Understanding Product Dilution Ratio
Each snow foam product comes with a recommended dilution ratio, typically presented as a range, such as 1:10 to 1:20. It's important to note that the recommended dilution ratio can vary significantly among different snow foams. Therefore, it's not advisable to assume that the same amount will work for every snow foam you own, especially if you use multiple types.
It's crucial to remember that adjusting the dilution ratio will not only impact the thickness of the foam but also the cleaning power. If you opt for the highest dilution ratio without considering whether it is necessary, particularly when using an alkaline snow foam, it can potentially have a negative effect on any applied waxes or sealants over time.
Method 1 - Dilution Ratio
The majority of snow foams provide clear instructions regarding their dilution ratio, such as 1:10. In this example, you would add 100 mL of the product to 1000 mL of water in your foam cannon. Additionally, some snow foams conveniently specify the precise amount in mL or oz., making it straightforward to determine the required quantity of product for optimal usage.
Method 2 - Panel Impact Ratio
Calculating the ideal amount of snow foam to add to your foam cannon for optimal results is best determined through a more accurate method. Bilt Hamber Auto Foam and Touch-Less both utilize this approach.
The Panel Impact Ratio (PIR) of a snow foam refers to the concentration of the product when it makes contact with the car's surface, rather than solely considering the amount added to the foam cannon. This method is more precise because different combinations of pressure washers and foam cannons can result in varying degrees of dilution within the foam cannon itself. By utilizing the PIR, you ensure consistency by working backward with the calculation.
The PIR is typically expressed as a percentage, typically ranging from 1% to 4%. Here's how you can calculate it accurately.
- Fill your snow foam cannon with water.
- Dispense the cannon filled with water into a bucket.
- Measure how much water was dispensed.
- Calculate the desired PIR by calculating the percentage of how much water was dispensed in step 3.
So If the snow foam cannon is filled to 1 L, and you connect it to your pressure washer and dispense it fully and this results in 10 L of water in the bucket, then the pressure washer is diluting it by 10x. If the snow foam has a recommended PIR of 4%, then you would calculate 4% of 10 L which is 400 mL (0.4 L). This means you need to add 400 mL of snow foam to your cannon, and then top it up with water by adding 600 mL to achieve the correct panel impact ratio.
Some snow foams such as Autobrite Magifoam will not give a dilution ratio or PIR, but instead will say something like “add 1-2 inches of snow foam to your foam cannon and top up with water”.
This isn’t massively helpful as different foam cannons have different widths, meaning the dilution will be completely different depending on the shape of your foam cannon.
However, from experience, it’s usually safe to assume that 1 inch roughly equates to 75 mL of product. So in this case, you would add 75 mL of snow foam and 925 mL of water to your foam cannon for the 1″ measurement, or 150 mL of snow foam and 850 mL of water for the 2″ measurement.
Choose a Higher Foaming Snow Foam
If you desire a thicker foam, it's important to choose a snow foam product that offers greater foaming ability.
Keep in mind that certain snow foams, such as Bilt Hamber Auto Foam and Touch-Less, will never achieve a "thick" consistency even if you double the recommended dilution ratio due to their composition. However, other foams like Autobrite Magifoam can still maintain an incredibly thick texture even when using the lowest recommended dilution.
Typically, a thicker snow foam will adhere to the panel for a longer duration, allowing more time for effective cleaning. However, this is not always the case.
Some extremely thick foams may also have a tendency to dry quickly, causing them to slide off the panel rapidly. In such instances, using a higher dilution ratio of such a foam could result in reduced dwell time, as the weight of the foam causes it to slide down the panel more rapidly.