Foam cannons are a hotly-contested product used for vehicle detailing. Many enthusiasts and detailers will argue that a traditional two-bucket by-hand car wash is the way to go while others maintain that foam cannons make the job easier and more satisfying while producing the same results.
Indeed, foam cannons do have several benefits over a traditional two-bucket hand wash. They can save time by tackling both the rinsing and soaping portions of a car wash. They can also potentially prevent swirl marks and scratching by limiting the amount of surface contact from scrubbing. The foam they produce over the total surface of a vehicle loosens dirt and allows much of it to run off with the soap and water mixture.
The Best Foam Cannons
Foam cannons can be quite expensive. Many of the best products cost more than forty dollars and require additional expensive equipment like a pressure washer. Not all foam cannons are this expensive, but their overall higher price compared to traditional wash products and foam guns can limit their usage to detailers who use them frequently and need to save time.
1. MTM Hydro PF-22 Professional Foam Cannon
The MTM Hydro PF-22 is considered by many detailers to be the industry standard foam cannon. It is sturdy, provides a plethora of features and adjustable settings, and is approved for a variety of applications other than vehicle surfaces.
An adjustable handle allows for both vertical and horizontal spray patterns. The fan blades can also be adjusted for a wide swath of foam or a concentrated stream. Yet another adjustable feature is the injection knob on top of the device which allows more or less soap injection so that both rinsing and foaming are possible when desired.
The MTM Hydro can work with pressure washers that produce as little as 1,100 PSI at 1.8 GPM or as high as 5,000 PSI at 5.3 GPM - Values that are on the higher end of the product spectrum. Fortunately, a sturdy bottle design and brass connector plates ensure that common fail points are eliminated as much as possible.
The biggest downside to the MTM Hydro PF-22 is its price. It is one of the more expensive foam cannons on the market. This usually limits its consumers to professional detailers, but most of its users have praised its quality and outstanding abilities compared to other products.
2. TriNova Foam Cannon
The TriNova foam cannon is highly rated like the MTM Hydro, but its price point is much lower. This does not necessarily mean that its quality is lacking though. It has stellar reviews for its superior ease of use, low PSI and GPM requirements, and wide-neck design for less failure potential. Additionally, TriNova guarantees 100% customer satisfaction, being willing to fix any issues that anyone might encounter with their product.
The TriNova is rated for as little as 800 PSI or as high as 3000 PSI and as little as 1.4 GPM and as high as 5.3 GPM for pressure washer requirements. Its lower thresholds allow users to utilize less powerful and less expensive electric pressure washers. TriNova does recommend a minimum of 1000 PSI for best results, but this sill undercuts the MTM Hydro’s recommended minimum requirements.
Like the MTM Hydro, the TriNova has adjustable knobs for the fan width and amount of foam produced. It also features a wide bottle mouth to mitigate common cracking problems where the bottle connects to the cannon attachment.
3. MATCC Foam Cannon II
The MATCC Foam Cannon II offers several of the best features of other products on this list at an even lower price than the TriNova and MTM Cannons. Perhaps most importantly, the MATCC Cannon is designed to be durable with a brass core and wide bottle neck to prevent cracking from pressure.
Similar to the MTM, the MATCC Cannon offers indentations in the bottle for an easy-to-use and easy-to-hold experience. Also similar to the TriNova, the bottle is larger at the base of the bottle so that it can be stored and set down easily. This product also offers a one-year warranty with guaranteed 24-hour customer service turnaround for any issues.
Both the water-to-foam ratio and spray patterns are adjustable. One trick the MATCC cannon has is a built-in filter to prevent unwanted particles from reaching your vehicle’s paint. This cannon is also rated for use on multiple applications like floors, windows, and siding for added versatility.
1450 PSI and 2 GPM are recommended for use, but a maximum ceiling of 3200 PSI and 5.3 GPM is attainable.
4. SudMagic Foam Cannon
The SudMagic foam cannon is a simple, durable, and highly-rated foam cannon that does most things well at an affordable price. Its high-quality brass core and brass-threaded bottle design – complete with a lifetime warranty – ensures that failure or leakage is not an option.
Like other cannons, the SudMagic cannon has both an adjustable nozzle and foam ratio knob for customizable spray patterns and foam thickness for your individual needs. The cannon also comes with a 1.1 mm and 1.25 mm orifice to fit multiple pressure washer applications.
A stainless steel filter prevents extra particles from getting onto any sprayed surface including vehicles and siding. The SudMagic cannon can be used with up to 3200 PSI of pressure and 5.3 GPM.
5. Chemical Guys Foam Blaster 6 Foam Gun
Even though this foam cannon is actually a foam gun, it is good enough to hang with the big boys. It comes highly-rated from one of the leading companies in the automotive care industry. Even though a foam gun operates at lower pressures than a foam cannon, it does the same general job.
Just like a cannon, the Foam Blaster 6 has an adjustable water-to-soap ratio, allowing users to customize their car washing experience to their needs. It is also easy to use with a squeeze handle and fairly light compared to other foam applicators.
While it is priced higher than even some of the best foam cannons, the background costs are much cheaper since a pressure washer is not required. For those unsure if a foam gun can stack up to a foam cannon, Chemical Guys guarantee their customers’ satisfaction.
Foam Guns vs. Foam Cannons: What is the Difference?
Even though foam cannons are the focus here, the Chemical Guys Foam Blaster 6 is a foam gun, and the differences between the two are small but noteworthy.
The largest difference between a foam cannon and a foam gun is how each is used. Neither can function by themselves, so they must be connected to something that powers them. Foam cannons usually require electric or gas-powered pressure washers while foam guns can be hooked up to a garden hose.
As seen above, the difference between a foam cannon and a foam gun is not always necessarily very different. The real cost comes with the auxiliary equipment associated with each. Simply put, a garden hose is less expensive than a pressure washer which makes foam guns less expensive overall.
As a result of using a high-powered pressure washer as opposed to a garden hose, foam cannons are usually more effective at producing fluffier foam spray. The foamier a solution can become, the more lubricity it has and the more effective it can be.
Parts of a Foam Cannon
To further understand how a foam cannon works and to help you find the best one for your needs, it is important to understand how each part works.
The core is the centerpiece of the cannon that connects to all the other pieces. The stronger the core material, the greater chance the rest of the gun has to hold up to the pressures produced by a pressure washer.
The orifice and connector are what hook the cannon to the pressure washer. Not all connectors are universal, nor are all orifices the same diameter; therefore, it is important to know connector and orifice size to ensure proper fitment.
Chemical/Ratio Adjustment Knob
Most foam cannons, and even some foam guns, have an adjustment knob on top of the core that mixes the proper air, water, and chemical mixture to produce more or less foam. Some cannons even allow complete foam shut-off for an all-water rinse.
The fan is the opening at the end of the handle nozzle that actually sprays the foam. The fan can be turned horizontally or vertically on some guns, but the fan width is usually adjustable to allow a wide spray or a concentrated stream.
The foam cannon handle is the part of the gun between the fan opening and core. To adjust the fan angle or width on most cannons, the handle can be twisted.
The bottle part of the cannon is self-explanatory. It is where the water and chemical mixture is held and mixed. The threads that attach the bottle to the core are an important part of the gun. The most durable cannons usually have brass threads to prevent screw stripping under pressure. Some guns increase the circumference of the bottle mouth to alleviate pressure instead.
Foam Cannon Needs and Specifics
Not all foam cannons are created equally, nor is each compatible with every pressure washer. Many have interchangeable connectors to make them as compatible as possible, but all have different requirements and operating parameters for safe use.
The two most important factors in foam cannons are their gallon per minute (GPM) and pound per square inch (PSI) operating parameters. Because foam cannons work in tangent with pressure washer; Each is rated to a low end of operation and a maximum end of operation.
Operating a cannon at lower than suggested parameters will not allow the cannon to work properly. Operating them at higher than maximum recommendations could be dangerous and cause the cannon to break. Most foam cannons operate at an average of 2.0 GPM or 3000-4000 PSI.
This is important to note when looking for an appropriate pressure washer. Electric pressure washers are usually less expensive, but they generally operate at lower pressures than gas-powered pressure washers. Gas-powered pressure washers are often better at creating foamier solutions because of their added power.
There are two types of foam cannons: Adjustable and non-adjustable. Non-adjustable cannons are the most basic and least expensive types. All of the cannons on our list are adjustable and the preferred type for most serious detailers and enthusiasts.
Most car wash soap can be used with a foam cannon, but there are specifically-formulated soaps for cannons that create a foamier application. Many cannons are available with kits that include foam cannon soap.
Foam cannons are not often thought of as a simple car washing solution because of their high price, debated efficiency, and perceived complication. Despite all these things, they have been proven to be effective by preventing scratches and paint swirls, they do not have to be expensive, and they are usually simple and quick to use.
They are definitely not for everyone since the cost of pressure washers – necessary for making a foam cannon work – can drive up the price, but if you can get your hands on one, you could enjoy a fun, effective experience that results in a clean, undamaged vehicle.