Surfactants In Daily Life

In chemistry, the term “surfactant” is used to describe a chemical that reduces the surface tension of another compound and increasing the contact between the liquid and another substance. There are a wide variety of these products, which work with oil, water, and an assortment of other liquids. Many companies manufacture a range of them for various purposes, ranging from soaps to inks. As a result, they are found in a number of everyday household item.

The term is a compound of “surface acting agent”, referring to the fact that a surfactant interacts with the surface of a liquid to change its properties. They work through a process known as “adsorption,” which means that they accrete on the surface of a liquid, creating a film which reduces its surface tension.

Soap, shampoo, hair conditioner and toothpaste all contain surfactants which gently cleanse the scalp, skin, hair and teeth. These compounds create a pleasantly foamy reaction when mixed with water. The suds and bubbles help the water get beneath oil, dirt and debris, allowing the unwanted compounds to be washed away during rinsing. Additionally, the products are found in shaving creams where the decrease in surface tension reduces the friction generated by the razor blade, resulting in a smoother shave.

Dish-washing liquids and dishwasher detergents are two of the most common sources for kitchen surfactants. In these compounds, they create loads of suds and leave dishes sparkling clean by breaking up baked-on grime and dissolving fats and oil.

Surfactants can also work as lubricants, as is the case with shaving a cream, a product which makes it easier to run a razor along the skin to remove unwanted hair. They are also used in sanitizing products, anti-fogging liquids, adhesives, emulsifiers, and fabric softeners, among numerous other substances. Dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid(referred to as LABSA, CAS No. 27176-87-0) is a common active agent in the production of surfactants. In some cases, a surfactant may be toxic or pose a health risk, depending on the materials it contains, and it is a good idea to read labels to make sure that it is used properly.

The term “surfactant” is also used in the medical community to refer specifically to a substance secreted by the cells which line the lungs. Pulmonary product makes it easier for people to breathe by reducing surface tension in the lungs. Without the subsatnce in the lungs, people would have trouble breathing, and their breathing would be much noisier.

How Does Detergent Remove Dirt?

We almost use household cleaning products such as detergents everyday, washing clothes, dishes and so on. Despite of detergents wide uses, we may know noting about them except realize that they can break down dirt. Now, let’s have a quick glance at how do they work.

Reduces Tension
Detergent reduces the surface tension of water, allowing the water to penetrate and completely wet the fabrics that need to be cleaned. The laundry detergent lowers the interfacial tension between the fabric and the laundry detergent and water solution. At the same time, it also lowers the interfacial tension between the oil and the laundry detergent and water solution, allowing stains on the fabric to be lifted. The surfactant molecules in the laundry detergent are strongly attracted to the water and lift the soil from the fabric that normally would not dissolve in water alone.

Ehances Repulsion
Once the dirt is dispersed into the solution, the anionic surfactants found in the laundry detergent actually adhere to the surface of the dirt as well as the surface of the fabric being laundered. The result is a negative charge on the surface of the dirt and the fabric, which causes electrostatic repulsion. It is the electrostatic repulsion that actually prevents the dirt and grime from landing back onto the fabric and staying immersed in the water.

Main Component
Detergents use acids to break down dirt, grime and tarnish. Among these acids is sulfonic acid, an organosulfur compound, or a compound that contains sulfur. A quick glance at the label of numerous cleaners and detergents will show that there are various types of sulfonic acids, including methane sulfonic acid, arylalkyl sufonic acid and dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid(commonly known as sodium salt or LAS), among others. Although they differ in composition, each of these sulfonic acids serves as a chemical catalyst.

Dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid(CAS: 27176-87-0) — commonly appears as an ingredient in laundry detergent. In addition to detergents, sulfonic acid compounds often lend themselves to stripping and cleaning agents such as floor cleaners, hard surface cleaners, metal polishes and grout, tile and bathroom cleaners. Methanesulfonic acid often appears in all-purpose liquid spray cleaners. Sometimes called “green acid,” this type of organic sulfonic acid produces no odors or toxic fumes, contains no nitrogen or halogens and is easily biodegradable.