Ever wonder what makes these glass cleaners different from just cleaning with alcohol and salt? Honestly, until looking into it, I used to think cleaning solutions were mostly scams when you could do it for much cheaper, but there are definite benefits using some specially designed cleaners. In this article, we will break down what is happening when you clean with just alcohol and salt and then discuss how cleaning products differ from this.
Alcohol and salt
Cleaning using alcohol is taking advantage of basic solvent chemistry. Molecules can be polar or non-polar depending on their chemical structure, and each dissolve in like solvents. Like dissolves like. The resin building up in your pipe is mostly non-polar, and water is polar. This is why the resin does not dissolve much in the water. Alcohol, however, is non-polar, so the resin dissolves readily in alcohol. Using salt at the same time the salt serves as an abrasive to break up the chunks of resin stuck to your glass giving the alcohol more contact with the resin and making cleaning easier.
Solvents and surfactants
Most glass cleaning solutions use a proprietary blend of solvents and surfactants, and some include a bubbling or foaming activity to provide agitation and help with the cleaning process. Solvents work as described above and come in a variety of strengths, but some solvents, including rubbing alcohol, can be toxic. So, it is important to follow the directions for your cleaner and rinse thoroughly when necessary. There are some solvents which are not toxic such as d-Limonene, a terpene. When this is the primary solvent, you probably don’t have to be so worried about thoroughly rinsing, but there may still be other harmful additives. Always be sure to follow the instructions for the cleaner you are using.
Surfactants are also commonly seen additives to glass cleaners. Surfactants are molecules that help to emulsify and dissolve the resin better by promoting more interaction between the solvent and the resin. This helps to remove fine films and residue leaving the piece shining like the day you got it. Since companies use a propriety blend, they generally offer little information on their special blend. This makes it difficult to tell how effective they will be from the label. For this reason, I would recommend looking up reviews and videos or trying several before selecting a go-to glass cleaner.
TAG offers CannaClean because it offers a safe, effective means of getting your piece sparkling clean. CannaClean contains no fragrances or dyes which can hang around in your pipe long after you’ve cleaned it. CannaClean is nonflammable, compared to cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and salt this can be significantly safer. CannaClean doesn’t use any overly powerful solvents that can hang around in your glass and that can be harmful to you as a user and the environment in production and disposal. Instead, CannaClean uses renewable and sustainable resources in their products. At CannaClean, they are committed to their transparency and currently working to update their website with information on their ingredients and why they are a safer, more renewable option to isopropyl alcohol and salt or other glass cleaning products.