So what, I hear you cry in unison (not difficult for my single reader)? Well, I am learning a lot of new tricks for ‘the field’ and I want to store them somewhere (not just in my head) and I had the idea to share them with the world, along with the other assorted rubbish which clutters up my mind from time to time.
To whet your appetite, here is the first tip for identifying nylon with no more than a paper clip, a cigarette lighter and an olfactory aptitude (your sense of smell).
Take the paper clip and unfold so that there is at least one pointy end. Heat the pointy end with the cigarette lighter until it is nice and hot (half a minute or so should do). Stick it in the bit of plastic you want to identify and if it is hot enough it should be quite easy. Take the pointy bit out again and there will be a bit of the plastic (for the purists, polymer) stuck to the paper clip. Burn this bit of plastic with the cigarette lighter. If it is nylon then it will smell like burning hair.
Admittedly you have to suspect that what you’re dealing with is nylon in the first place and not something else, like hair for example. Nylon is often used for linings and bearings where metal surfaces rub over one another. It is hard and translucent white (a bit like polyethylene). It is also used as a base material for tights (stockings) but I would advise against trying it out on those beacuse the person wearing them might not be too happy at having you stick a hot pin into her leg.