How To Make Your Water Sheet
Don't let that water bead...
"There is nothing softer and weaker than water, and yet there is nothing better for attacking hard and strong things."
- Lao Tzu from Tao Te Ching
Water is the life’s blood of our planet, essential to all life on Earth, yet many of its properties elude us. As much ink has been spilled about the drawbacks of water on a car’s paint job as has been wasted on West Coast celebrity lawns during a drought.
Water beading after a car wash has long been a desirable trait, but physics suggests otherwise. The beads sit on the surface causing spotting or etching on the sealant or wax coat. Contaminants in the water, like acid, can work its way to the paint.
When water sheets off a car, it leaves virtually no beads. Sounds great right? So how do we make sure that water sheets instead of beads?
Surface tension is basically the ability of a liquid to adhere to its neighboring water molecules. There are two external forces acting on each water droplet, gravity and the surface of the car. When there’s a high surface tension, you get a lot of smaller beads. When there’s low surface tension, you get bigger beads. Decrease surface tension enough and you’ll get sheeting.
High definition wax and sealants create a slick enough surface to cause sheeting. Some of our favs include Autoglym HD and Jescar power-lock sealant.
A sealant can be applied by hand or with a polisher. Use a foam finishing pad to apply, then buff using a soft, clean microfiber towel.
Another way to create low surface tension on your car’s surface is with an Isopropyl Alcohol wipe down, but make sure you do some research before going that route.
Check out some of our You Tube channels for more information from some of the detailing experts like Autogeek and Chemical Guys.