Categorized | Detergents, Laboratory

What is the water break test?

Q. Is a water break test similar to an atomizer test?


A. A water break test uses running water, allowing it to form a sheet across the surface. Breaks in the water indicate the presence of hydrophobic (water-fearing) residues. (See “The Hydrophobic Surface Film by the Water Break Test, “ASTM Method F 22-65)


The water break test, a fairly crude test, is suitable for detecting films of process oils and heavy fingerprints. It does not readily detect non-hydrophobic residues. This test is often used for parts washing and may not be suitable for precision cleaning applications.

The atomizer test is a variation of the water-break test. It involves a gently sprayed water mist. Any areas where water repulsion occur indicate the presence of a hydrophobic soil. The atomizer test is slightly more sensitive to hydrophobic soils than the water break test in which the kinetic energy of the flowing water may overcome a hydrophobic residue. In contrast, the atomizer test allows you to see a small droplet of water being repelled by a hydrophobic contaminant.

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