How to Stop Mirrors Fogging Up

Yesterday I made my latest appearance on today tonight.  I had a lot of fun but inevitably with these type of segments some important details get left on the cutting room floor

In this case it happened with one of the things that was mentioned on the segment – how to stop mirrors fogging in your bathroom (or windscreens fogging in your car).

In the segment it said that you smear detergent over the mirror before you shower.  That is correct, but the important detail that was missing is that you need to rub it until it becomes clear.

Obviously if you smear detergent across a mirror it will do just that – smear.  To achieve the desired effect you must rub it with a dry cloth until it eventually clears – in other words, until all the water in the detergent evaporates.

And this will last for months.  For months after this you will have a mis free mirror.  It’s a remarkably simple and effective trick.

Number 1 Mould Remover?

Let’s do an exercise in how products are marketed, which ultimately is what determines whether you buy them or not.

Tonight there was an ad on TV for Exit Mould, which said it was the “number 1 mould remover“in Australia.

No 1? What does that mean? Does that mean it’s the best mould remover, in the same way that the best tennis player in the world has a no 1 ranking?

Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking that, and I’m sure that’s what the people at Reckitts want you to think. Unfortunately, of course that’s not the case, as all Exit Mould is, is bleach with fragrance and a bit of detergent added. You see, when it comes to bleach, bleach is bleach is bleach. And Exit Mould won’t work any better than White King.

But no – it actually means no. 1 as in “most popular.” In other words, if you have a close look at the label on the product in the ad, it says “Number 1 Selling.”

So it’s number 1 in the same sense that a record is number 1 – and that’s it. Does it work? Yes, it does, but much cheaper bleaches work just as well.

So have your skeptic hat on when you watch ads and listen very carefully to what is said.

Book Extract #3: Shampoos #1

The basic chemistry of hair shampoos and conditioners is remarkably similar to that of laundry detergents and fabric softeners.  The reason for this is that the type of cleaning they have to to do is pretty much the same.

For both hair and clothes the major contaminant is body fat.  Clothes pick it up from contact with your skin, whereas hair gets it from your scalp.

The difference between the two is that whereas clothes may have other stains in them, from food and so on, with hair pretty much body fats are all there is.  For this reason, shampoos are more simple formulations than laundry detergents.

There are three discrete types of shampoos/conditioners.  A cleansing shampoo” is the older type where you shampoo first and then you condition; a conditioning shampoo” is something like Pert, where both shampoo and conditioner are present together, and a mild (or baby)shampoo” is one that is intended for use on sensitive skins (such as babies).

We will look at each separately.

5.9.1 Cleansing Shampoos

These are the simplest of the three.  In essence, since it only needs to remove body fat from your hair, all that is needed in a shampoo is a (primary) alkaline (anionic) surfactant for cleaning (normally around 10 to 20%), a secondary surfactant (normally non-ionic or amphoteric) to produce foam, and a thickening agent to make it into a gel, and this is what you will find it in the cheaper shampoos that you buy from the discount stores.

Other components in the premium brands may be sunscreens, anti-dandruff agents, or various additives such as vitamins and herbs (along with accompanying claims about the wonders they can work for your hair).

Hand in hand with a cleansing shampoo is the need for a conditioner.  This is essentially to neutralise the negative charge that the primary surfactant has placed on your hair.  And it is this negative charge that causes unconditioned hair to feel coarse and get tangled.  The itchy scalp that goes with unconditioned hair is simply due to the highly alkaline pH.

To allow hair strands to neatly lay on top of one another, therefore, this charge must be neutralised and this normally happens with a cationic (positively charged) surfactant.  The positive end of the molecule sticks to the negatively charged sites on the individual hair strands and thus the static charge is neutralised.  The organic part of these molecules are normally long chain fatty acids that then lie along the length of theindividual strandsd,giving themt a smooth feel.

The reason that the shampoo and conditioner must be applied separately, with these formulations, is that because if they were in the same formula the negatively charged (anionic) surfactant would bind with the positively charged (cationic) surfactant and neither would be available to clean your hair.  It’s exactly the same argument as to why fabric softeners are added separately to laundry detergents when washing clothes (section 5.2).

BAM vs BAM vs BAM #1

Forget about Kramer vs Kramer – that’s old hat.

Now we have three products bearing the BAM name – but some work better than others, and all is not as it seems…

We have the trigger pack shower cleaner:

We have the BAM Aerosol shower cleaner:

And we have the BAM Easy Off oven cleaner

Now the first thing you’d think is that the shower cleaners are basically the same product, but just in different packs.

Not so – the trigger contains sulphamic acid and the aerosol contains alkaline salts. In other words, the trigger is acidic and the aerosol is alkaline.

This makes no sense at all!

Soap scum and bathroom scale are both alkaline, and so a shower cleaner has to be acidic, and for this reason, the BAM trigger is by far and away the best shower cleaner on the market.

So why isn’t the aerosol acidic as well? Probably because it would create can corrosion issues, even with a double laminated tin-plate can. Essentially, acids are off-limits in aerosol cans.

So they put a couple of surfactants in with some caustic soda (which is an excellent general purpose formula for anything other than soap scum) and hope you won’t notice that it won’t remove the soap scum!

But guess what – it’ll make an excellent all-purpose cleaner for fatty stains on clothes and carpets!

That’s right – if you have a fatty stain on something, squirt on some BAM aerosol and wash it out.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the oven cleaner