Silicones are a group of polymers that are man-made and do not occur in nature. Within the world of detailing, polydimethylsiloxane is a very popular one. Silicones, just like polymers, have certain properties that can help a product perform better in a certain way. When a polymer contain any form of siloxane, it is a silicone.
Polymers and silicones
Although polymers are often forgotten about, silicones have a slight reputation of being unwanted and need to be avoided. Truth is that polymers, just like silicones have their place in todays world. Polymers are ingredients that are used to give a product certain properties, or enhance existing properties. This will help the product to perform better. Silicones do the same thing, except they are man-made, whereas polymers are naturally occurring.
Examples of effect
Like polymers, silicones can have many tasks. Just a few of them are:
- Improve solubility
- Enhance reflective index (gloss)
- Improve surface wetting
- Make water mix better with oils
- Make 2 other types of ingredients mix more stable
- Increase the surface tension of the product
- Increase sheeting
- Help the product to bond better with the surface
- Increase chemical durability
It is no surprise then that silicones are faily commonly being used to improve a product, although this often is combined with polymers.
Bodyshops and silicones
The word silicones will make many bodyshop-owner go crazy. The respond you will get will mostly say that you need to avoid them, and that they are bad in any way or form. Truth is that many products these days contain polymers and/or silicones. Even many of the products that are used daily in a bodyshop. Some types of paint even contain silicones to help them perform in a certain way. Most bodyshop owners however, fear about the hydrophobic properties that a silicone can give. Since these particles are very stubborn, they aren’t easily removed. Sanding a surface with silicones creates the risk of getting those particles airborn. Once they are in the air, they can land on a car that is being prepped to be painted. Those tiny particles can then cause paint-imperfections, which could cause the bodyshop to have to redo the entire paint job.
The downside is that this fear towards silicones is not aimed at 1 single type of silicones, but at silicones in general.
Products and the adding of silicones
The use of silicones has such an influence on several products, that it can actually change its name. A wax with added silicones and/or polymers, to improve performance, is referred to as a hybrid. A product that contain silicons is considered synthetic, even though the use of polymers often still makes it natural. The terminology is sound, but the added sense if difference gives the false impression that there is a very present difference between these two.
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