From the Lab – A Note on Blended Solvents

From the lab…

There are several alternative solvents on the market that are a combination of hydrocarbon and an additional glycol ether. The makers of these blended solvents claim benefits of “better cleaning, increased productivity, and lower costs.” These same benefits can be achieved using traditional hydrocarbon solvent because the properties of both solvents are essentially equivalent.

Looking at the chemistry of blended solvents, we see they are composed of both polar (glycol ether) and nonpolar (hydrocarbon) molecules. The glycol ether molecules are attracted to each other and to certain articles of clothing, separating them from the hydrocarbon during cleaning. Additionally, if the glycol ether portion of the solvent has a higher boiling point than the hydrocarbon, the chemicals will be further separated during distillation.

The reality of blended solvents is that the composition can change throughout the cleaning and distillation process. These solvents are unstable mixtures that will eventually break down and the drycleaner will be left essentially with hydrocarbon solvent.

For drycleaners looking to boost the cleaning cleaning power of hydrocarbon solvent, Fabritec Boost is a degreasing aid made up of chemicals comparable to those that have been added to blended solvents. Boost can be injected into a traditional hydrocarbon or heated hydrocarbon system to target heavy grease stained loads, essentially creating a blended solvent as needed.

Amy Bartlett, Director of Research