Detailing Chemicals Identification
One of the most confusing things about this business is the chemicals used and the chemistry behind them. Certain product or combination of products can have a negative impact and to the newcomer in the industry, or your everyday enthusiast, understanding the chemical interactions could become challenging, if not darn right confusing. As a Chemical Engineer I have a gained a lot of knowledge on chemicals but I can't imagine being relatively new to the industry and coming into detailing today.
Product vendors are in business to sell products and sometimes rename the same product to do other things i.e. a swirl removing polish vs. a finishing polish (they both do the same job) However with chemicals it’s not quite that simple
Testing the pH
The term pH is a measurement of the relationship between hydrogen ions and hydroxyl ions. When you have more hydrogen ions than hydroxyl ions, you have an acid. Likewise, if you have more hydroxyl ions than hydrogen ions you have a base (alkali).
The pH scale is a measure of the acidity or basicity (Alkali) of a solution. It is approximates but is not equal to p [H], the negative logarithm base 10) Base (Acid) 1-7, Alkaline 7- 14; the pH of a solution is temperature-dependent.
Unfortunately the pH scale is logarithmic; for every integer that the scale decreases the material is 10 times more acidic. Those of us in earthquake country know all too well the consequences of a change of from 6 to 7 on the logarithmic, Richter scale. The difference in the pH scale is just as dramatic and therefore just as misleading.
A substance that is neither acidic nor basic is neutral; pure water has a neutral pH of 7.0 each whole pH value below 7 is ten times more acidic than the next higher value. For example, a pH of 4 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 5 and 100 times (10 times 10) more acidic than a pH of 6. The same holds true for pH values above 7, each of which is ten times more alkaline than the next lower whole value. For example, a pH of 10 is ten times more alkaline than a pH of 9.0
Dilution of Cleaning Chemicals
a) Under-dilution – a chemical solution that is too can damage carpets, upholstery, wheels, etc. It costs more in actual product cost and additional labour to correct any problems that occur due to improper dilution.
b) Over-dilution - a weak chemical solution can cause inadequate cleaning performance, which means you will have to re-clean the same areas. With carpet and fabric upholstery, this can lead to over-wetting, resulting in such things as mould, mildew, shrinkage, etc.
c) Spot testing to ensure chemical will not stain or damage material is also very important
Be cognizant that a chemical may be aggressive but its strength may be diluted with a solvent or a chemical buffer; its aggressiveness is also dependent upon the percentage of that chemical as part of the products formulation
Important Note: All warnings, cautions and recommendations listed by the manufacturers/OSHA should be complied with when working with chemicals.
Pre-test Spot Procedures
Read the product labels and manufacturers safety data sheets (MSDS) to obtain a basic idea of contents, pH levels etc. Depending on the pH of the product you use you should return the surface to neutral (pH 7.0) before you apply any dressing or protective products. Always select a chemical / cleaner that are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and safe to use by observing any precautions recommended so that they won’t harm you, your vehicle or the environment. Read the product labels and manufacturers safety data sheets (MSDS) to obtain a basic idea of contents, pH levels etc.
When spraying any surface with a liquid, it is always advisable to spray a small area first (test area) then allow to dry to make sure the solution does not react with the surface.
Providing the cleaning product selected is suitable, apply several drops of the selected cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area and rub gently with a clean, white micro fibre towel. Do not over wet. Use small amounts of the product and blot frequently, do not rub or use too much pressure. Do not use the product if it adversely changes the material’s colour or texture.
Chemistry 101 - a large amount of heat is released when strong acids are mixed with water; adding more acid releases more heat. If you add water to acid, you form an extremely concentrated solution of acid initially. So much heat is released that the solution may boil very violently, splashing concentrated acid out of the container. If you add acid to water, the solution that forms is very dilute and the small amount of heat released is not enough to vaporize and spatter it. So Always Add Acid to water, and never the reverse
Potable water usually contains a number of microscopic contaminants, along with dissolved minerals such as calcium and iron.
Distilled water should ideally be nothing but hydrogen and oxygen molecules and has virtually all of its impurities removed through distillation, which involves boiling the water and re-condensing the steam into a clean container (pH 6.0 – 7.5) any dissolved solids such as salt, bacteria, calcium or iron remain solid while the pure water converts to a much lighter steam and is drawn out for condensation, leaving most if not all solid contaminants behind.
Distilled water is preferred for dilution as it’s a ‘known’ quantity, unlike domestic potable water
In larger chemical and biological laboratories, as well as industry, cheaper alternatives such as deionized water are preferred over distilled water.
Chemicals used in detailing products require a carrier system, which can be solvent or water-based. Many products formulate their chemical (or an oil emulsion) using water as a carrier system to ensure an even distribution
This is a list of chemicals found in some automotive products, giving their chemical names and synonyms, along with the effect they can have on vehicles. This is by no means an exhaustive list
I can only comment on what the product manufacturer states his product contains (MSDS or product label), and first-hand knowledge of how it performs, otherwise I might be subject to litigation
When it comes to product marketing and technical specifications, it is also important to realize that all companies must keep secure their proprietary information and agreements. Without this, no business would have the incentive to develop new products, expand their market, stay competitive, and ultimately - exist.
Critics say the lack of knowledge about chemicals exposes a system where environmental regulators largely rely on companies that profit from industrial chemicals to sound alarms about their safety. questions about potential effects on human health and the environment often aren't raised until years after a chemical is introduced to the marketplace.
Read the manufacturers application instructions and then obtain and read the MSDS sheet to ascertain the chemicals used, although it should be said that an MSDS is a document that contains details of the hazards associated with a particular chemical and provides information regarding its safe use. The MSDS is required to state the chemical's risks, safety and impact on the environment.
Many car care companies use Chemical company’s plants and R&D (i.e. Warner Chemical or P & B Manufacturing) products that are specifically mixed and then re-labelled. The same is also true of foam pads, Lake County Mfg. relabelled their foam for many different vendors
The consumer must have confidence that the labeling on the products they purchase has not been changed or altered in any way so that the information about the product is accurate
Chemical Resistant Trigger Sprayers
US Plastics Corp - http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/search.aspx?search=chemical%20reststant%20spray%20bottles&page=1
Kwazar Mercury Pro - spray bottles are designed specifically for cleaning and detailing professionals. Every pump delivers twice the product onto the surface. High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) is resistant to many different solvents
Plus this sprayer has Viton ® Seals for high temperature and chemically aggressive applications, the spray can be adjusted from fine mist to a constant stream and also has stainless steel (chemical resistant) trigger spring fitted. Sizes available in 0.5 Litre (17 oz.) and 1 Litre (33oz.), available in blue, green, red, and yellow spray tops
Cleaning - Place spray assembly in a bucket of warm / hot soapy water and pump the trigger a few time, rinse by doing the same thing with clean warm / hot water
Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65)
In 1986, California voters approved an initiative to address their growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals. That initiative became the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known by its original name of Proposition 65. Proposition 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 775 chemicals since it was first published in 1987.
Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment.
By providing this information, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals. Proposition 65 also prohibits California businesses from knowingly discharging significant amounts of listed chemicals into sources of drinking water.
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) administers the Proposition 65 program. OEHHA, which is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA), also evaluates all currently available scientific information on substances considered for placement on the Proposition 65 list.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should be available for every chemical you use. Read these and follow the recommendations for safe use and disposal of the material. As required by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the target audience for information in a MSDS is the occupation worker who may be exposed to chemicals at work. However, much of the information is also relevant to consumers.
Read the manufacturers application instructions and then obtain and read the MSDS sheet to ascertain the chemicals used. Although it should be said that an MSDS is a document that contains details of the hazards associated with a particular chemical and provides information regarding its safe use. The MSDS is required to state the chemical's risks, safety and impact on the environment.
A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a fact sheet developed by manufacturers describing the chemical properties of a product. Material Safety Data Sheets include brand-specific information such as physical data (solid, liquid, colour, melting point, flash point, etc.), health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, handling, disposal, personal protection and spill/leak procedures.
How to Read a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/gemare/gemare_012.cfm
Chemical Information (MSDS) A-Z- http://www.ehso.com/msds.php
Definitions of Terms Used in Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) - http://www.ehso.com/msdsdefs.php
If you're using common household cleaners, you're likely to encounter the following chemicals (among many others), and the following effects, while cleaning:
· Chlorinated phenols found in toilet bowl cleaners are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
· Diethylene glycol found in window cleaners depresses the nervous system.
· Phenols found in disinfectants are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
· Only phenol ethoxylate, a common surfactant (or detergent) found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, is banned in Europe, and biodegrades slowly into even more toxic compounds.
· Formaldehyde found in spray and wick deodorizers are a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen.
· Petroleum solvents in floor cleaners damage mucous membranes.
· Perchloroethylene, a spot remover, causes liver and kidney damage.
· Butyl Cellosolve, common in all-purpose, window and other types of cleaner’s damages bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys and the liver.
Unfortunately, it's not easy to identify which products contain these hazardous ingredients. While cleaners are the only household products regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Federal Hazardous Substances Labelling Act, they're still not required to reveal their ingredients, as they are considered "trade secrets" so government regulations are actually designed to protect this proprietary information rather than to protect human health or the environment
Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS#)
Each CAS registry number (often referred to as CAS #) is a unique numeric identifier that designates only one substance; it has no specific chemical significance, but is a link to a wealth of information about a specific chemical substance. Since CAS Registry Numbers are not dependent upon any system of chemical nomenclature, they can provide a reliable common link between the various nomenclatures terms used to describe substances. And serve as an international resource for chemical substance identifiers used by scientists, industry, and regulatory bodies
Chemical Profiles - this site provides detailed information on more than 11,200 chemicals, including all the chemicals used in large amounts in the United States and all the chemicals regulated under major environmental laws. You can search for information by typing in the chemical's name (or any common synonym) or the chemical's standard identification number) - http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/
Acids are highly corrosive; the skull and crossbones warning on an acid label is there for a reason; acids will etch or erode anything in its path, they are also very effective in dissolving metals and etching glass. Dilution - adding water to an acid it lowers its pH, i.e. it becomes more acidic; the process is called hydrolysis)
The dilution of an acid doesn’t make it safer as the addition of a molecule of water to a chemical compound, without forming any other products is known as hydration (i.e. dilution causes the pH to decrease) But since pH is not a very good indicator of the strength of the acid in every system, this approach won't always produce the desired results.
Don't Play Mad Scientist
Don't haphazardly mix chemicals; pay attention to the order in which chemicals are to be added to each other and do not deviate from the instructions. Even chemicals that mix to produce seemingly safe products should be handled carefully.
For example, hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide will give you salt water, but the reaction could break your glassware or splash the reactants onto you if you aren't careful. Some rules are NOT made to be broken. That is true of the rules used for chemicals. They are established for your safety and those of other’s around you.
Dilution rates are shown as a ratio i.e. a solution of Distilled water / Chemical 5:1, this means that the product is diluted five parts distilled water to one part chemical. If you have a container with dilution markings fill the bottle with water to the dilution level required and then add product to the fill line.
Ratios- convert the ratio into fractions. Add the two numbers of the ratio together then use that number as a denominator for the individual parts. Multiply total amount of solution you want by the fractions.
Example- distilled water to product with a dilution ratio of 5:1 in a 16oz spray bottle >
(5:1 ratio) 5 + 1 = 6, Water =16 x 5 / 6 (0.833) = 13.33 = 13.25 oz. Product = 16 x 1/6 (0.166) = 2.66
Use 13.25 oz. of water / 2.75oz of product.
a) Polymers have a shelf life of approx. 3-5 years if kept in their original containers and stored at temperatures as above
b) Polish - technically 2 years, however if bottle is kept closed, and the product has not separated, there would be no problem with use for four years after sale date.
c) Waxes - will last almost indefinitely, provided that they are stored a sealed in their original containers and in the refrigerator or controlled environment once opened. The liquids should last 18 months if stored at normal room temperature.
d) Detailing Chemicals (Wheel cleaners, all purpose cleaners (APC) and etc.) have an almost indefinite shelf life if kept in their original containers and stored at temperatures as above, see also Product separation
e) Product separation - if product emulsion separates it could be indicative of age (but not necessarily past its useful life) shake vigorously for 5-10 minutes and see if the product re- mixes.
Product shelf -life may vary from one manufacturer to another, if in doubt check with product mfg. or vendor.
Ammonium hydrogen fluoride (NH4HF2)
Or Ammonium bifluoride SiO2 (BF) is miss-classified as the safe alternative to hydrogen fluoride, once mixed with water it becomes hydrogen fluoride one of the most common, and dangerous, acid wheel cleaners used in automatic carwashes today. Its effectiveness removing brake dust and difficult contaminants from wheels is undisputed, but most chemists say Ammonium bifluoride presents an unjustifiable and potentially lethal risk.
Chemical salt CAS # 68-11-1 [: a chemical compound with the formula HSCH2CO2NH4]
[Mercaptoacetic acid; sodium salt; mercaptoacetic acid; monosodium salt; Sodium thioglycolate; Sodium thioglycolate; Thioglycolic acid, sodium salt; sodium thioglycollate;]
Thioglycolic acid, a simple sulphur group- chained carboxylic acid, is a clear liquid; soluble in water. Sulphur group will react with bases.
Being the salt of a weak acid and weak base, ammonium thioglycolic acid exists in solution as an equilibrium mixture of the salt itself as well as the free carboxylic acid thioglycolic acid and ammonia: A solution containing ammonium thioglycolate contains a lot of free ammonia, which exhibits an exothermic reaction. This salt was once used for exothermic permanent wave lotions; they now use permsodium thioglycolate instead of ammonium thioglycolate
The polarity of NH3 molecules and their ability to form hydrogen bonds explains to some extent the high solubility of ammonia in water, however, a chemical reaction also occurs when ammonia dissolves in water.
In aqueous solution, ammonia acts as a base; acquiring hydrogen ions from H2O to yield ammonium and hydroxide ions the production of hydroxide ions when ammonia dissolves in water gives aqueous solutions of ammonia their characteristic alkaline (basic) properties. Not all of the dissolved ammonia reacts with water to form ammonium ions.
A substantial fraction remains in the molecular form in solution, in other words, ammonia is a weak base, and quantitative indication of this strength is given by its base ionization constant
Synonyms: Butyl (2-butoxyethanol)
An ethylene glycol-based solvent, it is recommended that one use precautions when working with glycol ethers such as 2-butoxyethanol, as it is toxic. Employers are required by United States federal law to inform employees when they are working with these substances. 
Butyl (2-butoxyethanol) is as a strong ethylene glycol-based solvent, and a highly effective cleaner, as well as inexpensive, it is harmful to man and the environment. It white-stains aluminium and damage clear coated (painted) wheels and powder coating finishes. Butyl is also very harsh on your skin, causes respiratory distress when inhaled, and it is not readily biodegradable.
A chemical that is found in a wide variety of household cleaning agents - glass cleaners, oven cleaners, general degreasers, spot removers, air fresheners, and carpet cleaners, among other things. It is a colourless liquid with a sweet, ether-like odour and is manufactured by the Eastman Kodak company. It is also known as butyl glycol, Dowanol, Bane-Clene and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE), which has made it on to the list of California’s toxic air substances
Research has shown that skin can also absorb 2-butoxyethanol vapour from the air, making skin a major pathway of exposure to this chemical
Synonyms: Benzol, Cyclohexatriene
Effects on Vehicle: Paint streaking, damage. Health Effects: Carcinogenic Found In: Solvents, Compounds
Synonyms: Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)
Effects on Vehicle: Damage, an organic compound; it dissolves many substances, cellulose acetate and nitrocellulose coatings (paint) polyurethane coating and vinyl films. Health Effects: Butanone is an irritant. Found In: Solvents
Ethylene glycol - is toxic to humans, as well as to animals and should therefore be handled and disposed of properly. It has a sweet taste that can contribute to its accidental ingestion. Various symptoms can result from such poisoning, including severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Some ethylene glycol antifreeze contains an embittering agent such as denatonium to help discourage either accidental or deliberate consumption.
Propylene glycol - on the other hand, is considerably less toxic and may be labelled as non-toxic antifreeze. It is used as antifreeze where ethylene glycol would be inappropriate, such as in food-processing systems or in water pipes in homes where incidental ingestion may be possible.
Propylene glycol oxidizes when exposed to air and heat. When this occurs lactic acid is formed.  If not properly inhibited, this fluid can be very corrosive.ph buffering agents are added to propylene glycol, preventing low pH attack on the system metals. 
Synonyms: HF, Hydrofluoric Acid Bi-ammonium fluoride, ammonium fluoride
Effects on person: Small amounts of concentrated hydrofluoric acid on the skin can be fatal. Effects on Vehicle: Damages wheels, painted surfaces. Found In: Wheel Cleaner, Concrete Cleaner, Fallout Remover
Hydrofluoric Acid (HF)
Is dangerous, just small amounts of concentrated hydrofluoric acid on the skin can be fatal. The purpose of this notice is to raise awareness of the inherent dangers associated with dermal contact with concentrated hydrofluoric acid and of the importance of observing strict precautions when handling it.
Hydrofluoric acid is a corrosive and toxic liquid that is potentially fatal even following dermal exposure to small amounts (Burke et al., 1973). The fatality risks described highlights the potential for relatively small quantities of concentrated hydrofluoric acid to produce acute systemic toxicity and it is clear that laboratory personnel underestimated the risks associated with the acid
Hydrofluoric (HF) acid's ability to dissolve oxides makes it important in the purification of both aluminium and uranium. It is also used to etch glass, to remove surface oxides from silicon in the semiconductor industry, as a catalyst for the alkylation of isobutene and butane in oil refineries and to remove oxide impurities from stainless steel in a process called pickling.
Do not confuse hydrochloric acid (HCL) with hydrofluoric (HF, has a pH of 3.14) acid because of the similarity of names. On the skin, hydrochloric acid burns from the outside in. Hydrofluoric acid solution readily penetrates the skin and burns both skin and deeper tissues. If enough acid is absorbed, it may lethally affect the heart and nervous system.
CDC Information on Hydrofluoric Acid -http://www.bt.cdc.gov/.../hydrofluoricacid/basics/facts.asp
Isoamyl acetate (banana oil) which is a solvent with a banana fragrance
Muriatic Acid (Hydrochloric acid)
Hydrochloric acid is the solution of hydrogen chloride (HCl) in water. It is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid and has major industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid. Historically called muriatic acid or spirits of salt, hydrochloric acid was produced from vitriol and common salt. Muriatic acid has a pH of 0.1used to clean concrete
Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)
Synonyms: Meta-Xylene, 1, 3-Dimethylbenzene, m-Xylol
Effects on Vehicle: Paint streaking and other damage, found In: Solvents, Compounds
Also known as White Spirit or Stoddard Solvent, used for cleaning and degreasing machine tools and parts
Neutralized Acid Salt
[: Base + Acid ---> Water + Salt]
Bases usually have an OH, Acids usually have an H, H+ OH form H2O the leftovers of the reactants form a salt. pH is the concentration of H ions in the solution. As the acid gets neutralized, more of the H ions combine with OH and form water lowering the H concentration and pH
Neutralization is the reaction between an acid and a base (alkaline) producing a salt and neutralized base. Common examples include acetic acid and sulphuric acid, when mixed with water cause an exothermic chemical reaction, loosening the sintered ferrous metal particulates, which have been converted entirely to rust and disintegrates forming a miscible emulsion that can be rinsed away.
Although considered to be one of the safer ‘active acids’, especially when compared to HF, etc. contribute to further damage of the paints resin system softening the paint, damaging soft exterior trim and aluminium creating long-term damage that may not be evident for months.
Oxalic acid exhibits many of the reactions characteristic of other carboxylic acids; it’s a relatively strong organic acid, being about 10,000 times stronger than acetic acid (Vinegar). It tends to soften the clear coat; it bleaches uncoated metals and etches glass. This acid still needs to be handled with care and should not be allowed to dry on a paint surface.
Oxalic acid's main applications include cleaning or bleaching, especially for the removal of rust, e.g. Bar Keepers Friend is an example of a household cleaner containing oxalic acid. Be cognizant that Oxalic acid can damage the paints resin (binder) system in the long term and may also soften paint
Caution: Oxalic acid is considered to be a poison
Synonyms: Ethanedioic Acid Caustic potash, Potassium hydrate, Potassium lye.
Effects on vehicle: Strong oxidizer affects paint in high % concentrations, found In: Cleaners
[: a mineral (inorganic acid) having the chemical formula H3PO Used as a rust converter; by direct application to rusted iron particles, it converts iron oxide (rust) to black ferric phosphate, FePO4.]
Synonyms: Orthophosphoric acid
Effects on Vehicle Smokes wheels, chalks plastics, found In: Wheel Cleaners, de-greasers, concrete cleaners
Sodium Laureth Sulphate
Sodium lauryl ether sulphate (SLES), is a detergent and surfactant,
Sodium Metasilicate, Anhydrous
Synonyms: Silicic acid, sodium salt
Effects on Vehicle: Damages aluminium causes chalking, streaks paint, found In: Cleaners, de-greasers
Synonyms: Caustic Soda, Sodium Hydrate, and Soda Lye
Sodium hydroxide (pH 13.5) also known as lye and caustic soda is used in many industries, mostly as a strong chemical base in the manufacture of drinking water, soaps and detergents and as a drain cleaner, but used with a chemical buffer it shouldn’t scare people.
Effects on Vehicle: Strong oxidizer causes discoloration, attacks rubber and plastics, found In: Cleaners
Synonyms: Amidosulfonic acid, Amidosulfuric acid, Aminosulfonic acid, and Sulfamidic acid
(H3NSO3) may be considered an intermediate compound between sulphuric acid (H2SO4), and sulfamide (H4N2SO2)
Effects on Vehicle: see sulphuric acid
Simple Green or Crystal Simple Green
Aluminium is a soft metal that easily corrodes with unprotected exposure to water. The aqueous-base and alkalinity of Simple Green or Crystal Simple Green are corrosive and will react with bare aluminium causing hydrogen embrittlement (this is also known as stress cracking corrosion). As the cleaner gradually ferments it reduces the pH from its normal mildly alkaline state to acidic. Slow corrosion of the aluminium results, generating a little hydrogen on the surface.
Anaerobic conditions also generate hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide bio chemically, producing small amounts of methane. The aluminium probably has sufficient residual stress to be susceptible to hydrogen stress cracking, and this can be accelerated by the sulphide
Therefore, contact times of All-Purpose Simple Green and Crystal Simple Green with unprotected or unpainted aluminium surfaces should be kept as brief as the job will allow - never for more than 10 minutes. Large cleaning jobs should be conducted in smaller-area stages to achieve lower contact time.
Rinsing after cleaning should always be extremely thorough - paying special attention to flush out cracks and crevices to remove all Simple Green/Crystal Simple Green residues. Unfinished, uncoated or unpainted aluminium cleaned with Simple Green products should receive some sort of protectant after cleaning to prevent oxidation.
Simple Green is corrosive and will react with bare aluminium causing hydrogen embrittlement (this is also known as stress cracking corrosion). As the cleaner gradually ferments it reduces the pH from its normal mildly alkaline state to acidic. Slow corrosion of the aluminium results, generating a little hydrogen on the surface.
Simple Green is corrosive and will react with bare aluminium causing hydrogen embrittlement (this is also known as stress cracking corrosion). As the cleaner gradually ferments it reduces the pH from its normal mildly alkaline state to acidic. Slow corrosion of the aluminium results, generating a little hydrogen on the surface.
Anaerobic conditions also generate hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide bio chemically, producing small amounts of methane. The aluminium probably has sufficient residual stress to be susceptible to hydrogen stress cracking, and this can be accelerated by the sulphide.
The major use for trisodium phosphate (TSP) (Na3PO4) is in cleaning agents. An extreme alkali chemical, even at 1% dilution the pH is 12.0 and this solution is sufficiently alkaline to convert (a fat or oil) into soap. Rarely used due to environmental concerns
Synonyms: Toulon, Methylbenzene
Effects on Vehicle: Paint streaking and damage. Health Effects: Central nervous system depression, cardiac disrythmia. Found In: Solvents, Compounds
MSDS and pH values –
1. Acids can be safe if used with care and the directions are followed precisely.
2. Accidents and expensive replacements can always be avoided if you do some research and are smart about your choices.
3. Always check the products MSDS and its pH value before you use it.
4. Dilution of an acid- the addition of a molecule of water to a chemical compound, without forming any other products is known as hydration (i.e. dilution causes the pH to decrease)
High pH (base)
A strong base is a base which hydrolyzes completely, raising the pH of the solution toward 14. Concentrated bases, like concentrated acids, attack living tissue and cause serious burns. They react differently to skin than acids do, so while strong acids are corrosive, strong bases are referred to as caustic.
There are three main types;
1. Oxygenated Solvents- alcohols, glycol ethers, ketones, esters, and glycol ether esters. Oxygenated solvents are synthesized from other chemicals to form the desired solvent. Those solvents are typically of a high purity with specifications ranging from 99.0% to 99.9% purity.
2. Hydrocarbon Solvents (Petroleum Distillates) - aliphatic (include methane, propane, and kerosene, they are flammable and may be explosively flammable).
3. Aromatic hydrocarbons- which are the most toxic compounds found in petroleum products and include such substances as para-xylene (Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl benzene, and Xylene), which are all volatile organic compounds (VOC)
Notes- when using solvents always use Nitrile medical gloves (usually the blue or purple ones) if you are going to be using them for any length of time.
Solvents are used for chemical cleaning, and as a carrier system, it also makes products workable and to provide spread ability, as is the case with Carnauba wax, which in its natural state is rock hard.
The low surface tension of silicones is sometimes added to solvents to improve the wetting ability and to improve the surface contact.
Solvents require an aerobic cure (exposure to air) to allow them to evaporate (outgas); some solvents contain formaldehyde, which dissolves both natural rubber and synthetic compounds, and some contain petroleum distillates specifically hydrocarbon and oxygenated solvents, which represent most of the total organic solvents used.
Organic solvents can be classified by chemical structure, for example water is a solvent, but is inorganic. Solvents provide solubility for the other ingredients, dependent upon the type of solvent used will determine the product's drying time.
Use a safe solvent; Anhydrous Isopropyl alcohol, Isoamyl acetate (Banana oil) or d-Limonene (citrus based) that does not contain any harmful components (Butyl, Heptanes or Xylene or hydrocarbon aliphatic solvents) With all cleaning products (especially solvents) always test a small inconspicuous area first to ensure it won't discolour, stain or etch the surface, and ensure that the pH of the product is suitable for the material
After the paint surface has been subjected to a chemical cleaning its protective layer (s) have been removed and the paint surface left without protection, so it is very important that a wax or polymer protection be applied immediately.
NFPA Fire Diamond
Health Risk – Flammability – Instability – Special Hazards
Health Risk 0 - 4
4 - Very short exposures could cause death or serious residual injury even though prompt medical attention was given.
3 - Short exposures could cause serious temporary or residual injury even though prompt medical attention was given.
2 - Intense or continued exposure could cause temporary incapacitation or possible residual injury unless prompt medical attention is given.
1- Exposure could cause irritation but only minor residual injury even if no treatment is given.
0- Exposure under fire conditions would offer no hazard beyond that of ordinary combustible materials.
I hope this article has given you some insight into the hundreds of chemical products the auto detailing industry has available. Good detailing requires a little knowledge of chemistry and to this end I hope I have provided you with enough information to understand at least the basics of cleaning and detailing using chemicals.
One should never assume that aqueous solutions can be disposed of down the storm drain. Your local water treatment authority or publicly owned treatment works will have information on treatment and disposal of these cleaners. Adjustment of pH and dilution are usually required before disposal to a drain. Always comply with current water usage and disposal regulations / water usage restrictions. Always responsibly dispose of all non-biodegradable materials from your vehicle cleaning in a responsible manner
Disposal of Aqueous Solutions
One should never assume that aqueous solutions can be disposed of down the drain. The storm drain system takes all the water from outside homes and businesses (rain, overwatering of lawns) and sends it untreated straight to our local creeks, rivers, bays and eventually the ocean. The storm drain system is designed as a flood control system to allow water from heavy rainstorms to flow quickly to our waterways to avoid flooding of our streets, homes and businesses. However, the rainwater can pick up pollutants as large as shopping carts or as microscopic as pesticides and fertilizer and flush it all into our waterways damaging the fish, plants and other living things in our eco-system.
With few exceptions, it is illegal for anyone to throw, dispose of or allow anything other than rainwater into the storm drains. Try to divert car wash water to a landscaped or planted area. Your local water treatment authority or publicly owned treatment works will have information on treatment and disposal of these cleaners. Adjustment of pH and dilution are usually required before disposal to a drain. Always comply with current water usage and disposal regulations / water usage restrictions.
A car care product may be biodegradable and environmentally safe but just remember the dirt, oil and road grease you are cleaning with it are not, once rinsed off the vehicle paint surface the resultant solution is no longer biodegradable and environmentally safe
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Protection from Potential Health Hazards
1. Warning: Always use ground fault protection interruption (GFPI) when using any electrical device around water
2. Eye Protection: I would strongly advise the wearing of safety glasses or visor when operating any machine polisher.
3. Ear Protection; the constant pitch of a polishing machine could affect your hearing so wearing ear plugs would be wise to protect you from hearing loss.
4. Hand Protection; Gloves- with the verity of chemicals a detailer uses on a daily basis wearing Nitrile rubber cloves or a good quality Barrier cream will protect your skin
5. Respiratory Protection (N95): Materials such as aluminium oxide (Aluminium oxide is on EPA's TRI list if it is a fibrous form) or silicon carbide (Nuisance particulate-Accumulation in lungs) used in polishes and compounds, and powdered fillers (Crystalline silica poses a serious inhalation hazard because it can cause silicosis) and Isocyanate clear coat residue represent a hazard to your lungs and may cause respiratory distress. Use a NIOSH-approved half face respirator equipped with a combination filter cartridge should be worn while using them
6. Consult the current 3M Respiratory Selection Guide for additional information or call 1-800-243-4630 for 3M technical assistance.
7. Material Safety Data Sheets: Use a ring binder or other filing system to ensure the appropriate MSDS is always available to identify hazardous substances
8. Work Hygienic Practices: Rinse cloves under running water before removing them
9. Protect yourself, work safe. As in all things, allow common sense to prevail and proceed with due caution
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB, online database). National Toxicology Information Program, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD. 1993.
2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) on Hydrogen Chloride National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC 1999
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS, online database) National Toxicology Information Program, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD 1993.
4. California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Air Toxics Hot Spots Program Risk Assessment Guidelines: Part III. Technical Support Document for the Determination of Noncancerous Chronic Reference Exposure Levels SRP Draft Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Berkeley, CA. 1999
5. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). 1999 TLVs and BEIs Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents Biological Exposure Indices. Cincinnati, OH. 1999.
6. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cincinnati, OH. 1997.
7. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Toxic and Hazardous Substances Code of Federal Regulations 29 CFR 1910.1000 1998
8. American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). The AIHA 1998 Emergency Response Planning Guidelines and Workplace Environmental Exposure Level Guides Handbook 1998
1. Chemistry Definitions (Terminology) Hamilton
2. Glossary of Chemical Terms - Faculty of Chemical Technology
3. Scorecard provides detailed information on more than 11,200 chemicals
4. Common Chemistry™ - http://www.commonchemistry.org/
5. M. Sittig. Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens 2nd ed. Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ. 1985.
6. The Merck Index. An Encyclopaedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biological 11th ed. Ed. S. Budavari Merck and Co. Inc., Rahway, NJ 1989
7. National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA)
8. The Royal Society of Chemistry; Cambridge, 1995 Silicon-Containing Polymers Jones, Richard, G.
9. The American Solvents Council (ASC) Annual Occupational Hygiene, Vol. 40, No.6, pp. 705-710, 1996.
10. Center for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/Workplace/
11. Specialized Information Services (SIS) Division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM)