Not so long ago, solvents were everywhere. Adhesives, sealants, paints, sprays, cleaners…unless you’re fresh out of college, you can probably remember a time when almost every liquid product you came into contact with on site was solvent-based.
But over the last two decades, there’s been a shift. People – and manufacturers – are waking up to the environmental and health impact of solvents. And as solvent-free technology has evolved, they’re also discovering that for the most part, non-solvent products are also easier to use.
But there are still those that believe solvent-based = superior performance. If you’re one of them, we’re here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong, and why. But first, let’s take a look at what a solvent is, and what it does.
What is a solvent?
A solvent is a substance – usually a liquid – capable of dissolving another substance or solid. In the case of adhesives, sealants and similar products, the binding agents are mixed with a solvent so that the product can be extruded (squeezed out of the tube). Once exposed to the air, the solvent evaporates and only the cured binding agents remain.
Why are solvents used?
The main benefit of solvent-based formulations is a fast curing time. The more volatile the solvent, the faster it will evaporate at room temperature, and the faster your adhesive, sealant or paint will dry. There’s a common misconception that solvent-free products can’t deliver as strong a cure as solvent-based, but this simply isn’t true.
What’s the alternative to solvent-based?
The most common alternative to solvent-based adhesives and sealants is water-based formulations. Water is used instead of a solvent to keep the product liquid inside the tube. Ultimately this means that the product will take longer to cure because the water takes longer to evaporate at room temperature.
But there’s another alternative to solvent and water-based formulas, and that’s modified polymer adhesives – of which DURA+ is one! Modified polymers contain no solvents or isocyanates and they cure using a different type of chemical reaction which pulls moisture from the air to cure the polymer. Because there’s no evaporation, one of the biggest benefits of this system is that there is zero shrinkage, and the cured product remains highly elastic.
Why should you choose solvent-free?
There are a number of reasons why solvent-free adhesive-sealants are a better alternative. The first we’ve just mentioned – shrinkage and elasticity. Switching to a solvent-free modified polymer means your bonds and seals will be much more flexible and long-lasting, especially for outdoor applications such as roofing repairs. Because it doesn’t shrink, DURA+ is also ideal for filling or sealing gaps and holes.
Secondly, solvent-free modified polymers won’t react with the substrate, unlike solvents which can cause damage to surfaces such as lead, acrylic and natural stone.
But perhaps the most compelling reasons to choose solvent-free are those that have nothing to do with performance, and everything to do with health.
Solvents and health
Many of the volatile compounds used in industrial solvents present a real risk to environmental and human health. You don’t need us to tell you that breathing in the fumes from adhesive or paint can cause symptoms like headaches, dizziness, sore throat, itchy or watery eyes and a cough or even breathing difficulties.
Exposing your skin to solvents can cause dryness, irritation, redness, cracking and rashes. Long-term exposure to these substances puts you at risk of a range of chronic and acute health conditions, including dermatitis and respiratory problems such as COPD.
It follows that any substance that can make humans sick can also impact on other living organisms. Solvent-based products that are disposed of in the environment can kill wildlife, contaminate waterways, and cause serious damage to fragile ecosystems. We use this example a lot – but as a solvent-free product, DURA+ is so safe you can use it to seal a fishpond, without removing the fish!
Solvents can also leave traces behind in the built environment – for example in kitchens – that can contaminate drinking water and food. DURA+ is certified food safe and won’t taint or contaminate food prep areas.
White water-based formulas may not fill you full of confidence, modified polymer technology means you can get the best of both worlds – superior bond integrity with long-lasting, durable performance, instant grab with a fast curing time, and a solution that won’t compromise your health, or harm the environment. Add to that the fact that DURA+ can replace up to six solvent-based cartridge products for savings on time and money, and it’s a no-brainer!
To find out more about DURA+ or to locate your nearest distributor, get in touch!