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The primary use for degreasers is to eliminate contaminants from a surface – this may be from custom-manufactured parts, industrial machinery, or even a backyard barbeque grill. But how do they work and what are some of the best degreasing products available today?

The Role of Cleaning & Degreasing

So, what exactly is a degreaser? A degreaser eliminates scrubbing and wiping, making clean-ups quick and easy. Industrial degreasing products are available as aerosols, sprays, bulk immersion fluids, concentrated powders, gels, and more, making them versatile resources for factories, workplaces, and homes alike. Common forms of degreaser include:

  • Water-Based
  • Solvent-Based
  • Environmentally Compatible
  • Ammonia-Based
  • Liquid
  • Foam
  • Petroleum-Based

With so many degreasing products available, the best way to choose the right product is to understand how it works and what it contains.

How Do Degreasers Work?

A degreaser is a solvent, but it does not clean by itself. Also, cleaners do not degrease. Advanced formulated products combine both, adding convenience and helping to maintain a work-life environment that’s compliant with health and safety mandates due to the ongoing pandemic.

Solvents are compounds that dissolve another substance; the most common is water. Yet, water is not powerful enough to remove built-up grime.

Traditional industrial degreasing products lift tough debris and stains, although they are widely known to contain toxic compounds that are solvents. Hazardous materials are essentially toxic substances that require special attention to avoid damaging objects, injuring people, and harming the environment.

Traditional Industrial Degreasers – A Global Perspective

Large industrial applications such as automotive manufacturing, aviation, marine vessels, and railroads often come to mind when discussing the most common uses for degreasers. Other popular industrial uses include:

  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture
  • Car washes
  • Electronics
  • Food preparation
  • Foodservice
  • Facilities maintenance
  • Medical
  • Mining
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Precision parts manufacturing
  • Printing
  • Refinery
  • Residential property maintenance
  • Service stations

Degreasing products are growing in popularity worldwide. The Industrial Degreaser market is projected to reach $24.3 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of 5%. Increasing demand primarily originates from the automotive industry in North America. Both Europe and North America are switching to water-based degreasing products that limit the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that have a negative environmental impact.

Types of Soiling and the Impact of Degreaser Choice

Due to COVID-19, anything touchable used within 24 hours must be maintained with soap, water, and sanitizer. When soap and water aren’t enough to remove debris, industrial degreasers can help with:

  • Organic soils from living matter (fossil fuels, petroleum products, fat, and proteins).
  • Inorganic soils including dirt, rust, minerals, clay, and scale.
  • Mixed soils are a combination of inorganic and organic substances that bond and build up.

The food preparation and food service industries use large amounts of fats and oils, and when combined with water, create slippery surfaces that can cause injury and result in liability. Facilities maintenance occurs daily, and regular deep-cleaning occurs periodically to clear grease from drains, floors, walls, and more. Industrial degreasers are ideal for these types of establishments. However, choosing a product that can be safely used around food is also important.

With a worldwide emphasis on health, safety, and reducing environmental impact, avoiding toxic products is vital.

Toxic Surfactants, Solvents, Acid, and Alkali Degreasers

While traditional industrial degreasers are highly effective at removing contaminants, the composition of these products is counterproductive to safety.

The following components found in traditional industrial degreasers have undesirable side effects ranging from equipment damage to wastewater contamination:

  • Builder Chemicals are strong base materials that break up fatty acids and oils and act as a water softener to improve effectiveness.
  • Chelating Agents combine with metal ions altering their electronic charge, making it possible for surfactants to remove debris and clean objects.
  • Emulsifiers suspend oil in water for long periods and create small particles that can be problematic with specialized equipment for wastewater treatment.
  • Inhibitors are substances that, in small amounts, slow down or prevent metal corrosion.
  • Petroleum Products contain flammable distillates and ethanol to dissolve residue from gasoline and other lubricants in engines and vehicle parts.
  • Saponifiers are compounds that convert fat or lipids into soap and alcohol by the action of aqueous alkali.
  • Sequestering Agents are commonly used for reducing water hardness by securely combining with calcium, magnesium, and other heavy metal ions in hard water, preventing reactions from occurring.
  • Strong Alkalis have a pH greater than 7.0, contain strong bases, and are soluble in water yet can damage objects.
  • Strong Inorganic Acids such as hydrochloric acid are derived from one or more inorganic compounds that form hydrogen ions and base ions when dissolved in water.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds include benzene, flammable alcohols, formaldehyde, gasoline, toluene, and combustible fuels.

These components embody physicochemical properties that are likely to create toxicological hazards that are a danger to people (skin, eye, and respiratory injuries among others) we well as animals, plants, and aquatic life.

“Toxic,” “caustic,” “corrosive,” “flammable,” and “combustible” are additional terms to describe the attributes of many ingredients found in traditional industrial degreasers.

Water is a chemical-free solvent and cleaning agent, but it will not remove water-insoluble materials alone. In traditional industrial degreasers, chemical-based solvents are often used to remove water-insoluble substances, including paint, lubricants, corrosive products, abrasives, and other organic films.

Surfactants reduce the tension between two surfaces, making them slippery while detergents are surfactants. Scientifically speaking, surfactants are classified as anionic, nonionic, cationic, or amphoteric. Anionic surfactants carry a negative charge and help lift and suspend soils, making them an effective cleaning agent. Surfactants can be added to degreasers to amplify their effectiveness.

Emulsifying Degreasers & Wastewater Problems

In foods and cosmetics, emulsifiers thicken and stabilize ingredients. In degreasers, emulsifiers remove oil from surfaces, suspending it in water for long periods.

While clean-up may be easier with an emulsifying degreasing product, the real problem lies in the contaminated wastewater that requires oil-water separators for pre-treatment before disposal.

Wastewater treatment prevents bioavailable hydrocarbons and other toxic substances from entering the environment to protect animals, aquatic life, and plants from ingesting and up-taking these toxic substances. In most advanced countries, hydrocarbon levels in wastewater are strictly monitored, and wastewater treatment is a significant expense to businesses.

Industries affected by wastewater treatment regulations include car washing and mining – for using high-pressure cleaning degreasers on equipment and vehicles – as well as manufacturing, service stations, and transportation companies.

Bio-Based, Non-Toxic, Quick Break Degreasers

How do bio-based and naturally-derived degreasing alternatives compare to traditional products?

With many degreasers on the market, it’s a common misconception that products made with natural ingredients are less effective than those made from chemicals. However, new advanced products with naturally-derived ingredients do the same heavy lifting of contaminants, including ground-in living matter like fossils fuels (petroleum products) and particles like fats, proteins, dirt, and dust.

In addition to improving the environment, another significant benefit of non-toxic liquid degreasing cleaners is that these products enhance safety across industrial, commercial, and consumer applications while making clean-up and upkeep faster, simpler, and safer. This is one of the reasons why aqueous degreasers are trending worldwide.

Also, improving safety in the workplace and at home can be as simple as switching from an aerosol to a non-toxic liquid.

Emulsified oil droplets in wastewater can pass through water treatment separators. When used precisely to a manufacturer’s specifications, quick break degreasers produce short-term emulsions to remove grease. Then once in a wastewater system, it quickly releases oils for separation and proper disposal.

Another benefit to many industries is new liquid deep-cleaning degreasers uniquely designed to improve safety and reduce operating costs.

New, Safe Technology in Industrial Degreasers

The world’s focus is on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to neutral levels or eliminating use altogether by the year 2050. Transparency and accountability with these “net-zero” initiatives are required to prove that an organization is actively striving to comply with self-directed process changes, that may include switching to new products that reduce or eliminate GHG and VOCs. Adopting new, advanced technology with industrial cleaning degreasers will effectively improve workplace safety and protect the planet. It’s true: safe degreasing is no accident.

Choosing the right product with no harsh chemicals makes it much safer to clean and lift away films, stubborn grease, paints, oil and lubricants, dust, or corrosion from virtually any surface. Important attributes to look for in new, safer degreasers and cleaners include:

  • Biodegradable
  • Non-caustic
  • Non-combustible
  • Non-corrosive
  • Non-flammable
  • Non-fuming
  • Non-toxic
  • Water solubility

Concentrated, biodegradable industrial liquid degreasers and cleaners now quickly and safely remove coker charge, asphalt tar, paraffins, drag-reducing agents, crude oil, and tenacious soils from surfaces.

New technology also offers a safe alternative to hazardous cleaning chemicals, such as mineral spirits, butyl-based products, caustics, and alkaline detergents.

Aqueous solutions in non-hazardous formulas are ideal for a range of uses, including industrial maintenance, machining, mining, automotive manufacturing, and printing. When engineered to be used for multiple industrial cleaning applications, advanced products will target oils and inks in pressrooms, asphalt removal, industrial maintenance, parts washing operations, and much more.

Furthermore, certain oil refinery cleaning calls for advanced technology that uses the power of water dramatically reduce turnaround time. Unlike traditional formulas that include mineral spirits, high alkaline, or hazardous chemicals, this new technology is safe for the material being cleaned, the trained worker, and is environmentally responsible.

Finally, products that are designed for regulatory compliance do not affect the water treatment processes, which is a considerable cost factor for industrial manufacturing among other industries. Advanced products can help industries that are required to prove wastewater treatment compliance and supply chain transparency and accountability over the next thirty years to positively impact the environment.

Trust Ignite Industrial Technologies deep-cleaning liquid degreasers to get the job done and be a safer solution for people, processes, and the planet.

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