I love foam. I like it on my skin, in my coffee and on top of my beer. Foam is both fun and cool. Not everyone knows or cares that the bubbles in foam always have an odd number of sides in the presence of gravity. Or that despite being 95% gas, a glob of foam continues to act like a springy solid. Or that increasing the liquid-to-gas ratio results in flattened bubbles that might just mimic the true shape of our entire universe!
People like to see large, quick bubbles from their soap. It lets them know the soap is working. However, it is small dense bubbles which are perceived as creating a “rich” and “luxurious” foam. Formulating for a mix of quick large bubbles, small dense bubbles, and medium-sized “filler” bubbles is just one of the many factors to consider when creating natural products.
Enter the foaming dispenser cap. Invented in the Netherlands about 20 years ago, the foamer cap was brought to the U.S. just about 18 years ago. Factoid: The first liquid placed into a foamer for demonstration purposes in the USA was made by Vermont Soap. Years later Vermont Soap created the first USDA organic foam soap. More recently, we released the first 95% USDA organic foam soap (which can bear the USDA organic logo).
Foamer caps pump liquid soap or detergent through a series of screens to aerate it, resulting in a rich, full and creamy mass of shaving-cream-like bubbles delivered into the palm of your hand. No agitation required. Viscosity must be adjusted to fit the tool, but the principle is straight forward. Air + water + surfactant = foam. Adding sugars and oils can alter the physical results to create longer-lasting bubbles or a milder skin feel (softer foams).
Early foamer caps seemed to last forever. But over time engineers learned how to cheapen the valves on inexpensive, stand-alone foamers that let air return to the cap and raise the piston for its next use. This built in obsolescence of the pump mechanism reduces the average number of “doses” per unit before the pump fails. While it might be good for the shareholders, this is certainly a less than ideal situation for the planet and for those wishing to refill their foamer pumps! Keep this in mind when purchasing budget (and sometimes not so budget) foamer caps.
Raise your latte, beer or soap in a moment of appreciation for the humble foam! And have an awesome today.
Larry Plesent is a writer and natural products formulator living and working in the Green Mountains of central Vermont. Read more at www.vermontsoap.com/category/blog/.
Captions (Photos coming):
Dispensing foam soap on your hand pic: Dispensing foam. Image: Wikipedia.
Foam Bubble pic: Bubbles. Image: Flickr/Chris Dlugosz