How to Snow Foam a Car
I personally can’t blame you if you want to know the ropes on how to snow foam a car. Call it childish or immature, but snow foaming a car is huge fun. It may have something to do with the thick foam, or maybe the thought of spraying the entire car with foam, which looks pretty cool.
But snow foam may not be what you think. In fact, it may not be the miracle cleaning product you’re looking for. In this article on how to apply snow foam to a car, I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of snow foam products and what they can (and can’t) do for your car.
What is snow foam?
Snow foam is a concentrated liquid wash that is formulated to pre-clean the exterior surfaces of the vehicles. It comes out as a thick foam, which also happens to look like snow, hence the name.
The keyword to note is pre-clean. Snow foam will dissolve a small amount of surface dirt and contaminants, but it will not remove all dirt from the paint surface.
Like I said, snow foam is a pre-cleaner. The foam should be given sufficient time to run off the vehicle. This will allow the solution to dissolve as much dirt as possible.
Simply put, snow foam is a contactless washing solution and is recommended to use as part of a cleaning regime.
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Why should I snow foam my vehicle?
Now that’s a rather tricky query you got there! However, it’s not a matter of why apply snow foam in your vehicle, but when.
There are huge misconceptions bout using snow foam within the detailing industry. In my experience, I found out there are limits to what snow foam can do in terms of cleaning your car. Whilst it’s true that snow foam can take off more dirt than simply rinsing with plain water, it doesn’t take off a whole lot.
Surprised? So was I upon venturing into the world of snow foaming and detailing.
In fact, I want to tell you the truth. There are times that rinsing with pressurized water is more effective than applying snow foam. One example is when cleaning an extremely muddy or dirty vehicle with baked-on dirt and contaminants. In these cases, rinsing the surface with pressurisedwater before applying car shampoo is the best method.
But if you’re talking about moderately dirty or dusty vehicles, well then this is where snow foam really comes into its own. The formula in snow foam will immediately encapsulate small particles of dirt so the contaminants will simply run off the vehicle.
But don’t forget that snow foam is only a pre-cleaner. You will still need to wash your vehicle with water and car shampoo after rinsing off the snow foam.
How does snow foam compare to other pre-wash procedures?
Snow foam is better and less aggressive than citrus spray cleaners. However, the formula of the concentrated snow foam solution will vary. There are three basic types of snow foams:
- Deep cleaning snow foam. This formula is more aggressive and can wash off more dirt. Depending on the formula and concentration, this type of snow foam may strip off the wax in the paint.
- Alkaline snow foam. This type is less aggressive than deep cleaning snow foam and is the default choice of car enthusiasts.
- PH neutral snow foam. This type may command a slightly higher price tag than other varieties of snow foam. I highly recommend PH neutral formulas for snow foam. It is strong enough to remove loose dirt but is gentle enough to plastic and rubber parts. Best of all, this type of snow foam will NOT remove or strip off the wax on the paint.
So, if you are planning to snow foam your vehicle, make sure you are buying the right type of concentrate.
The idea of snow foam and the reason why I like the process is that it offers one more contactless wash procedure into my detailing repertoire. Less contact means less chances of abrading the paint. This is hugely important on all cars, but especially if you have a black car or dark-coloured paint where any imperfections are magnified.
Best Car Snow Foam
Bilt Hamber Autofaom is by far and away one of the best snow foams on the market right now. What I love is that it’s no-frills and does a great job. They aren’t trying to offer you the world, just a quality product that actually removes dirt from your car, which is what it’s all about!
Bilt Hamber Snow Foam is safe to use on plastic, rubber, glass, and vinyl surfaces. The PH balanced formula will effectively remove dirt and grime without harming the wax on the paint. Give this product a try if you are planning to snow foam your vehicle.
Read: Full Bilt Hamber Auto Foam Reveiw
If you are based in the US then Bilt Hamber will likely not be available to you. A great alternative is that of Adams Car Shampoo. I know this is not a dedicated snow foam, but it foams great and is a brilliant car shampoo as well, making it great value for money.
How do I use snow foam?
The most important thing to remember is to concoct the proper dilution of snow foam in water. The general rule is to mix one part of snow foam to around ten parts of water, but take this with a grain of salt.
Most people make the mistake of using an overly thick mixture of foam, which is not good.
The proper way in determining the perfect consistency of the foam is to read the instructions. Like I previously mentioned, not all snow foam products are the same. If you want the product to work as intended, it is always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for dilution ratios.
Why? When using snow foam, the foam should be thick enough to dwell in the surface, but it should be light enough, so the foam can effectively run off the car.
If the foam is too thick, it won’t be able to do its job well. The dirt and the foam will simply sit on top of the surface. This beats the purpose of using snow foam in the first place.
But if the foam is too light and is not given sufficient time to soak or dwell, you will end up wasting your time and effort.
Again, the trick to snow foaming is to dilute the proper ratio of the concentrate. If you have a small measuring cup or measuring syringe, then this is going to really help for accurate measurements. It will make it effortless to measure the amount of concentrate required for every litre or gallon of water.
How to Snow Foam a Car
There are two methods to snow foaming a vehicle: you can use a pressurized washer with the appropriate attachment, or you can use a good old pump sprayer. Both methods have their benefits, but using a pressure washer is faster, easier, and more often than not, will give better results.
Park the car in a cool or shaded area. Do not apply snow foam to a hot surface. It is also best not to snow foam under the hot sun. If the foam gets a chance to dry before rinsing, the surface will be marred with soap stains, which isn’t nice at all. If the surface is hot to the touch, allow the vehicle to cool.
Some of you might be asking if rinsing the surface with water is required before applying snow foam, and I’m actually glad you asked. I prefer to mildly rinse the vehicle with water before spraying the snow foam. This holds especially true for dirtier cars.
However, you can safely apply snow foam even without pre-rinsing the vehicle with water. In order to be sure, always read the instructions. There are a lot of concentrated snow foam products in the market, and not all of them will work the same.
At this point, it is time to mix the snow foam concentrate with the right amount of water in a small plastic bottle. After this, all you have to do is to attach the bottle to snow foam lance and the pressurized washer. It’s the same procedure when using a manual pump spray.
Top tip: Add the required amount of concentrate into your snow foam lance, then instead of pouring the water into the bottle via the tap, fill a bucket or your sink and drop your bottle into that to slowly fill it. This will mean that the water gradually fills and doesn’t froth the concentrate like running the tap will. Think of it like pouring coke into a glass, slow and steady wins the race.
If this is your first time, make sure to adjust the snow foam lance so it can dispense the foam properly. The same applies if you’re using a pump spray.
The lance will allow you to adjust the amount of dilution that gets pumped through and the angle/size of the spray that hits the car.
Spray the snow foam from top to bottom. Start on the roof, trunk, and bonnet before covering the sides of the vehicle with the foam. If you did it right, the entire vehicle should be covered with thick (but not too thick) and white foam, similar to leaving the vehicle outside when it snows.
Pay particular attention to the wheels, tires, and wheel well of the vehicle. Make sure to spray a thicker amount of foam on those areas.
Now, you wait for the foam to literally dissolve and run down to the ground. That’s how snow foam works!
At the same time you can use a soft bristle brush to agitate the foam in high traffic areas, such as badges, emblems, around window sills and door handles.
Remember to spray, allow the foam to dwell, and rinse off.
Rinse off the foam. Take your pressure washer and remove all the foam from the vehicle. Make sure you pay extra attention to wheel arches, the top of the bonnet just below the window and wing mirrors, as these areas can be notorious for holding water and foam.
After rinsing the foam, you may find that you have some snow foam left in your lance. I actually make enough for two runs of snow foam and then just quickly fire up another procedure on the car. Again, just spray any remaining product left and let it dwell, before removing. It saves waste, which I hate.
It's beneficial to use the pressure washer to remove any loose impediments before the snow foam stage. You can then apply your snow foam to the wet car. This will depend on the outside temperature. You want to leave it long enough to work its magic, but not long enough for it to dry on there. The warmer the day, the less time you want to let it dwell. Yes. It adds another contactless process to washing your car, which is always beneficial. Yes, the snow foam is just one part of the wash regime and will remove minimal, but meaningful amounts of dirt. A contact wash is where you will get the car really clean. There may be times where only light dust or dirt is on the car and in these cases, snow foam could get most of this off without a contact wash. A dedicated snow foam will not be bad for your paint. Most are PH neutral which means they are also wax or sealant friendly as well.
Do you wet the car before snow foam?
How long do you leave snow foam on your car?
Is it worth using snow foam?
Do you need to wash the car after you snow foam?
Is snow foam bad for paint?
It's beneficial to use the pressure washer to remove any loose impediments before the snow foam stage. You can then apply your snow foam to the wet car.
This will depend on the outside temperature. You want to leave it long enough to work its magic, but not long enough for it to dry on there. The warmer the day, the less time you want to let it dwell.
Yes. It adds another contactless process to washing your car, which is always beneficial.
Yes, the snow foam is just one part of the wash regime and will remove minimal, but meaningful amounts of dirt. A contact wash is where you will get the car really clean.
There may be times where only light dust or dirt is on the car and in these cases, snow foam could get most of this off without a contact wash.
A dedicated snow foam will not be bad for your paint. Most are PH neutral which means they are also wax or sealant friendly as well.
Whilst the process of snow foam seems very simple, it’s actually taken me some time to perfect the art of snow foaming. Everything from using the correct snow foam lance to making sure the right concentration levels are used has taken years of trial and error.
I do want to stress that whilst keen detailers love the snow foam stage, in reality, it doesn’t actually do an awful lot in terms of cleaning. I stated earlier that there will be times where you remove more dirt simply with a pressure washer and water, and this holds true.
But, it does offer up another contactless stage in my detailing process, which is priceless. It removes some dirt and this is more than enough to keep it as part of the regime. Plus, it still looks really cool!