How to Safely Add Soap to your Parts Washer
No one wants to hear about safety processes. Many people believe they can ignore safety processes until they have been hurt.
This article is about a danger that many people do not recognize while working with a Parts Washer. It is a sudden explosive chemical reaction caused by adding detergent to the washer bath. The reaction is called an exothermic explosion.
An exothermic process is a chemical reaction that gives off heat. This heat is transferred to the surroundings. Many common chemicals undergo exothermic reactions. For example, simply dissolving sodium hydroxide (NaOH, lye, caustic soda) in water produces enough heat that if this is not done carefully it could melt a plastic container!
The heat that a chemical reaction gives off can quickly heat the surrounding area (or rest of the chemicals in the container) to a very high temperature. As temperature increases, the rate of the chemical reactions increases as well. Once an exothermic reaction begins, it can quickly "run away" – feeding on itself and accelerating its rate because of the heat produced. Therefore, it is very important to take appropriate safety precautions when adding chemical to a washer bath to prevent a dangerous exothermic reaction.