Dirty Little Secrets of pH – Part 2
© Copyright 2009
Flasbback To Carpet Cleaning
Wall to wall carpeting came into popularity in the 60’s. The first generation was shag carpeting and only available in limited colors like what I call, blood red, yucky orange, weird green and you get the idea. This was first generation nylon carpeting. Nylon was developed and patented by Dupont and used for parachutes. It later found many other uses like rope, hmmm maybe womens’ stockings replacing silk, and carpeting. It is strong, durable, soft and takes color well.
To make nylon, fiber mills like Dupont and Monsanto (there’s that name again), would pour heated liquid polymer and color (dye), forcing this into a extruder. This resulted in what is called, continuous nylon filament (long stuff that goes on and on until you cut it off). It was wound on spools and sold to the carpet makers.
The shape was round in this first generation of nylon carpeting. There was one huge problem for the carpet makers. It showed the dirt. Now you might think, well that’s OK, then I know it needs to be cleaned right? Well, it did not just show the dirt, it was magnifying the dirt. It all goes to light and how light refracts. The problem was in the round shape of the fiber. People complained to the dealers where they bought it. The dealers complained to the carpet mills and the mills complained to the fiber producers. The chemists of Dupont, Monsanto and others, came up with new shapes that would refract the light differently and not show the dirt as much. But still, you were left with the carpet you could not afford to replace, so you would have it cleaned by a ‘rug sucker.’
Having your carpets cleaned? Well, this person shows up at your home with stuff and equipment. It heats water with chemicals (soap). The idea is that hot water requires less chemical, would kill bacteria and would dry faster. This hot water would be injected into the surface of the carpet under pressure. The pressurized hot water would agitate the carpet fibers and the water with the cleaning agents would suspend the soil. Then this dirty water would be extracted with a powerful vacuum, pulling it into a hose and into a containment system.
This whole process was patterned after our washing machines. Water fills and saturates our dirty clothes, lines and stuff or water is injected inmto the fibers. Fabric or fiber absorbs the cleaning agent (soap) and water, suspending the soil. The tub turns or pressurized water ‘agitates’, the fibers, dislodging the soil. The tub empties; begins to spin quickly or the water is vacuumed, extracting the dirty soil. Rinse cycle begins; the extraction process is repeated or more water is extracted from the carpet with a chemical rinse of water and proper pH, to return it to as neutral a state as is possible. This is the theory anyway. The practice can vary, but most rug suckers have no idea what they are doing or not doing what they should.
The cleaning pie consists of: Chemical Action, Mechanical Action, Temperature and Time.
Basic Rule of Cleaning:
If you have enough time, you can clean almost anything. To reduce the time, you must increase one or more of the other pieces in the cleaning pie – Chemical action, Mechanical action and/or temperature.
Basic Rule of Chemistry:
Chemical efficiency rises for every 18° F. increase in temperature. The hotter the water, the less chemical is needed. Softening the water also helps to increase efficiency. Hard water deposits in your hot water tank become like rock. The temperature first must heat these deposits, before it can heat the water.
Heated water and softened water require less chemical, less energy to first heat the minerals, rocks or hard water deposits and require less time to dry.
This all sounds great right? But there were more problems.
I know (you are wondering), what does this have to do with pH balancing right? Hold on, I’m getting there.
WOW, this stuff is really getting dirty! We are not done. There is much more to come and more ‘Dirty Little Secrets‘ to share next time.