What is Detergent and What Does it Do?
Commercial dishwasher and glasswasher detergents are formed from a mixture of chemicals that are designed to clean food and drink soiled crockery, glasses etc.
They come in many forms (powders, tablets, liquids etc.) but by and large contain certain ingredients that include enzymes, phosphates, rust-prevention substances, bleaching agents and, most importantly, surfactants (more on these later on).
Proportions and strength vary between products so, even if two brands contain the same ingredients, it’s quite possible they will produce different results.
What is Rinse-aid and What Does it Do?
As the name suggests, rinse-aid is designed to assist with the process of rinsing water off the plates and glasses at the end of the wash cycle.
The most important ingredient in rinse-aid is surfactants.
The Role of Surfactants in Detergent & Rinse Aid
It sounds illogical as we use it for almost all cleaning processes, but water is actually highly unsuited to cleaning.
Water has a high surface tension (the second highest of any liquid after mercury) which means that its molecules like to cling onto each other – molecules on the surface cling on particularly hard because they don’t have any molecules above them to hold onto.
This is the reason why you can fill a glass of water slightly over the rim without it spilling and why raindrops roll down windows in droplets instead of spreading out uniformly.
Increasing the temperature of water reduces its surface tension slightly. However, chemicals (surfactants) need to be added to reduce surface tension to the point where it is able to wash effectively.
Surfactants (short for surface active agent) help to reduce surface tension because they give water molecules something else to hold onto instead of neighboring molecules.
Whilst an essential ingredient in both, surfactants in detergents and rinse-aid perform different functions.
Surfactants in detergent:
Help clean glassware and crockery by reducing the surface tension of water to a point where it emulsifies with fats, oils and grease so that they can be washed away.
Surfactants in rinse aid:
Break the self-binding property (surface tension) of water so that instead of forming droplets the molecules spread out into thinner sheets that fall off glasses and plates.
The thinning of water also allows the residual water to evaporate more quickly, aiding the drying time.
Is it Worth Investing in High Quality Detergent & Rinse Aid?
It is a mistake to believe that all chemicals are the same irrespective of price. In fact, there is a marked difference in the quality of premium products compared to cheaper alternatives.
All reputable suppliers will use high quality raw materials, it is the way in which these raw materials are formulated into the final product that affects their performance.
Cheaper brands tend not to use chemicals in the recommended dosage (usually to cut costs) and are therefore not as effective. Premium brands, on the other hand, are highly concentrated so they can withstand the rigours of the hospitality industry and clean even the dirtiest load types.
Whilst it is tempting to opt for a cheaper product, especially in times such as these when everyone is looking to minimize costs, it is important to understand that investing in a high-quality product will likely be more cost effective in the long run.
Due to their concentration, premium products achieve the desired result using a lower dosage and therefore don’t need to be ordered as frequently as an inferior product.
With weaker products, the dosage will likely need to be increased to get an acceptable result and loads that are not properly clean may even need to be rewashed. Overall, the sheer inconvenience and uncertainty that this causes can end up costing considerably more in both time and money than if a quality product is bought in the first place.
It is also worth bearing in mind that that high quality chemicals help maintain the performance and longevity of the machine by helping to prevent limescale build up, increasing the efficacy of washes and allowing for shorter wash cycles to be deployed more frequently.
Our Own Range of Detergents & Rinse aids
We’ve worked exclusively with an internationally respected chemical manufacturer for over 30 years and through them, we’ve been able to create the a range of detergents and rinse-aids designed to produce the best results when used with our commercial dishwashers and glasswashers.
The main purpose of using a detergent is to break down and remove fat, oil and grease from dishes, cutlery and glassware. Supawash and Supakleen contain Sodium Hydroxide which helps to do this through the process of saponification (saponification is the conversion of fat, oil or lipid into soap and water).
The efficiency of Supawash and Supakleen is further increased by the addition of sequestrants which reduce the level of limescale-building ions, such as magnesium and calcium, in the wash water. These ions not only prevent the detergent from working to its full effect but also accumulate and start to cause serious limescale damage to the machine itself.
Supadri is a blend of non-ionic surfactant, phosphoric acid* and alcohol. As explained earlier, the surfactant reduces the surface tension of the water allowing it to spread out and fall off the surface more easily instead of forming droplets.
The thinning of the water combined with the small amount of alcohol speeds up the drying time by helping the water to evaporate more quickly. Finally, the phosphoric acid helps to remove any minerals (which can leave a powdery, streaky finish if not removed), breaking them down in to carbon dioxide and soluble salt so they can be safely rinsed away.
*Phosphoric Acid vs Phosphates
These two chemicals are often confused but they are different.
We are aware that there has been a lot of recent press coverage on the damaging effects of phosphates as they release a substance which causes algal blooms (the green covering on lakes and ponds that block light from getting the water harm the plans and animals that need it.)
However, Supadri Rinse Aid contains Phosphoric Acid which is not listed as harmful to the environment. The small amount in our rinse-aid is neutralized when it exits the machine as it mixes with the rest of the wastewater.