Wetting Index – Why Does It Matter?

In the cleaning solution industry, the term “wetting” refers to a liquid’s ability to remain in contact with a solid surface after it is applied — a bond between the substances that results from intermolecular interactions; specifically, a “force balance between adhesive and cohesive forces.” To measure the “wettability” of cleaning solutions, chemists use what is known as the “wetting index”, which gauges a solution’s ability to penetrate between closely spaced parts.

Why the Wetting Index Matters
When companies need a solution that can clean a system of closely spaced components — such as those that you would find in a standard combustion engine — in a short period of time, with minimal effort required of the end user, it’s especially important to consider the wettability of a solution before using it. Because it rates the wettability of cleaning solutions, the wetting index makes it easier to choose a product whose wettability is suitable for the application in question.

In the absence of assessing the wettability of cleaning solutions, companies often engage in a process of trial and error until they find a solution that delivers the right cleaning action. In the meantime, the applications for which they use improper cleaning solutions can lead to improper maintenance of mechanical parts, and, by extension, the failure of the parts while in service.

Ultimately, using the wetting index to identify viable cleaning solutions can help companies save money on cleaning products, mitigate equipment repair costs, and maintain productivity.

Putting the Wetting Index to Use
Because the wetting index is a scientific construct that non-scientists rarely put to use, it helps to explain the efficacy of the index by providing a hypothetical example of its application. Say that an aerospace company needs a cleaning solution for quickly degreasing the engines of aerospace equipment when it is not in use. In this situation, the wetting index could be used to ascertain that a vapor degreasing solvent would work better than an aqueous degreaser.

Because the cleaning action of an aqueous solvent depends primarily on the solution’s ingredients and the force with which the product is applied, the solvent may not be suitable for cleaning tight spaces between engine parts. Conversely, the cleaning action of a solvent that is applied in vapor form depends on the product’s wettability and not the force with which you apply it, although, as with aqueous solvents, the solvent’s ingredients will play a major role, as well.

Need Help Choosing a Cleaner?
If so, information provided in the wetting index could be a key to selecting the right product on the first try. At Ecolink, we don’t expect you to possess the knowledge of an experienced chemist when it comes to assessing wettability; that is what we are here for. Simply contact us and explain your cleaning needs, and we will identify the right solution. If we don’t carry a pre-formulated product that meets your needs, we can create a custom product that does.

Call us today at (800) 563-1305, or fill out our contact form.