Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Carpet cleaning, with just a little lye
For the past year or so I’ve been hearing radio ads from the local franchisee of a firm called Zerorez. The description on their web site said that they clean using something magical called Empowered Water (a trademark), and that their process leaves zero residue - which is why the company name is a palindrome. That’s amazing and somewhat misleading marketing jargon. Watch a brief video from their Albuquerque franchisee.
So, just how do you really make empowered water? Is it like Rock Water? Or, do you send it to visit a sweat lodge in Sedona? Actually, as shown above, they just add add some sodium chloride (salt) to the water, and apply a direct current to produce a solution containing sodium hydroxide (lye, or caustic soda). The folks at EAU Technologies who supply the equipment to Zerorez grandly refer to that liquid as Primacide B Empowered Water. When I checked at the web site for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, I found that EAU Technologies had abandoned their trademark for Empowered Water as of January 5, 2015, so its status now is listed as DEAD. What they are doing is not startlingly new, just a scaled down version similar to the old familiar chlorakali process.
Zerorez does have U. S. patent ##6,638,364 for their cleaning process. Its title is a lot more descriptive than their marketing mumbo jumbo - System to clean and disinfect carpets, fabrics, and hard surfaces using electrolyzed alkaline water produced from a solution of NaCl.
Does their process leave zero residue? That would require a perfect rinse, so I doubt it really does. But, as shown above, any sodium hydroxide residue left in the carpet eventually would react with carbon dioxide in the air, and form harmless sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).