How do Solvents Clean?

Yup another run down the path of the high-tech world of cleaning chemistry.  What are solvents?  Do you think of turpentine when you hear the word solvent?  I do.  That said I obviously wouldn’t be writing this if I was here to talk about the virtues of hydrocarbon cleaning products.  We are edging our way away from that stuff.  Solvents have even outlived their usefulness in some ways.  Some surfactant cleaners are without a doubt better than the old-world hydrocarbon solvent of yesteryear. 
For example, a few weeks back, I wrote about the virtues of DFE Alpha 3.  Frikin’ amazing stuff.  I just degreased my engine with it,  and its pretty clean!  No solvent whatsoever.  Solvents, just the same, are coming at us and getting better and safer every day.  D’limonene smells great and cuts grease like crazy.  It has a few disadvantages though; it’s flammable in solutions over 40%, it isn’t really all that safe in general and it costs a fortune.  All this from citrus peels… really. 
Soy solvents known as soy esters are even better.  They cut through paint and grease like nobody’s business.  Even better they have spawned a whole new generation of solvent type surfactants that avoid flammability all together.
Over the coming years solvents will probably be reduced to a nominal part of cleaning chemistry as a whole.  That considered how do solvents clean?  Well solvents don’t really clean, but they help in the process of dissolving non-water-soluble products.  Choosing the right solvent is easy if you ask the right people.  Consider this next time you go down the path of project cleaning.  A quick phone call and a short trip or short wait for delivery can save you a ton of time.  Think about when you got lost driving in the good old days before you had the benefit of GPS mapping!  Time isn’t always money, but it is finite!

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