A lot of us take pride in washing our vehicles, making sure they look their absolute best – whether it’s a daily driver you take to work, a show vehicle that you keep flawless, or even a camper or enclosed trailer that you take on weekend getaways. When washing a vehicle though, this is one of the most vulnerable times that damage can occur to the vehicle’s finish, if improper wash techniques and practices are used.
Technology is always improving many aspects of our lives, including safely washing a vehicle. If you read the words “Foam Cannon” and “Foam Gun”, many of you may already be familiar with these terms, but others might be wondering what the words cannon and gun have to do with washing a vehicle. In this writeup, we’ll explain the differences between a Foam Cannon and a Foam Gun, how they function and what you need to operate each, and why they add an extra layer of safety during the wash process.
WHAT IS A FOAM CANNON?
A Foam Cannon, or Foam Lance as they are sometimes referred to, is a wash accessory attachment designed specifically to connect to a gas or electric pressure washer to upgrade your Two Bucket Wash Process. While Foam Cannons are certainly fun to use, their main purpose is to make the wash process a much safer activity - reducing the chance of wash-induced swirl marks and other scratches even further than a normal Two Bucket Wash.
The Foam Cannon consists of 3 parts: a solution bottle, suction tube, and the adjustable barrel assembly. It gets the name Foam Cannon due to how it sprays a very thick layer of soapy foam solution onto a vehicle surface. This thick shampoo foam aids in loosening and lifting dirt prior to touching the surface with a Wash Pad or Wash Mitt, while also keeping the surface lubricated with a safe, pH neutral soap like our Ultra foam Shampoo. Keeping the surface lubricated during the wash process is key to minimizing the chance of wash-induced swirl marks or water spots from hard water.
Foam Cannons create a super-foaming soap solution by mixing high pressure water flow from a pressure washer with soap and air. We recommend using Ultra foam Shampoo for best results. The Adam’s Foam Cannon must be connected to a pressure washer to operate – it will not work with, or connect to, a standard water hose only; and it will not work with an air compressor or compressed air in a shop either. We offer other options for water hoses specifically, which will be detailed later in this article.
The Foam Cannon comes pre-installed with a 1/4-inch male quick-connect fitting, that will directly connect to the end of a pressure washer wand for many brands and models of a pressure washer, provided the wand has a 1/4-inch female quick-connect fitting. Some brands of pressure washer with their own proprietary connections may require an adapter and an entirely new wand and trigger assembly, like the Adam’s Snub Nose Pressure Washer Attachment.
How it Works
Operation is easy, once you have your pressure washer set up and your other washing supplies staged and ready to go – buckets prepped with water, Wash Pads, drying towels, and so on. First, connect the clear suction tube to the brass fitting on the underside of the barrel. Next, fill the Foam Cannon bottle with water about 4/5 full – right about to the top of the label on the bottle. Then you will need to add in your preferred soap.
All of Adam’s Polishes soap options work well in the Foam Cannon, but some will perform better than others. Our Ultra Foam Shampoo is the most concentrated and will create the thickest amount of foam. Pour about 3-4 ounces of Ultra Foam Shampoo or soap of your choice into the bottle, carefully thread it into the barrel of the Foam Cannon, and then – holding with both hands – give the bottle and barrel a few good shakes to evenly mix the soap and water solution.
Now that the Foam Cannon is prepped and ready, it’s time to wash the vehicle. Start by rinsing off the vehicle and removing any heavy dirt and debris with the pressure washer with an appropriate spray tip. Make sure to keep the pressurized water stream a safe distance from the painted surfaces, usually about 12”-18” inches away from the paint. Next, connect the Foam Cannon to your pressure washer. There are two adjustments on the Foam Cannon itself, for flow rate and spray pattern. Turn the top adjustment knob all the way clockwise to the right, and then back it off about a 1/4-turn to the left. Then turn the barrel itself to adjust the two vertical metal vanes so that there is a 1-2mm gap between them.
Begin foaming down the vehicle, making any adjustments to the Foam Cannon settings as necessary to spray a thick foam onto the vehicle surface. Allow the foam to dwell on the surface for a few minutes. The soap will begin to loosen and lift dirt. Wash in the shade if possible, but you can wash in the sunlight if using one of our pH neutral soaps (Ultra Foam Shampoo, Car Shampoo, Wash & Wax). If your vehicle is ceramic coated, or has recently been clayed, polished, and protected, you may notice that the soap does not cling to the surface as long – this is normal due to how slick the surface is, and it shows how the surface is well protected.
After the foam has had a few minutes to work, you can begin your Two Bucket Wash Method outlined in the video here, or an optional step would be to rinse off the foam first – use the pressure washer to rinse off the foam layer, removing more of the lifted dirt in the process before you even touch the vehicle with a Wash Pad – then foam it down a second time to lubricate the surface again before you begin the Two Bucket Wash.
What type of pressure washer do I need?
This question comes up on a weekly basis. The Adam’s Red Foam Cannon is compatible with most gas and electric pressure washers with the proper 1/4-inch connection, but performance specifications of the pressure washer will determine how well the Foam Cannon works. The Foam Cannon will lay down a nice layer of foam with an electric pressure washer in the 1,700-psi range for example, but the Gallon Per Minute (GPM) rating plays just as an important factor in performance. Most electric pressure washers will have a GPM rating of around 1.1 to 1.8GPM, but a GPM of 2.0 or greater in a gas pressure washer is going to provide a much thicker foam layer like you see demonstrated in our videos.
There is a trade-off though – gas pressure washers provide a much better performance, but they require more setup time, more maintenance, and are much louder during operation than an electric pressure washer. If you want faster setup and less noise, and you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of performance, and electric pressure washer might be the better option for you.
The specification requirements for the Adam’s Red Foam Cannon are as follows:
Minimum-Maximum Pressure: 870-3190 PSI
Minimum-Maximum Flow Rate: 1.1-5.3 GPM
Maximum Temperature: 140 Degrees F
WHAT IS A FOAM GUN?
A Foam Gun is a similar wash attachment to the Foam Cannon discussed above, but where the Foam Gun differs is that it works directly with your standard water hose to enhance the Two Bucket Wash Process, rather than connecting to a pressure washer. It’s a fast, easy option for when you don’t want to hook up the pressure washer, or a perfect option if you don’t own a pressure washer.
Foam Guns consist of a few more parts too. In addition to the barrel and soap canister, a Foam Gun assembly also comes with a spray nozzle trigger handle that connects the barrel to the water hose, a clear suction tube, and various metering tips to change the flow rate based on the water pressure at your household or shop.
The Foam Gun functions in much the same way that the Foam Cannon does, by mixing water, soap, and air to spray a sudsy solution onto the vehicle as a pre-soak, and to keep the surface lubricated throughout the wash process. Whereas a Foam Cannon will lay down a thick shaving-cream-like layer of white foam over the entire surface, the Foam Gun with a water hose simply does not have enough water pressure to create such a thick foam, but it will still cover the surface in thick suds to help loosen and lift dirt more easily.
How it Works
Setup for a Foam Gun is much the same as the Foam Cannon outlined above, minus the pressure washer. You will start by deciding if you want to insert a metering tip to alter the flow rate. We offer two different Foam Guns, the Adam’s Premium Foam Gun and the Adam's Standard Foam Gun. We will outline the main differences of the two below, but one difference is the type and number of metering tips included.
In the Premium Foam Gun, we include two different metering tips, one purple and one yellow-green. If you want the maximum amount of suds, simply connect the clear fill tube to the underside of the barrel without installing either metering tip. This will suck through the canister more quickly but will give the max amount of suds. We recommend installing the yellow-green metering tip though, by carefully threading it into the underside of the barrel finger-tight, and then install the clear fill tube. This still provides a nice layer of suds, and usually leaves you with enough soap to foam down two vehicles with one canister full of solution.
In the Standard Foam Gun, three different metering tips are included – blue, green, and yellow. These metering tips are a press fit, not threaded, so you simply insert it into the underside of the barrel and then connect the clear suction tube. Use the blue tip for households with lower water pressure, green for medium water pressure, yellow for high water pressure, or use it as-is without any metering tip for the most amount of foam.
Next, fill the canister about 4/5 with water, and add 3-4 ounces of Ultra Foam Shampoo or your preferred soap. Thread the barrel onto the canister, and then shake to mix thoroughly. With the filtered spray nozzle connected to your water/garden hose, connect the Foam Gun barrel to the sprayer by pulling and holding backward on the quick-connect while inserting the barrel until it clicks into place. Make sure that it is fully secured and locked in, otherwise the barrel can fall off the sprayer during use and could be damaged. Once everything is connected and your hose is running with water, squeeze the trigger handle on the spray nozzle to begin putting suds on the vehicle. Allow the suds to dwell for a few minutes, rinse, suds it down again, and then begin your Two Bucket Wash!
Differences: Premium Foam Gun vs. Standard Foam Gun
There is one key difference between the Adam’s Premium Foam Gun and the Adam’s Standard Foam Gun – how they are constructed. The Premium Foam Gun uses stainless steel fittings, hardware, and a stainless quick-connect coupler on the spray nozzle, made in the USA. It is the more rugged option of the two Foam Guns, and the quality and design reflect the higher price of the unit. The Adam’s Standard Foam Gun is a plastic construction with a plastic quick-connect coupler. It is considerably more affordable, but it can also be easier to break from an accidental drop, so be sure to exercise caution during use and storage.
Deciding between a Foam Cannon and a Foam Gun can be a tough decision for some of our customers, but it will come down to a few things. Do you have a pressure washer? If not, and you aren’t thinking of purchasing one in the future, then the Foam Gun is what will work best for your situation. If you do have a pressure washer and don’t mind a little extra setup time each wash, then the Foam Cannon is going to perform best and offer the most amount of safety when washing. Either option is better than none though, so you can’t go wrong with either a Foam Cannon or a Foam Gun!
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