but there's still special procedures to be used. It's a liquid in glass bubbles, so you break it there will be a bit of liquid. Put the unit in a plastic bag, and ask for further instruction. Avoid touching as much as possible, and definately don't touch your face or anything like that until you are definately clean. Maybe mark the area so they can bag up that area of dirt and dispose of it too.

Might be a bit of an extreme reaction, but it's feasible so go ahead and be safe to the extreme, the only excuse not to is laziness.

Technosavant
December 3, 2005, 01:27 AM
Tritium is radioactive, but it isn't THAT nasty. Not all kinds of radioactivity are alike, and if tritium were that ugly, you can bet it wouldn't be in watches or gunsights. However, in the past, people have gotten nasty mouth cancers because as they painted with tritium-laced paint, they licked the painbrushes.

Oops.

However, any radioactive product is subject to certain specific regulations and controls. I don't know exactly what is required for tritium, but the average joe isn't able to deal with it.

And the one big dealbreaker: It is frighteningly expensive in any significant quantity. Tritium is very unstable (half-life of 12.3 years, IIRC- after 12.3 years, half of it is tritium, half is an isotope of helium), so you can't exactly stockpile it and it isn't found in nature. I am no expert, but I would think that the only way to make it is by neutron bombardment (getting hydrogen to accept 2 more neutrons isn't something done in your basement), and equipment for that sort of thing is also VERY tightly controlled (ask Iran and North Korea).

All in all, you are better off just buying the sights already made. You don't want to deal with this stuff at home.

I should probably also mention that tritium is a major component in thermonuclear weapons (used for the fusion part), so if you were trying to stock up on it, I would expect a lot of guys in black suits showing up with long lists of questions.

Futuristic
December 3, 2005, 01:27 AM
So if I break my night sights, I could die if I inhale the radioactive hydrogen? Am I understanding this correctly?

Well, if that was the case then I seriously doubt they would allow the sale of those Tritium Gas-Filled Safety Markers. You know, the ones with 3-3/4" by 1/6" tubes of Tritium? Those honkers are used for marking Stage Edges in Theaters and Oxygen Supplies in Halon-Drop equipped Server Rooms. Think how much tritium is in those guys!

Here's some more scientific info:

Very little about the effects of ionizing radiation we don't know about.

To the subject of tritium specifically, the decay of tritium releases
one very low energy beta (electron) with insufficient energy to escape
a solution or solid matrix nor to penetrate more than a millimeter or so in a
gas cloud. No beta radiation escapes the illumination capsule. Even
when ingested, tritium is considered by the government to be a trivial
hazard and objectively speaking, presents no hazard. The biological
half-life of tritium (how long it stays in the body) is only a few days
because its tritium oxide, the most common form, is chemically almost
identical to water.

There is NO radiation exposure associated with an intact tritium
sight. And even if you remove the capsule and eat it, the risk
is vanishingly small to nonexistent.

Futuristic

P.S. Those big tritium markers are available here: http://www.labsafety.com/search/product_group.asp?dept_id=27293

slopemeno
December 3, 2005, 01:58 AM
The mouth cancers were caused by Radium paint.

PromptCritical
December 3, 2005, 02:31 AM
Radium and tritium are significantly different. I'll put it this way, I would probably eat the sights of my Glock on a dare. You couldn't pay me to ingest radium.

Tritium water, like that used in sights, is chemically identical to regular water. If it was mixed with glow in the dark paint, it would probalby glow untill the paint dried. Then it would be like regular glow in the dark paint.

I think what you are really thinking of is radium paint, like they used on clocks until the fifties. Good luck finding any of that stuff. I'm sure it's illegal.

MNgoldenbear
December 3, 2005, 02:40 AM
Found another reference from Idaho State Univ. that noted the low danger. Noted that though it is POSSIBLE to be harmed, you'd have to be exposed to very large quantities to amount to a significant risk. They noted that absorbing all of the radiation from a tritium sight would expose you to about the equivalent of two years of background radiation exposure.

The radium materials were a different story. That a gamma emitter, and releases higher energy radiation than tritium does. Nasty stuff. Eventually led to the death of its discoverer.

chris in va
December 3, 2005, 03:13 AM
You will give me all your tritium.

http://img403.imageshack.us/img403/8337/26dococspiderman7lj.jpg

Mad Chemist
December 3, 2005, 05:05 AM
Um no. Probably not. I doubt the amount of tritium in that little sight of yours would do much. Anyone ever put a radiac to their sights?
A half gallon of tritium "paint" might kill you though. Theoretically, you probably could use some tritium paint on your sights and glaze it over with some kind of clear coat. You do want to be careful. Tritium is what they used to make the dials glow on them old school watches. A lot of the vast majority of the people that used to paint the dials on them watches died later on as a result of exposure. So its not a quick thing, but a gradual thing.


That was radium paint, a much earlier invention than tritium capsules.

Tritium hobby paint? Bad idea.

Mad Chemist
December 3, 2005, 05:22 AM
Bioluminescent paints generally are safe, but thet still require some light exposure.

BRASSM
December 3, 2005, 05:23 AM
I have a set of tritium sights on my SIG.:cool: Tritium comes encapsulated in small units. Which are inserted in sights and other low light devices. You can obtain these capsules commercially. Tritium is a beta emitter and has a half-life of 12.4 years. If you carry tritium sights on your hardware everyday in an out of the shower to church and the movies, the radiation from old sol will kill you first. Why go through the difficulty of fabrication I'm sure you can locate commercial tritium sights. Good Luck

Spiggy
December 3, 2005, 05:41 AM
Tritium is what they used to make the dials glow on them old school watches. A lot of the vast majority of the people that used to paint the dials on them watches died later on as a result of exposure. So its not a quick thing, but a gradual thing.
Actually it was radium paint... which was bad for the watchmakers since they tended to lick the brush to make it finer when painting...

Well, the other job that was as bad was the hatter, who made hats... the brim of the hat had to be made stiff, so it was dipped in mercury. Many hatters went nuts and that's where the Mad hatter came from...

Tritium was later discovered in the 20's I think... a little longer after becterrel(SP?) and Curie's discoveries of radioactivity

chopinbloc
December 3, 2005, 09:13 AM
a few more notes: at room temperature, tritium is a gas - just like deuterium (one extra neutron) and plain old hydrogen. it is also harmless and reacts with the bodie in the same way as hydrogen except when exposed to extreme heat or burned, in which case it can be toxic but the quantities involved in sights and watch dials still aren't likely to be enough to hurt you. tritium does not glow. it emits beta particles which excite a phosphorus layer between the glass tritium vial and the user. most sights also have a saphire lens.

i cannot imagine how one could make a paint out of tritium and cause it to glow.

geekWithA.45
December 3, 2005, 09:52 AM
FWIW, I remember reading a US regulation that stated that tritium may not be used for "trivial applications", IIRC.

Emergency Exit signs, gunsights: non trivial

glowing keychains, skulls, etc: trivial (the UK had these cool tritium keyfobs)

I would suspect that paint, even if safe and feasible, would not be generally available to the public on those grounds.

ceetee
December 3, 2005, 10:28 AM
I have a set of tritium sights on my SIG.:cool: Tritium comes encapsulated in small units. Which are inserted in sights and other low light devices. You can obtain these capsules commercially. Tritium is a beta emitter and has a half-life of 12.4 years. If you carry tritium sights on your hardware everyday in an out of the shower to church and the movies, the radiation from old sol will kill you first. Why go through the difficulty of fabrication I'm sure you can locate commercial tritium sights. Good Luck

Two of my handguns have milled front sights. There's no separate blade to replace. Would it be possible to buy one of those "capsules", drill out the existing white dot, and epoxy the capsule in place?

benEzra
December 3, 2005, 11:24 AM
Two of my handguns have milled front sights. There's no separate blade to replace. Would it be possible to buy one of those "capsules", drill out the existing white dot, and epoxy the capsule in place?
Yes. I think I've seen reference to doing just that (maybe at the Trijicon web site, I'm not sure).

NukemJim
December 3, 2005, 11:24 AM
http://www.trijicon.com/faq.cfm

AJ Dual
December 3, 2005, 01:06 PM
Tritium is a Hydrogen Isotope with two extra neutrons in addition to the single proton "regular Hydrogen" usualy posesses.

Since the arrangment is not stable, it decays, and re-arranges itself into Helium, releasing an electron, (and an anti-neutrino, which for all intents and purposes is almost utterly "nothing" billions of neutrinos fly through the earth, space, and your body every second, touching nothing...) An electron released in radioactive decay is known as a Beta particle. Loosely speaking, this is the "weakest" form of radiation. A beta-electron is different than "electricity". For one thing it's on it's solo, flying through space, and has a much, much, higher velocity/energy than it's brothers running through batteries and wires, but it's still blocked by most anything, skin, cloth, paper, or even just a few inches of air...

The electrons given off by the tritium's decay strike phosphors coating the inside of the night sight's glass capsule which collect the electron, raising their energy state, and then re-emit the energy as light. It's actualy kind of like a single colored phosphor dot on a TV tube screen, but lit by an electron from radioactive decay instead of the electron gun.

You can get "tritium burns" but it takes large amounts, and lots of exposure at least as compared to what's in a night sight capsule (if you broke it open, the glass capsule and phosphors contain the beta particles almost completely), and the tritium has to be bound up in something solid or liquid that you can ingest or rub on your skin for prolonged contact, and not in pure gaseous form.

As radioactive stuff goes, it's very safe. It's just regulated so tightly because Uncle Sam never gives up control willingly once he's got it. You can buy tritium keychains in Europe and the UK for a few bucks, and they're 20 times the size of night sight capsules. They're sort of sold as a glow-stick that lasts 20 years...

XLMiguel
December 3, 2005, 01:21 PM
ceetee - I have a Walther P5C with a milled front sight. When the previous owner had nightsights installed, he sent it off to Trijicon who drilled the front blade and installed a tritium vial, and replaced the rear dove-tailed sight with an appropriate night unit. when I had the gun refinished at Robar, they had to replace teh front vial, and sent it off to a sub to doit. You could give them (www.robarguns.com) a call to get the name if you can't hook up with Trijicon- HTH.

atomchaser
December 3, 2005, 02:38 PM
Not a big concern from the amount of H-3 in a gun sight. If you break it, just let it air out for a while, preferably outside. Even if you managed to ingest the whole amount (pretty much impossible), it would not be biologically significant. The biological half life in the body ranges from 3-12 days depending on the individual.

I don't think tritium paint would work very well. I think the tritium would evaporate out the mixture.

Radium actually works better for such applications since it has a much longer half life and better properties for radioluminescence. It is a nasty actor biologically however as it is a calcium analog. It also a pain in the a** to clean up. I've removed radium dials from WW2 vintage aircraft and they still glow like the energizer bunny. Unfortunately, most of them leak over time and make a mess. The radium dial painters are a tragic story. Simple precautions could have prevented the problem. Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung to far the other way and we spent too much money controlling trivial radiation hazards.

Exposure
December 3, 2005, 06:02 PM
I have no idea if this is an urban legend or not but some kid once found a bottle of radium paint in the back of a clock at a junk shop. He supposedly built a crude nuclear reactor with this a bunch of other stuff. True or not it makes for an interesting read!

Check it out here:

http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/radscout.html

ceetee
December 3, 2005, 08:41 PM
Thanks, Mike!

Andrew Rothman
December 3, 2005, 09:17 PM
As radioactive stuff goes, it's very safe. It's just regulated so tightly because Uncle Sam never gives up control willingly once he's got it. You can buy tritium keychains in Europe and the UK for a few bucks, and they're 20 times the size of night sight capsules. They're sort of sold as a glow-stick that lasts 20 years...

Yup. And you can get them here: http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=68028

Dunno if it's legal, but he apparently sells a bunch.

atomchaser
December 4, 2005, 12:27 AM
I have no idea if this is an urban legend or not but some kid once found a bottle of radium paint in the back of a clock at a junk shop. He supposedly built a crude nuclear reactor with this a bunch of other stuff. True or not it makes for an interesting read!

Check it out here:

http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/radscout.html

Pretty "dramatic" story. The kid certainly made a mess, but a breeder reactor I think not. Radium-Beryllium sources will make neutrons through an alpha,n reaction but pitchblende (uranium ore) and thorium from a lantern mantle rolled up in an aluminum ball around it won't do much in terms of producing Plutonium. It was never a reactor, i.e., there was no or extremely little fissioning and neutron multiplication going on. The bottom line is that the kid collected enough radioactive junk to make a nice mess.

mrmeval
December 4, 2005, 02:12 PM
di-tritium oxide added to a phosphor then added to a carrier and binder.

You can get tritium in small quantities, ask trijicon.

The fact that it is used in the triggering mechanism in fusion bombs may cause Uncle Sugar to restrict the sale of half-gallon cans. And the fact that it is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that behaves similarly to hydrogen probably makes it difficult and dangerous to paint with.

mrmeval
December 4, 2005, 02:14 PM
It takes an NRC license, you can only use so much in a device which means you can't have those cool nuclear powered keychain lights like in *Britain* or *France*

I fully understand the responses given, but if it's 'controlled' and/or 'dangerous', how do the companies who make tritium sights get it? Cant be TOO controlled or TOO hard to get, or all these watch, gun, etc companies couldnt get it to put on the products they sell us.

atomchaser
December 4, 2005, 06:19 PM
Tritium is available -- it's used in lots of biomedical applications in small quantities. I think most of it comes from Canda since Candian type reactors made lots of tritium. One could manufacture end user devices using it, but it would require an NRC license and the devices would have to meet approval for the sealed source device registry. Post 9/11, the NRC would probably frown on novelty applications such as key fobs so it might be difficult to do it and you would have to sell a whole lot of them to make it worthwhile.

AJ Dual
December 4, 2005, 06:39 PM
Yup. And you can get them here: http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=68028

Dunno if it's legal, but he apparently sells a bunch.


Hee hee... do we have a :shhh: smiley? :D

No, they're not legal in the U.S. The sellers are all in Europe where they are legal. None of the large mainstream retailers will ship them to the U.S. but small time eBay type guys will.

If you do get one intercepted by U.S. customs, they just confiscate it. Maybe send you a letter telling you why. However, I've never heard of an individual mail shipment being intercepted. Right now the hot item on Customs watch list are high powered green laser pointers from China, because of the doofuses who've been in the news for shining them at aircraft.

Besides, despite the pictures, the tritium key-chain fobs glow pretty dimly about the same as an organic chemical light-stick or less, under room or daylight, it just looks like a clear plastic pendant. So even if customs sees one, without close scrutiny, they may not recognize it as anything other than keychain junk.

So they're "letter of the law" illegal, but from a scientific standpoint, they're still pretty harmless, and they know it. So unless someone were to try and smuggle in thousands of them at once, it's not really on Uncle Sugar's radar at the current time.

Pietro Beretta
December 28, 2005, 05:23 PM
I believe on the Meprolight webpage, they say if you purposly broke one of the vials of tritium, the ammount of radiation you would obsorb would be less than getting an X-Ray at the dentist

wingnutx
December 28, 2005, 06:58 PM
The mouth cancers were caused by Radium paint.

+1

Manedwolf
December 28, 2005, 06:59 PM
Does anyone know of a source for buying tritium paint, or its equivalant? searches on forums and google yield nothing. I'm not looking for the types of paint that need to absorb light for 'recharging' (not practical for a home/selfdefense gun). Is there some regulation on this stuff that makes us not be able to buy it?

Just don't lick the brush to re-point it when painting with the stuff. :D

Manedwolf
December 28, 2005, 07:03 PM
"There is NO radiation exposure associated with an intact tritium
sight. And even if you remove the capsule and eat it, the risk
is vanishingly small to nonexistent."

I think taking the night sights off your gun and eating them would require a very significant level of inebriation.

mrmeval
December 28, 2005, 07:37 PM
Polonium impregnated brush? Gets that gun squeeky clean. :-P

http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?pid=1723&tb=1

Just don't lick the brush to re-point it when painting with the stuff. :D

cracked butt
December 28, 2005, 11:23 PM
I want a gallon of tritium paint so I can pimp my ride.

benEzra
December 30, 2005, 08:13 AM
Pretty "dramatic" story. The kid certainly made a mess, but a breeder reactor I think not. Radium-Beryllium sources will make neutrons through an alpha,n reaction but pitchblende (uranium ore) and thorium from a lantern mantle rolled up in an aluminum ball around it won't do much in terms of producing Plutonium. It was never a reactor, i.e., there was no or extremely little fissioning and neutron multiplication going on. The bottom line is that the kid collected enough radioactive junk to make a nice mess.
I know from personal experience that a Coleman lantern mantle will make a Geiger counter go crazy, due to the radioactive thorium oxide.

Moondoggie
December 30, 2005, 12:28 PM
Timely thread!

I bought myself a Colt 1991A1 Compact for Christmas. It's going to be my CCW gun when we get CCW in Nebraska, hopefully this year.

My local friendly FFL had it in stock forever...he was buying guns back in the 70's with the idea that he'd someday be able to open a gunstore.

BTW, this pistol functions flawlessly through the first 100 rds of several different types of ammo. It prints a 6" group at 10 yds, which is all I expected from a 3.5" bbl.

However, two of the 3 dot sights fell off/disintegrated when I first fired the pistol. I was thinking about a way to restore them, but then I decided to send it off to my gunsmith for a W/O rear and red fiber optic rod FS like I have on my IPSC Limited pistol.

Besides, the plastic trigger has to go and needs a little fine tuning.

Snagglepuss
December 30, 2005, 12:40 PM
OK, so it appears tritium paint is nonexistant. So what can I do to brighten up my front sight. Maybe a little white out?:confused:

Seriously, is there an easy and inexpensive way to brighten up that sight?

Justin
December 30, 2005, 02:45 PM
Try some model paint.

White, orange, neon green, or yellow should all work pretty well.

Or just get a set of night sights installed.

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