It’s so easy to neglect our cars. I’m guilty of it too.
When it comes to washing our cars, most people don’t find it fun.
We exaggerate in our heads the amount of effort that it takes to wash a car. This often results in endless procrastination.
The truth is, it doesn’t need to be hard work.
If you’re sick and tired of filling buckets, hauling them to your car, and using endless wash mitts, the snow foam lance could be a life-changer.
Foam cannons are by far the most popular pressure washer attachment. They make washing your car much less effort and greatly decrease the time spent washing it.
In this article, I will teach you everything you need to know about foam cannons/snow foam lances.
Helping you to understand the difference between a foam cannon & foam gun, why we use them, and the features that make a good foam cannon.
As well as the helpful information, I’ll tell you what I consider to be the best foam cannon for pressure washers.
Foam cannon vs Foam gun
For someone that’s new to detailing, it could be hard to figure out the difference between a foam cannon and a foam gun.
There are a couple of names for a foam cannon the other common name being a snow foam lance.
A foam cannon/snow foam lance is used with a pressure washer. The attachment clicks into the end of your pressure washer’s gun and offers a high-pressure, thick foam or soap solution (depending on the product used).
A foam gun on the other hand is used with a garden hose.
Foam guns aren’t anywhere near as good as a foam cannon. This is because there is a lot less pressure involved, meaning snow foam products come out as a watery mess, rather than a thick foam.
This isn’t to say they aren’t useful. They’ll still be better than rinsing alone. However, they’re certainly not the wonderful tools that foam cannons are.
If you’re still interested in buying a foam gun because you don’t have a pressure washer, here’s a guide for foam guns.
Why Use A Foam Cannon
For most detailing professionals and enthusiasts, the foam cannon is a must-have in their detailing arsenal.
Using a foam cannon comes with a lot of benefits.
The most obvious benefit is the fact that you can use pre-wash products such as snow foams. Pre-washing a car makes It much easier to wash and decreases the chances of scratching your car while washing it too.
Using snow foam adds more fun to the wash process. I love covering my car in foam, it’s very satisfying to watch, and knowing that it’s tackling the dirt without having to touch the car is a great feeling.
Because the foam cannon and snow foam have already cleaned a lot of the dirt and left some soapy suds behind, it’s much safer to perform a contact wash, leaving much less chance of scratching the paint.
I also find that using a foam cannon speeds up the wash process. While it’s adding an extra stage into the wash process, you don’t have to spend as long with the hand wash because the car is already 95% clean before you even touch it.
Other Uses For Foam Cannons
Everyone thinks that a foam cannon is literally just for snow foam. It’s definitely the main reason most people use them.
Companies like AutoGlym have developed a series of products that work in conjunction with a foam cannon.
The Autoglym polar series has snow foam, car soap, and wax that are all applied using a pressure washer and foam cannon. This means you can perform the 3 major stages of a basic detail using just your pressure washer, a mitt, and some microfibre towels.
If you’re willing to experiment, you’ll also find other products that work well. Here’s a list of car soaps that work well in a foam cannon.
I know there are a bunch of jetwashes around the world that offer more than your standard rinse. A pressure washer is more or less a mini jetwash.
Features To Consider When Buying A Foam Cannon
To the untrained eye, a lot of the foam cannons will look the same.
While they are very similar, there are a couple of factors that will influence your decision to buy each one.
I personally prioritize compatibility, capacity, and adjustable settings.
Capacity – If you’re working on a large car or truck, it’s crucial that you own a foam cannon that has a large capacity.
The last thing you want to be doing is running back and forward mixing up more product as you wash the car.
You should try your best to get a foam cannon that holds 32+ ounces.
I personally own the Karcher foam cannon, it only holds 18 ounces. It’s only just enough to wash my Volvo C30, though I’m definitely a little gung-ho.
Build Quality – A foam lance is a straightforward product but you’d be surprised at just how bad some of them can be.
Because the bottle is subject to high pressure, it should be made with strong and sturdy plastic. I once cheaped out and the plastic bottle felt nearly as thin as a ping pong ball.
The other key point is the connector. It’s under constant pressure and is the most likely to leak. When possible, try to choose a brass connector, though sometimes it may not be possible. (Karcher cannons are mostly plastic).
You don’t want a low-quality foam cannon that sprays foam all over you, as well as the car.
Compatibility – When buying a foam cannon it’s crucial that it’s compatible with your pressure washer. If you can’t connect it, you can’t use it.
Most industry-leading pressure washers have unique connectors. You will have to buy a foam cannon that is made specifically for your pressure washer whether it’s Karcher, Nifilisk, or some other brand.
Owning a pressure washer with a 1/4” connector will allow you to use most third-party foam cannons.
Having a pressure washer with a unique connector will limit the options you have. Though you are able to get adapters that convert specialty connectors to 1/4” connectors. Like this Karcher one
Adjustable Settings – Most people that are interested in snow foam, believe that a thick foam = better results. While that’s not necessarily true, it’s definitely more satisfying.
The best foam lances come with a dial on the top that allows you to control the water and air intake.
They’ll also have an adjustable nozzle that lets you change the spray fan width to achieve the best coverage.
Color & Transparency – My first foam cannon was a cheap Karcher one. It’s a silver/grey color and is made of very thick plastic.
While it’s not the most important factor in the world, choosing a light bottle or transparent bottle will let you see how much mixture is left.
It will also be easier when diluting products and filling up the bottle with water. When using the Karcher cannon, I often overfill it, covering my kitchen area in snow foam.
Best Foam Cannon For Pressure Washers
Now that you understand why we use foam cannons, their uses, and what features to look out for, here’s a list of my recommendations.
- Best Foam Cannon: Adams Red Foam Cannon
- Best Cheap Foam Cannon: AstroAI Foam Cannon
- Best Karcher Cannon: AutoCare Adjustable Foam Cannon
These are what I believe to be the best foam cannons. In this article, there’s an option for everyone, no matter your pressure washer or budget.
All of these pressure washers are tried and tested by myself. They also have hundreds of reviews online from various other detailing enthusiasts.
Chemical Guys Big Mouth Max Release Foam Cannon
When I first wrote this article, there weren’t too many foam cannon options. The ones that were available were pretty average choices. The Chemical Guys obviously saw this and decided to develop the god of all foam cannons.
Unfortunately, those with specialist connections such as a Karcher pressure washer, will not be able to use this without an adaptor. For those that can use it, it’s incredibly feature-rich.
- A clear canister that makes dilution simple
- Huge 34oz bottle that lets you foam for longer
- Easy-adjust foam knob which gives you control over your foam spray
- Full Flow Technology enables you to shoot a wide fan or a concentrated stream
- A huge valve that draws in the maximum amount of air for maximum foam
As well as those standout features, it also offers the basics. You’re guaranteed to get a super slick and thick snow foam using this cannon, in turn making your pre-wash much safer and scratch-free.
The main downside of this cannon has to be the fact that it’s so costly. It’s the most expensive foam cannon on this list (and by a fair bit).
Although the Big Mouth Max release does offer control over your foam like no other, it’s a luxury and not a necessity.
It’s a very cool product but you’ll find that you get just as good a wash for half the price using the Adams Red Foam cannon or another equivalent.
Buy The Chemical Guys Big Mouth Max Release Foam Cannon from Amazon.
Adam’s Red Foam Cannon
Adams Polishes is a well-known detailing brand that prides itself on customer satisfaction and product quality.
When used with the optimal setup, this cannon will create a thick and clingy foam that destroys dirt and contamination.
- 34 Ounce Container
- Adjustable Spray Nozzle
- Stainless Steel Connector
- Adjustable Air/Water Ratio Dial
- Visually Pleasing Bottle & Branding
- Includes High-Quality SGS-28 Spray Gun
Now, if you are looking for a cheap option, you can rule this out.
The SGS-28 Spray gun costs $65 on its own. This package includes the gun and a smartly branded, sturdy container to go with it.
You get what you pay for, but you might not be able to justify spending >$50 on a pressure washer attachment.
My only complaint is that it’s very top-heavy when empty. It cannot stand on its own unless it’s filled with product.
Buy Adams Adjustable Foam Cannon From Amazon.com
Matcc Adjustable Foam Cannon
Matccs’ Foam Cannon is a mid-market option that’s got all of the features you may need and more.
The Inbuilt water filter is something that no other foam cannon on this list has. It prevents any rocks, dirt, or debris from the container from being picked up and thrown at your car.
While it’s rare that you’ll have debris in your foam, the filter is a nice touch and shows that they care about your car.
- Inbuilt Water Filter
- 1/4” Quick Connect
- Variable Spray Nozzle
- Adjustable Air/Water Ratio Dial
- Heavy Duty Brass Core & Connector
I like the Matcc Cannon as an entry-level option. The light white bottle allows you to see the mixture easily and it still has all the adjustable settings that a premium cannon has.
Definitely good value for money, but the plastic bottle feels a little cheap. Could do with something a little bit thicker and heavier.
Buy The Matcc Foam Cannon On Amazon.com
Best Foam Cannon For Karcher
AutoCare Adjustable Foam Cannon
Upon researching foam cannons, I found that there were many third-party cannons but I didn’t realize that very few of them supported Karcher Pressure washers straight out of the box.
Fortunately, there are some that are produced with the Karcher “Bayonette” connector but they are few and far between.
Autocares Adjustable Foam Cannon was the one that I found to be the best and easiest to buy.
It fits snug into any Karcher K Series Pressure Washer and produces a nice layer of foam on the car.
The tank is 34 Oz, almost twice the size of Karcher’s own foam cannon. And thankfully, the bottle is a light shade of white, allowing you to see the product as you mix and spray it.
- Variable Spray Nozzle
- Transparent 34 Oz Bottle
- Adjustable Air/Water Ratio Dial
- Tight Sealing on the nozzle. 0 Leaks.
- Compatible With All Karcher K Series Pressure Washers
Unfortunately, like every other Karcher-compatible foam cannon, the connector is plastic. I would prefer metal, however, in this case, the plastic seems to be solid enough.
The truth is, without using adapters or being able to purchase the Autobrite foam lance, the Karcher Foam Cannon options are very limited.
You could say this is the best of a bad lot. But it still does the job.
Buy the Autocare Adjustable Foam Cannon From Amazon.com
Autobrite Direct Snow Foam Lance With Karcher Connector
This foam cannon was considered the best on the market for years. The Autobrite Snow Foam lance came highly recommended among detailing enthusiasts in the UK.
Autobrite designed this with a 34-ounce bottle that can withstand up to 200 bar and a max temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.
They definitely focused on build quality while making this product as they also offer an adjustable spray end nozzle which changes the spray fan.
For me, the biggest selling point has to be the connector.
Anyone that owns a Karcher foam cannon will know that pretty much every single attachment comes with a plastic connector. These are prone to breaking and leaking over time.
As a result, Autobrite offers a solid brass connector that will withstand anything you can throw at it.
You can buy the Autobrite snow foam for both a Karcher Pressure washer and a Nifilisk Pressure Washer. As far as I’m aware. these are only available in the United Kingdom, but I could be wrong.
Best Cheap Foam Cannon
AstroAI Foam Cannon
Foam cannons don’t come cheaper than this. The AstroAI foam cannon will set you back less than $20 and will fit almost any generic pressure washer with a 1/4″ quick connector.
This foam cannon isn’t anything to boast about but it’ll get the job done. It does have a handful of features, such as the rotating nozzle and ratio-changing knob that lets you choose more or less foam or water.
The only issue I see with the product is the quality of the bottle. It’s a cheap Chinese product and over time the seals and the bottle itself will fail.
I only recommend this product as a cheap short-term solution. If possible I recommend saving your money and investing in a better product from further up this list.
That said if you’re wanting to keep it cheap because you’re unsure whether you’re going to use it much. The AstroAI foam cannon is perfect for that.
Buy the AstroAI Foam Cannon From Amazon.
How To Use A Foam Cannon With A Pressure Washer
Now that you’ve purchased one, you’ll now need to learn how to use a foam cannon. They’re very simple to use and are mostly plug and play.
Follow the steps below for a general guide:
- Use a product that’s designed specifically for foam cannons. Bilt Hamber Auto Foam is the one most detailers use, myself included.
- Measure out the product using the recommended dilution ratios on the packaging. After your first use, you can experiment to see if different ratios offer better results.
- Slowly add warm water to the product in your foam cannon. Adding too much too quickly will make a mess of your sink. It will also mean that you’re wasting product.
- Put the lid or connector on the top of your foam cannon bottle and gently stir the product round and round. Don’t Shake it! Shaking it will create foam in the bottle, again, wasting product.
- After stirring, attach the foam cannon to your pressure washer lance and make sure that it’s secure.
- Once everything is secured you can begin to cover your car in snow foam or shampoo. Start at the top and work your way down to the bottom
- If you’re using shampoo and performing a contact wash you will want to set the foam cannon down and wash your car.
If you’re using snow foam, apply as much as you want and then let it dwell for the recommended time.
- When finished disconnect the foam gun and proceed to wash your car as you normally would.
As well as the steps above, you should always work from the top down, making sure your car is evenly covered.
The worst thing that you can do is let the foam dry on your car. Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight, and don’t wait too long to rinse the snow foam off.
With a good setup and by following these steps, you will be able to make your car shine again. Quickly and safely.
Foam Cannon Settings/Variables
As mentioned above, foam cannons often come with two settings that you can change. These are:
An Air/Water Intake dial which allows you to adjust the thickness of the foam. As you reduce the amount of water and increase the air intake, you’ll create a thicker foam.
Another way to increase the amount of foam would be to use more product in your foam cannon. Experiment with different dilution ratios.
Secondly, you can adjust the spray fan nozzle. Doing this will allow you to change between a narrow or wider fan.
The idea behind the adjustable spray fan is that you should adjust it based on the vehicles you are washing.
A wide fan would allow you to cover large vehicles quicker and more evenly. Whereas a narrow spray would be for a more targeted area, such as the wheel wells.
How to get thick foam from your foam cannon
Getting the thickest foam possible from a foam cannon requires a lot of experimenting.
The main 3 variables are going to be the foam cannon that you’re using, the snow foam product, and the water that you use. Every time you change a variable, you’re going to see different results.
A lot of people overlook the fact that the type of water you use can affect the type of foam you produce.
Using dirty water that’s filled with minerals will not allow the snow foam product to break down the way it’s supposed to, this will result in less foam. It’s recommended that you use distilled water for best results, but this isn’t economical at all.
Secondly, the product that you use will drastically change your results. If you’re looking for a thick foam, it makes sense to use a snow foam that’s designed to do just that.
Using snow foam or other soaps that aren’t designed for use with a foam cannon is going to result in little to no foam.
I’ve written an article on the best snow foams here if you’re interested in finding the thickest foaming products.
Third, follow the dilution ratios on the snow foam bottle. All companies test their product to see what provides the best results. Follow the recommended dilution ratios on the bottle or in the manuals and you’ll achieve decent foam. This means measuring them out properly!
Finally, the type of pressure washer and foam cannon that you are using will play a big role in the type of foam produced.
The main stats to pay attention to are PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) and GPM (Gallons per minute). PSI dictates the amount of air pressure going into the foam cannon and gallons per minute is your flow rate (how much water enters). The higher these are, the better the results should be (within reason).
Pay attention to the specifications of your foam cannon though. Most foam cannons come with a maximum psi and GPM. This is because they’re made of plastic materials and can only withstand so much pressure. You’ll tend to find the cheaper cannons withstand a lot less.
Foam Cannon vs Hand Wash
A lot of people ask whether a foam cannon can replace a traditional hand wash. It cannot.
Snow foaming your car is supposed to be the “pre-wash” step in a 3 stage car wash process. This is shortly followed by a contact wash (2 bucket wash).
Every time you clean your car, you should always contact wash it and then dry it for best results.
If you don’t want to use the two bucket method, you can put soap in your foam cannon and apply it as you would snow foam. But this is still a hand wash step that should follow a pre-wash or rinse. I’d also recommend a rinse bucket to keep your wash mitt clean.
The AutoGlym Polar Series is a good example of ditching the traditional methods. This is a 3 stage wash system that offers a pre-wash, wash, and wax solution that can be applied straight from a pressure washer.
Snow Foam Recommendations
The snow foam that I recommend the most often is Bilt Hamber Auto Foam. This is by far the best cleaning pre-wash option. It offers a little bit of foam but not the most, it’s more about cleaning power than prettiness.
I recommend checking out my best snow foam article to find the perfect snow foam for your needs.