By Todd Schaeffer
Vice President and General Manager, Activeion Cleaning Solutions, LLC
Water — it is what we have used to clean for thousands of years. It is the safest liquid we know and, in fact, we are mostly made of it. Without water, there would be no life on earth.
Water is very familiar to us in our everyday life, but how much do we really know about it?
Here''s a quick lesson in water trivia. Water is one of the most unique substances on earth — one of only a few substances that in its normal state is neutral, neither acidic nor basic. It''s the only natural substance that can be a solid, liquid and a gas. The solid form of water — ice — is also unusual because it has a lower density than its liquid form. That''s why ice floats. And, did you know that when water changes from a solid to a liquid it actually expands?
Water has very high surface tension, what chemists refer to as "sticky." This means water sticks together and forms droplets rather than spreading out in a thin film. Great for some things, but not so great for cleaning. Throughout history, we have found that adding cleaning chemicals to water reduces its surface tension and improves its cleaning ability. Chemicals combine with water to help it spread more evenly over a surface to come in contact with more dirt, and actually attract dirt and oil, which helps clean with less work.
What we didn''t always understand were the toxic effects many of these chemicals were having on our bodies and the environment. But times are changing. Recent advances in technology now allow us to activate water''s natural cleaning ability to transform it into a powerful cleaner – without adding chemicals. This water activation process can replace many of today''s chemical cleaners, improving our health and our planet''s well being.
Toxic Chemicals in Our Water
Using cleaning chemicals means that we are often in contact with substances that are toxic to humans, animals and the environment. And, those chemicals don''t go away. When a surface is cleaned, some chemical deposit is generally left behind, exposing people to continued toxic residue.
Evidence to support eliminating cleaning chemicals is mounting. Several studies link cleaning chemicals and chemical residue with health and safety risks. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend more than $75 million each year on medical expenses and lost-time wages due to cleaning chemical-related injuries. A study reported in the Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine demonstrates an increased risk of asthma in adults who are frequently exposed to spray cleaning chemicals.
Our environment suffers too. The Clean Water Fund released research recently that indicates Americans pour 32 million pounds of toxic cleaning chemicals down the drain each year.
Although adding toxic chemicals to water does help remove dirt, it appears that it isn''t the best long-term solution to keeping things clean for our health and safety.
Many articles, including in The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times are pointing to American attitudinal shifts related to cleaning products. Increasingly, consumers have concerns about exposure to toxins, and want to know more about the effects of the chemicals used around them every day to clean. People are concerned about the impact chemicals have on the health and safety of not only the user, but others exposed to the cleaners as well. And people are looking for new ways to clean that aren''t harmful to themselves or their environment.
Electrically Activated Water
Now, there is hope for a better effective daily cleaner — water. Recent findings show that "activating," or adding a slight charge of electricity, to tap water makes it clean better than water in its natural state. And toxic chemicals can be completely removed from the process.
When electricity is applied to water, it behaves differently. In fact, this activated water performs much like water mixed with cleaning chemicals. But the process doesn''t require toxic chemicals to be effective.
Professional cleaners are calling activated water ‘the miracle liquid.'' But it''s not new. The idea of applying electricity to water to make it behave differently has been known for years.
The science of activated water begins with a process called electrolysis, which dates back to inventor and scientist, Michael Farraday (1791 – 1867) and his other contemporaries. Classic water electrolysis involves placing two electrodes into water, connecting one electrode to the positive end of a power source and the other electrode to the negative end, like the (+) and (–) of a typical 9 volt battery.
Applying a small amount of electricity to water in a way similar to classic electrolysis actually breaks down the water''s molecules. This process reduces water''s natural surface tension and creates positively and negatively charged water ions. In some applications it even adds microscopic oxygen gas bubbles that also carry an electrical charge.
When applied to a surface in this new form, water can spread to contact dirt, mimicking the way it does when mixed with chemicals. The charged ions in the water attach to the dirt and help lift it from the surface. Studies show that electrically activated water cleans as well as, or better than, traditional general-purpose cleaning chemicals. And the electrically activated water is completely safe. It returns to its natural state in about 45 seconds.
Electrically activated water is being applied in the cleaning industry in several ways. Some companies offer wall-mounted systems. A leader in commercial cleaning equipment has incorporated the technology into onboard automatic floor scrubbers, and a recent development incorporates a version of this technology into a convenient hand-held spray device for on-demand portable cleaning.
Uses for electrically activated water are expanding. Already, many professionals use electrically activated water technology to clean in hospitals, schools, universities, hotels, and restaurants. These professionals are turning to the technology as a versatile general-purpose cleaner for many surfaces, including glass, stainless steel, wood, stone, marble, plastic and carpet. Activated water has been proven to attack soils, stains, grease, grime, soap scum, mold, mildew and bacteria. And, in some forms, activated water has even been proven to sanitize.
Trends in health and wellness and interest in reducing toxic chemical use, combined with solid scientific support for this technology indicate a rapid shift toward employing activated water as a cleaning solution.
Safer. More Profitable. Environmentally Sustainable.
It''s easy to see why professionals in the cleaning industry might view electrically activated water as a miracle liquid. For people who regularly touch and breathe in typical cleaning chemicals, electrically activated water is a welcome replacement.
According to an EPA-sponsored report, each year six out of every 100 cleaning professionals are injured by the chemicals they use, from burns to the eyes and skin, to injuries from breathing toxic fumes. Activated water frees everyone from serious health risks caused by touching, breathing or accidental splashing of toxic cleaning chemicals.
Beyond being safer, activated water also helps sustain greener environments. It eliminates the need for disposal of harmful toxins into the earth. And, it reduces the resources required to manufacture, package, and ship dangerous chemicals. By using activated water, there is no need to purchase bottles of cleaner in any form. This not only eliminates chemical use, but the packaging for these chemicals as well, reducing unnecessary waste in landfills.
Using water technologies instead of chemical cleaners can save professional cleaning companies considerable money each year. Cleaning with activated water eliminates the need for purchasing, receiving and stocking general-purpose, glass, carpet and stainless steel cleaners, and sanitizers. Using activated water also dramatically diminishes the time cleaning professionals might spend mixing, filling and disposing of dangerous chemicals. All that''s needed is tap water to refill each activated water system.
Activated water is an accepted cleaning tool. It works as well as general-purpose cleaning chemicals and contains no toxic chemicals, making it safer and healthier for the people who clean, the people who live and work in the spaces being cleaned, and the environment. The combination of health benefits, environmental impact and cost savings make the use of electrically activated water systems a true game-changer for the future of the cleaning industry.
And that should make everyone breathe a lot easier.
Vice President and General Manager for Activeion Cleaning Solutions, LLC
Todd Schaeffer is the vice president and general manager for Activeion Cleaning Solutions, LLC, a privately held cleaning technology company headquartered in Rogers, Minn. The company recently launched the Activeion Pro, the first hand-held cleaner that uses activated water technology to transform tap water into a powerful cleaner. For more information, visit www.activeion.com.