Washing Chemicals in Wash Water Reclamation Systems
Most people now realize that Wash Water Reclamation Systems require the use of washing
chemicals that do not defeat the water cleaning process.
Most chemical companies now offer “Quick Release” products to fulfill the need for a good
soap that is effective at removing grease and road film while being unstable enough to
breakdown in the reclaim process.
The purpose of this communiqe is to offer a greater understanding of the complications a
rising from the use of an incorrect washing detergent and to help in locating the “right”
detergent that allows for the proper operation of your wash water recycling systems.
It is worth mentioning that all systems discharging to sanitary sewers through oil/water
separators, as well as recycling systems, would benefit form heeding the advice offered herein.
to the point that they will flow from the vehicle before the emulsion breaksdown.
If an emulsion is too unstable, re-deposition of the oil and greas is possible.
Emulsification occurs when two normally immiscible liquids are successfully mixed. One of the
liquids (oil, in this case) forms tiny droplets that suspend within the other liquid(water, in this
case) by means of agitation and a detergent. The resulting effluent is wash water containing
oil that is both mechanically and chemically emulsified. The mechanically-emulsified oil will
separate from the water when the agitation stops and sufficient quiet time elapses allowing
for the oil to surface. The water and chemically-emulsified oil, on the other hand, will not
separate on their own unless the detergent used is designed to allow it to happen.
Our days are numbered that we may continue to allow this permanently emulsified waste stream to go
unchecked out the door of the industrial sector. For some, those days are already in the past.
The local multi-million-dollar Sewer plant cannot handle the oil and greases being sent to them.
so it is rasonable to assume that a $30,000 on-site reclaim system cannot handle it either.
It’s simple; before the waste wash water can be reclaimed by anyone or anything, the emulsion of oil
and water must be broken.
Traditionally, users of detergents have discharged the effluent down the drain with no thought as to
what happened next. Once the user installs an oil/water eparator or full recycling system, the
consequences of emulsification are encountered. Chemical emulsification defeats the oil separating
capabilities of water cleaning systems, returning to the pressure washer operator unimproved. In the
process, the filters and carbon are fouled rendering them ineffective. Remember, there is much to be
gained by improving sewer discharges to avoid high.
Soap is a curious substance, designed to solve an intriguing problem. Most dirt that will not simply
wipe off or be shaken out is in fast some form of fat or grease. In most households the most
common leaning agent is tap water.
The problem is that grease and water fall into two different and largely incompatible chemical groups.
Drop oil into water, and it will tend to float or form discrete droplets. Pour water into oil and you will
see the same effect. Additionally, substances such as salt and sugar that dissolve in water will not
dissolve in oil, whereas something like petrol will only float on water but is quite capable of dissolving
This difference in behavior is due to the nature of the molecules involved.
Water is largely polar, that is, water molecules tend to separate into fragments with opposite electrical
charges, one positive and one negative. Chemicals such as table salt that happen to be made up of
collections of charged fragments, or ions, find it easy to dissolve in water because the positive ions in
the salt are attracted to the negative ions in the salt are attracted to the negative ions in the water,
and vice versa. Similary, the charged nature of water means that water is a good conductor of electricity.
Fats and oils, on the other hand, tend not to be polar. Their molecules have no particular electrical
charge, and so are not attracted to polar substances such as salt.Instead, they prefer to bond with
other non-polar substances. Fats and oils tend to be electrical insulators.
This, then, returns us to the washing-up. You have a greasy dish in a bowl of water, but the grease is
showing no inclination to dissolve in the water because the water is polar and the grease is not.
Attack the grease with a cloth and most of what you achieve is to move it around on the plate,
because it is trying to flatten itself against the surface of the plate in a effort to get away from the
The soap molecule is a halfway house. It consists of a long strand with an ionic water-loving,
grease-repelling group on one end, and a non-polar grease-loving, water-repelling group on the
other. If you drop soap into clean water, all the molecules gather on the surface with their water-
loving (hydrophilic) ionic ends stuck in the water and their fat-loving (lipophilic) ends waving in the
air. Slide a dirty dish in, however, and the lipophilic end of each molecule sticks to the grease as it
As the dish sinks, it takes the soap molecules with it, attached by their heads to the grease but still
waving their hydrophilic tails in the water like microscopic tadpoles.
All you have to do now is bash at the dirt with a sponge or cloth, and it can be persuaded to
leave the plate, for as it lifts off the surface it becomes insulated from the water as new soap
molecules rush in and try to bury their heads in it. The end result is a small blob of grease completely
surrounded by a layer of soap molecules, all with their lipophilic heads pointing inwards and their
hydrophilic tails pointing outwards As far as the grease is concerned, all it can see are lipophilic
molecules, and as far as the water is concerned, all it can see is a rather large hydrophilic lump.
Eventually, of course, all the soap molecules are used up, and you have to tip out the washing-up
water and start again. Pass the tea-towel.
Although olive plantations and olive oil production were known since earliest antiquity-tablets
from Ebla dated 2400 BC mention olives and olive oil-the actual manufacture of soap from olive oil
seems to have been a more recent development.
Soap is first mentioned as a medicinal lotion used in the treatment of certain conditions of the scalp
and skin. This early soap was produced from animal and oils.
It is cited in early Sumerian and Assyrian tables, as well as in Egyptian papyri. The Roman historian
Pliny, writing in the 1st century AD, attributes the invention of soap to the Gauls.
Whatever its origins, by the Early Middle Ages soap produced from olive had become a thriving
business all over the civilized world. Aleppo in Northern Syria was particularly famous for the quality of
its soap produced in the many small workshops concentrated in the Bab Qinnisrin area.
By the 16th century, the workshops had been transformed into large factories and specialized areas
(Hay Al-Masabin), Souks (Shari Al-Sabbana)and Khans (Khan Al Saboun) came into being to cater for
the booming soap industry. And they are still in existence to day.
Commercial soap Companies use salt in a soap mixture to separate the glycerin from the soap. Then
they siphon off the glycerin leaving only a detergent soap(not real soap). It is then sold at high cost
for Shampoo’s, expensive soaps or used to make explosives.
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