Sunday, September 3, 2017

What is a Product Worth?

Commercial products can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over several or many years. Patents are absolutely needed for mechanical products. But chemical products are different.  It is my opinion that secrecy is more effective at keeping this type of product proprietary.  This is usually possible only if the manufacturer is not required by law to list every chemical ingredient on the Safety Data Sheet. Manufacturers also include less than one percent of certain chems that really don't matter, and call them "proprietary". Ingredients that are less than one percent do not have to be identified by law.  Hence there is no need to list a CAS number for any ingredients that are less than one percent!  Either way steps should be taken to keep the identity of the formula of the product proprietary.

In discussing certain products that I have developed with manufacturers I have been told these cannot be public knowledge.  Manufacturers will not get involved with any product that is public knowledge.  This is another reason why people will not get patents on chemical products. Anyone can look up patents and find out what the chemical identity and formula is.  I do it all the time.  The secret and hence ownership is lost at that point because anyone can change it a little bit, then market the product as their own. 

Products can make window cleaners a lot of money too.  After all they are tools. Even soaps are tools.  You can clean a window with any number of different soaps and chemicals.  But we all have our favorites.  Although I can make the same money with a different window cleaning soap/chem.  However what about a chemical/compound for removing hard water spots?  Or a chemical product for removing some deposit from a window surface that scratches real easy?  If razors cannot be used than it becomes necessary to use a product that will remove the deposit well, and do this as fast as possible.  Simply because time is money.  So yes certain products have a high value even in Window Cleaning.  Whether we are a manufacturer of products or use them in our work, chemical products have a high value.

It is for this reason that I am still working on developing different products for us to use in our work. The difference is that most of these products cannot be converted to commercial products.  They cannot be sold through a distribution network. Either because of their cost, ease of acquisition at a reasonable cost, or they have a very limited shelf life.  Although these products can on occasion be superior to similar commercial products.  They can also be inferior.  

As I continue to develop these products I will include videos to show how they work.  Here is a new one I have developed called Wet & Seal.  Just one ingredient that is added to water.  Wet the window and squeegee off.  Done.  This video looks quite appealing.  But I needed to polish the glass first to get a good coating.  Which is an extra step.  Done the first time only.  Then when I tested it in the field I discovered the coating/sealant came off when I cleaned the window a second time with an ordinary cleaning solution of Dawn.  So this would not be a product that could be converted to a commercial product.

When it comes to sealers as a friend brought to my attention over the WCR Forum, preperation of the surface is many times required.  This is an additional step that of course requires extra time.  Even if it only needs to be done once it is still one more step.  Which must be added into the total cost of the job.

Written by Henry Grover Jr.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Glass Committee Terminology;... Indentation

Since my induction into the Glass Committee of the IWCA I have been pouring over many "white papers" sent my way by Paul West the current committee chair.  These are scientific research papers that discus glass surface test results.  However if someone didn't understand the terminology used they might as well have been written in another language.  So that we all can have a much better understanding of the details of the research Penn State has been working on for the IWCA Glass Committee I have decided to write a series of artcles/posts in the Glass Smart Blog called Glass Committee Terminology.


This is a deep notch or depression on a surface.  Some words that define it are hollow, dip, dent, cavity, or pit. Here is a link to an excellent very technical article on nanoindentation technology.  Which is the kind employed by Penn State.

It also discusses microindentation.  Indentation is the means by which certain mechanical properties of solid surfaces are measured, in particular hardness.  Which is what the GC was interested in using to learn about how the hardness of glass surfaces might change when subjected to different conditions of Relative Humidity (RH). Also they wanted to learn what glass surface hardness might be when the sodium atoms in particular have been selectively removed. This is important information since every scratch begins with a point of indentation.

Written by Henry Grover Jr.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Scratched Glass Questionaire from The Glass Committee of the IWCA.

This is for everyone.  If you would like to join with the Glass Committee in our research with the scratched glass issue then here is your chance.  This is the questionnaire.  Please send all information by email to the Chair of the GC, Paul West.  His contact info is at the bottom of the questionnaire.

Scratched glass questionnaire:

What is the address/location of the property?
Who is the manufacturer of the scratched glass?
How many levels/floors on the property?
What levels did the scratching occur?
Did the scratching occur on interior or exterior or both?
Describe the interior surroundings near any scratched glass.
Describe the exterior facade and surroundings near any scratched glass.
Was there any accumulation of debris and  sand/soil on glass?
How was the debris removed?
Was the scratched glass annealed, heat strengthened, or tempered?
Is the glass coated or uncoated? Where is the coating located; surface #1, #2, #3 or #4?
Is there an insurance claim, lawsuit, or loss of money involved?
Is it the tin side or airside of glass that is scratched?
Was this a post-construction cleaning incident or a normal maintenance project?
What was the approximate size of the units involved?
Did you observe that some glass units exhibited scratches while others in the same environment did not?
Who initially discovered the scratched glass?

Please fill out answers and return to:
Paul West
IWCA Glass Committee

Thank you everyone!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Revealing the Fantastic Profits in the New Science of Glass Surfaces

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Most everyone within the Window Cleaning Industry knows about the intense research that the IWCA Glass Committee has been pioneering over many years.  What the industry has virtually no understanding of however is the tremendous monetary potential of the conclusive evidence that will soon be brought to light at the 2017 IWCA Convention in Arizona.  This potential is in fact multifaceted and will open up new streams of income for every Window Cleaner around the world.  If you think I have lost my mind just read on.

First of all we know how bad glass is getting.  It is beyond anything we might have imagined years ago.  Razor blades are not the sought after bandits any more.  I have heard of scratches being caused by cotton towels.  We are all too familiar with this problem.  But the public is not.  What we have been lacking is an accurate understanding of the depth of the true nature of this problem so we can bring that knowledge to the public.  When we do we will be able to demand more money for our expertise.  Not just for cleaning the windows.  But in doing so with a full knowledge so as to not risk creating scratches.  Every time I show one of my customers the difference between a good surface and a bad one I get the most quizzical look.  That expression can be converted into cold cash!  So with a much more accurate understanding and explanation of this problem we can ask greater compensation for our labor. Especially on brand new buildings with brand new glass. And most especially on bad glass that is coated with a concrete silane sealant, or paint, or wood stain. 

This will require that we prioritize education.  Employees must be put through a class so they understand the problem.  Printed information and online video presentations must be created for employees to show customers from their cell phones.  Educational Forums must get smarter for the overall benefit of our entire industry.  This will result in a dramatic limit in the number of lawsuits being filed against us.  It will also result in an increase in our profits because we will be able to ask more for each window we clean.  Especially if it has bad glass.

Profits will be earned too by the manufacturers that are sage enough to take the lead in developing highly innovative smart products to deal with this killer problem of bad surfaces.  Bad to us that is.  Glass manufacturers are perfectly content with bad glass..  As long as people can see through the windows they are OK with selling it.  So this is our problem (we own it).  It will not go away.  It will likely get worse.  You will understand better in time but these innovative smart products will ONLY come to us if we understand the true nature of bad surfaces.  I am being very careful in this post NOT to use any of the old terminology we have become so accustomed to over the last 25 years.  This is a new science.  It is a new view.  The old way of thinking doesn’t cut it anymore.  Our industry is about to experience a quantum leap.  Come go with me friends!

Please pay close attention to the research that the Glass Committee is involved with.  They deserve our full support.  At the IWCA Convention this year we will be having a seminar lead by Paul West of the IWCA Glass Committee on problem glass surfaces.  It will discuss some very innovative and scientific research which has been going on at Penn State University.  Which research I will be writing about in depth shortly after the presentation. 

The International Window Cleaning Association 2017 Annual Convention

February 8-10, 2017
WeKoPa Resort & Conference Center
10438 N Fort McDowell Rd
Scottsdale, Arizona  85264
United States
Contact:Lori Landry

Written by Henry Grover Jr.
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Demonizing of Petrochemical Surfactants

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Surface active agents, synthetic detergents, or just plain soaps are chemically manufactured cleaning compounds. They never existed before in nature.  People have created thousands of these ever since we learned how to manipulate atoms into unique molecular structures.  Ever since we learned that the benzene molecule has a cyclic structure.  Of course the saponification of animal fatty acids with lye has been going on for thousands of years.  

The consequences of making new chemicals that never existed before and heaving them out into the environment, is that we have absolutely no idea in advance the kind of evil they might cause.  But that never stopped people from doing it.

One of the consequences of this kind of behavior is our bodies have become loaded with all kinds of chemicals.  Molecules that it has no use for which it must filter out in some way.  How do they get inside?  Well;...we eat them, breath them, and they actually move right through our skin straight to our blood.  Not to mention they get inside by catching a ride on the backs of or inside the bellies of bacteria as these invade our bodies by crawling inside through every orifice.  Also if such toxic chemicals happen to make it past the protective city walls (cellular membranes) they cause all kinds of havoc.  This is because our cells are highly complex active organizations of molecules. In other words 'molecular machines'.  Once we mess with this molecular machinery the cell dies.  Kill enough cells and the result is tissue necrosis.  Kill enough tissue in a particular organ and we take out that organ.  Knock out the right organ like a heart and WE die. Check out this animated video of the kind of molecular activity that goes on all the time inside of everyone of our trillions of cells.

If you think this video is fascinating I have more.  Check out my other blog  So yeah.  We now have teflon in our blood, methyl groups that shouldn't be there, and even some hard hitters like 1, 4 dioxane that are left over from the manufacture of the main surfactants in Dawn and many other dish soaps.  So certain dish soaps have 1, 4 dioxane in them?  Yep!  Look at the MSDS for this chemical.

Now if I haven't made my point at this point that petrochemical surfactants should be demonized (not to mention those based on fluorine chemistry) then check out this fantastic article written by a young woman named Faye.  She went on a safari to locate a few dish soaps that were eco and human friendly.

Also as most of you know I have a Facebook Group called Glass Smart Products.  The link for it is at the top of this blog. Just click on the Glass Smart logo. I would like to include a recent post from that FB Group by a man named Ewing Sharp.  He is both a Window Cleaner and a sales rep for a company called Young Living that sells essential oils.  Some of these naturally occurring oils (from plants) are actually capable of moving through the cell membrane where they remove toxins, thereby saving our cells from certain death.  Ewing was concerned about the toxic potential of various cleaning products that Window Cleaners use.  Products like Dawn.  So he posted this;...

Henry I stopped using Dawn dish soap for window cleaning this year. The reason is health related, but here's some background on me.
I have worked as a window cleaner for 10 years during college and then for some time after spending a decade teaching science and math to Middle Schoolers. Recently, I found that supporting my own health using essential oils has been a big win. I also started looking at petrochemicals found in common household products to see if there were things I could replace and reduce risks to my health.
I downloaded an App called Think Dirty, which rated Dawn dish soap as a 9 out of 10 on a scale of dirty ingredients. I have some skepticism about this app, but honestly if you research the ingredients in most cleaners they're not without risk. Now I know risk is a part of window cleaning, but my thought was, "if I'm having this on my skin for most of the day and my skin is the bodies biggest organ, why wouldn't I use a product with less risk? But is Dawn or a similar product really a greater health risk? Are petrochemicals being demonized for no good reason?
I know that chemicals are all around us and are frankly found commonly in nature. Are soaps like Dawn being unfairly characterized as unhealthy because they're petrochemically based? I think they likely are to some degree. My hope is to find and use the products that make me feel better when I'm using them. I'll describe what I use and differences I've noticed.
First off I have done mostly residential window cleaning and some large commercial projects using these products. I add a cleaner from Young Living with the following ingredients:
Water, Alkyl Polyglucoside, Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate, Disodium 2-Sulfolaurate, Thieves [Eugenia Caryophyllus† (Clove) Bud Oil, Citrus Limon† (Lemon) Peel Oil, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum† (Cinnamon) Bark Oil, Eucalyptus Radiata† Leaf Oil, and Rosmarinus Officinalis† (Rosemary) Leaf Oil], and Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate.
†100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil
I use a Thieves soap from Young Living with the following ingredients.
Water, Decyl glucoside, Sodium lauroyl lactylate, Lauryl glucoside, Sodium olate, Caprylyl glucoside, Sodium sesquicarbonate, Citrus Limon† (Jade lemon) peel oil, Citrus aurantium bergamia† (Bergamot) peel oil (Furocoumarin-free), Syzygium aromaticum† (Clove) bud oil, Citrus limon† (Lemon) peel oil, Cinnamomum zeylanicum† (Cinnamon) bark oil, Eucalyptus radiata† oil, Rosmarinus officinalis† (Rosemary) leaf oil
†100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil
Here's what I've found. The soap and cleaner smell great. I know that the essential oil ingredients are natures immune system for the plants they come from. The oils have many health benefits which I'm personally sold on. The soap does not have great "sudsing action" or glide. On residential work I've learned a few things about getting a polished finish from Joe Hiryak and Jesse Dauzat. I now keep a wad of 4 or 5 pieces of steel wool in my soapy water to scrub glass before squeegeeing. It is great to polish out dirt from exteriors and on interiors I like that I can feel resistance from say, stuck on food on a kitchen window or even smoke from interior glass. Additionally, it gets into corners much better than a mop. I used to use a Triumph 6 in razor on pretty much all residential glass. The steel wool is definitely safer for and hasn't had a downside that I'm aware of yet. So what about the glide and sudsing issue?
I cannot say the plant based soap and cleaner would work for a novice cleaner. Making a squeegee go where you want it to is something an experienced cleaner can do without soap at all. I enjoy the experience of the essential oil enhanced cleaning products such that I don't mind less glide. I keep a spray bottle loaded up with a soap and cleaner mix when I want to control how much water is in play. It is really a good solution.
So that's my take for now. I like it, the customers love the smell, (the Clove and Cinnamon oil make for a Thanksgiving sort of smell) and I enjoy the experience a great deal more than using Dawn dish soap.
The cost breakdown for the cleaner is less than 50 cents for my spray bottle. I'd estimate I'm using probably $1-$3 a day for solution between my bucket and spray bottles. For me, its an easy expense to justify. Clearer thinking and improved mood are a few of the things that I experience.
Henry I'd love to know what you're take on petrochemical risks in conventional detergents.
Thanks for your time reading all this. 


If you want to contact Ewing for more information on Essential Oils his email is;...

Written by Henry Grover Jr.
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Atmospheric Surface Damage Explained

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Glass surfaces are seriously vulnerable to the chemistry of atmospheric conditions.  There are molecular contamanents in the air that can form various monolayers on the glass.  Some of these will  cause the surface to become more easily damaged by wear when for example two plates are slid past each other during storage.   Or certain other monolayers can actually “lubricate” the surface making the surface more resistant to wear or scratching.   The difference between whether such molecules cause a lubricating effect or what is called “interfacial wear”, depends on whether they are adsorbed to the surface or actually react with the surface.   Sometimes these monolayers will cover virtually the entire area of the glass plate, and sometimes only localized “patches” are covered. 
It is also true that water molecules are quite capable of changing the “mechanochemical” properties of glass surfaces. This can happen with liquid or vapor.  There is a chemical reaction involving ion exchange.  This involves the swapping of sodium atoms in the glass surface and the hydrogen atoms in water molecules.  This process is called “weathering” also “glass corrosion”.  It is greatly enhanced by temperature and time.  This condition can reveal subsurface damage or a change in the molecular matrix of the glass at that level.  It can also cause such a change in the molecular matrix including oxygen and silicon atoms.  As window cleaners in the great north east know, old storm windows are much more rough to the touch of a dry fingertip outside rather than inside.  This is the weathering effect.  What most do not know is this particular effect begins immediately when the glass comes off the bath of molten tin.  It also can become rather severe under the right atmospheric conditions.  When glass is stored for six months before installed on the building it should be kept in a very dry, cool environment.  The glass sheets should be kept separated from one another by what is called an interleaving system. 
The point that I am attempting to make here is that glass surfaces are certainly not chemically and physically inert and unchanging.  They are in fact quite alive with activity.  The chemistry of the surface can be so altered by atmospheric conditions that certain previously damaged “subsurfaces” are preferentially exposed to physical attack by whatever means. Also various monolayers of atmospheric pollutants form monolayers that will either enhance the likelihood of mechanical damage to the surface or actually lubricate it and actually protect it from such damage.  
I know from my own experience that when glass is polished with an optical silica based compound or a cerium oxide, it becomes rough to the touch.  It also becomes much more water loving.  This same exact condition can be caused by a very dilute solution of hydrofluoric acid.  Once it is created either physically , chemically, or both;...the glass surface takes on an alternate “microtexture”.  If this condition is measured on a level less than a micron it is called a “nanotexture”. Microtextured surfaces are much more prone to surface damage.  Whether that be interfacial shear,  stress cracks, or scratches.  It is also possible to apply certain “lubricating” monolayers to microtextured surfaces using silane chemistry. Once applied correctly the monolayer will not just adsorb but react with the nonbridging oxygen atoms and resist mechanical wear, and scratches.  Many years ago I discovered a product created by DuPont in Wilmington Deleware that did precisely this.  It was based on a highly concentrated water based alkyltrialkoxysilane and tetraalkylammonium chloride.  This product was so concentrated that I could actually reduce it by 100 times with pure water and get the same effect on glass.  If applied correctly that is, by first microtexturing the surface, and then rubbing the silane solution into the micropores so as to effect the maximum number of reactions with the nonbridging oxygens.  I also discovered by testing other glass sealants that they did not have the same effect.  So chemistry is very important and necessary to properly protect glass surfaces from mechanical wear or scratches. Protection from the weathering effect of humidity/water can be accomplished with a variety of glass sealants.
I have also learned by talking with “true” glass restoration professionals that window glass surfaces which are prone to scratches can be “fixed”.  This is done by means of a grinding and polishing process.  It follows then from what we have learned thus far that such surfaces can now be both “repaired” and protected from further scratches.  The surface and subsurface can be precisely re-engineered and then chemically sealed by a reactive silane chemistry.  You will find some of the gurus of this science/technology on the Glass Smart Facebook Group.

Written by Henry Grover Jr.
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Friday, December 30, 2016

Unlocking the Secrets of Transforming Hydrophobic Glass to Hydrophylic.

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The true key to being able to use a WFP on windows without a resin bed or R/O system is hydrophylic glass.  This can be done three different ways.  First we can seal the glass with a hydrophylic coating or simply put chemically treat it.  Or we could inject a Super Soap into the feed line of a WFP to dramatically reduce the surface tension of whatever water we are using, even tap water.  Or as I am discussing in this post, we could microlap the glass with SKRUB.  This physically deep cleans the glass by removing all hydrocarbon groups and what is called the near surface.  The glass takes on its natural hydrophylic property which is actually enhanced because the micro-surface is now even more rough.  There is essentially more surface area of glass per square cm for water to cling to.

First Clip
Second Clip

The full length Video

To apply SKRUB I first wet the glass with any type of cleaning solution.  Then I put a few drops on the back of the flat hard felt pad.  I use an F1.  About 1/4 inch thick.  I have glued a piece of 1/4 inch masonite to the back of this Makita random oscillating sander.  It operates at about 10,000 OPMs.  Then I glue the felt to the Masonite.  Any other soft wood will do.  Pine is especially useful.  Now just go to it.  The SKRUB will instantly mix with the cleaning solution making a perfect slurry.  You can more easily control how much you use this way also.  Further this techniques will not throw your polishing slurry all over the room.  You will notice you can work right up to the edge of the glass without any mess.  When done just soap and squeegee off.  The glass wil be perfectly clean.  You can even feel the difference.  The polished side will be much more rough.

Now it takes not more than a minute per square foot to polish. Also it takes about 1/8 of an ounce of SKRUB to polish a square foot.  So an 8 ounce bottle of SKRUB will do about four large sliding glass doors.  Maybe more because SKRUB is a highly concentrated polishing compound.

The quality of the finished surface is quite high.  If you look at the two clips here again you will see how water completely sheets over the surface.  There is absolutely no beading.  This is what we need for WFP work.  The only drawback is the cost in money and time to set up the windows ahead.  It is a permanent treatment.  But if we can't get the customer to pay, and we are not going to be cleaning the windows frequently enough at a high enough profit, then it would not be worth the expense.  In which case one of the other two alternatives might be the better answer.  

Written by Henry Grover Jr.
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Monday, December 12, 2016

SKRUB Product Development Review

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The Product Development Review


SKRUB is a microcrystalline silica particle suspended in pure glycerin.  There isn’t any water added.  Also the microcrystalline silica particle is just the right size and purity such that it will not scratch glass when used by hand.  There is a chance of creating a haze of scratches if used with a machine. Even ultra pure optical grade white cerium oxide can create a scratch haze if used incorrectly with a machine.  I have seen people take dry cerium right out of the box with a rotary felt pad and rip into the glass with the edge of the polishing pad. This and other similar techniques can create a haze of scratches that sometimes are completely invisible until the sun shines directly on the window.  Which is the reason why I developed my Wobble Wheel.  When used in a rotary drill motor it will keep the circular pad completely flat on the glass at all times. 
When using SKRUB with a rotary drill I will first clean the window, then wet it again with a clean soapy solution.  The soapy water will mix with the SKRUB creating a polishing slurry on the glass as you go.  Next I will add about four to six drops of SKRUB to the felt pad.  Then just polish the glass keeping the pad always flat at all times.  NEVER work the glass with the pad turned on edge.  You can soap and squeegee as you go to see if the glass is cleared of stains.  When done just soap and squeegee.  Wipe the edges or at least the bottom edge.  By polishing this way you will use only as much compound as you need, and will reduce the amount of time needed for cleanup. 
SKRUB is also intended for use as an additive for your window cleaning solution.  It can be used at one ounce per gallon of window cleaning solution.  It doesn’t matter what commercial rinse you are using.  Whether that be GG4, Ecover, Dawn, Joy, or some other mix.  You can add enough to an entire bucket and clean the entire window with it.  But the more cost effective way is to have two applicators.  Then use a squirt bottle filled with your favorite solution with a very small amount of SKRUB added to it.  Adjust the concentration to the difficulty of the job.  Then just squirt enough on the applicator and SKRUB just that area of the window that you might have used a razor blade or 0000 steel wool on.  Squeegee to make sure the greasy prints are gone and you have the correct concentration. Next soap up the entire window with the solution in your bucket using the first applicator, and squeegee.  Choose a squirt bottle you can float in your bucket.  Or a smaller one you can fit in your pocket. 
Another application for SKRUB is screen stain.  I will make up a concentrated solution of SKRUB in a squirt bottle.  Then I will SKRUB a clean window that has “screen stain” on it.  This is the stain that develops from aluminum screens.  You can use a sponge, or 0000 steel wool.  Then soap and squeegee again. This is the most safe way to remove screen stain.  If you treat the surface with a sealant like Rain X, when the stain returns one year later, it will be much easier to remove using SKRUB. And the Rain X will usually remain.  If not just reseal.  You will know when you are breaking through the stain because the solution of cleaner and SKRUB will start to bead up.

Written by Henry Grover Jr.
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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Spot Free WFP Window Cleaning without Resin Tanks or RO

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Eliminating resin tanks and RO units greatly reduces the expense and increases the efficiency of cleaning windows with a water fed pole.  Since we obviously will then be working with water that has a high TDS or a high silica content, the only way to accomplish this is to eliminate the water drop and hence the resulting hard water spot.  This can be accomplished in three different ways that I know of.  First it can be done by bringing the water tension of our cleaning/rinse solution down to 20 to 25 dynes per cm.  Water typically is around 72 dynes.  Second it can be done by coating the glass surface with a hydrophylic sealant. Third it can be done by physically removing all residue from glass.  Which involves "microtexturing" with a microcrystalline silica slurry, optical grade cerium oxide, or some other superabrasive based polishing agent.  I can also see the possibility of combining these different techniques for an optimum effect and the elimination of certain problems.  Such problems however must be addressed.

The first technique involves the use of what I have been calling a Super Soap in my posts on the Window Cleaning Resource forum.  These are typically super wetting surface active agents based on a silicon or fluorine chemistry.  I and others have been experimenting with a silicon based nonionic super wetting surfactant.  Under perfect conditions of high humidity and shade it will do precisely what the title of this post says. Although these conditions are not easy to meet.  This certain surfactant will also leave behind a surfactant residue that will easily turn white if the dry window is rubbed with anything. Once the rinse/cleaner dries the window is perfectly clear and the residue is invisible.  My thoughts are that this is happening because of the electrical charge of the surf.  So I am looking into other surfs now.  The main benefits of this technique is the simplicity of it.  All we do is add the surf to a water holding tank.  We can use any tap water.  Also we don't have to invest in resin tanks or RO systems.  Which I understand present unique problems to Window Cleaners that work in desert environments.

The second technique involves sealing the glass.  This might involve superabrasive cleaning and microtexturing to initially set up the glass for application of the hydrophylic sealant.  If so it will require much time. After the initial application it will be necessary to periodically renew such coatings.  Which can be done during the cleaning process.  That part will not require any additional time.  But it is still needed.  Because there isn't any sealant on the market that will last forever.  Another problem that is true for all three techniques is the build up of minerals on the glass.  They will not form spots.  But do coat the entire plate becoming concentrated at the bottom of the windows.  They are much easier to remove with mild superabrasive products from sealant surfaces.  This is because deposits are always easier to remove from a sealant rather than glass.  Also they will not be concentrated in the form of spots. In fact they should be completely invisible until they build up
over time.

The third technique involves physically polishing the glass.  It will become naturally hydrophylic.  No surfs or sealants will be needed to cause water to sheet over the entire window and drain off leaving no spots.  There are still drawbacks to this technique.  One involves the different conditions outside.  Such can change the purity of this new surface.  Causing it to loose its hydrophylic properties.  So it might be necessary to periodically polish.  The time involved might preclude using this technique.  Especially if it is a large building with many windows, and the owners only want a yearly maintenance cleaning.

My thoughts are to combine these techniques to come up with a system that will work for each individual building/job.  It all comes down to numbers.

Written by Henry Grover Jr.
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Monday, December 5, 2016

Abrasives and Window Cleaning

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Abrasives are absolutely critical to cleaning windows.  Few manufacturers have made a study of them however.  I have written several articles on the technology of abrasive particles. Take a look at this one web site. This company obviously is in China where Perry lives.  Their focus is on iron sand abrasives used in blasting.  If you read about the attention paid to the properties of the particles you will see how such controls the performance.

There is a great deal of difference in the purity of size, hardness, friability, shape, functionality, and chemistry of micro and nano particles.  All of these properties control how well they "cut" through the surface, how smooth that new surface will be, whether there are particles that stick together forming much larger particles (agglomerates) that will leave errant scratches, how efficient the slurry will be, and so many other properties.

But why are they important for window cleaning?  Well have you ever used a magic sponge from Mr. Clean?  If so you were working with an abrasive impregnated sponge.  Have you ever worked with a plastic scrub pad from 3M?  This is a type of plastic abrasive.  Most likely nylon.  Possibly impregnated with silica particles.  We will never know exactly what because 3M doesn't tell anyone anything.  What of steel wool?  Most of us use 0000 steel wool.  This is an abrasive.  Each extremely fine strand of wool is only 20 microns in diameter.  Further it has a peculiar shape which allows it to do its work.  According to this video they are razor sharp and have a triangular shape.  It is my guess that they leave very few if any scratches at 0000 because wool is not based on a particle but rather a strand.  So rather than cut it rubs.  Kind of like really small razor blades. The problem we have is that they rust so quickly.  Leaving a red stain on white vinyl frames or paint.

If you look into compositional abrasives you will find some fascinating animals out there.  Such as plastic abrasives.  These are softer than glass, but are rather sharp.  So they cut through stuff like cured silicone caulk, paint, and wood stain.  Add a solvent like DLimonene at 90% purity and you have an effective tool.  It also won't rust. The problem that I have with acrylic particles for example, is they are only sold down to 177 microns.  Maybe 100 microns.  But I want them down to 20 or even 15 microns.  That would be equal to around 600 to 700 mesh.

Regarding compositionals there are also some very hard woods like walnut shell.  These are much better for the ecology.  The only problem is they do tend to absorb water and can become soft.  They also are difficult to get as a very fine micronized powder.  Nonetheless I do see them as a possible creative solution to various problems.

Here is another fascinating abrasive idea.  Actually using frozen carbon dioxide particles as a blast medium for cleaning various surfaces.  I wonder how it might work on glass.

One thing I am working on now is removing hard water spots from glass sealants.  I first want a hydrophylic silane sealant that can be applied to the glass once it has been polished.  The sealant should be water miscible so it will go on quickly with our cleaner.  Soap, squeegee and you're done.  This sealant should also stand up to high pH water runoff from concrete or groundwater.  Then the applicator used to clean must also remove any newly formed hard water spots using some type of abrasive.  That abrasive coupled with the new surface treated with a sealant should release the new spots.  Further the cleaning solution will put down a new silane treatment for the next cleaning.

This is not just an idea.  I have already had success with screen stain (which is an aluminum dioxide deposit), Rain X, and 0000 steel wool.  All I need to do is change the players for concrete efflorescence and sprinkler system spots.  The abrasive should not be one that will remove glass.  It must not be that aggressive. Rather it should be aggressive enough to remove the new spots from the silane coating.  Hopefully it also will not remove much if any of the silane.  But the solution that is used to scrub with (clean) will also put down another coat of silane.

Written by Henry Grover Jr.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Creating Hydrophylic Glass Surfaces

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Why would someone want to make glass hydrophylic?  Simply because a surface that causes rain water to sheet instead of bead will not spot.  It would be easier to keep the window from developing hard water deposits.  Also to just keep it clean in general.

As it turns out window glass is typically hydrophylic by nature. One reason why it is seen to be hydrophobic is the presence of different water hating contaminants.  So one very easy way to make it hydrophylic is to polish it with a cerium oxide or other polish.  According to Marc Tanner this is a rather permanent solution to the problem.  Surprisingly it is a rather quick process too.  Taking just a matter of several minutes per window.

Another way to make glass hydrophylic is to hit it with a very dilute concentration of hydrofluoric acid.  Down to just 1 percent.  This will clear the glass of everything and etch it.  The glass will become very hydrophylic.  Although I would never suggest doing this I bring it up here just to help with the idea of hydrophylic glass surfaces and what is involved in creating them.

Another way to create such a surface is to use an organosilane that would react with the glass and form a hydrophylic coating. Preferably one that would last for some time and not be degraded by ultraviolet radiation.  Likewise one that would not be attacked by the high alkaline pH of ground water.  I don't think longevity would be very important if we were able to apply it every time the windows were cleaned.  I know a silicon chemist up in Canada who tells me anything is possible. The bottom line here is how much money would the company make off creating such a product?

Another solution would be the cleaning solution itself.  If it were based on what I call a Super Soap otherwise known as a Super Wetter, we could make the cleaner/rinse sheet over even hydrophobic surfaces.  And do this at very low costs.  Here we are not addressing the glass surface but rather the cleaning solution itself.  These Super Wetting surfactants are even capable of sheeting over surfaces that have been treated with products like Rain X.  As Malcolm says "Work Wiser With Wetter Water"!   

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Written by Henry Grover Jr.
Just send me an email request for a copy of the Glass Smart Insider.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Join my Facebook Group Glass Smart Products!

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I have started a Facebook Group called Glass Smart Products for anyone who would like to become a Beta Tester of the products I am developing for the Window Cleaning Industry. All you need to do is email me your shipping address and I will get back to you about the sample and how much I need to ask for it.  It does cost me for shipping and takes time out from my work cleaning windows so I have to ask for some compensation. When you recieve the sample please test and write about your experience on my group.  Also you can write about it on the WCR Forum at 
The link for my facebook group is 

Written by Henry Grover Jr.
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Glass Smart Consulting

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Friday, August 19, 2016

A Glimpse of the Ghost Particle?

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For decades now it has been the belief of the Window Cleaning Industry that fabrication debris or microfines are the reason for defective glass surfaces which are rough and are very easily scratched during the cleaning process.  It is in fact still the belief of many that this happens in the tempering factories where it is said the glass picks up the particulates of glass resulting from the cutting process before the sheets are tempered.  Then these particulates and possibly other particulate debris are by means of the rollers in the tempering oven, driven into the semi viscous flat glass surfaces.  Where they essentially fuse once the glass cools down to room temperature.  Is this the truth or is it a misguided lie?  If you ask most Window Cleaners you will learn very fast that they don’t care.  They simply would like it stopped, and have some means of working with the defective glass that has already made it into buildings all over the world.  They have become totally exasperated by the lawsuits that have resulted and the burden of dealing with this problem.  Which by the way is absolutely not limited to the use of metal razor blades.  I have personally witnessed defective surfaces scratched by plastic 'blades', and 0000 steel wool.  I have also heard reports of scratching resulting from soft cotton cloths!
For many years now the Glass Committee of the International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) has been focused on learning what the real answer to this problem is.  It couldn’t be more obvious to everyone  within the Window Cleaning Industry and the Glass Industry that this is a problem.  What we all would like to know is precisely what it is, and how can it be stopped?  Also, can the damaged surfaces which are already installed actually be repaired?  The IWCA deserves the full support of every single window cleaner in this world.  Simply because they have taken on the challenge and the burden of getting the scientific answers to these questions.  Spearheaded by Paul West and Paul Duffer, along with the help of others, they have spent many hours and dollars setting up special tests to learn the truth.  The last series of tests just finished involved attempting to embed and fuse glass microfines into a semi viscous plate of glass during the tempering process.  In this they failed miserably.  Yet they succeeded in my opinion in proving that the old idea about microfines and tempered glass is quite wrong.  There is something else at work here.  Now I know this is absolute heresy to many people.  So I am not going to win their applause.  But let me present you with some very interesting ideas.  Some of which you might not be aware of.
The only other process to look at is the float process.  It is called the float glass process because the glass actually floats down a river of molten tin called the ribbon.  This is where flat glass is actually made.  The float glass line was originally developed back in 1959.  One year after I was born.  


Each line/factory will produce 300 to 600 tons of product a day.  It begins by heating the batch of silica, limestone, soda ash, dolomite, and cullet to about 2900 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a matter of minutes!  So far so good.  Next the melted glass goes through the fining process.  During this 'fining' process bubbles that result from the melting of the batch actually rise ‘to the surface’ and escape into the atmosphere of the furnace.  In fact it was stated in one of the videos I watched that the processes within the furnaces are managed from the control room to ensure that the glass is homogeneous and free of bubbles.  This is interesting.  I could ask several questions at this juncture.  Another interesting statement made was that heating in the float bath is carefully controlled to ‘melt out’ any roughness in the glass.  In fact to produce excellent quality glass one must control its cross ribbon temperature and associated viscosity. 

When the glass passes onto the liquid tin bath it is around 1900 degrees Fahrenheit.  It leaves the float bath at about 1,000 to 1,100 degrees and enters the annealing oven or lehr.  It then comes out of the other end of  the annealing oven at between 200 and 350 degrees.  I know some of you are mouthing the words rollers at this point.  But the manufacturers state that once the glass comes out of the float bath chamber at 1,000 degrees it is hard enough so that the rollers that move it through the annealing oven cannot do damage to it.  Checkout this video of a company called Stewart Engineers.


They state on their website that annealed glass should not be allowed to vary more than five degrees.  So the rate of cooling as it passes through the annealing lehr must be very closely controlled.  If you check out the control room on the Pilkington video I have embedded here you will notice it looks more high tech than the Bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek.  Not for no good reason!  Sure it is just a ribbon of glass.  But all of the processes  involved in controlling the flow rate, temperature, and the chemistry of the barrier gas in the float bath chamber;...must be very carefully and precisely controlled.

Oh yes.  I haven’t mentioned anything about the chamber gas of pressurized hydrogen/nitrogen yet.  Very simply put, the reason for the use of this gas in the float chamber is to prevent oxygen from contaminating the liquid tin.  This however does have a direct effect on the glass surface.  There is actually an exchange that goes on consistently between the chemistry of the tin and that of the glass surface.  Such that even the mechanical hardness of the tin side is greater than that of the air side.  Which has been proven by a very accurate scientific test.  A harder surface is not necessarily a bad thing which it isn't, but consider this statement made by Weissmann Rudolf in a paper called Fundamental Properties of Float Glass Surfaces;  “...the tin and atmosphere sides show a slight difference in their strength that comes from the contact of the tin side with transport rollers. In addition, since the ribbon is molten and deformable along almost the whole length of the bath, any specks falling from the bath atmosphere or any bubbles rising through the molten tin will permanently damage the surface.”.  Now that last sentence is worthy of note.  Specs from the bath atmosphere falling onto the surface or bubbles rising to the surface.  Remember that ‘bath atmosphere’ is a pure nitrogen/hydrogen gas under pressure.  Here is a very interesting statement from Walker Textures, a company that specializes in professionally etching glass and mirror.  “Float glass is best etched on the 'atmosphere' side of the sheet, due to the increased likelihood of impurities and/or surface imperfections on the 'tin' side of the sheet.”.  If their customers want the glass etched on both sides they will not guarantee the quality of the entire job.  Just the air side.  Not the tin side.  At this juncture I will quote Stewart Engineers .  They state, “All tin baths are uniquely designed and operated which results in a wide variance of glass product quality.”.  In fact the technology used in the float glass process is considered intellectual property, and is licensed.  Float lines cost about 120 million to build new, and cost about 360,000 to rebuild.  Which must be done every 10 to 12 years.  There must be a good reason to rebuild after ten years.  Also if you have one that is producing high quality glass, I don't think you would be so inclined as to tell your competition about the details of its operation.

So there you have it.  Are you beginning to get a glimpse of the Ghost Particle?  Did you know that the UK and other Countries are very familiar with defective ‘float glass’ surfaces?  Why they even have a classification system for the different individual defects/inclusions.  This box was created by a company called Dark Field Technologies.  

This next picture was taken with a polarized microscope from Leica Microsystems.

Leica sells many different types of microscopes, also polarized microscopes which are favored by glass inspection companies that specialize in detecting surface defects/inclusions.  Which can also be seen when they are just below the surface using a polarized microscope.  As in this colorful picture above.
This next picture is a Scanning Electron Microscopic image of a nickel sulfide inclusion.  It came from the website of a company in the UK called Glass Technology Services.

Stones, knots, cord, ream, blisters, seeds, airlines, metallic inclusions, and raw material contaminants.  These are all terms JTF Microscopy Services uses to identify various glass defects.  They also use Polarized Microscopy.  Checkout this somewhat scary picture below.  It is an SEM (scanning electron microscope) image at 3,000x of a wafer defect taken with the e-RAM.  Taken by a company called SEM Tech Solutions. 

The same company also created this very colorful Birdseye 3D image at 3,000x of the preceding SEM image taken with the e-RAM.

I would like to quote Kathryn Gromoski of Penn State 2010 in an article she wrote entitled, "Glass Breakage-Nickel Sulfide Inclusions".  "It is at the very beginning of the life of the glass that inclusions are introduced. Inclusions are microscopic particles that are incorporated into the structure of the glass in the initial heating process. According to the Glass Association of North America (GANA), there are approximately 50 different types of dirt or other inclusions recognized, but almost all of them are completely harmless (Johnson 2008). Nickel sulfide is the only exception, and even then it is only a problem in tempered glass.".  

Here is the link to the entire article

Notice that she states that these particles are introduced at the very beginning of the ribbon.  Not during the tempering process.  She also does NOT call them defects but rather inclusions.  Although as inclusions they are still 'microscopic particles'.  Of which there are about fifty different kinds.  That is a virtual zoo of particles!  But even so they are still quite harmless.  By whose standards?  By the glass manufacturers of course.  Unless these happen to be nickel sulfide inclusions they won't cause glass breakage.  Even nickel sulfide is considered harmless unless it ends up in tempered plates down the line. Only then can it cause breakage.  Simply put glass manufacturers do not want to see these inclusions or microscopic particles as a defect.  The microscopic quality of the surface of float glass (which is recognized by different industries as the tin side) is not really very important.  As long as the glass isn't going to spontaneously explode or the window implode, the glass manufacturers are cool with it.  There might be a problem here if it was not so easy to coat the air side of float glass.  The air side which faces up is coated right on the tin bath.  This brings me to another interesting thought.
It is the practice of the glass manufacturers to NOT coat the tin side.  Also the coated (Low E) side is usually facing in on IG (insulated glass) units.  That is either the 2nd or 3rd surface. Which means the tin side will be facing out.  There is a special UV lamp which is used to locate the tin side.  This is significant because if the tin side were facing in we likely would not have many defects (or inclusions) to deal with.  Although it is good to remember here that it is possible for 'specs' to fall onto the air side of float glass in the float glass chamber.  This happens when the chamber air becomes contaminated by the tin.  

Now lets take a look at what the IWCA has been up to.
Under the direction of Paul West, the chairman of the Glass Committee, there were several different samples of windows with and without scratches taken from different parts of the country, and submitted to Penn State University as a summer project.  The purpose of this project is to learn why some glass surfaces appear to be more rough than others.  Also what are the actual features of such "rough surfaces" that cause window cleaners to make this claim? At one facility it was learned that some glass scratched and other glass on the same building did not scratch.  The obvious question is what are the underlying surface properties that could account for this?  Another question would be, is there something unique about certain glass surface properties that make it easy for amorphous silica and silicate particles in the environment to scratch such a surface?  Also, might these surface properties be responsible for the variety of scratched windows mentioned earlier?  Further, are these questionable surface properties connected only with heat strengthening and tempering of glass? Or are such rough problematic surfaces formed on the tin side of the float glass ribbon early in its life?

This very specialized field of glass defect/inclusion analysis and inspections is a technology that I will continue to explore. There will be more articles that I will be writing on the 'Ghost Particle' that will be posted in this blog.  This is just the beginning.  I think you all have realized by now that this problem is here to stay.  As Window Cleaners we need an accurate understanding of exactly what the Ghost Particle is. We know at this juncture that it absolutely is not a ghost.  It is in fact quite real.  It is also likely that it will have multiple identities.  I truly do not believe in ghosts anyhow.  We also desperately need to be better equipped to accurately identify the condition and quality of the surface of the windows we are working on. Those which are prone to scratches should be discovered before installation of course.  However if such problematic windows have already been installed, we also need to have methods for working on them as safely as possible with the best tools and green chemicals.  Lastly I have heard that it might be possible to perfect a system/method for restoring these surfaces by grinding, polishing and sealing with a scratch resistant silane.  More on this later.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the IWCA Glass Committee and all its members for taking the last eight years to explore this very important issue.  It has a direct impact on every window cleaner in the world.  For this reason everyone should become members and support the educational work of the IWCA. 

International Window Cleaning Association
Mr. Paul West / Chairman
Glass Education Committee
1100-H Brandywine Blvd
Zanesville, OH 43701-7303
800-875-4922 /

Stewart Engineers
11640 NorthPark Drive, Suite 100
WakeForest, NC 27587
(01)-919-435-9100 /

Dark Field Technologies
70 Robinson Blvd.
Orange, CT 06477
203-298-0731 /

Walker Textures
9551 Ray Lawson, Montreal QC
Canada H1J1L5
888-320-3030 /

Leica Microsystems
1700 Leider Lane
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
800-248-0123 /

Glass Technology Services
9 Churchill Way, Chapeltown
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
S352PY United Kingdom
44-(0)-114-290-1801 /

JTF Microscopy Services
9064 Wixson Rd
Hammondsport, NY 14840
607-731-8863 /

SEM Tech Solutions
6 Executive Park Drive
North Billerica, MA 01862
978-663-9822 /
Written by Henry Grover Jr.
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