When producing any type of cleaning product, the base needs to have certain characteristics. For example, it needs to be a strong chemical base, react well with grease and fats, have a high affinity for water and be able to degrade various materials. Potassium hydroxide (KOH) has all these characteristics and more.
What is potassium hydroxide?
In its liquid form, potassium hydroxide solution (KOH aqueous, KOH solution, KOH liquid, caustic potash or potash lye) is a colourless inorganic liquid that acts as a strong alkali base. When it is a solid, potassium hydroxide is a white, strong alkaline, corrosive solid or powder.
Its small molecular size enables potassium hydroxide to penetrate oil molecules fast, separating them from surfaces relatively quickly. Potassium hydroxide is also corrosive, with high thermal stability, good reactivity towards acid and high solubility in water.
Furthermore, it is an alkali, a good grease remover which forms an emulsion, a mixture that holds oily or solid particles in suspension in wash water that can be easily rinsed away. All of this makes potassium hydroxide a useful compound for a number of applications, including heavy duty cleaning products such as drain de-blockers and oven cleaners.
How does potassium hydroxide work as a cleaning agent?
To use potassium hydroxide as a cleaning agent, it needs to be combined with surfactants and other alkalinity sources before being dissolved in water. The resulting liquid or solid can be used to remove most contaminants from a variety of surfaces. It works by lowering the surface tension of the solution, separating the contaminant from the surface and forming an emulsion. The surfactants have one end that is soluble in water (hydrophilic) and one end that is soluble in oil (hydrophobic), creating an oil-water emulsion that is easy to rinse away.
It is important to note that the concentration of potassium hydroxide should be varied depending on the surface being cleaned. For example, steel, cast iron and stainless steel surfaces can handle higher concentrations than would be recommended for relatively ‘soft’ alloy surfaces like aluminium, copper and brass.
Its unique characteristics make potassium hydroxide a versatile and powerful cleaning agent offering unparalleled results for a wide range of cleaning applications. Potassium hydroxide manufactured by Vynova is therefore widely used by the leading European cleaning products brands, helping you keep your house in the best shape.
Vynova is a leading European supplier of potassium derivatives with manufacturing sites in Belgium and France. Our potassium derivatives are used in numerous applications that benefit health and improve our quality of life - like the formulation of powerful and effective cleaning products. Find out more about the Vynova potassium derivatives portfolio or contact one of our sales representatives here.