How To Use A Foam Cannon (Guide & FAQ)

The effectiveness of foam cannons is a topic that can be debated all day. Truth is, if you’re not using them correctly, you may find them to be a waste of time.

I believe they are great but there are alternatives that can potentially do the same job and more.

In this article, you will learn how to use a foam cannon, the benefits they can offer as well as tips and tricks to improve your foam cannons’ effectiveness.

Why use A foam cannon to wash Your car?

There are many different reasons to use a foam cannon when washing your car.

Using a foam cannon will allow you to apply snow foam to your vehicle.

Snow foam is a thick layer of soap that is designed to loosen dirt from the paintwork of your car, thus making it much quicker, easier, and safer to wash your car.

You can find the best snow foams here

Foam cannons can also be used to apply other products, car soaps for example, but, the AutoGlym Polar Series has a sealant that can be applied with a foam cannon too.

Overall, using a foam cannon will decrease the amount of time and effort required for each car wash. Perfect for those that want quick results or hate washing their car.

Foam Gun vs Foam Cannon/Lance

Before discussing this topic, I need to make sure you understand the difference between the two options.

Foam guns are meant to be used on a traditional garden hose. Whereas Foam Cannons and Foam Lances are pressure washer attachments.

The main difference between the two is the quality of the foam they produce.
Garden hoses offer less pressure than a pressure washer. As a result, the solution doesn’t mix as well, leading to very watery foam.

Pressure washers offer higher pressure and will only be restricted by the water flow rate. The high pressure mixes the solution better, creating a thicker foam that can cling to your vehicle for up to 15 minutes.

I believe foam guns are a waste of time. If you don’t have a pressure washer, using an alternative such as a pressurized pump sprayer will provide much better results.

How To Use A Foam Cannon (step By Step)

car covered in snow foam

Below is a general idea of how to use a foam cannon.

Click here if you want to learn how to apply snow foam specifically.

  1. Use a product that’s designed specifically for foam cannons. Bilt Hamber Auto Foam is the one most detailers use, myself included.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. After stirring, attach the foam cannon to your pressure washer lance and make sure that it’s secure.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. When finished disconnect the foam gun and proceed to wash your car as you normally would.

Foam Cannon Tips

Using a foam cannon and getting poor results can be frustrating. When I first started using snow foam, it barely clung to the car for more than 3 minutes.

Below are some tips that will help you to achieve a thick foam that covers your car and eats away at the dirt.

What Foam Cannon Should You Buy?

TriNova Foam Cannon

TriNova Foam Cannon

Deciding what foam cannon to buy doesn’t need to be tricky. While they are more or less just plastic bottles, there are some things you need to look out for.

The most important thing to consider is the connector. If you can’t connect the foam cannon to your pressure washer, you’re not able to use it.

Some pressure washers have generic 1/4” connectors, whereas Karcher and Nifilisk ones are unique.

Find out what connector your pressure washer has and make sure the attachment fits before buying.

Secondly, you will want to consider the size. If you’re washing many cars in one go, you may want a bigger cannon so you don’t have to mix more product in-between washes.

Finally, you should consider whether or not you want an adjustable foam cannon. Having an adjustable cannon will let you change the spray pattern and the thickness of the snow foam.

Choosing the Right Snow Foam

Depending on your personal preferences, there are 2 reasons why you’d buy a certain snow foam.

I like to have a snow foam that has great cleaning power, but you may focus on foam thickness instead.

Bilt Hamber Auto Foam is considered to be the best snow foam by many, but, it has a strong chemical smell and it doesn’t produce the thickest of foam.

If you think you may be looking for something else I’ve recently compared the leading snow foams.

Use the best snow foam dilution ratio

Every concentrated product in the detailing world comes with a dilution ratio. Snow foams and shampoos are exactly the same.

While I would recommend using the dilution ratio that’s recommended on the bottle, after a couple of washes, you may want to experiment.

If you’re performing a maintenance wash every 2 weeks, you may only need a dilution ratio of 1:10.

If you’re working on a car that’s not been washed for a year, 1:3 may be a better ratio.
Over time you will learn the product and know exactly which ratios you need.

Just because it was disappointing at a 1:8 ratio, it could still be an amazing product at a 1:4 ratio.

Find the best Spray Pattern

Most foam cannons come with an adjustable nozzle. They may also come with a knob that lets you adjust the amount of air intake which helps to control the level of foam produced.

I have a cheap Karcher Cannon. Its because it was the only one I could buy the same day. While it’s very basic, it still allows me to control the spray fan and the amount of detergent used.

Having more options will add a level of complexity that is unnecessary for most, but, it will also give you a lot more control.

Maintaining Your Foam Cannon

Leaving snow foam solution in your foam cannon between washes can lead to a build-up of calcium deposits over time.

After each wash, you should remove the solution into a plastic bottle and store it in there. Rinse out your foam cannon with cold water and leave it to dry before putting it back together again.

When you come to perform your next wash all you need to do is take the solution you saved from the plastic bottle and pour it into the foam cannon.

That being said, if you do leave the made-up solution in the cannon, it’s not the end of the world. Most foam cannons are safe to hold product, though you may need to unblock the heads after a while.

Foam Cannon & Snow Foam Alternative

As mentioned earlier in the article, if you don’t have a pressure washer, I wouldn’t waste time with a foam gun. Instead, I’d choose a pump sprayer and traffic film remover.

Traffic film remover is the acid type product that most roadside and automated car washes use to clean your car.

It’s such a strong product and will loosen stubborn contaminants from the surface of your car, like snow foam. The only difference being is that it doesn’t produce a thick, sudsy foam.

You can get a handheld pump sprayer for <$50 or you could get a bigger one for the same price as a pressure washer.

The added benefit of a pump sprayer is that you can use it to apply literally anything, it doesn’t need to be TFR.

If you want to use a sealant, liquid wax or quick detailer, you can dilute it into a pump sprayer and apply it with ease.

Foam Cannon Frequently Asked Questions

While you now know how to use a foam cannon, you may be left with other questions.

Below is a list of the most commonly searched foam cannon questions on the internet.

Is A Foam Cannon Necessary?

Foam cannons are not necessary at all. Snow Foaming is an optional pre-wash stage designed to make your car wash that little bit easier.

Are Foam Cannons Worth It?

Foam cannons definitely add an element of fun to your car washing regime. They also make it a little less effort. They’re definitely a valuable piece of equipment to have and can significantly decrease wash times, but for some, they may not be worth it.

If you don’t already have a pressure washer, you will have to commit around $200 to buy a pressure washer, foam cannon, and a snow foam product.

That’s a lot of money for some people. Not everyone has that to blow on car care.

If all you need to do is buy a foam cannon, by all means, $30-$50 for a foam cannon is well worth it. Especially if you wash your car regularly.

Which Chemical Guys Foam Cannon Should you buy?

The Chemical Guys offer an abundance of detailing products and equipment. They have many foam guns and 5+ foam cannons for sale.

I believe that the cheapest one is the best. The Chemical Guys EQP 310 offers everything that you need in a foam cannon, without the unnecessary “features”.

It carries up to 32 ounces of solution, has innovative design features to stop leaking over time, and allows you to adjust the spray pattern and air intake to produce the foam you desire.

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