THE pH FACTOR

What is pH, and why is it so important when it comes to a successful stone care program?
A practical definition of pH is a scale to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a aqueous solution. (Solvents do not have a pH rating).

The pH scale ranges from 0 - 14 and is divided into three sections. Beginning with the Acid range 0 - 6.9, moving into the Neutral range of 7, neither acid nor alkaline concluding with the Alkaline range 7.5 - 14.

The strength of a solution is determined by where on the pH scale the reading falls. As a general rule, on the acid side, the lower the number the stronger the acid and on the alkaline side, the higher the number the stronger the solution. The pH reading measures "strength" not quality.

Few realize how rapidly alkalinity is increased as the pH is raised or how quickly acidity increases as the pH is lowered. For example, we begin with a solution that is pH 7 neutral. When the alkalinity of the solution is increased to 8, the strength is now 10 times stronger than that of pH 7. Increase the pH to 9, the solution is 100 times stronger than it was at 7. For each whole step up or down the pH scale, the strength increases or decreases by 10 times.
This rapid buildup continues until pH 14, which is 10 million times as strong as pH 7. It is the same for the acid side of the scale. There is a far greater difference in the concentration of strength than the values (0-14) indicate.


pH CHEMICAL REACTIONS

Many of the minerals in the different stones are sensitive to acidic and alkaline cleaners.

Take baking soda (alkali) and vinegar (acid), add a few drops of vinegar to some baking soda and notice what happens. You'll see an aggressive pH chemical reaction. You may be wondering, what does this have to do with stone care?

Stone is composed of chemical compositions in a solidified state; and the use of an inappropriate cleaning solution on stone may have an immediate chemical reaction, such as, the use of a acidic cleaner on marble, the acid attacks the calcium (alkali) resulting in dulling and etching the surface, depending on the strength of the acid; or the use of a high pH 9 - 10 all-purpose cleaner on a daily basis, this can produce gradual chemical reactions that can go unnoticed for some time, resulting in the fading of the colored minerals in the stone and other more serious deterioration problems.

A word of caution many conventional products that are labeled "Neutral" cleaners can have a pH ranging from 6 - 8. The chemical reactions of these cleaners are gradual.

Much of the damage caused to stone is the result of using improper cleaning products. It is not recommended to use "all-purpose" cleaners that list stone as "one" of the many things they clean.

Understanding the pH factor will help in selecting the proper stone "safe" cleaning chemicals.

 

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1113 Sofia, BULGARIA

 

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