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REACTION COATING A surface coating formed by reaction between two or more chemicals. For example, the film formed by a polyurethane two-pot seal is a ‘reaction coating’, because a chemical reaction takes place when the base and accelerator are mixed together.

RESIDUAL DISINFECTANT A disinfectant which can continue to kill microbes over a period of time after initial application.

RESIN A resin can be either naturally occurring or synthetic and is characterised by being insoluble in water and soluble in a wide range of solvents, for example, white spirit. Naturally occurring resins are adhesive substances obtained from sources such as pine trees. Synthetic resins are made by chemical means. There are many different resins in use in the industry, for example, phenolic and polystyrene resins.

RIDEAL-WALKER TEST Used to determine the germicidal power of a disinfectant, carbolic acid being taken as the standard.

RIVELLING This phenomenon can best be described as severe wrinkling. It normally takes place where seal has been applied too thickly and where the surface has dried quicker than the body of the seal, causing the surface to wrinkle.

SANDING The removal of old seal, dirt, scrapes and high spots with a special sanding machine. Mainly used on the wood group of floors.

SANITISER A chemical used for cleaning and disinfecting working surfaces and equipment.

SCARIFYING The removal of grease, oil and impacted dirt from a hard or rough surface eg concrete, using a scrubbing machine fitted with scarifying brushes.

SEAL A floor seal can be described as a permanent or semi- permanent finish which, when applied to a floor, will prevent the entry of dirt and stains, liquids and foreign matter.

SELF-GLOSS See Dry-bright

SEQUESTRANTS Chemicals added to detergents to neutralise or prevent the effect of hard water during cleaning.

SEPTIC TANK A tank in which sewage is destroyed or made harmless by the action of bacteria.

SHELF-LIFE The period during which a finished product is in a usable condition in its container. After this period the material may be unsuitable for use due to a variety of reasons, for example, thickening in the tin, excessive rusting of the tin, decomposition due to bacterial attack, etc.

SKIN A thick layer of material over the surface coating material, eg a paint or floor seal, formed by the oxidation of the surface layer.

SOFTWOOD Softwood is wood which belongs to the order Coniferae, or conifers, which includes for example spruce, Douglas fir and pine. Softwoods are not as resistant to abrasion or impact as hardwoods. They are more suitable for light foot traffic and are frequently protected with a floor covering, such as PVC sheet or carpet.

SOLID CONTENT The total solid constituents, usually expressed as a percentage, remaining when all solvents are removed from a material.

SOLVENT Any liquid which will dissolve a solid is a solvent for that solid. Although water is a solvent for many materials, by common use the word ‘solvent’ has come to mean liquids other than water. White spirit, for example, is a solvent for many resins. Solvent is normally included in a seal to aid application by enabling the material to be spread easily.

SPECIFIC GRAVITY It is the number of times a material is heavier than the same volume of water, at a stated temperature. The weight in pounds of a gallon of material can easily be calculated by multiplying its specific gravity by ten. For example, the specific gravity of white spirit is 0.787. The weight of one gallon of white spirit is therefore, 0.787 x 10 = 7.87lb

SPOT CLEANING The removal of soil or stains from small areas where the whole area does not need to be cleaned.

STAPHYLOCOCCUS A Gram positive bacteria; a major problem with regard to cross-infection.

STERILE Unable to breed. Totally free from all living organisms.

STERILISATION A process, usually by heating, that destroys all living organisms.

SURFACTANT Another term for a surface active ingredient. Generally used with regard to detergents.

SYNTHETIC Artificial or man-made. Not derived immediately from naturally occurring materials.


THINNER A liquid added to a paint or varnish to facilitate application. For example, xylene is a thinner widely used in polyurethane seals. Once the seal is applied the thinner evaporates.

TOXIC Toxicity is the degree to which a substance is poisonous.

TOXIN A poison produced by a pathogen.

TRANSLUCENT A material which is translucent will allow light to pass through it, without being transparent.

TURBID Cloudy, not clear.

TWO-POT (TWO-PACK OR TWO-CAN) Refers to materials supplied in two separate containers. The contents of one container must be added to the other and the blended material thoroughly mixed before use. The larger container generally contains the base and the smaller contains the accelerator or hardener.

UREA-FORMALDEHYDE A synthetic resin manufactured by heating together two chemicals, urea and formaldehyde. Urea-formaldehyde is widely used in both one-pot and two-pot seals. The seals cure by the action of an acid catalyst, which, in a two-pot seal, is the accelerator, or hardener.

VIABLE Capable of living and developing normally.

VINYL RESIN A synthetic resin used in the manufacture of many water emulsion paints, floor coverings, etc.

VINYL FLOOR COVERING See PVC (polyvinyl chloride) Floor Coverings

VISCOSITY Viscosity is the resistance of a liquid to flow; the greater the resistance, the higher is the viscosity. For example, a thick engine oil has a greater viscosity than thin cycle oil. Viscosity rapidly decreases with increase in temperature.

WAX (A) NATURAL A solid material, chemically related to fats. There is a very wide range of naturally occurring waxes. Examples are beeswax, a soft wax, produced from the sugar of food eaten by bees, formed as a secretion in the bee’s stomach, and carnauba wax, a hard wax produced from the leaves of trees found mainly in Brazil.

(B) SYNTHETIC There is also a very wide range of synthetic waxes. A well known example of a soft wax is paraffin wax, derived from petroleum. Polyethylene is an example of a harder synthetic wax frequently used in both water and solvent based polishes.

WETTING AGENT A wetting agent is used to reduce the surface tension between a solid and a liquid. In detergents, a wetting agent is included to loosen dirt from the surface to which it is attached.

WHITE SPIRIT A solvent derived from the distillation of petroleum and generally known as turpentine substitute. It is widely used in the polish, paint and varnish industries.

Technical Terms reproduced with kind permission of J.E. Edwards, FBICSc.

The future of our cleaning industry | TOMORROW’S CLEANING YEARBOOK 2011/2012 | 11 TECHNICAL TERMS

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