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Degreasers: consider all the options

29 July 2017

Peter Crossen explains why, despite traditional perceptions, solvent based degreasers are not your only option. 

Degreasing is a vital part of good maintenance practice. Industrial grime could be covering a variety or problem areas that could incur costly downtime and higher maintenance costs. 

Reducing the cost of maintenance is not the only way degreasing can save money. Just 0.25mm of dirt on a heating exchange coil, for example, can lead to 40% increase in electricity usage. However, getting the right degreaser for the job is key to achieving such savings.

For many years, solvent degreasers were the only solution. Today, this is no longer the case. Water-based degreasers use surfactants to emulsify greasy build up and contain penetrating agents that increase the speed of degreasing. 

Compared to solvents, they can be used on a variety of surfaces safely, such as plastic and rubber. Most are pH neutral, so will not cause damage to the surface it is being used on. This also reduces  potential risks when handling or storing the degreaser and can mitigate certain regulations on handling, transport, storage and labelling. 

Value for money
Water-based degreasers can also offer good value for money. Due to their composition, they are transported as concentrates and can be effectively diluted up to a ratio of 1:500. 

There are a wide variety of water-based degreasers available today which should make it easy to find one to suit your specific needs and they can be just as effective as solvent-based solutions. NCH Europe’s Aqua-Sol range, for example, includes a silicate free aerosol that can be sprayed from all angles to clean hard to reach areas more effectively. Because it is silicate free it is also safe to use on or around glass surfaces. The product also foams to ensure maximum contact time on the surface and to prevent run off on vertical surfaces. 

Water-based degreasers are also a more environmentally friendly, safer alternative to work with. Vapours from solvent degreasers can cause inhalation health risks while their high levels of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) can result in a breach of storage legislation. Water based degreasers do not pose inhalation risks, have no or very low levels of VOC’s and are non-flammable.

Water based degreasers are well suited to use in the food industry. Anything used in a food processing setting must be food-safe to eliminate risk of contamination – even degreasers. So any degreaser used here needs to be NSF certified. Very few solvent degreasers achieve this accreditation. 

Do take the time to look at degreaser options. There is a place for water based, solvent and specialist degreasers, but do consider what is the best solution for the job at hand rather than simply sticking with tradition.

Peter Crossen is VP of the Maintenance and Partsmaster Innovation Platform at NCH Europe.

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