While on our annual pilgrimage to the Barrett Jackson Action in Scottsdale, AZ., we took an opportunity to visit a vendor we met at SEMA, our industry's trade show. The company, UNELKO, is the home of Rain Clear and one Howard Ohlhausen. One part Obi-Wan Kenobi and one part Gandalf the White, Mr. Ohlhausen is arguably the world's leading authority on rain repellant coatings applied to glass. In 1971, Howard patented the technology that became the RAIN-X product. He spent the next three decades circling the globe on a crusade to improve visibility while driving in rain, sleet and snow. Howard sold the RAIN-X brand in 1997 and focused UNELKO's energy and resources on developing a new generation of patented and patent pending, rain repelling and glass cleaning products under the Glass Science name.
I've tried a number of rain repellent products over the years but for one reason or another they never satisfied me. I was given a sample of Rain Clear Gel at the Glass Science Display at SEMA and tried the product on my Audi's glass as soon as I returned to Tampa. I can honestly say I was stunned with how well it worked! I was so impressed that I thought it might be a fluke. I gave the sample to both Phil our General Manager and Steve our Warehouse Manager asking for their opinion. I didn't tell them if I liked or disliked the product. This was just one of the many samples I picked up at SEMA. The morning of our first rainfall, both Phil and Steve arrived with ear-to-ear grins and I knew we had a winner!
We found UNELKO to be a three building complex just off the west runway of the Scottsdale Airport. We were greeted by Howard Ohlhausen and taken to a conference room where we were surrounded by racks of kitchen, bath, household and automotive products manufactured by UNELKO.
Since I have used earlier rain repellent products and his latest product, Rain Clear Gel, I started our interview with the inevitable question.
Q: I've never been a fan of rain repellent products but I was truly impressed with Rain Clear Gel. What makes this product different from all the other rain repellent products?
A: Rain Clear Gel is a new glass coating technology that we have protected by U.S. and international patents. It is entirely VOC-free. No solvents! None, zip, zero. Competitive products all contain an evaporative solvent. Rain Clear Gel is 100% active ingredients. Because we can put more active ingredient on the surface, we can make a repellent with greater coverage and extended durability.
Q: Speaking of coverage, you state on the tube that Rain Clear Gel gives 3 times the coverage of other products. I tested your gel against another popular product and didn't find this to be true. I was getting 6 to 8 times the coverage compared to the other brand. Was I doing something wrong?
A: No. We're very conservative with our advertising claims. We would rather give our customers a product that works much better than advertised. We didn't want to tell people that Rain Clear Gel will give 10 times the coverage of other products and have someone write and complain that they only got 8 times the coverage. Compared to any other rain repellent product, Rain Clear Gel is the best consumer value in the marketplace.
Q: Once applied, how long will the repelling action last?
A: There is no car wash detergent, soap or solvent that will chemically remove Rain Clear Gel. Abrasion however, will diminish its effectiveness over time. Let me define abrasion. The action of the wiper blades by themselves will not remove Rain Clear Gel. So what does? When tires wear, where does the rubber go? Does it go into the air? No, it gets ground into the pavement. When it rains, water emulsifies the rubber, oils, grit, sand and brake dust particles on the road. When you're in traffic, all this grit and grime gets splattered on your car's windshield. Now you have the action of the wiper blade which is exerting 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, combined with the grit, sand and metallic brake dust particles grinding away the glass and with it, any coating on the glass. In answer to your question, in climates like Florida where you have a lot of rain, Rain Clear Gel should last at least a month. In climates like Arizona where we have very little rain, it will last much, much longer.
Q: For the average two car family, treating all the windows, how long will a 5 oz. tube of Rain Clear Gel last?
A: Because it only takes a small dab to do an entire window, a 5 oz. tube should easily do all the windows on two cars for over a year. And that's using the product once a month.
Q: Should you still use your car's wipers at all?
A: Yes, absolutely. Rain Clear starts repelling enough for aerodynamic wind flow to take over at about 45 mph. Under that, especially if you're in traffic, by all means use your wipers.
Q: Is there an advantage in using Rain Clear on side and rear windows?
A: Yes, using Rain Clear Gel on side and rear windows will allow you to see better and drive safer in rain, sleet and snow.
Q: What is Glass Scrub and do I need to use it before I apply Rain Clear?
A: Glass Scrub is an easy-to-use, cream cleanser that deep cleans automotive glass. It strips the build-up of mineral spots, lime scale, dirt, bug smear, road oils, salt water stains and tree sap without scratching. Do you need to use Glass Scrub before using Rain Clear? No. That said, in my nearly four decades of travelling the globe, I've run into a sizable number of cars with all manner of crud on the windshield. If your car's glass is dirty, always clean it before you apply any rain repellent product.
I'm very proud of Glass Scrub. It's a cleanser but it's not like Comet or Ajax. It will not scratch vehicular glass. It uses water as both a lubricant and a rinse so it's a great product to use when you wash your car.
You live in Florida. You know all about Love Bugs. If you do any amount of highway driving, your windshield will be coated with bug splatter. Rain Clear will reduce the adhesion and build-up of insect smear but it will not repel bug impacts. Glass Scrub will completely remove bug splatter, tree sap, grit, road grime and oils.
Going back to your original question, is it necessary to use Glass Scrub before you apply Rain Clear, no it isn't necessary if your vehicle's glass is reasonably clean. By the way, if you give Glass Scrub to your wife or girl friend and she uses it on her bathtub, shower stall or tile you'll never get it back.
Q: You're introducing a new product called Rain Clear Gel, Dual Action, Glass Cleaner & Rain Repellent. That's a long name. What is it?
A: I have 35 years of experience in the glass cleaning and glass coating industry. I've tried to teach the world that they can see better and drive safer in rain, sleet and snow. I've tried to educate people that a rain repellent product used on the windshield, side and rear window of their car, truck, station wagon or SUV will improve visibility. Unfortunately, there are a large number of people who have never tried a water repellent product. They will never know how much it will improve their driving safety. Before I hang it up, I wanted to reach those people.
I came up with the idea of giving the customer a great glass cleaner that also gives them a measure of rain repellence, free of charge. Think of Dual Action Glass Cleaner and Rain Repellent as a high performance, exceptionally good, VOC compliant, glass cleaner. The fact that it stops water from filming is a freebee.
Plus, this product can be used on virtually any surface. Use it on your bike's windshield. Your Harley doesn't have windshield wipers. Use it on your face shield and goggles. Use it on your leather or vinyl saddlebags. Do you have a boat? Use Dual Action Glass Cleaner and Repellent on the windshield, glass or plastic, to reduce salt water spots. It's a fantastic product that I hope will open the customer's eyes to the improvement that water repellent technology provides. Every time you clean the glass on your vehicle, boat or home, I'm going to give you something free of charge.
Q: You didn't mention the RV market but it sounds like Glass Cleaner and Repellent would be great for RV owners?
A: It's perfect for RV owners. It's great on buses! This is a state-of-the-art glass cleaner and the rain repellence is a bonus on large RV windows.
Q: How does Dual Action Glass Cleaner and Rain Repellent compare to stand alone glass cleaners?
A: I'll put our cleaner up against any glass cleaner on the market on a side-by-side comparison. Try this test. Select any room in your home and clean one window pane with the glass cleaner of your choice and another window pane with our glass cleaner. Look at the window in 3 or 4 days. The window you cleaned with your cleaner will have a film on it. I don't care what brand you use. The glass you cleaned with our cleaner will be clear and film free. In the trade, we call this a surfactant film. What makes our cleaner unique is that it is surfactant free. Plus, we're giving you the advantage of water repellence. In the same time it takes you to merely clean a window with brand X, you can clean and seal with a rain repellent using our product. It really is in a class by itself.
Q: You make a product called Fog Clear Gel to prevent misting, fogging and steaming on interior windows. Is this the same as Rain Clear Gel?
A: No, it's an entirely different technology. Rain Clear is a repellent product where Fog Clear is a moisture absorbing product. Fog Clear is great if you live in Vermont, Maine or the mountains in California but it is also great for the marine and RV market. Treat the mirrors in the head with Fog Clear and they won't fog up when you take a shower. You can still see to shave without wiping the mirror. You can also use Fog Clear on the inside of your motorcycle helmet's face shield or goggles. If you're in motion, air flow keeps your face shield clear. When you stop or in traffic, the shield can cloud up in seconds. You can't see! Very dangerous when you're on a bike.
This concludes our interview with Howard Ohlhausen, the director of UNELKO and the manufacturer of Glass Science products. I would like to thank Howard for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat with us. I hope our readers will enjoy this insiders look at the latest in glass cleaning and rain repellent technology and give Glass Science products a try.