Dear V-8 Buick all-weather drivers,
My attempt to find a reasonable lubricant for windshield wipers got deflected into an investigation of the chemical differences between Rain-X and Aquapel. As Iíve done in the past, I turned to the Safety Data Sheets to peek under the hood of how these products actually work. I started by looking at the Rain-X product sold to remove Rain-X: Rain-X X-treme clean. This is the only product that can be used to reliably remove Rain-X build-up. Here is a link to the SDS:
I got a shock when I looked at the ingredients. Only three are listed: water, 2-Amino-2-Methylpropanol (a pH stabilizer,) and Aluminum Oxide. Aluminum Oxide is one of the hardest abrasives known to man. So much so that is used as an alternative to diamonds in some industrial applications:
So that makes it clear there is exactly one way to remove Rain-X and that literally to grind it off. Even the manufacturer of Rain-X has no chemical process to remove it. Using hard abrasives on glass should be done with caution and your windshield might have some softer coatings that could also be stripped away. In short, using Rain-X X-treme Clean should be minimized as much as possible.
At this point I turned to original Rain-X water repellent. Here is the SDS:
I was in for an even nastier shock. The main ingredients listed in the SDS are: Ethanol, Acetone, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Sulfuric acid! Given those ingredients, I canít imagine how Rain-X is applying some sort of a silicone-based water repellent surface. Rain-X is using some other sort of unknown chemistry. Rain-X is considered a carcinogenic under OHSA and Californiaís prop-65 regulations. Now obviously these chemicals are in small enough concentration that they are unlikely to do any harm, still this is a nastier product than I had imagined it to be.
In contrast here is the SDS for Aquapel:
The only listed ingredient is: Distillates, petroleum, hydrotreated light. According to Toxipedia (Didnít know there was such a thing? Me neither!) these are simple another sort of product distilled from crude oil. While this stuff isnít exactly innocent either, it isnít the cocktail of nasty chemicals that Rain-X turns out to be. Unlike Rain-X, Aquapel not regulated as potentially carcinogenic
While Aquapel is significantly more expensive, it appears to be a better choice on a number of grounds: easier to apply, lasts longer, and no problems of excessive build up. At this point, my mind is made up. Iím going to use Rain-X X-treme clean once to get all the old Rain-X off (applying it with extreme caution mind you.) Then Iíll switch to Aquapel for good!
Some food for thought!