Vinyl and Rubber Protectant - Active Ingredients

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111
Location
MN, USA
Does anyone know the active ingredients in the different vinyl and rubber protectants such as Armor All or 303? I'm doing web searches but haven't found anything yet. I'm wondering if these are just basically moisturizing agents, with UV protection. So could you just put a light coat of mineral oil on your dash and would that condition it even better than specialized products? Are the UV blockers the same as those in sunblock for people? I've found things like this that explain a little of it. https://encrypted.google.com/patents/US5462587 Part of it is just curiosity. Part of it is also a cost issue. Armor All isn't that expensive, but if a light coat of mineral oil is all that is needed (as an example) it would be considerably cheaper in the long run. Thanks!
 
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635
Location
Norwalk, CA not CT
All of the thin milky protectants are just a PDMS (silicone) solution that is the active ingredient nothing else. Hence why as far as ingredients go none other are listed in the MSDS. Some add scents, some add extra surfactant, and some add lots of water. Some being more than others. Armor all is about 20-30% PDMS, leading to high shine if applied directly to plastics but I will say heavy applications will protect more. The much vaunted Aerospace 303 if you read the MSDS is between 1-5% PDMS, the rest is water. So you're paying $16 for 16 ounces of a product that's 95-99% water. I'll buy the 16 ounce Armor All for $5 and water it down 5 to 1 and have more than half a gallon of protectant equal to Aerospace 303. But the active ingredient is PDMS, that's the actual protectant that does all the UV protection. Aerospace 303 isn't anything special, what they've managed to do is convince people to pay a lot of money for essentially watered down Armor All. I'm not making this up either. http://www.crossfireforum.org/forum/detail-shop/25914-303-protectant-vs-armor-all.html There's a guy, Mike-in-Orange, who actually works for Meguiars. And he also pretty much confirms all the plastic protectants are just silicone emulsions. PDMS dissolved in water. Mineral oil on top of being greasy does not provide UV protection, it's just a light oil composed of hydrocarbons. In fact it likely makes UV absorption worse. It's actually used in tanning salons because the thin layer of oil reflects light back in and enhances tanning because it doesn't absorb the UV. Silicon by nature absorbs the UV. You don't need to add other types of UV protectant because it's the silicone that does the UV protection. You can buy 100% silicone spray, electricians use it to protect electrical equipment from UV too and is also used by people to protect rubber seals, same as your everyday protectants like Armor All. So my suggestion is simply get Armor All and water it down 5 to 1, you'll get the protection of Aerospace 303 and it'll really stretch it out to be more economical than even mineral oil. And will actually protect plastics, mineral oil won't.
 
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1,799
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NJ now SC
Originally Posted By: qwertydude
The much vaunted Aerospace 303 if you read the MSDS is between 1-5% PDMS, the rest is water. So you're paying $16 for 16 ounces of a product that's 95-99% water. I'll buy the 16 ounce Armor All for $5 and water it down 5 to 1 and have more than half a gallon of protectant equal to Aerospace 303. So my suggestion is simply get Armor All and water it down 5 to 1, you'll get the protection of Aerospace 303 and it'll really stretch it out
I don't believe this at all! grin
 
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3,542
Location
Colorado
Originally Posted By: qwertydude
All of the thin milky protectants are just a PDMS (silicone) solution that is the active ingredient nothing else. Hence why as far as ingredients go none other are listed in the MSDS. Some add scents, some add extra surfactant, and some add lots of water. Some being more than others. Armor all is about 20-30% PDMS, leading to high shine if applied directly to plastics but I will say heavy applications will protect more. The much vaunted Aerospace 303 if you read the MSDS is between 1-5% PDMS, the rest is water. So you're paying $16 for 16 ounces of a product that's 95-99% water. I'll buy the 16 ounce Armor All for $5 and water it down 5 to 1 and have more than half a gallon of protectant equal to Aerospace 303. But the active ingredient is PDMS, that's the actual protectant that does all the UV protection. Aerospace 303 isn't anything special, what they've managed to do is convince people to pay a lot of money for essentially watered down Armor All. I'm not making this up either. http://www.crossfireforum.org/forum/detail-shop/25914-303-protectant-vs-armor-all.html There's a guy, Mike-in-Orange, who actually works for Meguiars. And he also pretty much confirms all the plastic protectants are just silicone emulsions. PDMS dissolved in water. Mineral oil on top of being greasy does not provide UV protection, it's just a light oil composed of hydrocarbons. In fact it likely makes UV absorption worse. It's actually used in tanning salons because the thin layer of oil reflects light back in and enhances tanning because it doesn't absorb the UV. Silicon by nature absorbs the UV. You don't need to add other types of UV protectant because it's the silicone that does the UV protection. You can buy 100% silicone spray, electricians use it to protect electrical equipment from UV too and is also used by people to protect rubber seals, same as your everyday protectants like Armor All. So my suggestion is simply get Armor All and water it down 5 to 1, you'll get the protection of Aerospace 303 and it'll really stretch it out to be more economical than even mineral oil. And will actually protect plastics, mineral oil won't.
Are you a chemist? If not how do you know this information? Have you done testing and if so what were your methods?
 
Messages
635
Location
Norwalk, CA not CT
I'm not a professional chemist but I have a background in chemistry from my days in the navy as a nuclear engineer. I would think maintaining reactor chemistry gives me a little edge in understanding what MSDS and simple chemistry these protectants use. Not only that but also apprenticing in a body shop before going into professional detailing gives me a decent idea in body shop chemicals and this chemical knowledge certainly helped give me an edge when it came to product selection and formulas for my own detailing business to both maximize profit and minimize expense without sacrificing quality. What I will say is Armor All's concentration of silicones isn't posted but can easily be inferred from a simple evaporation test. Considering post reformulation they removed the other VOC ingredients like diethylene glycol, basically antifreeze, the new formulation is not only more VOC compliant and less toxic but even easier to infer the actual silicone content accurately. What's left over after leaving it out to dry is the pure silicone oil plus surfactants, in this case it would be propylene glycol because it's not listed and is a common surfactant that is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and doesn't need to be listed. This way you can simply infer the ingredients, both end up with a relatively clear silicone solution. Considering most other UV blockers are pigment based like zinc and titanium oxides, they're completely absent, or you'd be leaving white powder everywhere you apply it. There are no other commonly used liquid UV blocking chemicals that wouldn't be listed on the MSDS. Hence you can easily infer that Aerospace 303 and Armor All and Meguiars, Finish 2001, and all other water based protectants are basically silicone emulsions. If they had other ingredients they'd definitely have to list them in the MSDS as UV inhibitors generally are not GRAS (generally recognized as safe). And yet there's none listed. Not even a "proprietary" ingredient which is the normal standard practice for corporate chemical secrets. Nothing. So why is it people assume there's a magical difference that Aerospace 303 is hiding? There isn't. Aerospace 303 the percentage of silicone is actually stated in the MSDS. So that's easy enough. And simply do this test weigh Aerospace 303 before drying and after. Then do the same with Armor All. If you're unwilling to even do this, you have no standing to just assume I have no idea what I'm talking about. As far as the 2007 reformulation other more toxic ingredients like diethyl glycol were removed, likely replaced with propylene glycol. Which is the same surfactant in Aerospace 303. So now Armor All is likely the same exact formula as Aerospace 303 hence why that Mike-in-Ornage guy will even admit that their very own Meguiars product doesn't have any real advantage compared to Armor All except the lower shine. Which of course can be replicated simply by watering the protectant down. So test it yourself. You can evaporate all the water out of Aerospace 303 and Armor All. Considering there's no other active ingredient it's easy enough to conclude, you're paying for water with Aerospace 303.
 
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23,915
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CA
Originally Posted By: qwertydude
Some add scents, some add extra surfactant, and some add lots of water. Some being more than others. Armor all is about 20-30% PDMS, leading to high shine if applied directly to plastics but I will say heavy applications will protect more. The much vaunted Aerospace 303 if you read the MSDS is between 1-5% PDMS, the rest is water. So you're paying $16 for 16 ounces of a product that's 95-99% water. I'll buy the 16 ounce Armor All for $5 and water it down 5 to 1 and have more than half a gallon of protectant equal to Aerospace 303.
CarPro PERL is 40-70% PDMS; I guess I'm getting a steal!
 
Messages
635
Location
Norwalk, CA not CT
Hmm. Calculate that out. CarPro PERL is about $16 for 500 ml. Let's be generous here and say 70% PDMS. That calculates to about 22 ml of pure PDMS per dollar. You still have to dilute this to the appropriate amount so it still will have the ideal stoichiometric PDMS to surfactant ratio unless the chemists who made it are complete idiots. But I'm pretty sure there's almost no added water to PERL and that the remaining percentage of PERL is surfactant to keep the PDMS in solution and not separating when mixed. If you take the low end at 40% then you're only getting 12.5 ml per dollar. Average is about 17.25 ml per dollar. 1 Gallon of Armor All is equivalent to 3785 ml and can be had for about $40. I know at the minimum Armor All is at least 20% PDMS. At worst you're getting 19 ml of PDMS per dollar. If on the other hand it's upwards of the 30% which I know it likely is because of the higher shine level it tends to have compared to the 10-20% low shine stuff. Then you're talking 28.4 ml per dollar. Average is 23.7 ml per dollar. Armor All still comes out on top even pre-diluted, unless PERL is at best case scenario and Armor All at worst. But the PERL being anywhere from 40-70% does not instill me with confidence since the range is so wide you don't know what you're really getting or CarPro isn't controlling their mixtures quite as tightly as they should be and need to state a wide range to cover their behinds in case someone tests the product for OSHA business reasons. I guess you can always let that gallon of Armor All evaporate but really why reconcentrate the Armor All when PERL will be watered down for use anyways? Value per dollar and for tighter quality control, Armor All is still the winner here. Believe me I've crunched these numbers before. If there were a better deal to be had in terms of protectant per dollar I'd have found it.
 
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23,915
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CA
I get a pretty significant discount on most of these products, so my cost for PERL isn't too much more than your cost for Armor All. But your math does make sense for the vast majority of the people who will be reading this thread. I will say though, that even at full-strength, PERL doesn't have the greasy look that Armor All delivers. I am not sure why this is the case, but there's something different about PERL compared to all of the silicone dressings that I've used.
 
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Messages
635
Location
Norwalk, CA not CT
Are you sure you're using new Armor All? The thick stuff, not the watery stuff. Old Armor All is greasy looking but the new stuff is definitely lower shine and not greasy looking at all. It's entirely comparable to Aerospace 303 in use and looks especially when watered down.
 
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3,542
Location
Colorado
Originally Posted By: qwertydude
I'm not a professional chemist but I have a background in chemistry from my days in the navy as a nuclear engineer. I would think maintaining reactor chemistry gives me a little edge in understanding what MSDS and simple chemistry these protectants use. Not only that but also apprenticing in a body shop before going into professional detailing gives me a decent idea in body shop chemicals and this chemical knowledge certainly helped give me an edge when it came to product selection and formulas for my own detailing business to both maximize profit and minimize expense without sacrificing quality. What I will say is Armor All's concentration of silicones isn't posted but can easily be inferred from a simple evaporation test. Considering post reformulation they removed the other VOC ingredients like diethylene glycol, basically antifreeze, the new formulation is not only more VOC compliant and less toxic but even easier to infer the actual silicone content accurately. What's left over after leaving it out to dry is the pure silicone oil plus surfactants, in this case it would be propylene glycol because it's not listed and is a common surfactant that is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and doesn't need to be listed. This way you can simply infer the ingredients, both end up with a relatively clear silicone solution. Considering most other UV blockers are pigment based like zinc and titanium oxides, they're completely absent, or you'd be leaving white powder everywhere you apply it. There are no other commonly used liquid UV blocking chemicals that wouldn't be listed on the MSDS. Hence you can easily infer that Aerospace 303 and Armor All and Meguiars, Finish 2001, and all other water based protectants are basically silicone emulsions. If they had other ingredients they'd definitely have to list them in the MSDS as UV inhibitors generally are not GRAS (generally recognized as safe). And yet there's none listed. Not even a "proprietary" ingredient which is the normal standard practice for corporate chemical secrets. Nothing. So why is it people assume there's a magical difference that Aerospace 303 is hiding? There isn't. Aerospace 303 the percentage of silicone is actually stated in the MSDS. So that's easy enough. And simply do this test weigh Aerospace 303 before drying and after. Then do the same with Armor All. If you're unwilling to even do this, you have no standing to just assume I have no idea what I'm talking about. As far as the 2007 reformulation other more toxic ingredients like diethyl glycol were removed, likely replaced with propylene glycol. Which is the same surfactant in Aerospace 303. So now Armor All is likely the same exact formula as Aerospace 303 hence why that Mike-in-Ornage guy will even admit that their very own Meguiars product doesn't have any real advantage compared to Armor All except the lower shine. Which of course can be replicated simply by watering the protectant down. So test it yourself. You can evaporate all the water out of Aerospace 303 and Armor All. Considering there's no other active ingredient it's easy enough to conclude, you're paying for water with Aerospace 303.
Good info and thanks! Lots of bad info floating around the forums but it sounds like you know your stuff and are qualified. What do you know about Vinylex? THanks!
 
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635
Location
Norwalk, CA not CT
I haven't had too much experience with Vinylex. I find it's too overpriced, though not as bad as Aerospace 303. The thing that gets me is you don't know the concentration of silicones. So my problem would be risking buying something at double the price of Armor All and not knowing what concentration you're getting. Use it if you like the look it leaves, but it really wouldn't provide any significant advantage to any other plastic protectant. And for me even though I easily have the money to buy whatever priced protectant I want, I'll still stick with Armor All and simply water it down for a more matte finish for the best value of any protectant considering its concentration. which apparently isn't 20-30% like my experimental observation. I thought from measurement it's closer to the higher end at 30%. It's more like 30-40% according to the MSDS. http://facilities.fit.edu/documents/forms/MSDS/armorall%20original%20protectant1-98.pdf So from my observation I'm pretty sure the concentration is right smack dab at 30% which would satisfy the MSDS and would still be within the range that I measured. My measurements can't be exact because I can't separate the surfactant from the silicone. Their boiling points are too similar and the silicone would vitrify throwing off my measurements.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
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46,166
Location
New Jersey
So why dont we just buy DOT 5 silicone brake fluid, which is like 95-97% silicone (Dow Corning 200, IIRC) and have the best value? I proposed this a while back. Havent tried it though...
 
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635
Location
Norwalk, CA not CT
DOT 5 brake fluid may be 95-97% pure silicone but what other stuff is in there is not necessarily safe for vinyl or hard plastics. The problem with silicones too is viscosity, not to mention other additives. Just like there's naptha and then there's bunker oil, DOT 5 is a very thick fluid relatively speaking. Even if you could get it to spread thin enough to not be a giant oil slick that attracts dust like a magnet, you only need to look at the MSDS to find other chemicals in it. http://www.maximausa.com/msds/misc/Brake%20Fluid%20DOT%205%20Silicone.pdf Dioctyl sebacate - plasticizer, commonly used in C4 explosives. Tributyl phosphate - again another plasticizer. The amount of plasticizer is to keep the various seals all nice and soft, but that might not be the best idea for hard vinyl plastics as rubber seals benefit from extra softening conditioners and plasticizers, hard vinyl might be a little more unpredicatble what kind of reactions will take place. But if you're looking for a pure inexpensive substitute with the same characteristics as DOT 5, simply use the 100% water free silicone-based tire shine sprays. It'll cost you less than DOT 5 brake fluid and will be 100% safe for plastics. It will offer the most UV protection and will most definitely last the longest and will fog the inside of your windshield the least because it has no surfactants. http://www.amazon.com/Black-Magic-22320-...ords=tire+shine But as you should know, this concentration and thickness of silicone will shine and glare the absolute worst. It'll attract dust horribly and everywhere you touch will be disgustingly oily making you leave horrible fingerprints everywhere and possibly transferring to your cloth seats and or contaminating your leather causing them to crack. Sometimes compromises do have to be made for safety or practicality.
 
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635
Location
Norwalk, CA not CT
Oh and if that's not thick enough, if you really want to get yourself in trouble try their Titanium Tire Wet Gel. Stuff is thicker than maple syrup out of the fridge. http://www.amazon.com/Black-Magic-5072647-Tire-Wet/dp/B000ENN9KG Disgusting stuff, get it on your hands and you feel like you just dunked it in heavy gear oil. So the gist is the thicker the silicone oil the more you can apply for more protection from UV but the worse it'll be for shine and for greasiness.
 
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4,837
Location
Central Texas
Interesting read re: crossfire link you posted. I've been using the Meguires vinyl & rubber cleaner/conditioner he mentioned for years. First found it at West Marine in a blue bottle, then later discovered the tan bottle was the same. Recently picked up a bottle of it from WM as I was clean out.
Originally Posted By: Mike-in-Orange
303 is an excellent product, but I'd put our M40 Vinyl & Rubber Cleaner/Conditioner or Hyper Dressing up against it any day.
 
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