Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Reducing Cost by using Chemical Titration

CarWash College™ Maintenance Tip of the Month:

March 16, 2007

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In a car wash your chemical expense is going to be second only to the labor cost. Most people don't take the time to fully understand the chemicals and why they are so important to the profitability of the car wash. In this article I will discuss Titration. Titration is the industry standard method for determining the concentration of a chemical solution. This is done by adding drops of a reagent solution to a measured amount of diluted chemical until a color change is seen. Based on the number of drops needed for the color change to happen, you can determine the dilution of the chemical.

Most people have no idea on how to set the proper dilution ratios of chemicals for their car wash. The most common way car wash operators handle their chemical Titration is to rely on their chemical reps. This is not a bad way to keep track of the dilution rates of their chemicals, but in order for this to be successful, the chemical rep would have to visit the car wash on a weekly basis. The idea is for you to have the ability to test and adjust the ratio of the chemicals when there is not a chemical rep around.

The rate at which the chemical is consumed can shrink your profit margin considerably, using more chemical than what is needed to effectively clean the car. The other side of the coin is that by not using enough chemical you will produce a car that is less than perfect. To achieve a dry, shiny car with every car you wash you need the dilution rate to be in perfect harmony. You can consult your chemical rep to get the proper Titration kit for your car wash. The following list is a recommendation of what your chemicals should be set at and has been found to be successful for many car wash operators.

  1. CTA 1, 10 to 1 high PH

  2. CTA 2, 36 to 1 low PH

  3. Presoak 1, 120 to 1 high PH

  4. Presoak 2, 120 to 1 low PH

  5. Wrap foamer, 240 to 1 low or neutral PH

  6. Drying agent, between 240 to 1 and 500 to 1

  7. Clear coat, between 240 to 1 and 500 to 1

  8. Triple foam, 240 to 1 low PH

Let's assume that you aren't currently monitoring your chemicals. You could be spending as much as $1.00 per car in chemical cost or more, based on the above sample list. If you were to monitor the chemicals, and depending on the chemical cost, you could spend around $.60 per car instead. If you are washing 70,000 cars per year, with a $.60 chemical cost per car you could have added $28,000 more in profit. Call your chemical rep now and ask for your own Titration kit and start saving.

Robert Andre is the manager of on-campus training for CarWash College™. Robert can be reached at RAndre@carwashcollege.com. For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit www.carwashcollege.com or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.