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A "reagent" is a chemical substance added to a system to either get a chemical reaction, or to see if one will take place. It can be used for detecting, measuring, examining or analyzing other substances.
A reagent can be a reactant if it is consumed during the course of reaction. A reagent-grade substance generally means the substance is of high purity.
A chemical reaction is the process by which one or more substances are changed into one or more different substances. A chemical reaction can be represented by a chemical equation.
A correct chemical equation shows what changes take place. It also shows the relative amounts of the various elements and compounds that take part in these changes.
The starting substances in a chemical reaction are the reactants. The substances that are formed by the chemical reaction are the products.
Chemicals that are very basic or very acidic are called "reactive." These chemicals can cause severe burns. Automobile battery acid is an acidic chemical that is reactive. Automobile batteries contain a stronger form of some of the same acid that is in acid rain.
Household drain cleaners often contain lye, a very alkaline chemical that is reactive.
Substances that dissociate completely into ions when placed in water are referred to as strong electrolytes, because of the high ionic concentration allows an electric current to pass through the solution. Most ionic compounds behave in this manner; table salt or sodium chloride is an example.
By contrast, substances with only covalent bonds — such as simple sugar glucose — do not dissociate at all and exist in solution as molecules. There are substances, like sodium carbonate, that contain both ionic and covalent bonding.
Energy can be converted from one form to another. In the cleaning process, chemicals, or energy, along with temperature, cleaning time and agitation, are used to help clean the carpet and textiles.
Reagents are also employed in the testing of detergents. Active matter is still often determined by alcohol extraction. There are now methods available for practically all the active detergent materials.
Methylene blue is utilized to test sulfonated anionic surfactants. Tests are also available using reagents for the fillers or the builders utilized.
Trace analysis of the residue of the detergent left on the carpet are also available, but they are beyond the scope of this article.
Routine analysis is a necessary part of production, as important as production itself. It is routine analysis which maintains quality and, without quality control, the best production techniques are valueless.
Aziz Ullah, Ph.D., MBA, is president of Fabpro Manufacturing, a leading formulator of carpet and upholstery cleaning products. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, senior member of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and a member of The Textile Institute (UK). He can be reached at www.Fabpro.com.