Courtesy and thanks to Detail University and Jon Miller(http://www.detailuniversity.com/foru...on-miller.html)
Detailers Automotive Clay: - An Article by Jon Miller
The advent of detailer's clay is an example of why it's important to stay in touch with the innovations made in the detailing industry. New products, chemicals, technologies and ideas are constantly being introduced.
When automotive clay was first introduced there were reports of paint damage due to improper use. With education on correct application methodology this is no longer a problem. It amazes me how many professional detailer’s do not know what detailing clay is capable of, let alone how or why they should use it. For the rest of us who have been using it for ten or more years, we can't imagine being without it
Even new cars that have been setting on a car dealerships lot for a few weeks can accumulate contamination that bonds to the paint surface; don't assume a vehicle that looks good is contamination free. Do a ‘Bag Test’ place some saran wrap or a zip lock bag over your hand and rub across the finish lightly. Every snag you feel is a surface contaminant that the clay bar can remove but you may not be able to see, especially on white or light coloured vehicle surfaces.
Acid rain, road salt, tree sap and airborne contaminants are very detrimental to a vehicles paint film surface. Brake dust or rail dust is very small, almost microscopic particles of steel, iron or their alloys. These particles carry a positive charge (due to friction) while the vehicles they land on are carrying a negative charge. The vehicle surface becomes a magnet, attracting and bonding the ferrous metal particles to the vehicle surface.
Regardless of how clean you think your paint is there are still bonded contaminants on the paint that you need to remove before pre-wax cleaning, polishing or applying a protection to your paint film surface. Use automotive detailing clay to remove; road dirt / grime, bituminous resin (tar) grease, tire rubber, bug debris, bird excrement, tree resin (sap) rail and brake dust, paint over spray, hard water (mineral) deposits, industrial fall-out (IFO) road salt (small particles become imbedded and bond to the surface) if the paint has the slightest amount of bonded contaminants, even a wool pad will skip and hop
Moisture when an area of metal has a positive charge and another has a negative charge; water acts as an electrolyte,, temperature and ozone (air) create a corrosive chemical reaction (See also Reactivity); corrosion is caused allowing current to flow between these areas. During this process the metal absorbs oxygen from the water and forms iron oxide (rust).
The corrosive chemical compounds generated then proceed to etch (corrode) the clear coat, penetrating and spreading the corrosives through the paint film system (and the sheet metal), which results in erosion of the paint surface, that shows on the surface as tiny rust spots (rust blooms) This is most noticeable on light coloured paint surfaces (especially white)
(See also Acid Rain, Industrial Fallout (IFO) Corrosion, and Decontamination)
In 1990, Tadao Kadate of Japan is acknowledged as the inventor of an automotive clay resin that exfoliates vehicle paint surfaces, it’s the first product to safely, instantly and cheaply remove airborne bonded contaminants from delicate automotive paint surface. Clay bars are used in the detailing, automotive reconditioning and auto body paint and repair shop professions to remove paint over spray, tree sap and industrial fallout from the cars painted surfaces. It also works on glass, plastics and many metals. First used by Japanese auto manufacturers on vehicle production lines and then auto body repair shops, the technology was passed on to the US market in the late ‘90’s.
Automotive clay is not a replacement for polish or a compound; it is a pliable, petroleum resin product, Polybutene PB-1 (Polyisobutylene) containing a mild abrasive(s) i.e. kaolin, silica sand, calcium carbonate, alumina, ceramics quartz and also silicon carbide that polishes and exfoliates bonded surface contaminants by shearing, which is then encapsulated by the clay resin. These abrasives are extremely small with an average particle size of 1- µ (micron) dependant on the aggressiveness required, mixed in with a powdered synthetic detergent.
The clay bar may not totally remove rail dust, but it will exfoliate the protruding particles. It will, however, easily remove surface contaminants i.e. tree sap or paint over-spray. Usually only the horizontal paint surfaces require detailer’s clay treatment, as it is these surfaces that contaminants tend to land on and adhere too, you should evaluate any vertical surfaces and if need be, clay them. It can be argued that a polish or compound will do the same thing; problem is that they not necessarily remove surface contaminates but just ‘round-off’ the edges, whereas clay will remove the surface contaminants and a percentage of the applied wax /polymer.
Note: you may have to remove minor surface marring caused by the clay
This thin film of lubrication (see Detailer’s Clay Lubrication) provides a safety barrier that enables the clay to hydroplane across the surface. In other words, the clay is riding on a micro-thin film of lubrication between it and the paint surface removing the (protruding) surface contaminants by abrasion and encapsulation by the malleable clay. Without lubrication the clay will abrade the paint surface much like a wet-sanding block and will produce significant fine surface marring
Most manufacturers colorize (these colours vary by reseller) the clay to identify differing abrasive strengths (this is accomplished by varying the type, amount or particle size of the abrasive used) i.e. Green Clay is a very fine abrasive clay, Clay Magic® Blue is a medium - fine abrasive, whereas the Red is a medium - heavy abrasive, it is also very effective for the removal of paint over-spray, if the over-spray is particularly heavy, you may want to seek the assistance of a professional.
1. Fine- clay that abrades or shears light surface or imbedded paint contamination and encapsulates it. This grade of clay can be used on a regular basis for paint surface ‘maintenance’ Sonus SFX or Pinnacle Ultra Fine Detailing Clay - Autopia Car Detailing Forum - Car Detailing or
Pinnacle Ultra Clay -http://www.pinnaclewax.com/piulfigrdepo.html
2. Fine - Medium-clay that is used to remove heavier surface contaminants (bird excrement and bug reside) it is slightly more abrasive than the fine grade and abrades the paint surface, while the clay encapsulates it
Clay Magic® - Clay Magic detailing car clay and Auto Magic specialty products
3. Medium to Heavy duty- clay that is used to remove paint over-spray; it contains slightly stronger abrasive or larger particles that abrade the paint, while the clay encapsulates it. Clay Magic®
Aggressiveness (on a scale of 1 to 5)
1 Clay Magic® - Red- very aggressive; most surface marring - 5/5
2 Top of the line purple- slightly less aggressive - 4/5
3 Clay Magic® -Blue- less aggressive; less marring - 3/5
4 Mother's - Yellow- 2/5
5 Sonus Ultra Fine -Green- 1/5
There are only a couple manufactures of clay and patents protect the technology, with some subtle difference
in consistency and firmness, a recent court hearing found components of the “elastic clay” to be a patent infringement and the judge ordered sale of the product to be halted. (In the United States, Auto Wax Company Inc. (now owned by Illinois Tool Works Inc.) owns the US patent rights (No. 5,727,993) and reads thus-
"Conventional compounds comprising an elastomeric resin mixed with abrasives used to remove protrusions, projections, and/or strongly adhered foreign matter from vehicle surfaces"
Auto Wax owns six patents relating to clay products and provides private label clay too many of the detail industry’s leading companies - Clay Magic detailing car clay and Auto Magic specialty products As a result, all of the Polybutene (Polyisobutylene) or plastic clay being manufactured now comes from the same factory in Japan, which as the only patent holder has a monopoly on the market. Meguiar's, Mothers, Sonus, Zaino, et al get their clay either from Japan (Source Chem. Inc. one of Japan's biggest clay manufacturers) or from a US licensed manufacturer.
But the formulation can vary significantly, mainly;
1.Density or plasticity
2.Abrasive particulate size
3.Abrasive used (i.e. silica sand, calcium carbonate, alumina, ceramics, or silicon carbide)
4.Abrasive density ratio (abrasive content to clay)
5.Colour (to identify differing abrasive strengths)
Detailer’s clay can also be used on glass surfaces (exterior) to remove heavy road film, bug deposits and surface water spots; it seems to outperform even the best window cleaners. Clay will safely remove stubborn embedded brake dust, tar and road film from original equipment manufacturer (OEM) wheel surfaces (detailer’s clay is not recommended on wheels that do not have a clear coat or powder coat finish.
Alternative clays -
1. Zymol Lehm-Klay 2 (contains quartz and chalcedony abrasives) - Zymol Car Care Products & Accessories
2. Sonus SFX Ultra Fine Detailing Clay - Autopia Car Detailing Forum - Car Detailing
3. One of the factors that make Optimum Opti-Clay work better than Clay Magic is that it is based on cross linked polybutene resin which is more durable, more elastic, and has a great deal more adhesion properties than the resin used in Clay Magic (0nly available outside of US / Japan).
Alternative product- Hi-Tech Body Sponge™ this innovative rubber polymer product safely and easily removes overspray, water spots, tree sap, rail dust, bugs and other bonded surface contaminants from the surface of automotive paint, glass, mouldings and plastic, may be used with any kind of lubricant. Sponge retains soap and water and releases it as a lubricant when gently squeezed while gliding over the surface. Unlike detailer's clay this product can be cleaned by simply rinsing off the accumulated contaminates with water or in a soap bucket. Accidentally dropping it on the ground is not a problem. Just rinse the sponge pad clean and you're ready to keep using it. Easy grip sponge allows for sturdy and controlled handling, can be used up to 30 times before needing to be discarded. Hi-Tech Body Sponge™ - Auto Detailing Supplies
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
a) Does my paint surface require the application of detailer’s clay? – is the paint surface showing one or more of the following; coloured or yellow stains, water marks (spots) black metallic coloured flecks, a rough texture, etch marks (concave depression) oxidation, bug or bird excrement, place some saran wrap or a zip lock bag over your hand (‘bag test’) and rub across the finish lightly. Every snag you feel is a surface contaminant that the clay bar can remove but you may not be able to see, especially on white or light coloured vehicle surfaces.
b) How often you need to clay depends on your environment and how you maintain your car see ‘bag test’ above. If you find the need to use detailer’s clay on a regular basis use mild clay
c) Using automotive clay- to remove surface pollutants and abrade the debris from the paint film surface leaving behind an ultra-smooth surface that will make your paint protection adhere better and improve its durability. You can use detailing clay on any smooth, hard surface, including glass (exterior) to remove heavy road film, bug deposits and water spots, and chrome. Do not use on clear plastic, such as headlight lenses as it may cause ‘fogging’. The best way to describe the proper method for using detailer clay is to use plenty of the lubricant and aquaplane the clay bar over the surface in straight-line motions, in the direction of airflow and using light hand pressure, you should hear a slight noise and feel some resistance; this is the contaminants being abraded.
d) If I’m going to polish the car with an abrasive, do I still need to use detailer’s clay?
One good reason to clay before you polish; polishing can result in smoothing and rounding the surface contamination it making it significantly harder to remove later. Although a polish / compound will remove the contamination there is a risk is that the abrasive particles will become embedded in the foam pad, which will cause surface scratches / marring by making the foam /polish more abrasive than necessary
Inspect the clay surface often and fold (knead) clay to present a clean surface to the paint to avoid scratching; when the clay surface becomes really soiled (it becomes more difficult to find a clean surface by kneading, discard and use fresh clay. Do not over use a clay bar; expect approximately 5-10 uses from a single, 8 oz. bar
Before you clay and after you wash the paint surface, you’ll need to remove the old paint protection first so you can get down to the bare paint where these contaminants have attached themselves. If you’ve never clayed your car before, chances are that there are contaminants being protected underneath your previous wax or sealant coat, that’s why you need to remove the old protection before you clay.
I do not recommend using a harsh dishwashing detergent such as Dawn, as they tend to dissolve oils and can prematurely dry up rubber moulding and trim. I recommend using a d-limonene (citrus) based paintwork cleanser. (P21S Total Auto Wash) Once you remove the old paint protection then proceed to the paint surface preparation process; detailer’s clay, polishing, and then applying a surface protection.
•Select the appropriate abrasiveness of detailer’s clay (i.e. Ultra-Mild, Fine, Medium to Heavy)
•Divide the detailer's clay into several equal pieces and knead into a ball to ensure pliability
•Take one of the pieces and flatten it out into a circle, approximately enough that it will fit onto two or three fingers
•Spray a 2-foot by 2-foot surface with a lubricating solution, ensure that the surface being clayed is always wet (important enough to restate- ensure that the surface being clayed is always wet)
•Inspect the clay’s surface often, knead /fold to provide a clean surface as necessary
•Glide the clay across the area in a front to back straight-line ( in direction of airflow) aquaplaning type motion, Use long strokes without lifting the clay from the surface
•Use a light to medium even pressure until the surface becomes smooth and silent.
•If the Clay is streaking on the paint, you need to apply more lubricating solution, it is better to over lubricate the paint film surface than let it dry-out
•To avoid wasting detailer's clay because you probably will drop it, place a towel on the ground under the area you're claying so the clay will fall onto the towel without picking up gravel etc.
•If you drop the clay on the ground do not try to clean it, discard it or it may cause micro scratches in your paint film surface.
•Rinse of any clay residue and ensure there is no more contamination to remove
•Move onto the next two-foot by two foot square area and repeat the process.
•Once half the section is completed turn the clay over to a fresh, clean side and completes the remaining section.
•Check the surface of the clay often, once it becomes contaminated fold to a clean surface.
•Wash, rinse and dry each section and ensure (‘bag test’) all imbedded surface contaminants have been removed before moving on to the next panel / section
•I would go over the paint surfaces again with the clay to ensure nothing was missed
•When complete wash, rinse and thoroughly dry the vehicle.
•The surface is now ready for a paint cleaner to ensure a pristine surface
•Any wax that was on the paint surface has been removed, so you should re-new the paints protection system
(See also Paint Decontamination / Neutralisation)
Detailer’s clay - can also be used on glass surfaces (exterior) to remove heavy road film, bug deposits and surface water spots; it seems to outperform even the best window cleaners. Clay will safely remove stubborn, embedded brake dust, tar and road film from original equipment manufacturer (OEM) wheel surfaces; detailer’s clay is not recommended on wheels that do not have a clear coat or powder coat finish.
e) For a pristine paint film surface- after the application of detailer’s clay use a paint cleaner (Zaino ZPC Fusion Dual Action Paint Cleaner – (http//: Zaino Store or Klasse All-In-One (http//:AutoGeek.com Automotive Super Site) to ensure the surface is clean and the sub-surface is free of any grease or other residue, ready for polishing and the application of a sealant and / or Carnauba wax surface protection. The paint cleaner’s suggested above can sometimes be used instead of detailers clay if the ‘bag test’ doesn’t reveal contaminates but the surface looks ‘soiled’ use a chemical surface cleaner (especially on light coloured paint)
f) How it works- detailer’s clay is formulated to remove surface contaminates from the paints, it contains abrasives (i.e. silica sand, calcium carbonate, alumina, ceramics, quartz, or silicon carbide) in an applicator (the malleable clay bar) the clay lubricant is doing the same thing for the clay's abrasives as the oils in a polish, which is providing surface lubrication. Contrary to popular belief it does not pull the metallic particles from the paint surface. The abrasives 'shear' the surface contaminates (i.e. the top of the metallic particle leaving the rest imbedded in the paint, allowing it to continue generating corrosion damage) the sheared particles are encapsulated by the clay. Clay being an abrasive product will remove a percentage of both natural and synthetic wax and most polymer sealants, therefore a paint surface protection should be applied after use.
g) Acid neutralizing wash - I would strongly recommend an acid neutralizing wash followed by a corrosion inhibitor on an annual or semi-annual basis. You will find that a proper acid neutralizing wash opens the paint fissures (pores) and will release most of the imbedded ferrous oxide deposits and the remainder comes off very easily by clay encapsulation. These systems will produce a better finish on the paint surface than is possible with detailer’s clay alone and is also the only solution that addresses acid rain, industrial pollutants, and tree sap etching as well as other polyurethane clear coat concerns
Products-Neutralisation / Decontamination Systems; A, B C Decontamination System – http//:Automotive International - Valugard Product Line
Finish Kare 1119 / 883 Paint Decontamination - Finish Kare FK1 1119 / 883 Paint Decontamination System
When automotive clay was first introduced there were reports of major paint damage due to improper use. With education on correct application methodology this is no longer a problem. Like all abrasive products you need to select and use; the appropriate grade (abrasion ability) proper / adequate lubrication, the correct application methodology, exercise due care and diligence. Detailer’s clay will cause surface marring or scratching on a paint surface due to the following;
(a) Using an unnecessarily aggressive grade of clay
(b) Using insufficient or an inappropriate lubrication on the paint surface
(c) Too much hand pressure applied, try a 3-inch ‘flat pancake’ shape held between two fingers
(d) Trying to ‘clay’ too large an area (should be 2’ x 2’<)
(e) The ambient temperature is unsuitable; too cold (50oF <) and will not allow sufficient kneading of the clay bar to ensure a 'clean' surface, too hot (>75 oF) the lubrication dries out and the clay becomes unstable
(f) You drop the clay and pick up road dirt / grit.
(g) Read the manufacturers' directions for the number of uses of their clay bar. Do not over use a clay bar; expect approximately 5-10 uses from a single (8 oz.) bar
To correct any surface marring / light scratching use a mild polish (Zaino PC Fusion Dual Action Paint Cleaner Swirl Remover or Menzerna Final Polish II) using a White or an Orange LC pad, speed 5 – 6
(See also Detailer’s Clay Lubricant)
Detailers Clay Lubricant:
The critical safety factor is adequate lubrication; most clay retailers supply their detailing spray (QD) as a lubricant, the problem with many of them is that they contain some form of solvent or alcohol, which may cause the clay to dry out. To provide sufficient lubrication the surface must be thoroughly saturated, problem is that a solvent dries out the clay, which could cause surface marring or cause it to disintegrate, or breakdown and become soft leaving streaks on the paint surface. Some car wash concentrates will also cause some of the same problems due to the synthetics, detergents and / or solvents used.
To ensure adequate surface lubrication and avoid surface marring use a product (Optimum No Rinse (ONR) - – http//:Top of the Line Auto Detailing Supplies) that contains a surfactant to ensure that any dirt/grit / metal debris is encapsulated and held in suspension and can be rinsed away
The best way to describe the proper method for using detailer clay is to use plenty of the lubricant and aquaplane the clay bar over the surface in straight-line motions. A mild liquid soap (Woolite™) works as a lubricant and is gentle enough that it will not adversely affect either the clay, vehicle paint or trim using a 5:1 solution of distilled water / Woolite™. As an alternative use a 16:1 solution of distilled water and a pH suitable car wash concentrate (Zaino Z-7 Show Car Wash, pH7.0) in a 16 ounce spray bottle, a lubricant made for clay Zymol Lehm-Lube 2 - Zymol Car Care Products & Accessories
Storage – Detailer’s clay should be stored in a cool (range- 50- 75oF) dry place, store your clay in a plastic baggie or a plastic soap travel case. Mist the clay with a Quick Detailer (QD) and place the piece of remaining clay in the storage container, and close the lid or seal tightly.
(See also Using Automotive Detailers Clay, Section 04)
Further information –
a) Technical service bulletin (TSB); Paint Contamination - Audi #50-94-01, Infiniti #ITB92-005, Mazda Service Bulletin - Environmental Repair Procedure, et al)
b) Websites - Finish Kare - Finish Kare, Automotive, Marine, Aerospace, Mold Release Agents, Paint Contamination or Auto International - http//:Automotive International - Valugard Product Line
c) Clay Magic® MSDS - MSDS Ref. No:AM3200