Just a note that we'd looked at some single-use acetone nail polish removing pads, because people wouldn't necessarily need a whole bottle -- but at one pad per day per copper piece, that'd get used pretty fast.
@bronwen - i had also thought of buying a larger bottle and separating it into smaller containers, but the fumes would have to be awful, no? I was thinking we might try out the wipes and compare/contrast the results to avoid that, but you're probably right that we could find a well ventilated area to do that in.
I think you have to aim to be in a well ventilated area for pads too: pouring acetone might not be too terrible depending on what kinds of bottles you're dispensing to/from, but in general it's not great for you (even in regards to skin contact, which is why there are so many non-acetone containing nail-polish removers out there). I suppose for me it's about scale: packaged wipes might be simpler for sending with kits, but bottles of acetone (which a lot of people have around for all kinds of reasons) would be cheaper for any kind of ongoing project, I would assume.
I think it probably depends somewhat on what we need the cleaning agent to do: alcohol and acetone work a little differently, and acetone will likely do a more thorough job on any residual oils or plastics, but it's possible that alcohol will accomplish the job well enough. Alcohol is definitely less volatile and less toxic for a handler. It looks like both are permitted to ship via USPS in limited quantities, but from the store perspective we should investigate whether we'd be required to ship in unopened/manufacturer-sealed containers, or if decanting into smaller containers is ok.
Either acetone or 99% isopropanol are probably fine, and maybe we should do a comparison. The only concern I see with isopropanol is that it has a lower vapor pressure than acetone, meaning it is less volatile and will take longer to dry. This can facilitate corrosion, since moisture in the air can dissolve in the isopropanol. Oxidation of copper is enhanced under moist conditions, so I think we might run the risk of that. However, I think it's worth experimenting! We won't know until we try.
Also, I just saw on comptox.epa.gov that acetone is actually more hydrophilic than isopropanol, which totally surprises me! I guess vapor pressure must really be the main driver of why acetone is a more common degreaser.