New Alconox Blog



Thursday, May 31, 2007

Etching During Cleaning

My system has the following materials in it: CPVC, stainless steel, cast iron and copper; should I expect an 8% Citrajet solution to etch any of these materials?

No etching will occur on CPVC, Stainless Steel, cast iron and copper from 8% Citrajet. Cast iron might rust in the rinse water, especially if you use hot rinse water. Use water below 120 deg F to rinse cast iron and then dry quickly.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cleaning Light Bulb Filaments

How do you clean oxides from light bulb filaments?

When cleaning oxides from light bulb filaments our recommendation is 8% Citrajet for a contact time of at least 3 seconds at about 140 deg F. In principle, every 10 deg C you go up, doubles the cleaning speed. At 185 deg F, you would be roughly 20 deg C

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pre-soaking Pipettes

Why is it important to pre-soak pipettes in 1% Alconox or Liquinox before washing in pipette siphon washer with Alcotabs?

The most common problem in pipette cleaning is residues that dry on after use and prior to cleaning. This problem is attributed to the failure to pre-soak the pipettes immediately after use. Our technical experts at Alconox recommend placing soiled pipettes in 1% Alconox or Liquinox solution immediately. For the purpose of detergency, it does not matter if pipettes are place tips up or tips down during pre-soak. The important thing is to make sure the pipette is completely immersed in solution with no part exposed to air where there would be a meniscus to potentially leave a ring or even an etch the pipette. For fewer broken pipette tips, it is recommended to place pipettes tips upward, if possible. However, for cleaning extremely viscous or difficult residues there is possibly a theoretical advantage to putting the pipettes in tips down to pre-soak because when they are lifted out of the pre-soak any loosely adhered residue or particulate will drain out the bottom and not have to pass thru the entire length of the pipette before it is removed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Washing Pipettes

Is there a CAP approved procedure for washing pipettes?

There is no CAP approved procedure for washing pipettes. Alconox, Inc recommends using Alcotabs in combination with a pipette siphon washer after a pre-soak with Alconox or Liquinox for effective batch pipette cleaning for laboratory use.
Our suggested directions are to first completely immerse pipettes immediately after use in a pre-soak solution of 1% Alconox or 1% Liquinox. When ready to clean drop an ALCOTAB into bottom of siphon pipette washer. Place pipettes in holder into the washer. Turn on cold or warm water at a rate that will fill the washer and completely cover all pipettes, then drain to the bottom during each cycle. Run water until ALCOTAB has completely dissolved, continue running water to rinse thoroughly (may take an hour to complete washing and rinsing). For analytical or tissue culture work use distilled or deionized water for final rinse.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rinsing with Tap Water

Does tap water rinse as well as purified water?

As far as detergency is concerned, tap water will rinse just as well as any purified water. Rinsing is a mass displacement mechanism and in itself does not depend on the purity of the rinse water. The reason to be concerned with the purity of the rinse water is that whatever is in the rinse water can deposit on your instrument when the water evaporates away during drying. In the case of medical instrument cleaning, the primary concern would be anything that would interfere with the following sterilization step. Any reasonably clean tap water will rinse away the detergent/residue mixture left on the instrument from the cleaning process and would be clean enough that it would not leave a pathogen shielding film or residue that would inhibit the sterilization process. In instances where chemical disinfection is being used without a further sterilization step, then it can be critical to use high purity water to rinse with, however when rinsing is intermediate to a final sterilization step, there is greatly reduced risk of cleaning and sterilization failure due to the rinse water. You do run the risk of water spots from calcium and magnesium deposits in the event that the tap water has a high mineral content. This can be minimized by wiping instruments dry or shaking them off to remove water droplets. In either case, even if incidental water spots are formed, water spots would not cause sterilization failure.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook

Dr. Carole LeBlanc of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Massachusetts indicates in the forward of The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook that Alconox, Inc has a "self-imposed mission to educate the public about aqueous cleaning."

Forward to The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook
Most cleaning practitioners are familiar with the story: the scientists who developed chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), first as refrigerants and then as solvents, had struck upon what they thought were safe, inert materials. CFCs would replace petroleum- based chemicals known for their health hazards. CFCs were relatively inexpensive, readily available and most importantly, they worked.

What the researchers did not know was the impact these chlorine-containing substances would have on the ozone layer: that portion of the atmosphere responsible for shielding the earth from some of the solar system's most harmful ultraviolet
(UV) rays.

Chlorine (Cl) atoms participate in the destruction of ozone (O3) as they randomly make their way into the upper atmosphere. The reaction is catalytic with the potential for one (1) Cl atom to destroy thousands of O3 molecules. The introduction of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as secondary replacement chemicals reduced but did not eliminate this danger.

CFCs and HCFCs also increase global warming by interfering with the atmosphere's natural ability to radiate heat away from the planet. This exacerbates the Greenhouse Effect most noticeably impacted by fossil fuel burning.

The international Montreal Protocol treaty and the U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments govern the usage and production of most of these compounds, including VOC (volatile organic compound) emitters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) identifies acceptable substitutes. These laws purposefully devastated organic and chlorinated solvent markets while fostering research and development. Hundreds of companies specializing in surface preparation, cleaning, rinsing, drying and inspection owe their economic feasibility to regulatory drivers.

In addition, the U.S. EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) provides a powerful tracking tool for looking at the places and the reasons hazardous chemicals are used. This transpired against a back drop of Right-to-Know legislation and chemical accidents culminating, in no small measure, with the inception of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). The occurrence of the words "test data unavailable" or "unknown" on many of these documents helped set the stage for other environmental initiatives.
Initiatives in northern Europe have begun to reflect the precautionary principle. This is the EH&S equivalent to the Hippocratic medical oath, "First do no harm." The translation: sell no product whose environmental, health and safety concerns have not yet been elucidated.

The principle represents a radical departure from conventional thinking that may be lost on those not directly involved in the chemical industry Thousands of new chemicals enter the market each year while little is known about the vast majority of existing chemicals. This would no longer be tolerated under a system that demands thorough environmental and health information before exposure (as opposed to after a potential, unknown disaster). Chemical manufacturers would have stronger stewardship responsibilities. Products would take longer to reach the marketplace. And once a substance was deemed safe, who would be liable for any errors that are sure to occur? It remains to be seen whether American society, steeped in litigation, can rise to the occasion.

Testing parameters other than those based on the cancer paradigm need to be determined. The study of chemicals' effects at low concentrations, should be expanded (negative impacts from low-dose exposures include hormone mimickers and endocrine disrupters). The effects of chemical mixtures, individually thought to be benign, bear more investigation. Methods of extrapolating test data as well as gender and age differentials require review.

Other problems remain. Most government policies focus on chemical handling and use. They do not necessarily take into account a chemical's life cycle or environmental fate. Nor do they fully consider the drain that chemical manufacture can place on natural resources and raw materials. Risks may simply be shifting from the site of usage to the chemical's production plant (or power plant) rather than real progress being made. This is especially worrisome in light of environmental justice issues.

It is no wonder, then, that many industries are rediscovering water (H2O) as the ideal cleaning medium, the only universal solvent truly non-toxic to both humans and the environment. Like the CFC and HCFC designers, today's formulators will undoubtedly push aqueous (i.e., water-based) cleaners to the scientific limits of the day. This is no time for intellectual arrogance. Chemical exposures effect workers, consumers and communities. Early partnering with stakeholders may ameliorate
the mistakes historically associated with the discovery process.

The constituents and mechanisms of aqueous cleaners must be understood. Surfactants and emulsifiers, alkaline builders and the dependence on water and energy (increasingly precious resources in an over-populated world), all matter to the concerned scientist. One suspects that not all aqueous cleaners are created equal.

There are challenging opportunities for advancement. It is possible to envision the day when manufacturers will no longer be forced to use hazardous materials for surface cleaning in the production of quality goods and services. Furthermore, toxic-free analytical techniques for surface evaluation will be invented that are superior to those now in use.

Based on the cornerstones of pollution prevention and cleaner production,* pursuit of this vision minimizes or eliminates environmental impacts and health and safety risks linked to many industrial cleaning applications. These objectives support a more sustainable business plan, leading to better job security and overall quality of life.

Alconox, Inc. deserves much credit for its self-imposed mission to educate the public about aqueous cleaning. Readers, prepare to learn well from this Handbook.
Click for more information on The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Aqueous Cleaning Handbook Forward

Who wrote the forward of The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook?

The forward of The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook was written by Dr. Carole LeBlanc of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Massachusetts. Alconox, Inc wrote The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook to assist customers understand the science behind the solution.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Aqueous Cleaning Handbook

Alconox, Inc has written The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook to assist customers understand the science behind the solution. How does the printing of The Aqueous Cleaning Handbook support American Forests?

For every Aqueous Cleaning Handbook printed, Alconox, Inc. donates one dollar to American Forests to support forestry conservation and tree-planting projects. American Forests has been promoting protection and sustainable management of forest ecosystems since 1875.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Elliot Lebowitz Helps with the Katrina Aftermath

Did you know that Alconox’s Chief Operations Officer helped clean up the Gulf Coast following Katrina? Elliot Lebowitz believes that helping Katrina victims is part of his personal and professional responsibility.

When it comes to helping others facing disaster, many just shrug their shoulders and say "that’s too bad."

For Elliot Lebowitz, however, chief operating officer for well-known aqueous cleaner maker Alconox, Inc., providing relief for victims of hurricane Katrina meant more
than opening a corporate checkbook. He rolled up his sleeves and went to work as a disaster volunteer.

After seeing images of the devastation to areas of Louisiana where he had once lived, he signed on as a volunteer with the West Chester, PA chapter of the American Red Cross. Upon completing training, he was on the ground in Pass Christian and Gulfport, Mississippi on September 29, exactly one month after Katrina made landfall. For three weeks he served as a driver of a 30-foot truck, unloading supplies at displaced-person and volunteer shelters. "Everywhere I looked," says Lebowitz, "I thought a bomb had gone off. People looked shell-shocked." American flags were flying everywhere, "often the only mark that a home had once stood on the site," he adds.
Trees Displaced by Nature’s Power

As an advanced amateur photographer, Lebowitz recorded images of the environmental ruin, especially to the tree canopy along the once lush Gulf coast. His avocation of nature photography stems from a long-standing interest in the environment and how best to conserve it: "I have always been interested in the environment, especially after living in Texas as a young man on a small ranch."

His concern for the natural world has carried over into his career, and his company has supported the national conservation group American Forests since 1998.
According to that group, coastal forests do more than beautify the environs. Communities recovering from hurricane damage need help restoring the urban and rural forests that provide the life-giving benefits of clean air and water. Trees help control storm water, cool and clean the air, and help remove toxins from groundwater.
Carrying out his Red Cross volunteer duties, Lebowitz witnessed the damage to wetlands and woodlands stemming from Katrina firsthand. It made him realize how long it was going to take to rebuild the communities and their ecosystems: "Don’t forget that we are talking about hundreds of square miles of complete destruction to not only homes, but the entire green infrastructure of the area - trees for protective shade, bird habitats, and urban cover all stripped bare of leaves, uprooted or dead from the salt water surging onto the land."

The rebuilding process has already begun with funding from American Forests. Through its Katrina ReLeaf initiative, activities are being supported such as helping local groups plant new trees native to the Gulf region, flush salt from tree roots with fresh water, and cover exposed roots with soil and mulch.
Reclamation an Ongoing Effort

Lebowitz carried memories of his experience with him long after returning home from the Gulf coast. He was not alone. More than 200,000 people volunteered through the Red Cross and other charities to help with the relief effort. "I am very glad that I was able to be there,” Lebowitz adds, "to see the area firsthand and meet the people that were affected by Katrina."

According to American Forests’ website at, there are a number of activities companies can become involved with to advance the restoration and revitalization of areas hit by environmental catastrophe and deforestation. A Red Cross relief worker at a local chapter or contact the American Red Cross at their website at for information on volunteer opportunities. "It was extraordinary to meet volunteers from all over this country as well as Canada and Bermuda," concludes Lebowitz. "The reclamation effort in this part of the country by volunteers was enormous by any standard, and I was proud to be a part of it."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Alconox Interactions with Bleach

Can you add bleach to 1% Alconox?

Bleach can be added to 1% Alconox solution (or any working percentage of Alconox) to enhance the decontamination or disinfection properties. There are no adverse reactions that interfere with the bleach disinfection or the detergency of the Alconox.
If specific bleach contact time (sometimes designated for decontamination of specific pathogens), then we recommend that you should clean with 1% Alconox or other Alconox brand cleaner first to assure that you have a clean surface. Following this use a separate bleach solution for specific designated time to be sure you have achieved your disinfection goal.