August 8, 2018 by Chris Chapman
Snow foam has been the talk of the car detailing world for a few years now, and a quick Google search will soon show you why. You’ll see lots of satisfying images of cars covered in a thick, snowy foam that looks far more exciting than a simple soap and water wash – but why is this? Does snow foam just look exciting or does it actually help to clean your car? Read our beginner’s guide to snow foam and let us explain why you should be using this snowy substance to clean and protect your car.
What is Snow Foam?
Snow foam is what’s known as a pre-wash – it’s a kind of detergent you put on your car immediately before you give it a proper wash to help lift some of the dirt off your car so the proper wash can work more effectively. As you might have guessed from the name, snow foam creates a thick, white foam that looks quite appealing.
How Does Snow Foam Work?
Snow foam works by creating a thick, clingy foam that sticks to the surface of your car. The thick foam increases the amount of time that the cleaning agents inside the snow foam are in contact with the dirt on the car’s surface. This is what’s known as contact time. Because of this increased contact time compared to regular soap and water, snow foam is better at breaking down dirt and lifting it off the surface of your car, which in turn makes your regular car wash much more effective.
How Do I Use Snow Foam?
Snow foam can be tricky to use at first, but with a bit of experimenting, you’ll find it helps make your car washing routine much easier and more effective. You can’t use snow foam like regular soap with a sponge and a bucket. You’ll need to use a pressure washer and a snow foam lance. The lance is a special nozzle that fits on the end of your pressure washer. It works with your pressure washer to pull your snow foam liquid into a stream of water, and it then pushes that solution through a mesh which agitates the liquid snow foam into the thick, clingy foam that you expect.
Mix some snow foam liquid with some water in the lance’s bottle and adjust the nozzle on your snow foam lance to control how much water and air is mixed in with your snow foam solution.
Why Isn’t My Snow Foam Thick Enough?
The reason snow foam can be tricky to get to grips with is that all pressure washers and snow foam lances work slightly differently. In addition, different snow foams have different formulas which can yield different results. As you’re mixing your snow foam with water once in the lance’s bottle and then once more when it’s pulled into your pressure washer’s jet stream, it’s easy to mix too much or not enough water in with your snow foam.
Following your manufacturer’s instructions is important, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little with your snow foam, too. Before too long, you’ll know how to get thick snow foam using your specific foam and lance! If you’re using our Snow Foam, we recommend you mix it 50/50 with some warm water and use our own Snow Foam Lance which is specially designed to work with our unique snow foam formula. This will ensure you get a nice, thick foam. Pro-Kleen Snow Foam Lances are compatible with all Karcher K2 Series pressure washers and were ranked the #1 lance by Darmio, so they’re a good way to guarantee a thick snow foam!
Why Do I Need Snow Foam?
Your car’s paintwork takes a lot of abuse. You’re driving your car around at high speeds, so all kinds of dirt and residues will get splattered on there and dried on pretty quickly. Often, a regular wash and wax treatment just won’t be strong enough to get the job done properly on its own. Snow foam helps your car washing routine by partially breaking down dirt on your car’s paintwork, wheels, and other surfaces, making it much easier for your regular car shampoo to finish the job. This will give you a much cleaner car that’s better protected against dirt and general paintwork damage. It’ll also make it much easier to clean your car as most of the dirt will already have been rinsed off.
What’s the Difference Between Snow Foam and Shampoo?
You might think snow foam works similarly to a car shampoo as they both break down dirt, but they’re actually quite different. Snow foam needs to be sprayed onto your car and left to settle on its paintwork. You shouldn’t try and wipe off snow foam with a cloth or wash mitt as it doesn’t have any ingredients to help it slide over the car’s paintwork, which can lead to swirls or scratches.
Do I Need pH Neutral Snow Foam?
If you start researching snow foam, sooner or later a bit of chemistry will come up. We went into more detail on pH neutral snow foam here, but really all you need to know is the difference between pH neutral and non-pH neutral (or alkaline) snow foam. pH neutral snow foam is generally gentler on your car’s paintwork, so it’s worth getting if your car is valuable or needs to look its best for a special occasion. Regular snow foam isn’t quite as good for your paintwork, but it is more effective at removing dirt. You can mitigate some of the effects on your paintwork by giving your car a proper wash and wax, though, which will put a new layer of protective wax onto your car.
Can I Snow Foam My Convertible Soft Top?
No, not even with pH neutral snow foam. It won’t hurt if you splash a bit of foam onto your convertible’s soft roof, but directly spraying it onto your soft top is a bad idea. Snow foam is designed to work with all kinds of car paintwork, but not with fabric roofs. Use some proper soft top cleaner for your convertible roof, not snow foam.
Useful Terms to Know
Pre-wash: A treatment that helps make washing your car easier and more effective.
Contact time: How long your cleaning solution is in contact with the dirt on your car. Thick snow foam clings to cars, so it has a high contact time. Watery snow foam will dribble off your car and won’t be as effective.
Snow foam lance: A special nozzle for your pressure washer that turns the snow foam liquid into a thick foam.
pH neutral: A substance which is neither acidic nor alkaline but chemically neutral.