Any material having a pH factor below 7. Acidic products are used where soils to be removed could be classified as inorganic in nature. Acids are used to remove and dissolve water scale (calcium and magnesium carbonate buildup), rust (iron oxide) alkaline scale(carbonates and hydroxides often remaining after repeated alkaline cleaning), aluminum oxide and other soils that are mineral or metallic in nature.


Active or living due to the presence of oxygen


Any material having a pH factor above 7. Alkaline materials are used where soils to be removed are organic in nature, such as greases, oils, and dirt. Alkaline materials are very effective on proteinaceous soils.


Active or living due to the absence of oxygen


Capable of decomposing quickly due to chemical, physical and/or microbial action.

Buffer Action

The ability of a material to maintain a nearly constant pH over a wide range of dilutions and /or neutralization by soils or chemical addition. Moderate amounts of acidic materials may be added to a buffeted alkaline solution without changing the pH of the solution to any great degree.


Materials that are added to a cleaning compound to enhance the cleaning action or other attributes of the base material


See Alkali

Caustic Potash

Potassium Hydroxide; KOH

Caustic Soda

Sodium Hydroxide; NaOH


The ability of a cleaning material to “tie up” water hardness (calcium and magnesium ions) and certain other minerals in cleaning solution in a water soluble form to enable improved rinsing, minimizing scale and alkaline film build-ups on cleaned surfaces.


Any of a number of chemicals that, when added to water, tie up or inactivate the interference of calcium and magnesium ions with the cleaning compound, allowing the cleaner to work more efficiently.


Chlorine containing materials provide the oxidizing properties of chlorine for use as a detergent synergist for the removal of proteinaceous materials, or, alone, provide a sanitizing solution for use on previously cleaned non-porous surfaces.


Clean in Place; a method of cleaning apparatus without dismantling, cleaning, and then re-assembling. CIP systems clean by recirculating the cleaning solution in a closed loop, through the tank and pipes, using a pump. The cleaning solutions therefore have to be low or non foaming.


Clean Out of Place; a method of cleaning apparatus by first dismantling it into its individual components and then cleaning each component individually. After each part is cleaned and sanitized, it is re-assembled for use.


A material designed to clean by combining certain ingredients to emulsify and saponify soils and cause them to be freely rinsed from the surface being cleaned.


A disinfectant is defined as an anti microbial agent that is intended for application to inanimate objects or surfaces for the purpose of killing all pathogenic (disease causing) organisms (excluding spore-forming bacteria). For our purposes, it means to kill all the harmful microorganisms that can cause beer to spoil.


The action of breaking up aggregates or large particles (flocs) into smaller, individual particles.


A chemical reaction which produces a water soluble soil. Acids are best for dissolving mineral or inorganic deposits; alkalis are best for dissolving organic deposits.


To chemically take a soil and hold it in solution (form an emulsion). Oil and water are not compatible and will stratify if added together. The addition of an emulsifier, such as a strong alkaline material, to this mixture will form a stable uniform solution, or emulsion. This emulsification of oils and greases is extensively employed in cleaning operations and is one of the prime functions of alkaline cleaners.


A uniform solution of otherwise incompatible materials formed by the addition of a third material, the emulsifier.


Metals which contain iron, as opposed to non-ferrous metals.

Hard Water

Water containing dissolved calcium and magnesium ions.


Water liking; capable of forming a homogeneous solution with water


Water fearing; not capable of forming a homogeneous solution with water


Generally a solid, capable of absorbing moisture from the air and becoming liquid


A substance which, when added to solution, slows down or prevents certain actions (corrosion, dissolution, chemical attack) from occurring on a surface. An inhibitor in an acid will prevent the acid from attacking the base metal; an inhibitor added to a caustic solution will prevent serious attack on soft metals.


Materials that are derived from non-living matter; e.g., minerals.


Material Safety Data Sheet. A document designed to provide personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working safely with a particular substance. MSDS’s include information such as physical data, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures.


Metals that are free of iron. Examples are aluminum, brass, copper and zinc. Also called soft metals.


Materials that are derived from living sources; e.g, proteins, oils, fats, and most dirt.


Oxygen containing materials provide the oxidizing properties for use as a detergent synergist for the removal of proteinaceous materials. While not so strong an oxidizing agent as chlorine, oxygen will provide some synergistic activity to the cleaning process.


A scale for measuring the relative acidity or alkalinity of a water solution. 0 to 7 represents degrees of acidity; 7 to 14 represents the degree of alkalinity. 7 is the neutral point, theoretically, pure water.


To treat stainless steel with an oxidizing material such that a chemically non-reactive layer is formed on the surface of the metal.


The action performed on a soil which causes it to break down into very small, fine particles and suspend them into solution for rinsing without re-depositing or reattaching to the surface from which they were removed.

Potassium Silicate

Formula: K2SiO3. Similar in properties to Sodium Silicate. More soluble than sodium silicates.


To reduce the number of micro organisms on surfaces to levels judged acceptable and safe by public health authorities thru chemical or physical means.

Sanitizing Agent

Any of a number of products, called antimicrobial agents, that, when used according to EPA approved label directions, provide a 99.999% reduction in bacteria on surfaces. These materials are usually applied right after cleaning and just before using vessels or surfaces that may contact food or beverage products. Strict guidelines are given for concentration and application, and these guidelines must be followed to ensure the desired results are achieved.


The action of an alkaline material on a water insoluble vegetable or animal fat or oil to form a water soluble soap.


A cleansing agent formed by the reaction of a metal with a oil or fatty acid.

Soda Ash

Sodium Carbonate; Na2CO3

Sodium Silicate

Usually Sodium Metasilicate; Na2SiO3. Silicates provide inhibition of attack on certain soft metals by strong alkaline materials. Silicates are good alkaline components for use in detergents and cleaners.

Soft Water

Water which has very little or no dissolved calcium and magnesium ions. Soft water can be prepared using a water softener, a membrane filter or chemically. Softener water will allow the detergent to better perform its desired action.


To eliminate all forms of micro organisms from a surface thru chemical or physical means

Surface Tension

A chemical force by which the surface of a liquid acts as an elastic film. Lowering the surface tension by adding a wetting agent aids the penetration and rinsing of soils.


Surface Active Agent; See Wetting Agent


The action which prevents the insoluble particles from settling out so they may be easily flushed away.

Water Softening

The removal or inactivation of water hardness ions.

Wetting Agent

Materials, usually organic in nature, which, when added to water solutions, increase the wetting or penetrating action of a detergent. Wetting agents reduce surface tension so that the water is literally becoming “wetter” and able to spread out more, increasing penetrating and cleaning action. Wetting agents can be high or low foaming.

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