Upon meeting her, it didn’t take long for Rayne Guest, founder and CEO of the San Marcos-based small business R-Water, to dive into the negative effects of toxic cleaning and disinfecting products and how this knowledge drove her to develop nontoxic cleaning and disinfecting solutions.
Cleaning ingredients vary in the type of health hazard they pose. Some can cause acute hazards such as skin or respiratory irritation, irritated eyes, or chemical burns, while long-term exposure to others can be associated with diseases such as cancer.
“Most people do not use disinfectants properly,” Guest told the Rivard Report. “If you're just 'spraying and wiping' your disinfectant off surfaces without letting it sit for the designated contact time, you’re paying a lot of money to spray volatile organic compounds in the air that can cause a plethora of health issues such as asthma, allergies, and cancer. You’re not killing germs effectively, so your cleaning products are doing more harm than good.”
Guest learned about the hazards of cleaning chemicals while developing recycling programs in Los Angeles and the Caribbean. She discovered that hazards from exposure to improperly disposed chemical containers and chemical use range from aquifer pollution traced back to leaking chemical containers in landfills on a Caribbean island, to janitorial workers and nurses suffering health issues from long-term exposure to cleaning products.
After beta-testing her technology in Los Angeles, Guest moved to San Marcos after a chance encounter on a plane with former Texas Gov. Mark White, who encouraged her to start her small business in the Texas. Guest developed the patented technology behind R-Water to prevent hazardous chemical containers from entering landfills and address the need for disinfection and cleaning while reducing hazardous exposure to chemicals, both for people and the environment.
Two Solutions, Multiple Uses
R-Water's technology produces two water-based, nontoxic, environmentally-friendly cleaning and disinfecting solutions by means of a patented closed loop electrolysis process.
The first is a nonhazardous, water-based, healthcare grade disinfectant and multi-surface cleaner that is produced without color, fragrance, and potentially toxic additives. The water based solution uses only undissociated hypochlorous acid (HOCl), a highly effective germ killer, at a concentration of only .02% HOCl in more than 99% water.
The 5.5 pH solution of dilute HOCl is a weak acid typically formed when chlorine dissolves in water, and is produced in mammalian white blood cells to combat bacterial infection.
R-Water’s process control produces on demand the ideal hypochlorous acid levels for surface disinfection. The solution has passed one-step hospital disinfection claims testing through EPA-registered laboratories and complies with OSHA’s standards for use against blood-borne pathogens. It also complies with the FDA code for use on food contact surfaces without the need to rinse sprayed surfaces.
“Our disinfectant has shown 100% effectiveness against pathogens specified for healthcare disinfection claims in 60 seconds,” Guest said. “With powerful chemical disinfectants on the market today taking 10 minutes to work, the TK60 (total killing of pathogens in 60 seconds) solution has significant market advantages.”
The second solution, FC+, is an 11 pH solution of diluted sodium hydroxide which acts as a degreaser and multi-surface cleaner. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) creates soap when used on oils and fats in a process called saponification. It is a principle component in many soaps and detergents because it effectively eliminates grease. It can be used in products such as carpet cleaners and auto-scrubbers, as well as on floors and for cleaning grout.
Both solutions are free of volatile organic compounds, color, and fragrance (TK60 has a slight chlorine odor). More importantly, neither damages the environment nor poses a health hazard to humans.
“We have perfected and implemented state-of-the-art process controls and reliability in our closed loop process to produce ideal concentrations of NaOH and HOCl for various purposes, separating the salt completely so there is no salt residue in our solutions,” Guest explained. “Right now we are focused on surface disinfection, because that’s where we feel we can have the biggest impact. As time goes on, we will develop other delivery systems for the solutions to address various applications such as hand sanitizing.”
Seeing is Believing: R-Water Used at Franklin Park
The Rivard Report got a demonstration of the solutions' usage at Franklin Park, an extended care facility located in San Antonio's Sonterra neighborhood. Jim Duggins, the facility’s executive director, explained the products' benefits as housekeeping supervisor Susanne Hutchinson showed how well the solutions worked on grimy glass and blackened grout in between floor tiles.
“Bleach is a highly ineffective disinfectant, which is why you have to use it at such a high concentration,” Guest said. “Hypochlorous acid is actually the effective ingredient in bleach, so you get all the germ killing power without the negative effects of harsh fumes and bleaching,” Guest added as the TK60 solution easily cleaned the glass.
“Seeing for myself how the (R-Water) solution cleaned the grout was eye-opening for me,” Duggins told the Rivard Report. “We mop our floors twice a day, but the cleaning chemicals build up over time.
“For me, the tipping point was avoiding all that chemical use (in an extended care facility), and R-Water’s disinfectants (have a) 60-second kill time, as opposed to the recommended 10 minutes of contact time it took our old chemicals to disinfect surfaces.”
R-Water is now in its fourth year of operation and is patented in various countries including, the U.S., Europe, Africa, Russia, Canada, and South Korea. The technology has been independently reviewed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (TDADS).
“We’re growing the business in extended care, hotels, and restaurants, and the City of Austin is impressed with the performance of our product after seeing demos of it working on their carpets and floors,” Guest said. “We built the company in a controlled, boot-strapped fashion. With companies like Franklin Park coming on board, we’re excited to be getting the word out about the benefits R-Water.
“Sometimes the simplest of solutions can have the greatest impact, but these solutions need to implemented by individuals for positive change to occur,” Guest stressed. “Facility owners and operators especially, have a huge impact in our world and people’s lives.”