The aerosol can has a bad reputation and an interesting history. According to the National Aerosol Association (NAA), the first aerosol package surfaced during World War II, but the concept of using low-pressure liquefied gas to atomize droplets of liquid in the air was developed in 1924. Canisters of insecticide and propellants protected U.S. servicemen from insects carrying diseases such as malaria. After the war, Robert Abplanalp, founder of Precision Valve Corp. (PVC), invented the first mass-produced aerosol valve; the patent was issued in 1953.
Aerosols contain three main elements: active ingredients (soap or disinfectant, etc.), inert or inactive ingredients (water), and propellant. This last part pushes the product out of the container, producing a spray or foam, and keeps the product at the right strength.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used as propellants in aerosol products up until 1978, when they were banned after scientists learned they could be contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Today, the most common propellants are naturally occurring hydrocarbons, which can also be harmful to the environment and toxic to the user, according to the Christian Science Monitor. In addition, aerosol cans contain solvent-based ingredients, which can also be dangerous.
And now for the good news: Recently, Betterbilt Chemical, a division of The Starco Group, developed hydrocarbon-free, nontoxic, air-powered spray cans. They are non-flammable, contain no hydrocarbons or solvents, can be safely used indoors, outdoors and in less ventilated areas without affecting air quality.
“Eliminating the solvents, hydrocarbons and VOCs in a new type of water-based aerosol would give consumers greater indoor spraying capability and simplify cleanup,” said Doug Raymond, owner of Raymond Regulatory Resources, a Geneva, Ohio-based government affairs consulting firm. “Without those, there would be less odor, less flammability, less need for regulation, and ventilation would be less of a concern. It would help the aerosol industry and give consumers the option of spraying within living spaces with limited ventilation.”
According to Ross Sklar, CEO of Betterbilt Chemical, these new air-powered spray cans look like standard aerosol cans but work very differently.
“Unlike standard aerosol cans, which contain a pressurized propellant mix of hydrocarbons along with solvents, inside each air-powered spray can is a new chemically resistant bladder that contains the liquid to be sprayed,” Sklar explained. “Compressed air inside the can surrounds the bladder. When the consumer presses the can’s tip, the compressed air inside squeezes the bladder to dispel its contents. Because of this arrangement, it is capable of spraying in any direction, even upside down.”
One of the first applications of the patented air-powered spray can is in a line of 100% water-based and EPA-registered mold-killing and anti-mold paints and cleaners under the Mold Prooferâ brand, by Betterbilt Chemical.