Soy-Based Solvent Resources: So Fresh and So Clean

November, 2006

Health issues regarding industrial cleaners have prompted many manufacturers to incorporate biobased ingredients into their formulations. These products, derived from crops like soy, are becoming more commercially available.

soya-methyl-ester-To help spur the development of soybased solvents, the United Soybean Board (USB) and the soybean checkoff have developed support items communicating the benefits of methyl soyate. A solvents brochure entitled Methyl Soyate: The natural solution for safer solvents was developed to communicate the chemical properties and performance of methyl soyate. A special formulations guide was also created to encourage manufacturers to replace petroleum with soy in solvents. The Formulary Guide to Methyl Soyate contains generic formulas canvassing general purpose cleaners, parts cleaners, graffiti removers, adhesive removers, paint strippers, ink cleaners and other applications.

Other resources developed by USB are available to manufacturers interested in incorporating soy into solvent formulations. A series of market opportunity summaries and technical data sheets have been created by USB. These resources utilize the knowledge of USB technical consultants to share what’s new regarding the market potential and technical advancements of soy in solvents and other products, such as lubricants, plastics and adhesives.

Resources developed by USB are intended not only to increase the demand for soy-based solvents – they were created to educate manufacturers and users of the safety benefits that soy brings to cleaners. It is important that solvent users are aware of the potential dangers of using petroleum-derived solvents. Companies greatly reduce the risk of workers coming into contact with toxic substances such as glycol ethers, which are sometimes used in industrial cleaning products and can cause symptoms including headaches, blurred vision, bone marrow and reproductive health damage. Along with powerful cleaning, soy-based cleaning products offer safety for the people applying them because they do not contain petroleum distillates, which are central-nervous-system depressants and can have adverse effects on the kidneys and liver.

Soy-based solvents continue to be employed by many industries, including printing, manufacturing, machine parts washing and microprocessor cleaning. Companies in these industries that made the switch to soy-based solvents claim that their employees are happier due to safer working environments. They have also reported that soy-based solvents break down immediately and eventually degrade into water, mineral salts and other components and cause few hazardous issues.

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