Meguiars Wheel Brightener

Discussion in 'Pre Wash, Wash, Decon, Claying, Engine, Wheels, an' started by I VIK I, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. I VIK I

    I VIK I Two Bucket System Washer

    Interesting find from another forum, Im not sure if I can link so I will copy the thread. Ive been using wheel brightener for the past 4 years, but I only detail my own cars, No gloves or mask, am I a dead man?

    Some wheel cleaners contain Ammonium Bi-fluoride. I've been doing some reading on this, and it really is some scary stuff! So I thought I would share my findings...

    A product like Meguiar's Wheel Brightener for instance, contains Ammonium Bi-fluoride (ABF). I should say that I generally like Meguiar's products, and they offer many alternative wheel cleaners without ABF. So this is not to bash a product or brand, but only meant as an example. I would also like to acknowledge Meguiar's for providing download-able MSDS's from their website, so people are able to know what they are actually dealing with.

    The first hint of the health risk is that Wheel Brightener has a NFPA health rating of 3, which reads: Short exposure could cause serious temporary or residual injury even though prompt medical attention was given.

    I've found valuable information regarding ABF in an article from Professional Carwashing & Detailing Magazine, available here: Article Archives

    Here's a few quotes from that article:

    Ammonium bifluoride (ABF) is one of the most common, and dangerous, wheel cleaners used in automatic carwashes today. Its effectiveness removing brake dust and difficult contaminants from chrome wheels is undisputed, but some chemists say ABF presents an unjustifiable and potentially lethal risk to carwash operators and their employees.


    ABF, sometimes known as ammonium fluoride or ammonium hydrogen fluoride, is a crystalline salt formed when ammonium hydroxide reacts with HF. Through a complicated chemical reaction, ABF essentially becomes HF when mixed with water or liquid cleaning solutions.

    Similar to HF, ABF was originally developed for industrial uses, like etching glass, removing oxides from metals and eliminating mineral stains from stone, glass and porcelain.

    "Hydrogen fluoride and ammonium bi-fluoride. are created for industrial use only," says Dr. Andras Nagy, chief chemist for S&S Car Care, a North Canton, OH-based manufacturer of car-care products. "In Europe, people are stunned that car washes are using these types of chemicals."


    Chemists say it's the fluoride ions in HF and ABF that make many wheel cleaners and pre-soaks so potentially dangerous. Whether fluoride ions enter body tissues as the result of inhalation or skin contact, they cause deep, progressive burning that may quickly lead to multi-organ failure and death. Long-term exposure to even minimal amounts of ABF can lead to brittle bones, weight loss, anemia, and calcified ligaments.

    "ABF is extremely hazardous and can be harmful to several target organs in the human body, including the lungs, skin, eyes and kidneys," warns Roger McFadden, technical director and senior chemist with Coastwide Laboratories, Portland, OR.

    McFadden says one of the most frightening aspects of fluoride poisoning is that its effects are not immediately apparent. Unlike hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid, damage caused by HF and ABF takes place slowly. By the time a victim feels the effects, it's too late to reverse the damage.

    Pretty scary stuff huh? As stated in the quotes above ABF becomes Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) when mixed with water, which it will always be in any useable concentration. Here's a quote from Wikipedia on HF's health effects:

    Hydrogen fluoride is toxic and can be fatal if even small amounts are ingested or absorbed through the skin. HF burns require immediate treatment beginning with washing with water but specialized care is indicated. HF acid burns are not similar to those produced by hydrogen chloride (HCl), or other common acids. Onset time of symptoms of HF burns are proportional to concentration. Above 50% instantaneous effects are apparent. Between 20% and 50% clinical symptoms may not appear for one to eight hours. Concentrations below 20% may not result in symptoms for 24 hours.

    Entry routes include inhalation, ingestion, skin and eyes. Aside from burns to the eyes, skin, lungs, or digestive tract, the lowering of serum calcium (hypocalcemia) is one of the most serious consequences of HF exposure. As the free fluorine ion penetrates the skin it binds serum calcium forming covalent, nearly insoluble calcium fluoride (CaF2). This has effects on nerve conduction and can lead to extreme throbbing pain, metabolic changes, and even death.

    I think the most disturbing thing is the potential long term health effects of using products containing ABF. I really don't see why we need chemicals like this in the detailing business, and hope that it is only a matter of time before before they are replaced completely. But this will only happen if people stop buying products containing ABF. I hope this post will help to help raise the attention towards which chemicals actually are in the products we are all using.
  2. premshine09

    premshine09 Jedi Nuba

    We use this at the dealership I work out of....pretty strong stuff. Inhaling this stuff on accident is never a pretty experience. Thanks for the info! I will try and sway my boss to look at a different wheel cleaner. Although I will say Megs wheel brightener does some crazy work!
  3. mrgolfrider

    mrgolfrider DB Forum Supporter

    I tend to think information like this is relative to the situation. If you looked at driving a car in the way that you are looking at the information of Wheel Brightener you would probably never drive again or be way more cautious. The health risks with smoking are crazy but people still smoke every day. A product like this will always have a purpose in my extreme detailing hobby and I know that I need to take the proper precautions when using it when I do. Sorry if long winded, I just feel this way about a lot of things in life.
  4. Reflect

    Reflect DB Forum Supporter

    I have nitrile gloves and some paper respirator masks that I'll be using for now on with this stuff. I may look like an idiot but I'm taking all aspects of my health very seriously now. You only get one shot at this, make it count.
  5. Misha

    Misha Nuba Guru

    oh wow. didnt know it was that bad. havent used it in a while. gona be a lot more carefull now. maybe will just get rid of it . thanks for heads up
  6. Socal Brian

    Socal Brian DB Forum Supporter

    Good info! I'm going to avoid that product!
  7. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    You see guys, these are the kind of knee jerk reactions that give a product a bad name. It is still a good product, but now you know you have to be careful with it. Take a few precautions and its a non issue.
  8. GDAL

    GDAL Super Moderator

    Couldn't agree with you more ...

    Meg's WB is an awesome product. It's not a maintenance product (at least for me). I used it on my neighbor's Liberty that has never had the rims cleaned in 4 yrs. She thought I painted her rims ... lol.

    One warning though (which I know it has been mentioned before), the wheels must be neutralized (with APC) after using WB. Just spray APC after getting done with WB and rinse them off good.
  9. Kilo6_one

    Kilo6_one DB Forum Supporter

    I agree, you breathe in worse stuff every day....... if you microwave your lunch in a plastic container you risk exposure to BPA, you drive with you windows down, you breathe in car exhaust.........
    You could get murdered standing in line at the mini mart buy a man robbing the store, T boned by a speeding car, your girlfriend could take you out.... scenarios are endless.
    etc etc. etc.
  10. ziggo99

    ziggo99 Birth of a Detailer

    We use this at work, and we just use it straight. I'm starting to water it down now though. It does make you cough pretty easily but seeing what happens after spraying it on and hitting it with the gas pressure washer makes me smile.
  11. Supertuner

    Supertuner Jedi Nuba

    A little of topic, but does WB dissolve iron contaminants like the valugard decon acid or is it weaker, similar to products do like sonax and ironx, just curious as many people have said what a great cleaner it is
  12. I VIK I

    I VIK I Two Bucket System Washer

    Not trying to disuade anyone from using the product, but I came across the article its good to use, the only things are dilute it properly and use gloves and a mask. I never used gloves OR a mask with the stuff. I diluted it properly and I must say this is some good stuff. I am gonna move from the product tho to some sonax or something because I do this as a hobby and I dont wanna have to wear gloves to do this. I have a gallon of it new, any takers? Lol
  13. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    Here's an option. If you are doing this as a hobby, meaning working on cars other than your own, you WILL need something stronger than a non acid product at some point. It would be smart to keep it around "just in case". There are more than a few APCs on the market that will do as good a job as Sonax that are way more economical that you can use on a regular basis and dilute as needed.
  14. mrgolfrider

    mrgolfrider DB Forum Supporter

    I just used wheel brightener on my moms chrome HHR wheels. I had used Diablo in the past and it worked ok, but nothing how WB did today. All I had to basically do after WB was a light polish with Opt polish and they looked super. Sealed them up with FK1000P and they should be good to go for a while. If you are going to stop using it send it to me I will gladly pay shipping.
    Sent from my HTC Vision using Tapatalk.
  15. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    Nothing cleans chrome wheels like an acid based product. :)
  16. I VIK I

    I VIK I Two Bucket System Washer

    I meant hobby in the sense I really use it for my own two cars, Dilute it properly as per label and it is amazing, but I wash two cars either weekly or every two weeks in the summer and in the winter one is garaged the other goes to the automatic washes. So what can I use that is economical and good for wheels in your opinion?
  17. 604_Snooze

    604_Snooze Obsessive Detailer

    I still have a gallon of Meg wb which I will keep, because it is hard to get this in Canada. Not a lot of places in Canada sells Meg WB, Brown Royal or MS super green stuff.
    But most of the time, the autoglym cwc will do a good job on dirty wheel/tire.
  18. Kilo6_one

    Kilo6_one DB Forum Supporter

    if youre wheels are maintained, zeps is a very inexpensive alternative, as is Megs APC or the like. You could buy Autoglym CWC, or chemical guys Citrus wheel gel, Ive used them all and they are all great.
  19. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    Megs APC, Optimum Power Clean etc work great on maintained wheels. Use your WB for the first clean after winter.
  20. richy

    richy Guest

    Another option, although I think it may not be quite as strong as WB, is Brown Royal. It is high on the alkaline scale, the opposite of the ph scale from acid. Nothing is safe too far to the extreme either way on the scale. The Brown Royal seems less lethal and it is a pretty damned good wheel cleaner.

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