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Ultrasonic Blind Cleaning Chemistry Terms
by Karlan C. Kastendieck (while at Custom Compounders Inc. )
This Blindcleaners.biz Newsletter article was a short glossary of commonly used cleaning terms and their definitions.
Acid Any compound with a pH of less than 7.0. Acids come in many forms but the most common type used in cleaning applications is phosphoric acid. Ultrasonic cleaning using acid type cleaners would be limited to specialized rust or water hardness scale removal.
Alkaline Any compound with a pH of 7.0 or greater. Most properly formulated ultrasonic cleaners use alkaline ingredients to “build” the detergent and give the product added cleaning power on a wide range of organic soils. Products formulated with an excessive amount of alkaline ingredients can be corrosive, both to human skin as well as painted surfaces. Therefore Ultrasonic cleaners should avoid the use of products which contain excessive alkalinity.
Anti-redeposition One of the most important requirements of a proper detergent formulation is the anti-redeposition agent. This ingredient keeps the dirt removed from the surface from being redeposited back onto the surface. This allows the dirt to be removed during the rinsing step.
Biodegradable This much abused term means that the product, in this case the detergent compounds used in ultrasonic cleaning will, after use and disposal be broken down into simpler compounds by biological action, that is bacteria and enzymes will eat these compounds and excrete them as waste in another, simpler form. Most modern detergent additives or ingredients are biodegradable at or near 100%. The only variable is the amount of time required.
Chelate The chemical action whereby a chelating agent present in a detergent solution reacts with water minerals (the cause of “hardness”) and binds them into solution thus preventing cleaning problems associated with “hard water”. A properly formulated Ultrasonic detergent contains chelating agents in sufficient quantity to perform well in all but the hardest water supplies.
Gassing Off (Degas) All water contains air, tiny bubbles present in the water which if not allowed to gas off, will interfere with the ultrasonic wavelengths. Most Machine manufacturers recommend at least 1 or 2 minutes of operation at normal power before beginning cleaning operations.
Inorganic soils Any surface film which is not carbon based. An easy way to think about it is: an inorganic soil was never alive. An example would be water hardness, minerals and rust. Inorganic soils, not being encountered often can create problems if not cleaned with the correct chemistry.
Organic soils Any surface film which is carbon based. Again an easy way to remember is: an organic soil was alive at some point. Examples include grease, fat, and dirt. Most cleaning anyone does consists of removing organic soils.
pH potential of Hydrogen. A symbol indicating the relative acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Pure distilled water has a pH of 7.0 . pH values of 0 to 7 indicate an acid solution. pH values of 7 to 14 indicate alkalinity. Most ultrasonic cleaning activity occurs at a pH of 8 to 12. See alkaline.
Surfactants An acronym formed from Surface Active Agents, A large chemical family surfactants are present in a properly formulated ultrasonic detergent to make the water “wetter” by reducing the surface tension present in all water. Surface tension inhibits the ultrasonic wavelength by short circuiting the ultrasonic implosion that makes ultrasonic cleaning so effective at cleaning items with lots of “Nooks and Crannies”